Leanne's Vision for Real Energy Independence

In this post on Friday, I reminded people that Dafydd Elis-Thomas was telling a barefaced lie when he claimed that his position on nuclear power was not at odds with Plaid Cymru's position on the issue, and said that this deliberate untruthfulness made him totally unsuited as leader of the party.

But rather than concentrate on the negative, the more important thing is to show people that there are positive policies that we can pursue in Wales that will meet our energy needs without needing to rely on nuclear power. I've written a good number of posts on how Wales can more than produce the electricity we need from renewable sources, and people can read them here. But the immediate priority for Plaid Cymru is to make sure we elect a leader that supports our position on the issue rather than their own personal position.


On Friday, Leanne put up a new page on her website to made clear her position on this issue, and here are a few extracts from it:

Leanne Wood unveils clean energy revolution plan for Wales

Leanne Wood AM today set out her vision of meeting all Wales’ energy needs through renewables by 2050 – and also developing high quality, long-term jobs on Ynys Môn to replace those in the nuclear industry.

Under her energy action plan, a new Department of Energy for Wales would be based on Ynys Môn. Funding would come to the Welsh Government from winning control of Crown Estate revenue and a fair share of nuclear decommissioning funds.

The key points of the energy plan are:

•  Powers to consent all electricity generation infrastructure to be transferred to the National Assembly as a matter of urgency
•  An Energy Department for Wales to be established on Ynys Môn as soon as powers are transferred
•  A presumption against any new fossil fuel power stations, and a full moratorium on new nuclear
•  The Energy Department to publish a detailed energy plan leading to a fully renewable Wales by 2050

Advice on the energy policy was provided to Leanne Wood by Dr Calvin Jones of the Cardiff Business School, author of ‘Wales in the Energy Crunch’.

Leanne Wood believes that renewable energy development should be brought closer to communities. And each council should be given local targets for renewable energy generation. Her Greenprint for the Valleys document highlighted the Green Valleys project in the Brecon Beacons which has shown how a renewable energy co-operative can work.

Leanne Wood rules out the development of new nuclear power stations in Wales. “Some people argue that nuclear can be part of the solution for Wales but I fully support Plaid’s opposition to any new nuclear power stations. Nuclear power is very expensive and outdated, a view shared in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium. It diverts finance from investing in renewables, and it can’t come on stream soon enough to make Wales’ rapid decarbonisation a reality.

“Perhaps most importantly, while current generations reap the benefits of relatively cheap electricity, the costs of dealing with dangerous radioactive waste will pile up on our descendants thousands of years into the future. Buy now, pay later – a nuclear ideology that’s the antithesis of sustainable development. Nuclear is unsafe, expensive and a distraction from the cheap, abundant natural energy resources we have around us.

“Politicians have a responsibility to do more than just oppose, so that is why I’m proposing alternative plans to provide jobs for our young people so they are not forced to move away for work.”

Leanne Wood says the profits from Wales’ natural resources – the seabed and the land – which currently go to the Crown Estate should be owned by the Welsh Government for the benefit of the people of Wales. And she says the “national scandal of deaths and hardship caused by fuel poverty” must be tackled as top priority. All homes in Wales should be insulated to the maximum levels, she says.

Leanne Wood added: “Wales is blessed with some of the best renewable resources in Europe. It’s time to make the most of them, putting the people of Wales in control of the clean energy revolution – the path to real energy independence.”

Leanne Wood 2012, 10 February 2012

She has also written a more detailed position paper on the subject, which can be read here:

     Real Energy Independence: An Energy Policy fit for 2050

It's very impressive, and part of the reason I'll be giving her my first preference vote in the leadership election.

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Anonymous said...

The paper is very impressive - well worth a read. It shows how a small country like Wales can achieve decarbonisation, and energy independence.

I like the fact that those of us who think of Wales when we think of 'national' issues can more easily look at ideas from other small nations such as Denmark and Sweden, as Leanne Wood does in this paper. Those who think on a UK scale when they think of 'national' matter like to think of the UK as a 'world power', and tend only to compare with other 'world powers'. In doing so, they disregard a huge amount of brilliant ideas, practical ambitions and action coming from these smaller nations.

Iwan Rhys

Anonymous said...

