‘Ynni Cymru’ and an energy-efficient Wales

Simon Thomas AM sets out a vision for an energy efficient Wales.

Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, and with 2016 being on track to be the hottest year since records began, we are already feeling its effects.

If we are serious about cutting Wales’ emissions by 80% by 2050, as set out in the Environment Wales Act 2016, and reaching the cross-party agreed target of cutting emissions by 40% by 2020, we must act now. This means that we need to improve energy efficiency, through releasing fewer emissions from homes, businesses and transport. It also means we need to be producing energy from cleaner, renewable sources.

The Welsh Government’s programme for government ‘Taking Wales Forward’ is very thin when it comes to energy policy. It is not just Plaid Cymru saying this: as Shea Jones, the IWA’s Re-energising Wales Project Co-coordinator notes in the latest ‘Welsh Agenda,’ that ‘energy is hardly mentioned and there is a complete omission of any mention of energy efficiency…doesn’t bode well for the Government’s priorities over the next five years.’

Plaid Cymru’s own response to this challenge in our Programme for Opposition 2016 -21 sets out how climate change must be tackled across the entire remit of government. Both mitigation and adaptation to its effects must be pursued in order to provide a good quality of life for Wales’ current and future generations. The reality of climate change should have a real impact on government policies across transport, housing, the economy, education and our NHS.

Our specific vision for energy and the environment is for a Wales that reduces its carbon emissions, harnesses its natural resources sustainably, and seizes opportunities in the low-carbon and circular economies.

The link between energy and climate change is clear. However, we are unfortunately again in the position of having to wait for Westminster and the new Wales Bill to give us a few more crumbs from the table when it comes to powers over energy.

If the Wales Bill passes, Wales will have consenting powers over energy projects up to 350 megawatts. The logic behind the 350MW cut-off point is questionable – it would mean that the decision to give planning consent for Swansea Bay tidal lagoon would be made in Wales, whereas the decision over larger tidal lagoon projects in Cardiff, Newport and north Wales would be made in England. Even the Ffestiniog pumped storage scheme, a decision made back in the 1960s, would be retained at Westminster.

And this brings us to the other obstacle: both financial incentives over renewable energy and the future of the electricity and gas grids are decided in London. This means that Wales is constrained by UK Government policy decisions in terms of what types of energy projects are developed, even when they are under 350MW.

Even a game-changing development such as the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay is held up by endless reviews and indecision in London. And though Wales can boast innovative community energy schemes such as Ynni Ogwen or Awel Aman Tawe, they pale into insignificance set side by side with the wide community ownership and development of projects in countries such as Denmark or Germany.

However, there is a big step which the Welsh Government can take now to increase energy generation from renewables. That is to set up a national energy company, Ynni Cymru, which will run as a not-for-dividend company at arms-length from Welsh Government, investing profits in improved services and prices.

A number of actions would fall into the remit of Ynni Cymru, including: reducing the cost per unit of energy to homes and businesses in Wales, reducing the consumption of energy in homes and businesses and helping consumers to make informed decisions based on smart metering technology.

Ynni Cymru would be tasked with funding the mass installation, outsourced to local companies, of solar panels on the roofs of households, business premises and lampposts in Wales, beginning with public buildings and social housing.

The company would coordinate and facilitate the use of publicly-owned land for renewable energy purposes.

It could finance the acquisition and development of new large-scale generating and storage capacity, ensuring Wales becomes self-sufficient in renewable energy and becomes a renewable energy exporter.

It could boost our energy market by ensuring the development of a national producer cooperative among community energy organisations.

Ynni Cymru could be tasked with developing a national network of municipally- owned regional or local energy companies to match generation and demand for electricity at the district scale.

We cannot surely be satisfied with a government response to devolution which means we are outpaced in some of these areas both by local authorities in England and regions and nations elsewhere in the EU. If anything, the decision to leave the EU, and presumably the developing internal energy market also, means we should be accelerating the pace towards energy self-sufficiency.

The Party of Wales believes that we can produce as much electricity as is consumed in Wales from renewables by 2035. Ynni Cymru would have a crucial role in fulfilling this aim and also in contributing to the Welsh Government’s climate change targets.

Simon Thomas is Shadow Minister for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, and Mid and West Wales AM for Plaid Cymru

7 thoughts on “‘Ynni Cymru’ and an energy-efficient Wales

  1. Pretty sure everything said above has been covered many time over the last few years when Llyr had the brief. While I may not necessarily disagree, it’s interesting to note Plaid’s continued push for publicly owned companies across the utilities and some services. As far as can be seen there is a limited evidence base for their effectiveness – especially in terms of lowering prices to consumers as the Welsh Water example highlights in abundance. Would like to see more evidence based policy making.

