Written Evidence from Wales TUC Cymru
The Wales TUC welcomes the opportunity to comment
on the Welsh Affairs Committee "Inquiry into energy in Wales".
The Wales TUC represents over 50 trade unions who in turn represent
around half a million members across Wales.
1.1 The Wales TUC has placed a very high
priority on the future of energy in Wales during 2004 and 2005.
We have organised two high profile energy conferences in north
and south Wales where public and private sector representatives
heard from industry leaders, workers and energy experts.
2. THE CURRENT
2.1 The supply of energy in Wales is a crucial
issue to the Wales TUC. The future development of Wales, economically,
environmentally and socially, will be to a large extent dependent
on how we plan energy policy during the next five years.
2.2 Of particular concern are Welsh employers
having access to a stable supply of electricity at a price that
enables them to be competitive and any supply being environmentally
2.3 A secure and competitive energy supply
is of particular importance to the Welsh economy, given the importance
of manufacturing in our energy mix.
2.4 As most electricity in Wales is supplied
via the National Grid, the electricity needs of Wales must be
considered in the context of the supply and demand pattern in
the UK as a whole.
2.5 We must also do more to improve our
energy efficiency, which would help reduce our demand for energy.
3. THE CURRENT
3.1 In Wales, diverse and secure ranges
of electricity generators produce electricity.
|Generation Sector||Terawatt Hours (TWh)
Source: Our Environment, Our Future, Your Views (WAG 2005)
At full capacity, Wylfa can produce 8.6 TWh or 27.5% of Welsh
3.2 The forecasts for electricity demand and supply in
the UK until 2020, as quoted in the DTI/ Ofgem JESS report, indicate
that a much higher proportion of the UK's electricity requirements
will be produced from gas fired power stations (65%) than is presently
the case. This is due to the planned retirement of the older generation
of nuclear power stations and the expected reduction in coal-fired
3.3 Approximately 41% of electricity generated in Wales
comes from gas-fired stations. When Wylfa nuclear power station
closes in 2010, and assuming the proposed gas-fired power stations
at Milford Haven and Uskmouth come on stream in that time, that
percentage will rise to approximately 50%. On present trends this
dependence will continue to increase.
3.4 The closure of Wylfa will remove 8.6 TWh of capacity
from Wales (28% of present Welsh generation) and will make North
Wales a net importer of electricity. South Wales is presently
a net importer of electricity and bears the highest electricity
costs in the UK because of the high transmission costs.
3.5 Given that the industry estimate is 80-90% of gas
used in the UK will be imported as North Sea reserves are progressively
depleted, consideration has to be given to the source of the gas
and whether that supply is stable. If the UK depends upon gas
for 65% of its electricity supply then it is clear that disruption
to the supply of gas would have dire consequences to the economy
and society of the UK and Wales.
4. THE RELATIONSHIP
UK GOVERNMENT AND
4.1 The Wales TUC believes that there needs to be a clear
framework for energy policy in the UK within which the UK Government
and the National Assembly for Wales can operate.
4.2 The Wales TUC believes that pre-legislative scrutiny
by the relevant National Assembly Committees for any future energy
bills should be considered.
5. THE CURRENT
5.1 The Wales TUC supports the development of a long-term
energy policy framework. We cannot simply depend on imported gas.
The Government should consider incentives for investment to ensure
early development of new generating capacity in all lower-carbon
technologies, including renewables and clean coal.
5.2 Fossil fuels: We support the increased use
of carbon abatement technologies that can secure clean coal energy
production in Wales and the spin-offs this will bring to our indigenous
coal industry. We believe that if the UK wants to make a significant
contribution towards cutting greenhouse gases we need to build
more clean coal plants in the UK and then export the technology
to the major coal users, such as China and India. We support the
use of gas, the Pembrokeshire LNG development and oil as an integral
part of a balanced energy policy.
5.3 Nuclear energy: With Wylfa power station in
Anglesey, currently supplying over 25% of Welsh electricity, scheduled
to retire in 2010, that gap will need to be met by new sources
just to stand still. There are significant issues that need to
be addressed if the establishment of new nuclear generating capacity
is to be considered but we believe that if the economy and society
of Wales is to prosper, the possible use of nuclear power has
to be fully explored. Underpinning all these requirements is the
need for positive action to maintain and renew the nuclear skills
base. There are pressing needs to rebuild the extensive knowledge
and expertise that has been lost from the nuclear industry in
recent years as well as to replace existing skilled staff due
to retire in the next few years, even if only to deal with decommissioning
and management of existing radioactive waste.
5.4 Wind power: Both on and off shore, wind power
needs to be part of any energy mix and Wales is geographically
well suited for the construction and operation of wind derived
power. Of all the renewables sources, wind technology is also
likely to produce the most jobs in the immediate future if the
manufacture of wind turbines is carried out in Wales.
5.5 Tidal and wave energy: Similarly, Wales is
amongst the best tidal energy sources in the world, and it is
highly predictable. The significant potential of tidal lagoon
technology should be explored further. Wave energy is driven by
wind, and is a significant potential source of energy. We believe
that an urgent re-evaluation of the potential for a barrage across
the River Severn needs to be made, with its potential to generate
17-19 TWh per year of clean, carbon free electricity. We are aware
of the environmental concerns that arise from building barrages
and these would need to be assessed.
5.6 Carbon capture and storage: Wales TUC supports the
increased use of carbon capture and storage. Instead of being
vented into the atmosphere from power stations, carbon emissions
could be liquefied and pumped back out to the North Sea's emptying
oil and gas reservoirs via a disused gas pipeline.