“ while current generations reap the benefits of relatively cheap electricity," (referring to nuclear)

"Nuclear is unsafe, expensive"

Leanne seems to be confused here, is it "cheap" first quote or "expensive" second quote? She can't have it both ways, can she?

"and a distraction from the cheap, abundant natural energy resources we have around us."

Most experts are of the opinion that we can't meet carbon reduction targets without nuclear, even George Monbiot has stated this. So from where does Leanne suggest we are going to magic this power? Fine words won't keep the lights on.

Anonymous said...

Very good stuff indeed. It ties in very neatly with Plaid's submission to the Silk Commission regarding energy revenues. Simon Thomas's recent ideas regarding a sovereign wealth fund also fit well into the agenda outlined here.

MH said...

The only confusion is what you're now trying so hard to spread, Anon 15:59. The full quote is:

"Perhaps most importantly, while current generations reap the benefits of relatively cheap electricity, the costs of dealing with dangerous radioactive waste will pile up on our descendants thousands of years into the future. Buy now, pay later – a nuclear ideology that's the antithesis of sustainable development."

As for George Monbiot, he's never made the point about Wales not being able to meet carbon reduction targets without nuclear. The point I've made many times is that we in Wales (and Scotland too, for that matter) can easily generate all the electricity, and eventually all the energy, we need from renewables.

Other countries are not in the same position as us. Nuclear might well be more acceptable in such countries (England included) but that's for them to decide for themselves.

As I said in this comment before, each of the major parties in Wales believes that we can produce all the electricity we need from renewables.

Anonymous said...

I think it is quite impressive too. The energy department is a bit of a token gesture though unless it would become a really powerful department (not just a regular 'department for education or agriculture') almost quango-like independent.

I also like the fact that L.A's will be responsible. My one hope is that this means that L.A's can CHOOSE themselves what project they go ahead with. And they are not told they must build X% of windfarms.If this is the case then I REALLY welcome it, and I think it is a huge vote winner.

It will allow somewhere like Ynys Mon to reject any wind power, but increase tidal power. I hope that there will be incentives for L.A's to reach targets, otherwise it seems silly.

The one thing I have to say about Leanne is that unlike ALL the other candidates, we know what her policies are. We've seen this, we've seen the green print of the Valley's. All done to the minor detail. So what I can say about Leanne is that I know what I am getting, or I know what I am rejecting. I cannot say that about any of the others. The work that is now coming out really impresses me. I am pro Nuclear for Ynys Mon (and Ynys Mon alone)! (sorry MH!).

Anonymous said...

"My one hope is that this means that L.A's can
CHOOSE themselves what project they go ahead
with. And they are not told they must build X% of
windfarms.If this is the case then I REALLY
welcome it, and I think it is a huge vote winner"

That seems to be the case, ie that there should be a duty for localities to "do their bit" while allowing them the freedom to choose how to contribute. If i recall correctly, the project in the Beacons is a hydro scheme, not a windfarm. I would say that presenting this policy in terms of being pro-renewable as distinct from solely pro-windfarm, and emphasising local choice and benefit, could be good.

The Ynys Mon energy department could be perhaps more of the Gwyrdd Cymru entity mentioned in Plaid's last manifesto- our own HydroQuebec maybe- rather than a government branch office. That type of HQ would do far more in the long run for Mon's GVA than any new nuke.

Anonymous said...

DET outlines his latest thinking about independence here:


Sorry I can't provide a translation.

He does say this:

"Mae’n holl bwysig ein bod ni’n sylweddoli cyfyngiadau cenedl wladwriaethau fel ffurfiau addas o lywodraeth a chefnu ar ryw syniadau ugeinfed ganrif fel sofraniaeth."

"It is all important that we realise the limitations of nation states as suitable methods of government and to turn away from some twentieth century ideas such as sovereignty."
(My translation)

MH said...

Thanks for that link, Anon 17:22. For all Dafydd's talk about experience, he's very obviously wet behind the ears about independence. He shows all the enthusiasm of a brand new convert (which is all he is, even if we assume he's telling the truth about that) but just hasn't had time to think things through properly.

