The Impact of Business Rates on Community Energy

As someone who has worked in the energy industry for over a decade the impact the new Business Rates are having on community energy is particularly painful.

The BBC did a fine piece exploring the issue and even featured schemes I’ve designed but I felt I had to snatch a few moments from work and have my say. It’s only the Next Industrial Revolution after all…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-39874843

 

Experts Say Build Tidal Lagoon, but the Govt Don’t Like Experts…

Wales Green Party Welcomes Positive Findings of Hendry Review on Swansea Lagoon


Today the Hendry review on the feasibility of Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon was published, and it was overwhelmingly positive in its recommendations.

Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party Deputy Leader said, “This is a wonderful way to start 2017! The Hendry review backs all our key pollution and carbon reduction demands, but importantly we now need to press the Westminster government to delay no further and allocate the £1.3b funding. This is chickenfeed when compared to the £37b they have already allocated to building the Hinkley C reactor.

“ A tidal lagoon is much more cost effective than a nuclear reactor, and infinitely less damaging. The lagoon will produce zero carbon electricity with no radioactive waste forced on future generations, and very small decommissioning costs. Even the decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas is estimated to be costing taxpayers an outrageous £24 billion. Theresa May must now stop dithering and give the green light to this industry fit for the future.“

The Hendry review pointed out that tidal technology would “contribute positively” towards the UK’s decarbonisation goals and stated that the potential impact on consumer bills of large scale tidal lagoons appears attractive, particularly when compared to nuclear projects. It also marked the fact that this was a significant economic opportunity for Wales.

Grenville Ham, Deputy Leader of the Wales Greens said, “There are worries which we should all be concerned about. The experts have said that tidal power is exactly what we want, yet the Conservative government appears to have had enough of experts. We could have saved a lot of time and money by listening to the properly qualified people in the first place.”

The combined output of proposed UK tidal lagoons, at about 12% of UK electricity consumption will produce almost double the energy of the is of the same order as the intended output of Hinkley Point C .

The environmental impact will be much less than for a Severn barrage and unlike the Severn barrage, tidal lagoons are replicable at multiple sites around the UK and indeed around the world.

Anthony Slaughter, who contributed to the Hendry review on behalf of the Wales Green Party said, “This is fantastic news for the low carbon industries. Tidal generation is predictable and dependable far into the future and will complement our growing wind and solar resources. Greens welcome the economic regeneration opportunities which will follow this popular development. “

Wales Green Party Calls for Westminster to Back a Welsh Green Energy Revolution That Can Lead The World

 

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More than 20 industrial companies employing more than 42,500 people are pressing the government to back tidal lagoon technology in Swansea. Ministers in Westminster are expected to make a decision this Thursday 12th January when the Hendry review will be published and could make or break the fledgling Tidal Power Industry. It will determine whether the UK will go down a route of domestic energy security, reduced carbon emissions and huge employment opportunities from a homegrown industry, or will illustrate yet again that the UK Government is only willing to see tax breaks and subsidies go towards fossil fuel companies and foreign investors.

Pippa Bartolotti, Deputy Leader of the Wales Green Party said, “Industry is emphatically pressing for the Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon, and it would be folly if the government does not give the green light on this proposal this week.  Greens applaud industry in recognizing that this technology is in the front line of opening massive employment and regeneration possibilities. When built, the Lagoon will put Swansea, and Wales, firmly on the map at the sharp end of tidal power generation. There will be tremendous opportunities for eco- tourism and a much needed morale boost for the whole of Wales.

Grenville Ham, Deputy Spokesperson of the Wales Green Party, and recipient of a royal honour for his ‘Services to the Renewable Energy Industry in Wales’, said: “Tidal lagoons can quickly become a central pillar of the UK energy mix. Tidal power is predictable, never-ending, and crucially, will form part of a homegrown energy industry that can lead the world.”

Speaking about project investment Grenville went on to say “A bold vision from our leaders will create thousands of jobs, make Wales a world leader in the energy industry and drive down our carbon emissions. This first prototype of a tidal lagoon, as in the case of all prototypes, will not necessarily be the most cost effective version, and government has to realize that this investment is firmly for the well being of future generations. Indeed, there should be nothing stopping the UK or Welsh Governments investing themselves in order to bring down the required subsidy level and still provide a decent return for taxpayers.”

