Banks Renewables, part of The Banks Group, has begun operations on the Penny Hill wind farm site, to the south east of Rotherham and the west of the junction of the M1 and M18.
Around 30 jobs are being created directly on site through the construction of the six-turbine scheme, with a number of contracts also being awarded to local firms for the supply of materials and sub-contract works, as well as associated services such as catering and accommodation.
Penny Hill represents Banks’ third major investment in renewable energy in Yorkshire, following the now-operational Marr and Hazlehead wind farms near Doncaster and Barnsley respectively, and the company has a number of other schemes in the county at different stages of development.
The turbines that have been specified for the scheme have the highest capacity of any ever used in a UK onshore wind farm, and are scheduled to be delivered to the site by early 2013.
The Penny Hill wind farm will produce enough energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of over 12,000 homes – or around ten per cent of all the homes in the Rotherham area – and will prevent around 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year that would otherwise be discharged with the production of the same amount of electricity using fossil fuel-powered electricity generation.
As well as making a significant contribution towards meeting Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s renewable energy targets, it will also bring a range of other benefits to the local community.
A related benefits fund worth around £20,000 every year – or approximately £500,000 across the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm – will enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people, and the first tranche of funding is scheduled to become available during the summer of 2013.
In addition to this, Banks has already made a further £50,000 investment to help establish a Warm Zone scheme across the Rotherham area, which is already delivering practical measures such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation into local homes in order to help to alleviate fuel poverty and improve domestic energy efficiency on a district-wide basis.
Establishing a Warm Zone leads, on average, to benefits worth around £3million becoming available to people in the area, in the shape of grants for energy efficiency improvements that will increase a property’s energy efficiency and in turn and reduce household fuel bills, helping to lift people out of the fuel poverty trap.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Renewables, says: “Utilising onshore wind farms like Penny Hill to update the UK’s power infrastructure today is already helping to address the energy challenges that we know the 21st century will bring, and we’re very pleased to be reaching such an important landmark for this scheme.
“The Penny Hill scheme is already making a positive contribution to the local area through the Warm Zone energy efficiency scheme that we established last year, and with new jobs, commercial opportunities for local firms and regular funding from the wind farm’s benefits fund still to come, this is just the beginning of the long-term, positive impact that our work here will have on the local community.
“We’re already working closely with local people through a community liaison group to ensure everyone is kept fully up to date with the progress that is being made on site, and look forward to starting to generate safe, clean and sustainable energy at Penny Hill next year.”