That's why so much of what he says about independence is contradictory. It changes every time he opens his mouth. It's as if he's trying to patch independence onto what he believed before his professed conversion to it, but the two things don't fit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 17:34

Nuclear is seen as essential because successive UK governments failed to plan early enough, or not at all.

It is a dirty, expensive, and potentially disastrous method of generating electricity. Where is the waste going to go? - the problem of the existing waste hasn't been sorted yet. The UK has an abysmal track record of doing anything on time or on budget, even if they know what they're going to do, which they don't.

Plaid has the right policy for Wales. Nuclear is unacceptable and Leanne has come up with practical alternative solutions.

DET would have two new stations built in North Wales, one in the heart of Snowdonia, which would be transmitting power to the English cities of the midlands and the north, whilst saddling Wales and its people with all the risks. If Wales were to attain independence we'd also be saddled with the immense cost of decomissioning.

Lyndon said...

I completely agreed with that until we got to the complete nonsense about nuclear power.

Common sense and science will win out in the end though.

Anonymous said...

"The paper is very impressive - well worth a read. It shows how a small country like Wales can achieve decarbonisation, and energy independence."

Did we even read the same paper? I'll quote some choice examples:

"Volatile supplies of fossil fuels are pushing up household bills and forcing more people into fuel poverty."

Costs of subsidising expensive renewables also pushing up costs, but no mention of that.

"we face a race against time to cut our carbon
emissions by 90% or more to avoid the worst effects of climate change."

90%??? Says who?

"The power of our tidal currents, wind, waves and the sun which could be harnessed has led
to Wales being dubbed 'the Saudi Arabia of renewables'"

Google 'the Saudi Arabia of renewables'. Wales doesn't appear in any results.

"By 2020, half of Denmark's electricity will be
generated by wind turbines;"

Actually Denmark is now going in the opposite direction and reducing the number of wind turbines.

"The Barnett consequential resulting from devolution of these powers would pay for a new Department of Energy for Wales. This Department would be based in Wales' own energy island, Ynys Môn"

Yes, because the solution to Ynys Môn's problems is a massive QUANGO.

"Two of the 19 nuclear power stations that have existed in the UK are in Wales, so we could also expect a proportionate share (10.5% or £263m worth) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to be based in Llangefni."

Huh? That money will surely be needed to actually decommission the nuclear powerstation Leanne doesnt want on Ynys Môn... not to be spent on her fantasy QUANGO.

"That means planning reform with a presumption in favour of renewable schemes"

In other words, 'a presumption in favour of ONSHORE WIND TURBINES'.

The power generated by solar panels in Germany last year was enough to power more than 5 million homes"

How is this statement in anyway pertinent to Wales. Last time I checked Wales was considerably smaller than Germany with a entirely different climate.

"Wales should be at the forefront of developing improved
building standards, with new buildings designed to capture and stor passive heat and light."

Yes, because houses aren't expensive enough in Wales and its not like we have a huge affordable housing crisis.

"Each council area in Wales should be given appropriate local targets for renewable energy generation and carbon budgeting, with the people in each of those communities given control of meeting those targets in the way that suits those communities best - through wind, tidal, solar, biomass or other renewable technologies."

And how are those councils going to pay for this? Cheapest option is onshore wind therefore all this statement means is that Wales in its entirety will be covered in them, especially as Leanne also wants a planning presumption in favour of renewables.

" But nuclear power is very expensive, it diverts finance from investing in renewables, and it can't come on stream soon enough to make Wales' rapid decarbonisation a reality"

Oh yeah? And loads of wind turbines can, can they?

"Even if a cogent argument could be made for nuclear, it would only be a rational option for highly centralised command-and-control states"

Yes, because Wales doesn't need a consistent baseload of energy like those highly centralised comand and control states apparently.

All I can say is than anyone who thinks that document is impressive is either deluding themselves or attempting to delude others.

Anonymous said...

Monbiot is a recent convert to nuclear energy. He believes that Fukushima was a success, because it wasn't a Chernobyl.

The trouble with nuclear is that when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong. Significant areas of north eastern Japan will be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. The financial cost will be enormous.

All technology is fallible as are the humans which control it. The power stations only have a life of some forty years, constructing them is carbon intensive, as is the decommissioning, let alone handling the waste which will remain dangerously radioactive for many generations. Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years and Caesium 137 (the most common radio-active isotope left after Chernobyl) with a half life of thirty years is still dangerous after 300 years.

