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Oil and gas expert urges young people to join renewable energy revolution in Pembs

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A FORMER oil and gas professional is urging young people to consider a career in renewable energy, and take advantage of rapid growth in the sector as Wales heads towards net-zero by 2050.

Naomi Bowen worked in oil and gas in Pembrokeshire for over 14 years, and recently transitioned to the renewable energy sector to help in the fight against climate change. Now, she wants to encourage prospective school leavers to choose this industry to start their career journey.

The call to arms comes as part of a wider push by Pembrokeshire County Council, its schools, Pembrokeshire College and industry leaders. A number of projects are being delivered this year to inspire young people to consider career pathways in the sector, including the launch of a new film that showcases exciting opportunities in net-zero careers in Pembrokeshire.

Recent research has shown that young people, Gen Z in particular, highly value environmental impact as a factor when looking for jobs. A recent survey from KMPG[1] found that one third of Gen Z workers said they wanted jobs aligned with their environmental values, and had even claimed to reject job offers because of a company’s poor green credentials.

Pembrokeshire already supplies a fifth of the UK’s energy needs, but demand for green energy is increasing with Wales, and the UK, looking to achieve net-zero by 2050.

There is a significant green energy skills gap associated with this transition, which is why professionals like Naomi want to highlight to prospective school leavers the opportunities available in the renewable energy industry.

Naomi was born and raised in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. Driven by the fight against climate change, she decided to transfer her skills and knowledge to the renewable energy sector after over a decade of working in fossil fuels, and now works as an assistant project manager at RWE looking after on-shore wind projects.

Speaking about the renewable energy sector in Pembrokeshire, Naomi said: “I don’t think young people are aware of all the different roles available within the sector, and the transferrable skills needed for many of the roles. Even though there is interest, they just aren’t aware of what is out there.

“There is so much variety and choice, especially for young women coming from STEM backgrounds, from tech and engineering to project management and design. Diversity within the renewables industry is getting better each year too, with more and more equality, it’s never felt more inclusive.

“There are so many career opportunities here. I would urge the next generation of workers to seriously consider the renewable energy industry in Pembrokeshire.”

Another industry professional who grew up in Pembrokeshire, Jack O’Shea, believes there is a great future outlook for young people joining the renewables sector from the county. Reflecting on his journey to securing his role as environment and sustainability assistant at the Port of Milford Haven, Jack said:

“Growing up, it wasn’t guaranteed that I would be able to forge a successful career in my home county, but it feels like times are changing. There’s never been a better time for young people to enter the sustainability space than now. With lots of new projects planned and underway, I hope opportunities continue to flourish for those entering the sector in Pembrokeshire, and across Wales.”

Steven Richards-Downes, director for education in Pembrokeshire, said: “A renewable energy revolution is kick starting in the county. We have a huge opportunity to become pioneers of renewable energies and trailblazers in technology, working alongside existing industries. Thousands of new careers are in the pipeline – from chemists, scientists and engineers to plumbers, pilots, project managers and everything in between. There has never been a better time to consider a career in renewable energy in Pembrokeshire.”

For more information on the current and future opportunities available in the renewable energy industry in Pembrokeshire, visit https://www.pembrokeshirecoastalforum.org.uk/future-energy-careers/.

Business

Another ‘first’ for west Wales brewers Evan Evans

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AWARD-WINNING brewers Evan-Evans will launch the first Welsh zero alcohol cider at the Royal Welsh Show next week.

Blended and bottled in Llandeilo, the zero alcohol drink will be part of the hugely-popular RedHog cider brand.

“We pride ourselves in being an innovative brewery here in Llandeilo and we are delighted to be showcasing the new zero alcohol RedHog at the Royal Welsh in Llanelwedd, Builth Wells,” a company spokesman said today.

“Our RedHog wild cider is already a great hit with consumers. It is a subtle blend of delicious ciders from the Welsh borders. 

“The Buckley family has been brewing since 1767 and there are seven generations of brewing passion and expertise in the heritage of the Evan Evans brewery.

“Down the years, we have earned a reputation for quality beers and ciders. We also boldly go where other brewers fear to tread in developing new products. We get great feedback from our customers and they are hugely influential in telling us what drinks they like.”

The Evan Evans spokesman added: “Our new zero alcohol cider will help appeal to younger drinkers and those who love the taste of a great and refreshing cider.

“We are launching two new zero alcohol flavours – RedHog Medium Dry Zero, and RedHog Summer Fruit Zero.

“There is huge demand for zero alcohol products and we at Evan Evans have spent the last two years perfecting the Reverse Osmosis (RO) process for the dealcoholisation of cider and beers.

“We are the only Welsh company currently using the process. RO gives us the opportunity to retain and build flavours while stripping out the alcohol.

“We have spent a lot of time developing taste profiles, and getting the products right. Too often, the complaint is that zero products lack taste. These ciders are excellent, exciting, and provide a very real alternatives for designated drivers and customers who do not wish to drink alcohol.”

