Written Evidence from WWF Cymru
WWF believes that any consideration of energy
should include the major impacts that many production and consumption
methods have on the environment. Energy production and use is
a major contributor to climate change, mainly through carbon dioxide
(CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion. It is therefore a
major component of Wales's ecological footprint, an indicator
of sustainable development adopted by the Welsh Assembly Government.
The direct use of energy and the energy used in the production
of goods and services is a major component of the footprint.
Therefore, we believe that consideration of
the portfolio of energy in Wales should encompass the goal of
reducing the impact of energy production and consumption on climate
change and ecological footprint.
WWF supports the findings of the Royal Commission
on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) which suggests that the UK will
need to reduce its CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050. If such dramatic
reductions are to be achieved, action must be taken now in the
energy sector to improve energy efficiency and move to lower or
zero carbon electricity generation technologies.
WWF believes that the UK has an excellent potential
for achieving emission reductions through energy efficiency and
a move to renewable energy sources. It is crucial that both the
demand and the supply side are addressed by energy policy in an
integrated fashion. All energy sources have some environmental
impact. It is thus necessary to both opt for the best environmental
option and to minimise the demand for energy.
Much can be achieved through energy efficiency.
UK households waste £6.5 million a year by being energy inefficient,
yet the technologies exist to drastically reduce domestic energy
consumption, both through more efficient buildings and through
more efficient appliances
Renewable energy sources are either emission
free or carbon "neutral". In WWF's view, the most benign
renewable energy sources include onshore wind, offshore wind,
biomass (including energy crops, forestry and agriculture residues,
wood waste), solar (photovoltaics and thermal), small scale hydro,
wave and some tidal technologies, landfill and sewage gas (based
on anaerobic digestion). WWF does not consider energy from the
incineration of municipal waste as a renewable resource, as most
of the waste is made up of non-renewable materials.
Note our support for tidal technologies is highly
conditional on location and the impact they have on natural ecosystems.
We do not support recent proposals for a tidal barrage across
the Severn Estuary, since it would remove the ebb and flow of
the tidal estuary and impair the natural flow of the river. Many
internationally important species and habitats depend on these
natural rhythms, and the estuary has international designations
to protect them. Destroying irreplaceable wildlife sites for the
sake of energy generation is not a sustainable option, and would
contravene the Welsh Assembly Government's duty to promote sustainable
development. However we strongly recommend that more suitable
technologies are deployed to capture the energy of the Severn
Estuary, such as stand-alone tidal generators, tidal fences and
In the short to medium term, fossil fuels will
continue to play a major role in the UK's energy mix. WWF supports
the development of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) which dramatically
increases the combined efficiency of electricity and heat production.
CHP, in power stations, industry and the domestic sector, can
thus make an important contribution to emission reductions.
WWF sees gas as an important interim fuel but
does not support the development of so-called "clean coal"
technologies. These technologies offer little benefit for CO2
reductions. WWF is also concerned about proposals for carbon removal
and disposal from power plants due to the high risks, costs and
WWF believes that nuclear energy cannot be viewed
as a sustainable technology due to the high risks to the environment
and human health associated with its operation and associated
waste disposal. In WWF's view, it is possible to cover the electricity
gap created by the closure of the UK's nuclear capacity by energy
efficiency, renewables and CHP.
In support of our position, please find attached
two relevant documents.
1. An abstract from "reducing Wales'
Ecological footprint" (WWF and Stockholm Environment Institute.
This report clearly shows the impact on the
footprint of sourcing energy from renewables and improving energy
efficiency in Wales. It is therefore, imperative when looking
at trends in energy demand in Wales, due consideration should
be given to the need to reduce energy consumption in Wales and
the role of government and Assembly in demand management to achieve
2. The second report is "Turning the
Tide. Power from the sea and the protection of nature" by
Iwan Ball of Cardiff University. This looks in detail at the potential
of marine renewables.
The major point to note is that WWF believe
the Committee should recognise the potential marine renewable
energy resource base available in Wales and how this can contribute
to future energy security and diversity needs within the principles
of sustainable development.
10 April 2006