Should we be saddled with them because of the failed policies of successive British governments?

Siônnyn said...

When attempting to vist the link, I got this

Are you sure you want to go there?
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/9/30/2122775/Lea... may cause a breach of browser security.

Why were you redirected to this page?

When we tested this site, it attempted to make unauthorized changes to our test computer by exploiting a browser security vulnerability. This is a serious security threat which could lead to an infection of your computer.

Siônnyn said...

I think it is a mistake to rule out all nuclear till 2050, the sensible thing will be to rule out light water uranium based reactors, as these work at very high pressures, and require a constant external power source to keep them from melting down. THat is what happened in Fukushima Dai-Chi. Improved design (such as in the Fukushima Dai-Ni, which was hit by the same tsunami and earthquake, but closed itself down safely and passivley) are much better, but still produce a lot of very toxic waste.

Within 10 years it is likely that new technologies of nuclear power generation will be available - fast breeder and Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors - both of which are fail-safe, and can burn up existing nuclear waste and produce energy from it, solving two problems at once. The small amount of waste material produced is either (like Xenon) directly very valuable as a resource, or is low grade, can be encapsulated in glass, and returned to the earth's mantle via the deep trenches in the oceans.

Thorium reactors - which are being actively developed by India and China are likely to be available as scalable pre-fabricated units within 10 years- call it 20 at a push - and will render all other forms of energy generation redundant. SO to rule out 'nuclear' is a mistake, and really is a sop to the illiterate reporting of the subject by newspapers.

PS Cameron has closed down the only small lab in the UK working on this, to save money.

MH said...

In response to some of your points: Anon 18:42.

It's become something of a fashion for people to claim that electricity costs are going up because of renewables. Of course there's some cost in that, but the cost of fuel is inexorably rising because of rising demand for it in developing countries. That is going to continue, and that's why it's in our economic interests not to have to rely on such fuels for power ... irrespective of whether or not you think we need to reduce CO2 emissions for the sake of the planet.

Denmark isn't reducing its number of wind turbines. Their appetite for wind power is undiminished and they're still pressing ahead with more. At Anholt, for example.

There are many more types of renewables than onshore wind. Offshore wind, tidal range, tidal flow, solar PV, solar thermal, ground heat, hydro and biomass to name but eight. On top of that there are energy from waste schemes (landfill gas, anerobic digestion and plasma gasification for example) which aren't strictly renewables, but are broadly equivalent.

No-one is saying that Wales will produce the same amount of solar power as Germany, it's relevant because solar power isn't limited to hot, sunny countries.

Of course we should invest money on better quality housing, both new and bringing the old up to better energy standards. It will save us money in the long run. And provide lots of jobs. Housing isn't affordable if you have to spend a fortune on keeping it warm.

And finally, base load is a largely irrelevant term. The uncontrollability of nuclear power to match the changes in electricity demand is a different problem, but just as big a problem, as the intermittency of wind. No one source of energy has all the answers ... but we have quite a few different renewable sources to choose from. You seem to think that wind is the only form of renewable energy.

Anonymous said...

When nuclear power is discussed, safety and decommissioning are aspects that are frequently raised, but fuel security is rarely mentioned. We seem to forget that plutonium fuel which comes from uranium is a finite resource. Currently (when as has been pointed out by previous contributors) nuclear power is a small proportion of world generating capacity. We have estimated reserves of between 60 and 85 years worth of uranium with very little high grade ore available. We could easily find ourselves being in the position where there is a resurgence in nuclear generation across the world which would result in a massive and rapid fall in reserves and there not being enough uranium to fuel plant as they enter the second half of their productive lives.

MH said...

Anon 15:59. Your subsequent posts are being deleted because you keep trying to justify your deliberate attempt to misrepresent what someone said by taking it out of context. There's no room for that sort of thing on this blog. Learn the lesson if you want future comments not to be deleted.

MH said...

Sounds odd, Siônnyn. The link works for me on Opera, Firefox, IE, Chrome, Safari, SeaMonkey and K-Meleon. But obviously FileDen is a general hosting site, so I'm sure some dodgy things will have been uploaded to it.

