Renewable Whisky

I learned something yesterday, and as a result I owe people reading this blog an apology for having repeatedly said something that is in fact wrong. I had said that decision making power on electricity generating projects with an installed capacity greater than 50 MW was not devolved to Wales; but this is true only for projects on land, the limit for marine energy projects is actually much smaller, only 1 MW. Decision making responsibility for marine projects between 1 and 100 MW rests with the Marine Management Organization.

I learned this while watching a short debate yesterday afternoon about the Senedd's Sustainability Committee report on planning in Wales, and the Welsh Government's response to it. The issues considered were wide ranging, and it would be worth waching the debate in full, here, but I've singled out three contributions relating to energy which I thought were particularly informative in the clip below:


What is remarkable is the degree of consensus among all political parties in the Assembly about the importance of devolving decision making power for energy projects to Wales, for although I didn't include what Kirsty Williams and Leanne Wood said, they were in full agreement about the need for this. But it is something that ministers in Westminster—from Labour before, and from the Tories and LibDems now—are refusing to give way on. Personally, I've long suspected that the primary reason for this is that the Unionist parties in Westminster do not want us to block their plans for nuclear power in Wales in the same way as the Scottish government has blocked nuclear power in Scotland. However proposing that planning decisions are devolved for all power projects under 100 MW, both on land and at sea, seems to be a more than reasonable compromise. It would allow, for example, tidal lagoon projects such as the 60 MW scheme for Swansea Bay to go ahead.

With the Assembly elections approaching, it may seem out of place to concentrate on something that all four elected parties want. I would only suggest that if each party makes a manifesto commitment to have this power devolved to Wales, it would make it that much harder for Westminster to continue to refuse to devolve this power to us.


As it happens, today provides a perfect example what the Scottish government has been able to do with its devolved powers in this area. Approval has just been given for a 10 MW array of tidal flow turbines in Islay Sound:


     Islay to get major tidal power scheme – BBC, 17 March 2011

And now the title of this article should be a little clearer. For if we read this press release from ScottishPower Renewables, we will see that this project has been made possible in part because of a commercial agreement with Diageo to provide electricity from the project to their eight distilleries and maltings on Islay. I must admit to being rather partial to two of their Islay brands, Caol Ila and Lagavulin ... however it looks like we'll have to wait not only a couple of years for the project to come online, but another twelve years in the cask before we can toast the Scots for having produced a truly renewable whisky.


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Owen said...


People produce more energy from their backsides after a dodgy Caroline Street curry.

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