My View: Making North Wales the world’s powerhouse for renewable energy technologies
With ASKAR SHEIBANI
Chair of DBF & CEO of Comtek Network Systems
From vision to reality – making North Wales the world’s powerhouse for renewable energy technologies.
North Wales has a long history of power generation. It has already deployed various energy technologies, including nuclear and renewable power infrastructure, all over the region.
Unfortunately, the cancellation/suspension of Hitachi’s nuclear Wylfa project was a major economic setback for Anglesey. However, the Morlais Tidal Power project is now seeking to harness the power of the natural assets of the region, to produce renewable energy whilst at the same time protecting the environment and creating skilled jobs.
Morlais Tidal Power project on Anglesey (https://www.morlaisenergy.com/), if developed, could make North Wales one of the world leaders in tidal energy. There are very few places in the world that are suitable for deploying tidal power turbines in the sea. This project, when completed (expected within three years), could generate up to 240 MW of electricity, putting it within the top three biggest tidal power generators in the world. Tidal energy is the most predictable and efficient renewable energy technology. The project already has European funding support but requires a further £9m from the Government or the North Wales Growth Deal to commence the work. Unfortunately, there is a strong chance that the European fund may not be available after this year. Any government delays in supporting this unique opportunity could permanently kill this amazing project.
In North Wales we have a highly trained power sector skilled workforce resource, world-class universities and a geology with fantastic potential for expansion of renewable energy. In addition, we have amazing advanced engineering firms in North East Wales. These technology companies are all well equipped to design and manufacture most of the technologies needed for these renewable energy projects.
The renewable energy sector is growing fast globally. We need to be more enterprising and entrepreneurial in our approach and where we identify an opportunity, we must grab it quickly and go for it with full steam before it disappears. North East Wales has seen two recent success stories in regard to renewable energy in Deeside. Thanks to the foresight and bold action of Flintshire County Council, working in conjunction with the private sector, we now have one of the largest solar farms in the UK. In addition, despite some initial local opposition, we have the Parc Adfer incinerator. This incinerator converts refuse to electricity for Deeside, taking waste and transforming it to energy; a remarkable green project. These projects not only create a huge supply of renewable energy for the local businesses, they also created many jobs for our communities and brought in hundreds of millions of pounds of investment to North Wales.
Right now, we have a great opportunity to develop an amazing world-class brand for renewable energy in North Wales and we must not lose it. If the UK and Welsh governments and the North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) work together with the private sector, we can make this vision a reality.