I agree with you that fast reactors would be better than what is currently being proposed for Wylfa. But for the purposes of this discussion "nuclear" is shorthand for nuclear fission from uranium fuels or derivatives.

For me, though, the question is why Wales needs a technology of this sort when we are already on course to meet all our electricity needs through renewables. But if and when fast nuclear can be shown to work and be more cost effective and safer than the alternatives (and the same thing would apply to nuclear fusion if that ever gets off the ground) I'm open to reconsider things. I'm sure Leanne would be too.

Richard said...

Leanne is spot on. A system based on renewables is the only sensible option for a clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy supply. The question is - can we quickly harness our vast renewable resources for the good of the Welsh people, not just in energy but economic terms? I think this plan is a good starting point for that transition.

As for nuclear - ultimately it's a risky and expensive distraction from renewables. There is no truly safe way to deal with the waste in the long term as it depends on a stable society for hundreds of years (which we can't guarantee) and resilience in the long term in the face of climate change and rising sea levels, as well as the low but real tsunami risk and the potential as a terrorist target. Nuclear also makes us dependent on imported raw materials.

Also really important is energy saving and insulation - the unglamorous but essential area we need to address urgently as people are squeezed byy rising energy prices.

Anonymous said...

Leanne will get my vote because shes pro independence and better than the old boring leanne and elin but god help us if you think her opposition to nuclear is a good thing, what energy is not safe? nuclear energy should be utilised by us in Wales like coal, green energy nonsense when china and India over take us, taking wales back to the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Your comments about Daf El has been interesting. What is most interesting though is a recent tweet from the Druid of Anglesey: https://twitter.com/#!/Y_Druid/status/169196216037552128

Is this the truth?

Anonymous said...

Very interetsing report and comments - my only criticism is that the solution to Mon's job crisis seems to be give them a quango. While agreeing that decentralisation of government departments around Wales is a good thing, we can not rely on public sector jobs to solve all of our ills. Take a look at Greece to see why this doesnt work.


Anonymous said...

I have to say as a well-wisher and loyalist to the party I have extreme concerns about political literacy amongst Plaid supporters. I think it's the same for every party, but it still worries me.

Penddu's comment for example. The Greek crisis was caused by speculation, deregulation and tax evasion. Not by 'public sector jobs'. The Greek public sector only accounts for 18% of the workforce, which is smaller than the UK, Germany, France, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands, and most of the wealthy OECD countries.

More importantly, at what point has Leanne ever said public sector jobs would solve all of our ills?

Anonymous said...

Penddu: "...we can not rely on public sector jobs to solve all of our ills."

But from that point of view, what would be the difference between establishing an Energy Department in Môn and giving Môn a heavily subsidised nuclear plant? Both are public money being spent on creating jobs in Môn (jobs is the only argument of the pro-nuclear Môn people - that's the only reason I hear here in Holyhead).

And the paper definitely doesn't propose that establishing an Energy Department would sort out all of Môn's problems. But it would be a much needed boost.

Iwan Rhys

Ambiorix said...

Here's a link from last year about the growiing supply/demand gap for Uranium.


A little quote from the article,"Following Hiscock, Walt Coles, CEO of Virginia Energy, which is trying to gain permitting and permissions to develop a major uranium deposit in Virginia (where there is currently a moratorium on uranium mining in the State), reckoned that the CRU projections on the global supply shortfalls into the next decade were actually conservative and that their own analysis pointed to an even wider supply/demand gap developing.",when this happens the price of Uranium will go into the strasphere!
Nuclear is not the future!

MH said...

As I read it, Leanne's point is that energy policy for Wales is currently in the hands of the DECC in London, with a proportion of their staff dealing with matters in Wales. By devolving responsibility (and our share of the budget, of course) to the Welsh Government we can employ people in Wales to do the same job. The only question is where the department should be based. Fairly obviously we should look to disperse jobs away from Cardiff, but if they're too fragmented there's less flexibility and less of the inter-departmental interaction necessary to deliver "joined up" government.

