Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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Archive for June 18th, 2008

18th June 2008

power to power

Just spent my day debating energy with Welsh MPs in the rather self-admiringly termed Welsh Grand Committee.  I said there were three salient points to make about Wales place in the great global energy debate.   First, of all, we are a net exporter of electricity to England and have been (at least) since Gwynfor Evans was asking questions of the CEGB back in the 60s.  We currently produce 8.8% of the UK’s electricity and  will start exporting to Ireland in 2012 when the new inter-connector is completed.  Even the decommissioning of Wylfa’s twin turbine 980MW reactor will not dent Wales energy export success as five new power stations with a total generating capacity of well over 4000 MW are due to come on stream.

The second point is that we have vast potential for renewables.  We are, as Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology has said, the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.  We can boast the world’s largest biomass plant and soon  the world’s largest energy wave converter off the coast of Milfor Haven.  We are still well placed to create the world’s first tidal lagoon.  And, yes, (though personally I have my doubts) there is the Severn Barrage.  Add to this the significant potential of offshore-wind and genuine clean coal technologies like underground coal gasification and coal bed methane with in situ carbon capture and storage, then Wales looks as if it’s won the natural lottery.

My third point, was that energy policy in Wales is sadly not dictated by the needs of Wales but the needs of England.  Power stations are being built to plug the English power generation gap rather than as part of a sustainable energy policy for Wales.  It’s great to see Wales developing a successful energy sector and we could turn Wales into a renewable energy exporter like Denmark.  But why didn’t the planning consents for these new power stations insist that their waste heat - in the case of RWEs Pembroke mega-plant, equivalent to half Wales entire electricity output - was used to heat local homes through combined-heat-and power systems.  This is largely because the decision was made in London and was more about powering-up the UK grid than meeting Welsh demand.  That has to change if we are to move Wales forward.