Welsh Assembly Talks Energy in Amlwch

With energy a major policy issue for the UK, the Welsh Assembly North Wales Regional Committee held a meeting at Amlwch, Anglesey, to address energy saving and low carbon sources of electricity.

We heard from Adrian Roberts, Housing Performance Unit Manager at neighbouring Gwynedd County Council, on a ground breaking efficiencyinitiative. He described how a first of its kind pilot project with British Gas which targeted 180 private households in the Nantlle Valley.

As a result 450 energy saving measures were installed in 347 properties and a number of referrals were made to charity partners. Building on thissuccess, new initiatives have been launched to provide 600 council houses with cavity wall insulation.

Steve Woosey of North Wales Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (EEAC) emphasised the key role of reducing demand in the short term. Apart from theclear environmental benefits of reduced demand, there is also less pressure on the growing dependence on imported resources.

Mr Woosey referred referred to the lack of incentive for people to save, citing the growing enthusiasm for electronic gadgets and rising living standards.

He pointed to the significant savings achievable when, for example, we replace household items such as washing machines and freezers. We can potentially make a carbon saving of 52 per cent made up of insulation (28), heating (15), lighting (2), applicances (7).

But he warns that though progress can be made on domestic appliances, these gains may be lost due to the proliferation of consumer electronics. One of the major future challenges will be hard to treat homes, such as those with solid walls which are more common in this part of Wales.

The Carbon Trust focuses on helping business and the public sector to cut carbon emissions. It does this by emphasising three areas, namely saving energy, developing new technology and thirdly, understanding climate change.

Mike Batt from Carbon Trust Wales presented us with some interesting examples of its client focused approach to energy efficiency and carbon reduction.

We saw, for example, how a battery manufacturer has saved 1,686 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), with a 20 per cent year on year efficiency improvement.

He also showed how a chocolate producer reduced its energy bill by 21,000 pounds and increased productivity by 22%.

A sobbering thought is that for every 100 units of power generated by fossil fuel, only 33 units are supplied. A further 13 units are lost through inefficient use.

Finally, a very interesting contribution was made by Professor Stuart Irvine, Department of Chemistry, Bangor University and Chairman of the Wales Opto-ElectronicsForum (WOF) Photovoltaic Group. Professor Irvine sees massive potential for use of photovoltaics (PV) and reminded us of the Welsh expertise in this new technology.

As part of a balanced and integrated energy policy, PV can make a notable contribution as a clean, renewable energy source. Professor Irvine conceeded that while the costof PV solar energy is not competitive now, it will become increasingly so after 2020. It has huge application for being incorporated into the built environment and so contributeto energy efficiency and low carbon targets.

The Photovoltaic Group has a target for Wales to have at least 10 per cent of renewable energy produced from PV by 2020. To achieve the Welsh Assembly Government target of renewable generation of 7TWh by 2020 would require installing 875 MW of PV, which is equivalent to about 437,000 houses using a 2kW rooftop unit.

The Amlwch meeting was a great success and has stimulated further debate about the challenges of climate change and a low carbon future.


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