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Opinion

Wales produces almost twice as much energy as we use – let’s take control of it to bring down bills

12 Jun 2022 4 minutes Read
Delyth Jewell. Picture by Senedd Cymru (CC BY 2.0).

Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for South Wales East

When we talk about our own energy, we mean the total amount of our physical and mental strength to do something.

We talk about our energy levels, saving our energy and channelling our energies into a project. Our ability to get things done.

We have a sense of agency, of control over how we use our own energy.

But this isn’t the case when it comes to lighting and heating our homes.

Of course, we can shop around when it comes to providers, but I’m talking about the national level – I’m talking about where we, as a nation, get our energy from, and the control that gives us over our own lives.

Despite the fact that here in Wales we produce 90% more electricity than we use, our household bills are amongst the highest in the UK.

State-owned

It’s galling – particularly when you consider that Wales is blessed with 1,680 miles of coast and plenty of rolling hills in the middle: we’re perfectly placed to harness the tidal and wind power needed for the renewable energy revolution that I believe we can use to meet our entire needs by 2035.

But while state-backed energy companies are very much the norm across Europe, this isn’t the case in the UK.

In fact, in the UK, we have a privatised network of energy companies that ultimately exist to make a profit. When you look to other countries in Europe and even in America, where publicly owned or state-owned companies are playing more significant roles in the market, they are then able to take advantage of times in the market when there are lower wholesale gas prices.

Times such as now.

Crucially, they are also able to limit price rises. This is why we saw the energy price cap rise by 54% in the UK, but in France it only rose by 4%.

We need to have a conversation as a country to determine what role the state and the public sector should play when it comes to the generation and distribution of energy and electricity.

France and EDF is often spoken about (the latter being 85% owned by the French state).

While the recent 4% price cap rise saw company profits plummet, EDF is then free to make hay while the sun shines, on the understanding that when it’s starting to rain, they’re the ones who have to ensure they’ve amassed enough of a financial cushion to sustain themselves through the darker times.

Not-for-profit

For the UK, the massive increase in the energy price rise was followed by calls for a windfall tax on energy companies. Of course, energy prices are set to rise again in October, and it remains to be seen what options will be left for the UK Government.

Here in Wales, we’ve set out our vision, and that’s for a publicly owned energy company for Wales: Ynni Cymru. Thanks to our Co-Operation Agreement with the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru believes that Ynni Cymru will help Wales realise its potential as an energy rich nation whose resources benefit the people of Wales, not multinational exporters.

Wales already has a not-for-profit model for water in Wales with Dŵr Cymru, and I truly believe that our energy shouldn’t be for profit either. In fact, I believe we should go that one step further and put our energy into public ownership.

Because when it comes to our energy, there’s a humanitarian imperative: if energy prices are not reduced, we will risk plunging thousands of people into fuel poverty and the cold.

In the summer months, perhaps we only need worry on the coldest evenings, and we don’t have to cook every meal. But we’ve always got one eye on the colder months that are on their way.

And we will always need fuel for getting around, even if we rely on public transport.

If we don’t get this right, and if energy becomes unaffordable for people in Wales, then thousands will end up without warm homes and hot food, and that is unacceptable.

When we talk about our energy levels, Wales has an abundance.

We should be able to save it up, we should be able to channel it and we certainly should have absolute control over it.

And we shouldn’t be in a position where anyone has to go without.


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
16 days ago

in-flipping-deed….

GarethW
GarethW
16 days ago

England’s strategy for reducing their carbon footprint seems to be to build more wind farms and nuclear power plants in Wales. Our hill tops and coasts are bristling with wind turbines and now we are seeing plans for multiple nuclear plants. We don’t need them ! Declare independence and nationalize energy – the sooner the better !

Wncomunco
Wncomunco
15 days ago
Reply to  GarethW

Totally agree Wales and England totally separate, build a wall along the border. Passage between countries by passport only. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Rhy5
Rhy5
10 days ago
Reply to  GarethW

Nationalise energy? Our politicians can’t even run an airport never mind infrastructure like this.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 days ago
Reply to  Rhy5

I see that you subscribe to the English point of view that the Welsh need to be ruled by the ‘benevolent’ English because the Welsh are just too stupid to govern themselves.

Rhy5
Rhy5
6 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

No, just the view that politicians should stick to politics not interfere in business. Wales’ public sector is already bloated.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
5 days ago
Reply to  Rhy5

I understand where you’re coming from on Cardiff Airport but the problem is that Westminster won’t devolve APD,Airport passenger Duty to Wales.Maybe the Bristol Airport Loby has something to do with this.

Last edited 5 days ago by Johnny Gamble
Llinos
Llinos
16 days ago

kind of makes you understand why Wasteminster whilst hating is so vociferously, clings to us and our resources so tightly

Androw Bennett
Androw Bennett
14 days ago
Reply to  Llinos

Wastemonster!

