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Climate

Discussions to tackle most pressing climate challenges in south and west Wales

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A SERIES of engaging roundtable discussions centered around the burgeoning green economy in South and West Wales is set to unfold online in the upcoming weeks. These thought-provoking events mark the prelude to the inaugural Regional Green Economy Conference and Exhibition, slated to grace Swansea Arena on Wednesday, November 22.

These enlightening discussions will be conducted on the Zoom platform and are open for participation by all interested parties. Each event will feature prominent thought leaders in the respective fields under discussion, allowing for an interactive Q&A session where participants can actively engage and raise pertinent queries.

The schedule for these roundtables is as follows:

Materials Roundtable
Date: Wednesday, September 20

Transport Roundtable
Date: Wednesday, October 11

Innovation Roundtable
Date: Wednesday, October 18

Nature & Biodiversity Roundtable
Date: Wednesday, October 25

Food Roundtable
Date: Wednesday, November 1

These panel discussions are orchestrated by 4theRegion, a collective alliance committed to instigating positive transformations in the region. Notably, 4theRegion also serves as the driving force behind the groundbreaking Green Economy Conference and Exhibition, an event of unprecedented significance in South Wales.

In collaboration with the leading sponsor, CEIC, and esteemed event partners such as Swansea Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Celtic Freeport, and GreenEconomy.Wales, the Conference and Exhibition are primed to grace Swansea Arena on Wednesday, November 22.

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Climate

Record year for Welsh heat pumps and solar panels

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RECORD numbers of solar panels and heat pumps were installed in Welsh homes and businesses last year.

2023 saw more than double the amount of certified renewable installations in Wales than the previous year, bringing the total number of Welsh homes and businesses with renewable energy to over 100,000. 2023 was also the first year that installations rose above 20,000 in a single year, according to the MCS database of certified installations.

Solar panels made up the majority of the new renewable energy, with 14,730 MCS-certified installations across Wales. This represents a twelve-year high and is the highest level since Feed-In Tarriff grants were cut in 2011.

But the largest increase was in the heat pump sector, with a 147% increase in certified installations between 2022 and 2023. Experts at the MCS Foundation, which compiled the figures, said that Government grants introduced in 2022 have helped drive the rise in uptake. Households can now get £7,500 off the cost of a heat pump under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, with applications for the grants rising rapidly.

Grants available for homeowners via the Welsh Government’s Nest scheme have also helped with the rollout of renewables. The Nest scheme is coming to an end, and is due to be replaced by a new scheme with a greater focus on low carbon technologies for the home.

Nearly one-in-ten households in Wales now have MCS-certified renewable installations, the highest proportion anywhere in the UK.

David Cowdrey, Director of External Affairs at the MCS Foundation, said: “The rapid rise of renewables in Wales is good news for people’s energy bills and for the climate.

“However, while the upward trend is encouraging, we need to be installing many more heat pumps, much faster, to meet climate change targets. Government policies like mandating heat pumps in all new-build homes and reducing the price of electricity so that heat pumps are guaranteed to be cheaper to run than a gas boiler will help to increase uptake.”

Nick Salini, Director of heat pump installer Thermal Earth, said “It is positive to see the increased uptake of renewables in Wales. Heat pumps are the future of home heating systems and viable in every type of building with correct design and installation.

“While this growth is welcome, we need significantly higher growth to get anywhere near the long term targets set by UK Government and reduce our national dependency on fossil fuels. In addition to installation financial support such as the BUS, we need lower electricity costs for heat pumps to further increase the running cost savings and more positive messaging of the advantages heat pumps offer homeowners to transition to away from traditional fossil fuel systems.”

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Climate

Site visit for Rhosygilwen turbine after airport safety fears raised

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PLANNERS are to visit the site of a proposed 200-foot-high wind turbine at a north Pembrokeshire mansion and arts charity home after fears were raised it would threaten the safe operation of the nearby West Wales Airport.

Mr and Mrs Glen Peters of Western Solar Ltd are seeking permission for a single 600kw turbine on land near the Grade II-listed Rhosygilwen Mansion, which includes an arts and functions building known as Neuaddydderwen.

The application, for the 62-metre-high turbine and associated works, was recommended for refusal at the January meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee for several reasons, including harm to the setting of the Grade-II-listed house and grounds, and threats to the safe operation of West Wales Airport at Aberporth in neighbouring Ceredigion, some 9.5 kilometres away.

Agent and specialist renewable energy developer Infinite Renewables Limited, in its supporting statement, said: “The survival of the business, the Pembrokeshire Retreat and Menter Rhosygilwen (the arts charity) which are conducted at Neuaddydderwen and the mansion, is dependent on lower energy costs. Winter imports of energy forced closure in 2022/23 due to high energy bills,” it adds.

A report for planners says the airport manager at West Wales Airport has objected to the proposed development due to possible interference with radar systems, which is disputed by an aviation consultant advising Infinite Renewables Limited.

The issue has also been raised by the MoD, which had requested further time so submit a response.

Speaking at the meeting, applicant Glen Peters said the application for a turbine was “made on both financial and ideological grounds,” to ensure the long-term viability of Rhosygilwen, acquired some 30 years previously as a fire-damaged house that was about to be pulled down.

He said that, despite 200-year-old Rhosygilwen using power from its solar farm, the first of its kind in Wales, along with ground source heating a biomass power, it was hit with “huge increases in importing energy from the grid” during the winter months.

New member of the planning committee, and local member for Cilgerran, Councillor John T Davies, attending his first committee meeting in 21 years, said support a recommendation of refusal would be “premature” while responses were awaited.

Cllr Davies called for a deferral on making a decision for two months.

An amendment to Cllr Davies’ proposal, to include a site visit, was made by Cllr Iwan Ward, which was unanimously supported by members.

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Climate

Blue Gem Wind shares wind speed data with Wales’ Marine Energy Test Area

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BLUE GEM WIND, a joint venture between TotalEnergies and Simply Blue Group, have shared important wind speed data with Wales’ Marine Energy Test Area (META).

The data was collected as part of the development of the Erebus floating wind project, which is planned to be built approximately 45km off the coast of Pembrokeshire.

Mike Scott, Project Managing Director at Blue Gem Wind, said: “We installed a met mast on the Angle Peninsula in early 2021 to understand wind speed and other weather-related data for the development of our Erebus floating wind project. Working with Marine Energy Wales we are happy to provide data we have collected to support the ongoing development plans at META .”

META operates eight sites in and around the Milford Haven waterway. It offers testing in real sea conditions for wave, tidal and floating offshore wind technology, alongside world-class port, engineering, and manufacturing facilities.

As the only pre-consented, pre-commercial test facility of its kind in the country, META is dedicated to reducing the time, cost and risks associated with the deployment and commercialisation of marine energy technologies, saving companies valuable time and money.

Saul Young, META Operations Manager said: “We are pleased to be collaborating with Blue Gem Wind and to be sharing data in this way. Not only will it help improve our understanding of conditions at the East Pickard Bay site, but it will also help support the development of the sector by providing technology developers and researchers accurate data with which to plan their innovative projects at META. META has a growing catalogue of data for our various sites, and we are committed to expanding our collection.”

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