Friday, 22 April 2011


Not everything that works in Scotland will work in Wales, but, some things are worthy of consideration - Scotland is undergoing a sustained period of growth in small scale hydroelectric energy schemes, with scores of streams and rivers being earmarked and investigated for development. This sustainable energy 'gold rush' driven by water rather than minerals is helped by the fact that Scotland, just like Wales is blessed by pretty abundant water resources.

In Scotland, the energy consultants and developers are looking for specific locations where water that flows down steep enough slopes and ravines to allow it to generate an increasingly precious resource: energy.The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is supporting and encouraging the development of hydro power schemes within the park's boundaries and local communities are also planning to build their own local schemes (something that will deliver sustainable cheap energy and other financial benefits as well).

One of the reasons why the hydro rush will work and deliver long term sustainable benefits is the new feed-in tariff that came in 2010. The subsidy for producing green energy has been increased and it makes schemes more viable, which when combined with a progressive Government that is actively driving the growth of sustainable non oil and gas and non nuclear dependent energy supplies'- means that plans to develop sustainable renewable energy supplies are proceeding apace.

In truth, this is something that every Government (with or without half a brain) in Europe should be striving to actively accomplish, all this means that Scotland is on the up energy wise. One simple observation, if it works in Scotland then why can it not in Wales, are we not blessed with rain and blessed with some reasonably steep hills, the odd slopes, not to mention gully's and the occasional ravines?

I mention this because cheap sustainable secure energy is important, it's the potential game changer. The privatised energy companies are busy gouge mining profits from their domestic customers - us and piling up the dividends for their shareholders. British Gas who's operating profits rose 24% in 2010 to £742m. This news, which no doubt was welcome to shareholders, was not welcomed so warmly by domestic customers, it came barely two months after the UK utility announced a 7% rise in domestic energy bills, which it blamed on rising wholesale prices.

British Gas also said it had increased its number of customers by 267,000 during the year to 16 million. Parent company Centrica managed to achieve pre-tax profits of £2.8bn, with operating profits up 29% to £2.4 billion. Not to mention the fact that unrest in the Middle and near East is leading to a rise in Oil Prices which will also hit us at the pumps and elsewhere with increased food and energy costs.

With all that in mind why are we not seriously and actively pursuing the development of sustainable, reliable and secure (not to mention community owned and community beneficial) energy supplies here in Wales and elsewhere in the UK with a serious degree of urgency?

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