Katy Fowler
Katy Fowler
16 days ago

It’s a no- brainer! 👏👏👏

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
16 days ago

Act now before Johnson gets his thieving pudgy hands on our energy – declare Independence for Wales.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
16 days ago

All agreed and spot on. I have heard some people on radio saying that their water bills have risen by £20 per month. My bill from not for profit Dwr Cymru rose by only £3 per month. All of Wales needs to have Welsh Water as its’ sole supplier but this is not the case at present. In Mid Wales, there is a FOR profit company operating which I won’t name but this means their customers are being rinsed. (Pardon the pun).

lufcwls
lufcwls
15 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Mention the thieving buggers, it’s Severn Trent. The north east of Wales also has a different supplier, can’t remember their name now though.

Quornby
Quornby
16 days ago

Quite so Delyth…… to put it another way we are still being exploited to the benefit of others. Coal, slate, gold…… and the biggest harvest of all…… the votes of a defeated people.

Gareth
Gareth
16 days ago

Why haven’t plaid done it then? They are in coalition

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
16 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Labour have cuffed ’em. Plaid, the S and M party?

lufcwls
lufcwls
15 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Not their choice, the powers for this have to come from Westminster.

Llinos
Llinos
15 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Coalition is not majority. They cannot do anything in isloation

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

We need our independence as a nation.

To do this the majority Labour party in government has got to demand independence.

Stop thinking that they can change the UK.
We will welcome a new England should they decide to change, they have shown little signs of changing their ways.
We cannot stop living because of them, we must go our own way and that means independence.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
7 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Because the Labour party still have more seats in the Senedd then our Plaid Cymru.

That is also because many Welsh people unfortunately are still voting for them thinking that it may be the best way of preventing Tory policies, when in fact it is condoning them.

Break from the UK, Remove the UK from Wales.
Independence now !!!!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
16 days ago

Until the Welsh people wake up from their master & slave mentality to realise how self-sufficient we are, and realise how the English establishment use us not only as their water tank but power hub too, will forever be the poor relation even though the real one dependent is not Wales but in fact England.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
15 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Cytuno. The underlying question is why we Welsh as a people don’t wake up. One reason is Plaid Cymru. Delyth Jewell is typical. Makes her point in an abstract detached sort of way. But no follow through. No route to waking up or asserting our strength. So the overall effect is to keep us asleep. So Plaid are at fault. But we need to look in the mirror as well. We have to assert ourselves, for any of this to happen

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago

OK, What can she do?
What should Plaid Cymru do, when the Welsh people have so much faith in Labour?

Chronos
Chronos
6 days ago

This is the core of the problem, Cymru being seen and assumed to be socialist. While I sympathise with the tradition of honoring one’s forebears, when it comes to politics it’s a handicap.

The other issue, of course, is the number of Senedd seats in the ex-industrial south. Plaid’s natural habitat, the Cymraeg strongholds of Gwynedd and Ynys Môn, are sidelined, despite being energy and resource rich.

Perhaps Wastemonster isn’t the only problem?

Non DAVIES
Non DAVIES
16 days ago

why then are Plaid Cymru so subservient to the Future Wales Plan 2040’s support of external developers placing 250 metre high turbines within 700 metres of homes across Wales? Confusing ‘provider of energy’ with exploitation. Money and energy flowing one way out of Wales. England does not provide the energy it needs – happy coincidence – Welsh Government and Plaid are happy to help, we’ve always been generous like that – coal, slate, water and now energy. Shame on Plaid. Hen Dro Sal

lufcwls
lufcwls
15 days ago
Reply to  Non DAVIES

Because it brings clean jobs. Do you think anyone is ever going to be able to convince Westminster to give us powers over our own energy? Very unlikely.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago
Reply to  lufcwls

Wales has more than its fair share of wind, so why not make it foreign exchange.

stephen
stephen
16 days ago

Swansea tidal scheme. totally unecomonc. let’s stick to facts please and no jsut quote “miles of shoreline”

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago
Reply to  stephen

Wind farms ARE the most economic method for Wales to produce electricity.

Nuclear is the most expensive, both economically and the environment.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 days ago
Reply to  stephen

You do know that France has had a tidal power scheme in operation since 1966? It’s called the Rance Tidal Power station.

Tidal power can be economically viable but the Wastemonster politicians are against it because a). it wasn’t their idea and b). they have a fetish for nuclear power.