Shortly after the EU referendum, the government committed to cutting carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels, but has so far failed to spell out how it will support renewable energy beyond 2020. With the huge cuts to renewable energy support and fossil fuel companies continuing to receive eye-watering tax breaks and subsidies, the Government has a poor record in supporting homegrown technologies, carbon reduction and local job creation.

Bartolotti added, “We need to take the long term view of such an important investment and help create the green supply chain which will contribute to the long term prosperity of Wales. This country is well placed to build genuine income from renewable energy. The case against the Lagoon is a case against investing in Wales.  Let’s not delay the Swansea Tidal Lagoon any more. For too long we have muddled along with polluting old industries, the Swansea Lagoon will be quite literally a breath of fresh air”

Tidal lagoons are predictable, generate no carbon emissions and could provide as much as 12 per cent of Britain’s electricity needs. The Hendry review will determine whether there is a future for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, a pioneering scheme that will provide enough power for 155,000 homes. The Lagoon will use proven, yet cutting-edge technology, to pioneer a fleet of larger projects, which, if approved, could power up to a third of UK homes for the next five generations.

The Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon is expected to have a lifespan of 120 years.

Wales Needs a National Infrastructure Commission that Works For All of Us


Earlier today I read through the Welsh Governments’ Consultation on establishing a National Infrastructure Commission. There were some pretty depressing points within it that I’ll describe in a moment, however it’s worth pointing out that a body like this is long overdue so the commitment to establish one is certainly welcomed.

Having worked in the energy industry for over a decade I have experienced first hand how some of our most important infrastructure is developed without forethought to what is needed down the road. A prime example was when I was told, rather abruptly, that there was no longer any capacity within the electricity network throughout much of mid Wales for any new renewable energy schemes. In essence, no one can build anything anymore because the grid won’t be able to cope.

“How can this be?” I asked the engineers in charge of the electricity grid for much of south and mid Wales. “Can I have the contact details of the people in charge of your future strategy for the grid?”.

I was then told that they didn’t think they had anyone working on the future needs of the electricty grid for Wales. Think about that for a moment! Electric vehicles, decentralised renewable energy, domestic electrical storage, self driving cars – all of these have formed the blueprint for much of the technological advances we will be having in the coming years and, at least as far as the people I have spoken to are aware, there’s no plan in place for making sure that the grid can deliver. Without a comprehensive plan in place we are going to get more instances in which (like broadband, roads, public transport etc) large parts of Wales will be totally neglected and inequalities will rise. Not only that but we will yet again miss out on the new Green Jobs and innovations that could otherwise form part of a dynamic Welsh economy.

So I know all too well that we need to have a long term plan in place. Yet the proposals within the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, as presently described, set us up for many more missed opportunities and inequalities down the road.

The key opportunity that they have missed is that they are proposing that the remit does not include housing, schools, hospitals, training providers or indeed anything that would otherwise be delivered by local development plans. Their justification is that these aren’t needed to be included because “there are already well- established, effective arrangements for analysing the longer-term, strategic needs in these sectors”. With our poor quality housing stock, inefficient spatial design, over reliance on cars and watered down standards for efficiency these sectors are patently not being managed effectively and are presently creating a myriad of social, environmental and infrastructural problems. Equally, if what is being delivered at present were at all effective we would not be seeing the huge regional disparities and inequalities that we see across Wales.

Look, I don’t profess to know all the ins and outs of delivering the entire infrastructure Wales needs for the next 50 years (and frankly, no one does) but if we are going to deliver an intelligently designed low carbon future with the most efficient use of resources it is essential that the infrastructure vision for Wales incorporates all elements of the system – not just the big projects at one end.

A silo mentality has caused most of the problems we have with our infrastructure, and like our future we need everything to be interconnected. Hopefully, by the time the National Infrastructure Commission is set up it isn’t just a bunch of old suits talking about traditional old school concrete blocks, but rather a dynamic collection of visionary experts laying down a blueprint for a more equal and world leading Green Wales.