Wednesday, 23 June 2010


The Monmouthshire Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Study, commissioned for Monmouthshire County Council has examined ways in which renewable energy sources can be used in new housing and commercial developments. The report suggests that up to 45 per cent of Monmouthshire's electricity needs in 2020 could be generated from renewable sources. It states that this outcome is dependent on the development over the next 10 years, of power generating schemes involving wind, biomass and hydro technologies.

The South Argus notes that the report states that Wind power schemes could emerge as the greatest potential contributor to the county's electricity requirements in 10 years' time, whether based on a successful planning permission rate of one-in-three schemes, the current UK average, or two-in-three. The Argus also notes that the report stresses that the achievement of the latter rate would be vital if the 45 per cent rate of electricity generation from renewable sources were to be reached, with that figure reduced to 30 per cent if the planning permission rate were to remain at one-in-three.

The report also suggests that there is "good potential" for biomass power development in Monmouthshire. Biomass technology can involve a range of different sources, including forestry and sawmill by-products, commercial food waste, and energy crops. A number of small hydro-electricity projects have already begun in the county, and a scheme to harness power from the Angiddy River near Tintern was granted planning permission recently. The report suggests however, that further work on the potential for such schemes should be carried out.

A positive note is that the report places emphasis on the renewable energy potential from new residential and commercial developments. As well as stressing that such projects need to be backed up by efficiency measures and energy conservation elsewhere, if this happens then the percentage of Monmouthshire's electricity needs that could be met by renewable sources could be higher still.

Incidentally a report (on the BBC) by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) published today goes into some detail about the job creation opportunities for young people can be trained and industry boosted by its plan to eliminate emissions by 2030. CAT, which is based in Machynlleth in Powys, is due to launch its report, zerocarbonbritain2030, at the Senedd. The Welsh Assembly Government has welcomed the report, which suggests greater use of Wales' coastal energy. The report is part of a UK-wide strategy to eliminate emissions for all greenhouse gases and across all sectors in the UK. 

Just in case you wondered why we need to develop sustainable secure energy supplies, largely thanks to Mr's T's short-sighted 'Dash for Gas' in the 1980's and any real lack of any  comprehensive forward thinking energy policy over the last 30+ years and the Tory and New Labour's best friends in the City, consider our dependency on imported gas and the latest spat between Belarus and Russia. 

Belarus has said it will settle its gas debts to Russia within two weeks, after its eastern neighbour started cutting supplies in a dispute over payments. Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said Belarus would borrow the nearly $200m (£135m) demanded by the state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom. But he added that Russia owed Belarus $217m (£146m) in fees for transiting gas via its territory to Europe. Earlier, Russia's president ordered Gazprom to reduce supplies by 15%.

Dmitry Medvedev said this would rise "day-by-day" to 85% if Belarus did not start paying off its debts, accrued when it failed to pay increased prices. Belarus believes the higher price it is being charged contradicts a customs union deal agreed between the two countries. The row threatens to disrupt onward deliveries to Europe as about a fifth of its supplies of Russian gas is pumped through Belarus. Back in 2009, a similar dispute between Russia and Ukraine saw Gazprom shut off supplies in the middle of winter, affecting millions of people. 

Just imagine being dependent on energy supplies from potentially hostile or unstable regions of the world... Oops!

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