Chronos
Chronos
6 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

The important point here is that both tidal and nuclear are predictable, so suitable for base-load planning and stabilising the grid. Wind and solar are not quite so reliable, which makes them ideal candidates for pumped hydro storage or producing hydrogen which can then be stored and used as in-fill or logistics energy. The Trawsfynnydd and Wylfa sites are unusable for anything else for several hundreds of millennia. Does it not make more sense to use them? SMRs are ideal for use on decommisioned sites. Once we have energy self-sufficiency, can someone please put the A548 back to how it… Read more »

Last edited 6 days ago by Chronos
Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
16 days ago

It’ll not happen while we are in the Union. Gain independence and it is something we can definitely aim for !

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
15 days ago

Is the Senedd going to nationalise the power generation companies then ? They belong to share holders of other countries. Perhaps the Senedd should shout more against the rip off that the whole of the UK is suffering from. Independence will not reduce the bills…will it ? Words are cheap as the Senedd funds this site….action please.

Llinos
Llinos
15 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

Are you worried about your shares?
Y Senedd does not speak for the whole of the UK. It speaks for Cymru.
Independence is not about saving you a few quid. It is about self-determination, where our representatives act in our best interests, not in the best interests of Tories in the SE of England

Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
14 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

It doesn’t need to nationalise anything. Simply make good use of taxation structures once we can: additional taxation on power (and water) exported out of Cymru.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago
Reply to  Alun Gerrard

Perhaps the people of Wales should buy those shares.
If the Welsh people own these shares – that will be public ownership.

Poopsie
Poopsie
15 days ago

Wales should be honoured to hold the wonderful English nuclear reactors. Wales does not have great nuclear expertise like the great English company EDF and the other great English company CGN

Gareth
Gareth
15 days ago
Reply to  Poopsie

Nice one Poopsie, ha ha,, could also have mentioned Deutsche Post, they also operate in England. Lol

Last edited 15 days ago by Gareth
Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
14 days ago
Reply to  Poopsie

I seem to remember that it was the Japanese-owned Hitachi who were going to build and run Wylfa B, until they did the sums and realised it was insanely uncompetetive, even after UK Govt guaranteed that consumers would pay several times the price for renewables for the generated power.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago
Reply to  Poopsie

Yes, Russia (the USSR) gave the Ukraine nuclear power and a CHP one at that.
Then one day in 1986…….

Ukraine paid the price.

Chronos
Chronos
6 days ago

That was because the RBMK reactor design had another purpose besides energy generation. There was a very good (or bad, if you’re a CND supporter) reason why the reactor core didn’t have a containment vessel. Now, had you said Fukushima, you may have a valid point. However, you risk throwing the baby out with the bath water as modern SMRs, PBRs and thorium plants cannot melt down in this way. It was hydrogen evolution that ultimately breached Fukushima Daiichi’s containment due to the zirconium encapsulation on the fuel rods being unable to operate outside certain thermal constraints, yet another mistake… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
5 days ago
Reply to  Poopsie

Then could you please explain why The Chinese are building the New reactors in England.

Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
Llywelyn Ein Llyw Nesaf ond Un
14 days ago

Plea to Nation Cymru editors. Please change the tag line on the home page – Cymru does NOT produce twice as much ENERGY as it uses. It produces twice as much ELECTRICITY as it uses. They are two very different things. Replacing all our oil usage with home-grown electricity will be a big job, and will require a major increase in electricity production, and mean we don’t have much left for export.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
14 days ago

That is why we need more Wind farms. We have the WIND.

Rhy5
Rhy5
10 days ago

“While the recent 4% price cap rise saw company profits plummet, EDF is then free to make hay while the sun shines…….” Eh? they’re not making hay if they’re subject to a 4% price cap. Meanwhile their share price plummets along with profits and EDF shares are quite likely sitting in your pension provider’s portfolio and many others.

Leigh richardes
Leigh richardes
10 days ago

so funny reading the comments of economic illiterate. “nationalise all the privately held companies once Wales is independent”. this sort of thinking exactly why Welsh people don’t want independence apart from the Welsh speaking middle class

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 days ago

So you’ve fallen for Maggie Thatcher’s TINA (There Is No Alternative) bullsh!t have you? Re-nationalising energy (and other sectors) is perfectly viable but the Tory party and their propagandists don’t want you to believe that and denigrate it at every opportunity. So well done to you for knowing and keeping yourself in your place. And exactly why is re-nationalising energy ‘economically illiterate’? Note that I said ‘re-nationalise’ not ‘nationalise’. It wasn’t all that long ago that electricity was state owned (along with water, gas, railways, telecoms…) until the economically illiterate Tory party (supported by the economically illiterate Tory voters) sold… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
5 days ago

Talk about being illiterate nobody on here is asking for all privately held companies to be Nationalised.This is a discussion about Energy Companies not the whole Private Sector,and where exactly is your evidence that only Welsh speaking Middle Class people want Indy?.

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