Abergavenny RFC is leading the way for local clubs across the country, as it becomes the first club to install solar panels through the WRU’s new Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation Programme.
The club has been integral to the community since its formation in 1875; becoming a hub for locals. Over the years, Abergavenny RFC has only grown and diversified; providing a facility for all different age groups; introducing youth, junior and mini rugby in the late 1960s through to the early 1970s.
Currently the mini section has 145 registered players, the junior section: 73, the youth section: 48 and the senior section: 70 registered/active players. Abergavenny RFC’s ability to engage with young people and encourage them to participate in sport, thus aiding their physical and mental lifestyle is just one example of the impact the club has had upon the community.
With this in mind, it is worrying that the club was almost lost to the town. During the pandemic, it became apparent to the committee that with their contract close to expiring, their energy bills would be shooting up from £9,000 a year to £27,000.
The dire situation prompted committee members to search for alternative ways to sustain energy in an affordable way, without having to raise the funds by themselves. Treasurer of the club, David James said: “The opening of the conversation was–if we don’t get this off the ground, there is a serious danger of the club closing!”
Solar panels became a clear choice to the club, especially following further conversation with Andy Green of Green Park Power–a company that has previously sponsored the club. “We were able to come to an understanding with Andy and the team; what would be the best course of action for the club; our expectations, what would sustain it for years to come and save us the most. The idea of reducing our carbon footprint and saving energy was also massively appealing. With that we were able to present a strong case to the WRU, putting us ahead of the game.”
The club were also able to obtain the full support of MP, David Davies, Mr James added: “The support of Mr Davies was crucial; his name added a lot of weight and it definitely sped up the process.”
The WRU were delighted to fund the cause, granting Abergavenny RFC with £21,000 to install the panels. Lee Williams, Club Development Manager at WRU, said: “The energy crisis has become such an issue with local clubs. We needed to do something different from the first funding programme we used to run. Abergavenny RFC presented a strong case, especially with the support of David Davies and evidence of how everything would work out with the panels through Andy Green and his team.
“We considered how the club is open on a regular basis, utilised by all different age groups.
“Above all, it was the history of the club and its value to the community, which made the decision to fund Abergavenny RFC a no brainer!”
Abergavenny RFC were able to secure funding from the WRU by February this year and since, everything has moved quickly with the panels officially installed at the end of May by Green Park Power. They have now been in full use over the last three weeks.
“Already there has been demonstrable payback! As a high-use building, the panels have been highly beneficial; with the club using a certain number of units to utilise the energy.”
Mr Williams of the WRU went onto say: “Abergavenny RFC have definitely put things in motion. In the latest round of applications, we have had ten clubs in Gwent alone, going for solar panels. The impact they have had are instantaneous.”
David TC Davies recently visited the club to see the newly installed the panels; meeting with Committee members, Andy and his team, as well as members of the WRU. He talked with the group, asking questions about the solar panels and how this would be able to–in the long term–help the club in the future.
Mr Davies said: “I was delighted to support the application. Andy has a great layman’s guide and shown how these panels will sustain the club. Abergavenny RFC is an asset to the community and it is a pleasure to know that this will continue to be the case for many years to come.”