Minister’s ambition for future Welsh green energy

15/03/2010 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Rhyl Flats offshore windfarm, Denbighshire

Wales has the potential to generate twice its electricity needs from renewable sources within 15 years, says Environment Minister Jane Davidson

She said Wales was fortunate to have more than 1,200 km of coastline with significant amounts of marine energy.

A previous target was seven terawatt-hours (TWh) of green energy by 2020, but she says the potential is greater.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the proposals but had earlier called the plans “unrealistic”.

Ina statement the environment minister said: “…the location, geography and climate of Wales means that we have considerable indigenous and thus secure electricity resources that can be captured effectively by modern technologies…

“…it is quite feasible for us to produce more electricity from renewables than we consume, around 35TWhr per year, within 20 years”.

“Wales has the potential to generate more than twice as much renewable energy as we consume as a nation by 2025.”

The assembly government envisages that about 40 percent of this energy would come from marine sources, a third from wind and the rest mainly from sustainable biomass power or smaller local heat and electricity generation projects.

Ms Davidson said support for research and development was vital to fully exploit Welsh marine energy.

She said such potential included the huge tidal range of the Severn, and that the assembly government had been working with the UK government on the Severn tidal power feasibility study.

She said: “Wales once led the world in carbon-based energy. Our goal now is to do the same for low carbon energy.”

At present, Wales uses around 24TWh of electricity a year, from a mix of fossil, nuclear and green methods.

A terawatt hour is equivalent to 1bn kilowatt hours and is commonly used to express the energy production and consumption of businesses and countries.

Massive jump needed

Gordon James, president of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: “We welcome the low carbon energy policy launched by the Welsh Assembly Government .

“This is precisely the sort of vision and ambition we need if we are to successfully tackle the problems of climate change and peak oil.”

Speaking to BBC Wales before the minister’s statement he said producing 48TWh of electricity from renewable sources was “unrealistic and over-ambitious”.

But later he said: “Meeting these targets will be challenging but the effort must be made to harness Wales’ abundant renewable energy sources from the wind, sea and sun and to significantly improve energy efficiency.”

‘Brazen and ambitious’

Mike German, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the environment, said the policy statement was “a brazen and ambitious attempt… low on firm plans” and that he had no confidence the 2025 target would be achieved.

He said: “The Welsh government has failed to reach its 2010 target to produce 10% of our electricity from renewable sources, reaching only 4.4% in 2007 compared to 2.8% in 2000, so I have little faith they will reach even more ambitious targets for the future.

“The Welsh government remains on the fence on nuclear power…we need clarity over the Welsh government’s nuclear policy and whether we should believe the Labour environment minister who is against nuclear power or the Plaid Cymru deputy first minister who supports new nuclear in Anglesey.”



Entry filed under: Renewable Energy, Wind.

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