  2. “Climate-Saving” Green Energies In Germany “Also Useless In November”!

    The Germany-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here recently reminded readers of two things:
    renewable energies are performing woefully and temperature trends for Germany are pretty much flat, meaning they do not even remotely resemble anything you’d expect from a rapidly warming globe.


    The 1998 and 2016 El Nino peaks are the only recent ‘warming’ you’ve got and it doesn’t last – both natural phenomena and mostly confined to the Southern Hemisphere. All the believable raw data for the Northern Hemisphere shows a flat or slightly declining trend this century as you would expect after the 1998 El Nino peak. The 2016 El Nino peak is falling away very rapidly now.

    The green energy systems in Germany and Denmark are both in deep trouble – unaffordable for consumers and industry, and failing to deliver when it matters. As the calculations in the above article show, Germany could triple its installed wind energy and it still couldn’t cope with peak demand.

    And this is before the worst effects of the impending solar grand minimum are factored in. We are staring disaster in the face unless reliable predictable base-load generation is installed very soon.

  3. Whilst I agree with your comments that public companies are not as efficient as private ones in general they can atleast obtain the finance to establish costly new energy infrastructure which can later be privatized to improve on their operation.
    Climate Change is being pushed by the false notion that CO2 causes Global Warming. If you examine the Ice Core records you can see that CO2 levels have followed temperature changes and is not therefore the cause of Global Warming. Solar activity is the main factor effecting our global temperature. The sun has been hotter than normal for the 300 years up to 2013 which has caused our global temperature to rise from the mini ice age prior to about 1700ad up to 1998 when global warming flattened off to a decline in the last 3 years. So fortunately for us all, Global Warming has already ended. The rise in CO2 from 190ppm to 400ppm nowadays has benefited growth of our food crops and everything else by 30% and this level is still low compared to the longterm average of about 4000ppm. Politicians and Eco warriors will need some time to adjust to this new reality. However, the Carbon Tax Levy should be repealed as it is not needed and is very detrimental to cutting the real pollution affecting our atmosphere in terms of acid rain harming forestries and crops and other chemicals that harm the Ozone barrier.

  4. The idea that most people want the Assembly/WAG having greater powers over our energy supply is fanciful in the extreme.The politicians in Caerdydd are far too influence by the ‘green’ lobby and hence the drive for ‘sustainable’ energy and creation of massive wind farms on hillsides all over this region of UK.Before the nonsense of global warming we the (UK) had brilliant engineers/planners who developed the infrastructure of power generation through a mixture of various supplies,including nuclear power. The ‘hatred’ of nuclear power by a)greens,b)plaid was illogical as we received huge supplies of electricity from France whose northern coasts are ringed with NP plants,and at last new plants being built in north wales,and over the water in the west country. According to newspapers the UK government is funding the retainment of coal plants to generate electricity as ‘cheaper’ than some of the green alternatives,and more importantly the power is guaranteed and not affected by wind.It seems much of policies at Assembly are driven by nation building rather than practical policies.

  5. According to BBC Wales/CYMRU (so it must be right) it was report last night that another ‘wheeze’ in Pembrokeshire ,has come to end and is ‘sleeping with fish’ as in The Godfather!!. Yet MORE public money through WAG has been ‘wasted’ on sustainable projects that look pretty ‘unsustainable’ to us plebs. Lets get the responsibility for energy supplies back to the UK government and ‘experts’ rather than third rate politicos who seem to be living in an Alice in World of huge public subsidies,but little or no accountability. The USA has turned world economics/energy supplies by exploiting massive gas/oil reserves and so should we in the UK. Our political masters in Cardiff are out of their depth and should remain worrying about Mrs. Jones’s leaking tap and get out of energy supply issues ASAP.

  6. The Welsh Public sector have asked WG over last 3 years to look at renewable sources especially sleeving of supplies.
    This enables LA’S to buy energy from community energy sources thereby maximising income for those communities.
    A Welsh energy company was proposed as well.
    The WG have exempted DCWW from water competition but users in Wales will not be able to benefit from it but put up with poor services especially if you have multi accounts looking for stream lined electronic billing that saves on processing costs.
    While DCWW are looking to supply those solutions in England under deregulation.

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