But Ynys Môn seems good to me. Even without nuclear, it will be a major centre for renewable energy because of the huge windfarms planned for the Irish Sea ... which will produce more electricity than Wylfa ever did. There's good tidal flow potential as well. I would like to see the island become the main centre for construction and maintenance of offshore windfarms for the whole of the Irish Sea, and with good connexions to Ireland, where better? Construction and maintenance will create the bulk of the jobs, plus some in research and development.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of energy, I found it interesting to listen to Dafydd Elis-Thomas’ views regarding onshore wind turbines. His comments, made on 'Y Byd ar Bedwar – Melinau Môn' (S4C 13 February) can be found here:


See from 25:30 mins

'The Druid' draws attention to Dafydd’s comments regarding Môn and the location of Dafydd’s own home in Dyffryn Conwy and his comments regarding pylons which I find very disturbing indeed. See:


It is very worrying that this man is the chair of the Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee.

Dafydd makes great play of the issue of sustainability in his campaign to be elected Plaid’s leader. I certainly won’t be voting for him. He would not only be unsustainable as Plaid's leader, but also unacceptable.

MH said...

I saw Y Byd ar Bedwar, Anon 10:26, and I have to say that the Tory of Anglesey's blog post was cheap and unfair. Dafydd said where he lived was in the shadow of pylons in the same sentence as he mentioned nuclear power stations and lakes producing hydro electricity. The Tory was taking it out of context because he knew that most of his readers would rely on his misquote rather than listen to what Dafydd actually said for themselves.

By all means criticize Dafydd for what he gets wrong—I do my fair share of that, as everyone can see—but only do it for what he gets wrong. Dafydd is completely right about the danger caused by climate change, the need for a low carbon economy and creating sustainable jobs in that sector. But what he lacks is a sense of proportion and therefore direction.

It's silly to be in favour of every proposal for producing low carbon energy when we can produce more than all the electricity we need for ourselves from renewables without recourse to nuclear energy. It's silly to be in favour of every onshore windfarm development when offshore wind produces much more energy, more consistently and without some of the problems associated with onshore wind like noise, flicker and visual intrusion for those that are inappropriate for their proposed location. We need to have an energy strategy that is able to say No to some things that are labelled green rather than saying Yes to everything because it is labelled green.

Anonymous said...

MH 12:05

I must admit to my national sentiment taking priority over environmental concerns when it comes to issues such as onshore wind and nuclear in particular.

My concern is greater since Wales' natural resources are not owned or for the most part controlled by the people of Wales.

The headlong rush to develop onshore wind will I suspect be regretted in the medium to long term.

DET stated that he sees no need to limit development of turbines to the areas suggested by TAN 8. I got the impression he would like them erected virtually anywhere in Wales.

I don't see what economic benefit will accrue to us because of them. Most of them are constructed, maintained and controlled from outside our country, some even from outside the UK. I needn't go into the arguments regarding their efficiency or otherwise.

If it's hypocrisy, or dual standards, that are being exposed, it doesn't make much difference who does it or even the underlying motivation. Not many people act out of pure altruism.

I listened very carefully to DET's comments. He specifically says that there are pylons in Dyffryn Conwy 'ym mhobman' ('everywhere', see 30:15) but apparently not near his own home. His comments regarding nuclear power stations and HEP lakes were earlier in the interview. Therefore the Druid makes a valid point, regardless of where his political sympathies lie.

DET also compares Wales' positive contribution as a coal producer in the past with Wales' contribution as a green energy producer now. The first was a case of pure exploitation from which Wales' people gained little, and much can be said for the drive for onshore wind and second generation nuclear at the present time, whilst those resources remain under the control of Westminster.

I completely agree with your final sentence

Aled GJ said...

The new S4C programme "Gwynt Ynni Hwyliau" shows us i) what a divisive issue energy generation can be, and ii) the importance of educating people about the kind of energy-savvy policies that Leanne Wood is outlining here.

What struck me about the programme was the way that the protestors had been able to draw upon a wide range of local skills and specialisms to fight their campaign. Imagine if that same group of people were able to draw up their own ideas for energy generation in the area, using alternatives to the current plans( maybe including wind in some specific spots?)? It's a form of community-focused activism and idealism which ties in very well with the whole thrust of Leanne's campaign to create a new kind of politics in Wales. Mid-Wales hasn't been a very fertile ground for Plaid Cymru traditionally, but an emphasis on energy independence and people participation in that process could well change that.

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