Energy secretary Ed Davey said the development would not only generate power for thousands of homes but also have a positive effect on the economy.
The project is set to cost £400m and will be built in Pen-y-Cymoedd, between Neath and Aberdare.
Power and benefits
According to developers, its 76 turbines will generate power for 140,000 homes and create around 300 jobs. Swedish developer Vattenfall has committed to delivering a community benefits package worth up to £45m over the 25-year lifetime of the site – the equivalent of £1.8 million a year.
To date more than 600 firms have registered to be included in the project. Davey claims this is evidence that businesses will benefit as much as the consumers who will see the energy power their homes.
He described the involvement of Vattenfall as testament to the “power of inward investment” in the UK and labelled onshore wind a “major success story.”
“It will attract billions in investment into the UK and support hundreds of skilled green jobs while providing homes with clean energy,” the energy secretary said.
“We have provided certainty to onshore wind investors by confirming the level of support available under the Renewables Obligation and, earlier than expected, publishing draft strike prices for contracts in the future electricity market.”
Operational in 2016
Initial work on the project began last year, when Welsh firm Spencer Environmental Care Associates began clearing trees to allow access to the site for wide and long vehicles. The bulk of the work is pencilled in to start in February 2014, with the plant expected to be producing electricity at some point in late 2016.
The impact on the local area was highlighted by Vattenfall director of onshore wind development Piers Guy, who told Wales Online: “An attractive market for investment means that Vattenfall will now complete major procurement contracts over the summer for Pen y Cymoedd and we are confident that a good number of Welsh businesses will benefit from the more than £400 million, three-year construction programme.”
The project has also received the support of the Welsh Government, with the country’s First Minister, Carwyn Jones, describing the project as a “significant and valuable opportunity” for Wales.
“I look forward to the Welsh Government’s continued engagement with the industry, to ensure that Welsh communities and businesses will gain long-term benefit from this and future onshore wind developments in Wales,” he concluded.
Communities and renewable energy projects
The project comes at a time when the government is aiming to quell fears that the development of renewable energy farms will detrimentally affect local communities.
This week, energy minister Greg Barker said that the coalition will soon issue planning guidance to local councils that will ensure the concerns and views of communities are taken into account before any green energy developments are approved.