Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from Ioan M Richard, Swansea City & County Councillor

  Let me first say "Congratulations on holding this Inquiry"—it's long overdue to get real facts and not opinions.

  We need bulk energy production in Wales and the UK to secure our economic future. We need not only bulk supply but a secure reliable economic supply of energy, and if climate changes are down to man's carbon emissions we need to do something real about that issue also and stop pussyfooting with joking sources of energy like unreliable, expensive, over subsidised, erratic, weak output wind power—we need real clean reliable power in bulk.


The NUCLEAR Option

  We need to pursue safe modern nuclear power and ignore the scaremongering of the "rabid people" in "Greenpeace" and so called "Friends of the Earth" and the "Green Party". They seek to throw up Chernobyl at every phrase they utter. These people are mostly bigoted cranks to put it bluntly and they have influenced Energy politics for far too long distracting us from our real needs and real issues.

The TIDAL Lagoon option

  Here is a really excellent option for Wales—far more valid to Wales than nuclear. This has been proven by the eminent Engineers at WS Atkins to be viable—we have in the tide flows of the Bristol Channel one of the greatest world assets in mass clean reliable renewable energy in the world—greater than we could possibly imagine. Sadly every obstruction possible has been put in the way of this by people at the Wales Assembly Government—people not wanting to lose face over their support with useless wind energy!

Clean Coal Technology

  Here is a source of Energy that's been scorned, yet it is highly feasible. It grossly annoys me to see pictures on my television screen regularly showing vast clouds coming up from coal power stations purporting to be smoke and CO2 when every scene is actually harmless STEAM from cooling towers !!!! Coming back to coal—I'd like to see the workers co-operative at Tower Colliery being encouraged to develop the much talked of Margam Coal Mine reserves for clean coal energy production to secure Aberthaw Power station as a mass electricity producer and as a fringe benefit to supply the giant Port Talbot steelworks with its blast furnace needs of home produced coal with hundreds of well paid jobs. Deep coal mining will always be arduous and dangerous but with modern methods and Health and Safety regulations of today nowhere ever as bad as before in years gone by.

Energy Efficiency

  Whilst a lot is being done in this field it is nowhere as good as it should. It is seriously estimated that we waste a third of our energy supplies. We could seriously make massive in roads here. This is a major issue.

Solar; Biomass; Wave Power; Incineration & Gasification of Waste; Hydro etc

  A lot is written and spoken of these forms of energy forms. Yet I think in this country we can write off any thought of mass energy from solar—but in future Building Regulations could insist on solar panelled roofs to building projects that can afford them—eg the obscene profits of the super market giants should be forced into solar panelled roofs. We can forget about wave power—ask any surfer—wave power is totally unreliable as it depends on the whims of the wind—(a lot more on wind later!!). Hydro is not valid in bulk in Wales as we have no big rivers tumbling down from high altitudes, but small schemes may be viable on hill farms. Use of waste from landfill methane and incineration and gasification of wastes are useful in consuming unwanted wastes as long as the emissions are "scrubbed". Biomass is not valid unless it is on site of source, as hauling biomaterials eg wood chips consumes more diesel better spent as a fuel for another use.


Wind Energy—UK Nationally:

