- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Assembly Speeches
I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s statement on energy. I know that burning carbon creates carbon dioxide. I also know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Thus, we need to reduce our use of carbon-based fuels and reduce our carbon dioxide production, unless we want to be wading in here up to our knees in water.
So, I welcome the proposed target for Wales to be generating 70 per cent of its electrical consumption from renewable energy by 2030. Two questions on this. Firstly, are intermediate targets going to be set so that progress can be checked against them and action be taken if they fall behind, or they can be increased if we’re doing better than expected? The second question is: what progress is being made on battery technology to store electricity created by wind energy at peak production time?
On the Swansea bay tidal lagoon, I welcome the Minister’s commitment to continue to press the UK Government for clarity on support and a response to the Hendry review, which was unequivocal in its support for a tidal lagoon. Some of us had doubts when it was set up that it was being kicked into the long grass. What we had was the most positive report I’ve ever seen, where I think he used words such as, ‘This is a no-regrets policy; if you do it and it doesn’t work, there’s still no regrets’.
The benefits it gives in design skills and the creation of supply chains—which will happen if Swansea is the first—if we wait until other countries create them, we will lose these opportunities. The first gains unique opportunities—Aarhus in Denmark with wind power. Those that follow inevitably import from the innovators. So, can I ask the Cabinet Secretary to put even further pressure on the Government at Westminster that we do need a tidal lagoon in Swansea? Tidal lagoons are the way forward for renewable energy.
I thank Mike Hedges for his questions. In relation to intermediate targets, no, I’ve set those targets. However, what I will do—when I brought forward the statement on energy last December, I committed to reporting annually. So, this December, I will be bringing forward an update on the policy statement from last year. I think, as part of that policy statement, we could then give the latest data. Because as I say, the data that I was looking at for renewable energy, for instance, was 2015. So, hopefully, by December, we’ll have more updated data. So, we could build that into the annual reports.
Storage is a big issue, and certainly in discussions that I’ve had with individuals, with RenewableUK et cetera, they all point to storage being something that we need to get our heads around much quicker than perhaps we are doing. So, again, those policies are being looked at and, clearly, discussions will need to go on about storage as we increase our renewable energy—both what we’re producing and usage.
You’re right about the Hendry review, it certainly was a very unequivocal report, and maybe the UK Government shouldn’t have asked the question if they don’t like the answer. I don’t think I can put any more pressure than I am doing on them. As I say, the last letter I wrote was a month ago—and I’m still awaiting a response from Richard Harrington—asking him to set out a timescale. Before the election, it was Jesse Norman and Greg Clark that I was writing to. Every response I’ve had, I’m afraid, has been light on detail. But I do want to assure Members that we are putting as much pressure as we can on the UK Government to bring forward a response as soon as possible.