The RedHog zero alcohol drinks will be available from early next week from the brewery Rhosmaen Street, Llandeilo, or Castell Howell Foods in Carmarthen.

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Steel industry faces turning point amid planned blast furnace closures

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THE CLOSURE of the UK’s last remaining blast furnaces has sparked significant debate and concern. As Britain plans to shut down the last blast furnace at Port Talbot and the two still in operation at British Steel in Scunthorpe, many are questioning the implications for the country that invented modern steelmaking.

The transition from traditional blast furnaces, which produce “virgin steel” by melting iron ore with coking coal, to electric arc furnaces (EAFs), which recycle scrap steel using electrical currents, is at the heart of this debate. Virgin steel production is notoriously carbon-intensive, while EAFs offer a more environmentally friendly alternative, aligning with Britain’s net-zero laws.

Critics argue that the UK will become overly dependent on steel imports, which could be problematic in times of international conflict. However, this argument fails to acknowledge that the UK’s virgin steel production is already heavily reliant on imported materials such as iron ore from Sweden, Brazil, and Australia, and coal from various parts of Europe. By shifting to EAFs, the UK would instead use domestic scrap steel, reducing reliance on foreign materials.

It was once true that EAFs could not produce advanced steel grades, but technological advancements have changed this. For instance, the finest grades of steel for aircraft landing gear and nuclear submarines are already produced in UK EAFs. While some argue that certain steel grades still require virgin steel, others in the industry believe EAFs can meet all steel production needs with the right materials.

Tata Steel UK’s plan to replace Port Talbot’s blast furnaces with EAFs could significantly reduce carbon emissions. While there are concerns about the economic and employment implications of this transition, it also presents an opportunity to recycle the 7-8 million tonnes of scrap steel the UK currently exports annually.

Despite these benefits, there is unease about the rapid closure of all UK blast furnaces. This drastic shift may lead to unintended consequences, especially given the high energy costs in the UK. If electric arc steel production proves more expensive, it could drive up the cost of steel, making imports from countries with less environmentally friendly practices more attractive.

Additionally, the UK’s steel strategy appears conservative compared to pioneering efforts in countries like Sweden, where hydrogen DRI plants are being developed, and the US, where electrolysis is being explored for steel production. The UK, once a leader in industrial innovation, risks lagging behind by committing solely to EAFs.

While the closure of the UK’s blast furnaces represents a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions, it also underscores a broader issue: the need for a more ambitious and innovative approach to steelmaking. The country that once spearheaded the Industrial Revolution must now rise to the challenge of leading the next wave of industrial innovation.

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Calls for extra charges for holiday let owners to be relaxed

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A CALL for an update on Pembrokeshire County Council’s position on a potential relaxation of the ‘182-day’ rule, allowing self-catering accommodation to avoid paying a council tax premium is to be heard later this week.

Last year, the rules on holiday lets in Wales changed; Welsh Government criteria saying holiday lets must be filled for 182 days a year – up from a previous 70 – in order to qualify for business rates rather than pay second homes council tax.

In Pembrokeshire, second homes, and self-catering businesses not meeting the criteria, are now paying a 200 per cent council tax premium in the county, effectively a treble rate of council tax.

At the July 18 meeting of full council, a question submitted by leader of the Independent Group, Cllr Huw Murphy will be heard, a follow-up from a previously submitted notice of motion where he had called for a relaxation in the ‘182-day’ rules in the county.

Cllr Murphy will ask: “At full council on October 12, 2023, I submitted a Notice of Motion (NoM) requesting that PCC use its discretionary relief policy regarding the current 182-day occupancy rule for self-catering accommodation and reduce the eligibility criteria to 140 days in support of the tourism industry.

“This NoM was debated by Cabinet on Dec 4, 2023, where it was not adopted but would be reviewed in 12 months following the impact of legislative change where evidence to support potential change to the 182-day occupancy rule will have been gathered.

“Furthermore, Cabinet stated they would write to Welsh Government to highlight concern over the 182-day occupancy rule and to be provided with information on how the current regulations are working both in Pembrokeshire and the rest of Wales, to support a review in 12 months’ time.

“Nine months have elapsed since this NoM was presented to Council in Oct 2023 and seven months since Cabinet debated it with two recommendations and this question is submitted in two parts.

“Can Council be provided with an update of what data has been obtained since Dec 2023 to examine the impact of the 182-day occupancy rule for self-catering properties in advance of a review to be completed by December 2024 prior to any decision over what level of second home council tax to be levied for 2024/25 as it may be necessary to consider a reduction to support an industry under pressure?

“Have PCC received a reply from WG with regards to the concerns raised with regards to the 182-day rule and its impact on the Pembrokeshire tourism industry?”

Cllr Murphy’s questions will be heard at the full council meeting.

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