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Renewable Energy Route Map Consultation Response

23 May 2008

North Hoyle TurbinesIn its response to the Renewable Energy Route Map consultation, the SDC welcomed the commendable aspiration set out by the Welsh Assembly Government of becoming self sufficient in renewable electricity within 20 years, alongside a concerted effort to reduce energy consumption.

The commission recognised the route map as an exciting, forward thinking plan for utilising our strong renewable resource. We were also pleased to note that the route map illustrates that Wales will need to implement a suite of renewable energy technologies, along with significant improvement in energy efficiency, to enable its transition to a low carbon economy.

Five areas were highlighted which could help to enhance the route map:

1. Smart Metering for SMEs
The Welsh Assembly Government should not only support projects focussed on smart meter installations in households, but should also seek to identify options (including the use of convergence funding) to facilitate the installation of smart meters within SMEs in Wales.

2. Economic / Innovation Opportunities
The Route Map has to be at the heart of the economic development strategy for Wales, where the partnership with the private sector is so critical. It has the potential to create numerous jobs and opportunities in Wales, taking Wales forward into an innovative, low carbon, knowledge based economy.

To achieve this the Welsh Assembly Government needs to map the expertise in the low carbon sector in Wales, enable and facilitate collaboration between research institutions and businesses to develop projects, and provide support to an organisation who can support these projects. The government also needs to ensure that the right skills are available to assess the market and support the commercialisation of products with market potential that can be developed in Wales.

3. Wind Power
The SDC recognises the concern that exists about the impact of renewable energies. This concern, particularly for visual impact, needs to be set in the context of the radical impact of climate change. We recommend that the Welsh Assembly Government seeks to ascertain and address the main obstacles halting the development of wind power in Wales. This should involve identifying typical planning objections and analysing the evidence that lies behind them. It should also involve an engagement process with communities in the strategic search areas, to determine if there are conditions under which wind farm developments in their locality would be acceptable.

4. Biofuels/Biorefining
There could be significant potential for the development of second generation bioenergy crops for the production of biofuels, and to replace oil in the production of platform chemicals. These crops are higher yielding and require lower inputs than first generation crops, thereby providing a possible route to reduce CO2 emissions.
The research at the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University is highly respected in this area and should be recognised within the Route Map.

Appropriate safeguards need to be in place to ensure the sustainability of biofuels and bio-derived platform chemicals, particularly within an international context, including rigorous standards for sustainability of every source and supply of biofuel. These sustainability standards must cover complex issues such as the risk of deforestation and societal impacts and should include a whole life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, including land-use change.

5. Integration across Welsh Assembly Government portfolios
The commitments within the Route Map highlight the multidisciplinary approach required to deliver a substantial increase in renewable energy in Wales. It will require coordinated action within, skills, regeneration, energy, environment, housing, economic development, the rural sector and the public sector. The SDC would therefore like to see a commitment within the route map that all Welsh Assembly Government portfolios will work together and take appropriate ownership in delivering upon this highly important agenda.

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