"The arms that you wield now are not such as your forefathers wielded; but they are infinitely more effective, and infinitely more irresistable" ~ Cymru Fydd leaflet, 1890

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Let's go fly a kite

Wales has been chosen to be a guinea pig for a new type of marine turbine, the 'kites' as they are being called are set to be installed a few kilometres off the coast of Holyhead. But even a cursory read of the news article should be enough to set the alarm bells off.

Map showing the location where the 'kites' (inset) will be installed.
Firstly as the kites will be installed inside the 12 mile nautical limit that means they will be on an asset of The Crown Estate. The company behind the scheme confirms on their website that they were 'awarded an Agreement for Lease (AfL) for a 10 MW installation in Holyhead Deep by The Crown Estate'. How much money changed hands is unknown but what we do know is that however much money it was to enable this company to use the sea off Wales, it will not come to Wales it will go directly to The Crown Estate.

The news article also tells us that the company behind it are hoping for £250 per MWh, the tidal lagoon planned for Swansea is hoping to get £168 MWh. Even that is still well over £100 per MWh more expensive than the wholesale rate.

Now clearly no one would be expecting to actually pay the wholesale price. But to expect us to pay almost five times as much as that for the privilege of being a guinea pig is as insulting as it is ludicrous.

But we need energy I hear you cry. Well actually we don't, Wales is a net exporter of energy, as is Scotland. In fact the only country on the island of Britain that isn't a net importer is England. And yet to add more insult, people in Wales actually pay more for their energy than anywhere else in the UK.  
What Wales needs is to have control over the assets that currently belong to The Crown Estate and control over energy. And by control I mean total and complete control so that any excess is not just taken from Wales with nothing in return but sold instead.

Anyway, back to the kites they are installing. Initially the three they are installing will only be able to muster 1.5 MW between them, it then carries on to suggest it could eventually expand to 10 MW which could provide 8000 households. Using their own figures we can see that the 1.5 MW will provide enough energy for 1200 households. In the 2011 census Holyhead had a population of 11,431. With an average household holding just over two people we can do some quick maths and see these kites, at best, will provide for less than a quarter of Holyhead.

The scheme is set to go ahead thanks to £9.5 million of EU funding and could provide up to 30 jobs (three zero). The rest of the money needed will have to be raised via private backers.

How about we instead use the money to provide solar panels to many thousands more households in Holyhead. Any home owner who takes one will receive a discount on their bills and the profit is fed back into the company in order to provide for maintenance and expansion. Or, we could continue subsidising England with more energy. Make no mistake this is what is happening, every single MWh extra generated in Wales is one MWh extra than is able to be taken across the border.

Edit. In order to highlight how much of a waste of money this scheme is, mainly for the benefit of those who have missed the point, I have created a sexy graph comparing three different proposed developments. The first is Mynydd y Gwair wind farm (£52m) followed by the Swansea lagoon (£850m) and the Holyhead kites (£25m).

Does anyone still want to fly a kite?

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I think I'm starting to realise why we pay more for our energy than any other UK nation.http://www.welshnotbritish.com/2015/05/lets-go-fly-kite.html
Posted by Welsh not British on Wednesday, 20 May 2015

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