  Wind energy is kinetic. mass (weight) of wind (air) molecules multiplied by velocity (speed) going in to the circumference of turbine blades—minus the mass multiplied by velocity of it going out the other side. Air is very light and speeds are even low in a storm—the energy available is thus very tiny. Some is lost as friction; transformer heat; noise energy and line voltage drops. Water is a thousand times heavier, thus a wind turbine blade has to be a thousand times bigger than a water turbine. The only plus point is it is clean and free, but in real energy terms it is basically so low it's farcical. A 400 foot tall wind turbine is rated at maximum at 2 megawatt or 2,000 kilowatt. As wind is so erratic it only averages 24% of 2MgW cutting output down to 480 kilowatts—or 480 single bar electric fires. In a year this sounds a lot:— 480 kw X 24 hrs X 365 days = 4,204,800 kwhrs. Seems big. In a year the UK uses 400,000,000,000 kw hrs. The concept of big numbers is difficult for the brain to wrap itself around—imagine writing 400,000,000,000 and each figure "0" to be drawn 10 times the size of its preceding "0"—try it on paper—after a few it gets so huge you can't write it even on a large wall let alone paper. So 400,000,000,000 is a truly immense figure and by comparison 4,204,800 is really insignificant. To power the UK we would in theory need 95,000 giant wind turbines desecrating the windy west of Wales and Scotland on land and sea. (Peak winter demand would mean well over 100,000). Yet all the UK learned Institutes of Engineers have told the UK Government (which is not listening) that not more than 20% of erratic power could supply the National Grid without power surges causing black outs, and 20% would mean 19,000 giant wind turbines. Even these would need all the existing power stations (unless new gas ones are built) running and burning uneconomically on standby "spinning reserve"—all consuming fuel and still emitting carbon dioxide, whether coal; gas or oil, ready to swing in to full output when the wind dies down or simply gusts unsteadily. Meteorological weather records clearly show we get many such periods and even weeks of relatively calm especially on still frosty nights every year. If we build new gas power stations to replace dirty coal we still have to run the main trans-continental gas pipeline gauntlet through the problem fraught Balkans or Middle East to satisfy the equation of wind supported by gas. Then there's crippling costs—currently carbon (coal) fired power as at Aberthaw (capacity 1,500 megawatt) sells its electricity at about £18 per megawatt in to the grid. We buy it at approx £71 per megawatt (7.08p per unit), yet wind power sells in to the grid at £68 per megawatt which is 400% more than coal power via a massive subsidy—although the politicians call it a number of names such as "carbon levy" or "renewable obligation" etc but at the end of the day wind power is the highest ever subsidised commodity since the industrial revolution. Currently over 1,000 Wind Turbines in UK supply less than 0.3% of UK electricity—in other words next to nothing—yet if that figure rises significantly the cost of energy will go through the roof, and ruin our economy—and without subsidy there would be no wind turbines—it's as simple as that. Also remember that electricity generation only accounts for one third of our carbon emissions—1,000 giant Wind Turbines only save 0.09% of our carbon emissions and pollution is a global issue. The bulk of carbon emissions come from vehicle exhausts; aircraft; domestic heating; factory and basic industrial processes. UK Government claims we could save 30% of our electricity by careful energy saving schemes. We could cut down dramatically on vehicle exhausts if we really penalised heavy cars and the 90% of unnecessary 4X4 vehicles we see on school runs! These should be the easy immediate targets, while we are achieving these we need to frantically pursue other technologies—solar; tidal and even carbon sequestration—being anti-wind desecration does not mean pro-nuclear, although the New Labour Government in London is now firmly advocating nuclear and "clean coal" energy generation, but have not seemingly told their Welsh Assembly Government. In Cardiff the Wales Energy Minister Andrew Davies AM is still foolishly and strongly advocating wind energy as his main piece of policy for Wales.

Wind energy—local issues in Swansea, Wales

  An example of a firmly proposed wind turbine power station at Mynydd y Gwair common in North Swansea:

    If this wind power station is built at Mynydd y Gwair common in Mawr ward of North Swansea it will only generate vast amounts of money—our money—for the German owned multi-national business Npower and the family trust of the feudal Lord of the Manor of Gower the Duke of Beaufort one of England's wealthiest aristocrats. Indeed at today's prices it will generate £110 million from electricity sales plus a staggering £236 million from subsidies from 39 Turbines—our money! Npower is currently desperately trying to get support for their scheme here which will only save 0.00014 of UK Carbon emissions yet swallow up a quarter of a billion £££££££££s in subsidies—our money !!!!!!! In global terms this is immeasurable carbon savings!

    The whole issue of wind energy is wrapped up in deceit to milk the Renewable Energy Obligation system. It is a disgrace and a farce how the pseudo "Greens" have totally beguiled Politicians into this scam of belief that wind energy will reduce global climate change—the fact is—proven by irrefutable statistics above—simple true arithmetic—wind power will never ever stop climate change and neither will it ever contribute to world or UK or Welsh energy needs in any meaningful way—that's a fact!

    A retired science and maths teacher—worked half my life in teaching. Prior to that I worked my first half of my working life both manually and technically in the heavy coal and steel Industries, and an elected Councillor for over 20 years a community activist and above all a family man interested in passing on a secure planet and Wales to my eight grand children and their descendants.

December 2005

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