This keynote seminar was held at the Angel Hotel this morning and featured a lot of the players and vested interests in the energy sector from across Wales, including delegates from grass roots organisations – including Frack Free Wales (me).
Main points from each contributor:
PETER DAVIES (Commissioner for Sustainable Futures and Chair of Climate Change Commission for Wales)
Stressed the lack of public trust in energy companies and government. Called for much better participative processes and proper support for community renewables initiatives in a bottom up approach to tackling the issues.
DAVID TC DAVIES (MP for Monmouth)
Almost as good looking and intelligent as James Delingpole . My guess for what the TC in his name should stand for is not printable. Has form. This review by George Monbiot of one of his speeches in the Commons will do fine here: “a Conservative MP called David TC Davies, … used his speech to produce a long list of conspiracy theories and zombie myths: claims that have been repeatedly debunked but keep resurfacing. “
SIMON POWER (Arup Director)
There is too much focus on the supply side – we need to do a lot more on the demand side but we are lacking any vision or leadership from Welsh Government.
DAVID JONES (Marine Energy Pembrokeshire)
Massive resource in Wales are being completely untapped. Even a very modest 30MW installation, which could be operational in 3-4 years, would provide 2000 person years of employemnet and £70million GVA.
GERWYN WILLIAMS (UK Onshore Gas Group – incl Coastal Oil & Gas)
Most interesting was our brief discussion beforehand where he revealed his stock market flotation has had difficulties and is a few months behind schedule. His new line of spin was that shale gas should be seen as providing the carbon for lightweight vehicles and the hydrogen for pollution free vehicles.
BEN LEWIS (GVA Director of Planning, Development and Regeneration)
Gave some interesting case studies:
TATA Steel in Port Talbot are building their own gas-fired power station that operates of the gases produced in their production processes, making them self-sufficient in energy.
Glyn Rhonwy, Snowdonia, is the first pumped storage scheme since the 1980s and will provide 99Mw of near instant response hydro electric power to help manage spikes in demand.
Also made the case for small modular nuclear reactors and also the need for more integrated, joined-up planning from Welsh Governmant.
Prof PHILLIP JONES (Cardiff University)
Looked at managing demand side through low carbon built environments and energy efficiency in buildings. Lamented inadequate building regs and lack of commitment to retrofit measures. Slammed WG for the gap between their rhetoric and their delivery.
CARL SARGENT (AM and Minister for Natural Resources)
Gave some more rhetoric about being the best at this and that and trotting out the same old rhetoric about sustainability being at the centre of all policy making. No sense of irony evident in his re-inforcement of Prof Jones point above.
Baroness JENNIFER RANDERSON (Lib Dem peer)
Keen to stress Government duty to ‘keep the lights on’ but introduced the serious dimension of aging infrastructure and historical under-investment in the grid – which was highlighted by a questioner pointing out a community renewables scheme in Mid Wales that has recently been rejected because of lack of grid capacity to accept what they produce (a mere 12mw)
MAXINE FRERK (Ofgem)
Stressed the challenges of trying to make markets work for the consumer and of being able to regulate networks.
SAM WHITE (Miller Research)
Focussed on problems of filling the skills gap and skilled labour shortages for areas like marine energy, lamenting the fact that it is left to companies to train up staff rather than finding mainstream education providing the grounding for these new industries.
Dr JOHN RHYS (Oxford University)
Emphasised need to develop new technologies in energy storage, CCS and control systems. Lamented the high subsidies for fossil fuels while renewables struggle for investment and also lamented the lack of certainty and stability in energy policy to make developing these technologies worthwhile for the private sector.
JONATHAN WILKINSON (Montgomeryshire Against Pylons)
Representative of the local pressure group, with a largely untenable position calling for energy innovation without the eyesore of pylons blotting the landscape. Did however, make the strong and important point about involvement and consultation with local communities being important from the outset – something our groups like FFW are much better at than the developers, I would suggest.
BEN RUSSELL (Horizon Nuclear Power)
One of the main developers of Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey. Outlined stages of plan to get it operational by 2025, with training of the workforce required being a key issue.
Dr IAN REES (Principal Coleg Menai)
Explained how they are rising to the challenge of meeting the needs of Wylfa Newydd in the courses they are developing.
In the final Q&A, I raised the point that a recurring theme of the day had been the inability of markets and incentives to actually deliver what we want and need. I asked if the panel would therefore support moves back towards a nationalised energy industry. There was a general concession that Government had to take a stronger lead in developing and resourcing long term policy objectives to provide the stability and direction that Welsh Government is patently failing to deliver currently.
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