Llynnon Mill is grinding, Pant y Gydd is answering, Cefn-Coch and Adda Mill, Llanerch-y-medd grinds best of all', is the English translation of a Welsh verse celebrating the windmills of Anglesey, in Wales.
Anglesey is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. With an area of 715 square KM's, it is the largest island in Wales and the seventh largest in the British Isles. Two bridges span the Menai Strait, connecting the island to the mainland - the Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford in 1826, and the Britannia Bridge. It is this beautiful island that soothed our frayed nerves and provided a healing touch for my wife and me, as we saw our daughter walk into her new life in the University of Bangor.
The winds of Anglesey, while comforting me and my wife, has also been spinning windmills for many centuries.
Anglesey, being an island, can sometimes be a very windy place, and the abundance of wind provided a useful source of energy and during the 18th and 19th century, when numerous windmills were built around the island. Many of the existing windmills were built during periods of drought in the 1740s when water mills were running at less than peak efficiency. The population of the island also increased at this time and the Corn Laws led to increase in grain prices, so more grain was grown and needed to be ground. The late 18th and early 19th centuries were the boom times of windmill building. However, increasing imports of foreign grain in mid 19th century led to price decreases, so many farmers converted their land to pasture for cattle and pigs, thus reducing the amount of grain that needed to be ground. Steam-powered milling on an industrial scale put further pressure on the ability of the local mills to compete and continue working. By the early 20th centuries only a handful of mills were still limping along, many powered by more reliable diesel engines rather than wind.
While the last working mill, Melin y Gof, closed in 1936, the story of modern windmills just opened. Anglesey has moved into using windmills for electricity generation and now three wind farms have been built on the island. They are all in the northwest near the Irish Sea. Not only is it windy, but there is also a major existing power line in the area linking Wylfa nuclear power plant to the national grid. The first 24 turbines were built in Rhyd-y-Groes in 1992 producing 7.2MW of power, enough for around 4000 homes. In 1996 the Trysglwyn wind farm was opened with 14 turbines producing 5.6MW to power 3000 homes, followed closely in 1997 by the 34 turbines of the Llyn Alaw site, producing a massive 20.4MW for 11,000 homes, preventing about 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Not to stop here, in June 2015, the world's second largest offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Wales. The Gwynt y Môr wind farm generates enough power for 400,000 homes from its 160 turbines, powering a third of all the homes in Wales, supporting 2450 jobs. The Gwynt y Môr project is a result of a shared investment of more than £2bn, between RWE Innogy (60%); Stadtwerke München GmbH (30%); and Siemens (10%). First Minister Carwyn Jones during the inauguration said "Local companies have been among those to benefit during construction and the site will bring high quality employment and opportunities for years to come. With young people receiving training as part of the wind turbine apprenticeship scheme at Grwp Llandrillo Menai and the courses offered at the college's Energy Centre in Llangefni, North Wales is the go-to place for those looking for a workforce skilled in the field of energy."
Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is the direct cause for global warming resulting in extreme climate events. The efforts in Anglesey and Wales, reiterates the established fact that renewable energy in general and wind energy in particular is the way to go. It provides clean energy, creates jobs, and is great for the economy. While I wait for my daughter to complete this phase of her education, I also will wait for more governments around the world to do what Wales is doing. All this will put a smile into the hearts of parents like me and and anxious Planet Earth!