Wales Is Building What England Doesn’t Want – Part II

In Part I we were introduced to the Welsh Government’s plan to allow the building of hundreds of massive new wind generators on sites across rural Wales, even though these developments are effectively banned under current planning regulations in England. The name ‘Bute Energy’ came up a couple of times along the way.

So who are Bute Energy? They are based in London and Edinburgh, with a Welsh ‘sheen’ of an office in Cardiff and a Welsh PR spokesman, as usual in these developments. They have plans for at least 16 wind sites, plus solar sites, spread all across rural Wales. The Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has been a huge advocate of wind-power for decades, and Wales is already extensively covered with wind ‘farms’. (One wonders why the marketing people did not sell us coal farms, gas farms and nuclear farms – wind and solar are inefficient power-generating systems, not farms). To Welsh politicians, ‘farms’ sound ‘green’. And green is the mantra followed by this impoverished country, with worse (and worsening) standards of living, infrastructure, education, health, housing etc., etc., than England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. And bye-bye tourism.

To install a turbine, first any trees in the vicinity must be felled and any peat must be dug out, prior to excavating a deep pit to be filled with concrete.

Bute Energy has plans for the following across Wales: Twyn Hywel Energy Park Ltd / Rhiwlas Energy Park Ltd / Banc Du Energy Park Ltd / Aberedw Energy Park Ltd / Moelfre Energy Park Ltd / Mwdwl Eithin Energy Park Ltd / Garreg Fawr Energy Park Ltd / Bryn Gilwern Energy Park Ltd / Nant Mithil Energy Park Ltd / Lan Fawr Energy Park Ltd / Waun Hesgog Energy Park Ltd / Esgair Galed Energy Park Ltd / Llyn Lort Energy Park Ltd / Nant Ceiment Energy Park Ltd / Nant Aman Energy Park Ltd / Tarenni Energy Park Ltd. All have the same office in Cardiff – but it is not a Welsh company. These are planned across the Welsh landscape. Rhiwlas is just over a mile southeast of beautiful Llangurig near Snowdonia, and Bute will dump up to 15 wind towers of 200m (660 feet, or two full-sized football pitches) high, plus unspecified solar panels, battery storage, access roads and power lines. And just over a mile northwest will be 15 similar turbines, also with solar power and battery storage. Lucky Llangurig. Twyn Hywel is in southeast Wales, near Senghennydd, with more 200m tip-height monsters planned – and fairly certain, like all the others – to get the go-ahead from the Welsh Government. Nant Mithill, in the beautiful Radnor Forest near New Radnor, Powys, will have 36 giant wind generators, each 722 feet in height. To again have an idea of scale, the Blackpool Tower is only 158m (520 feet) high, and Britain’s tallest building, London’s Shard, is 309m (1013 feet). Has anyone in Wales seen the size of the Shard? All of these ‘energy parks’, i.e. industrial sites, will have a minimum of 200m-high towers with (at least) Nant Mithill with 220m. Even so, these 200m (660feet) towers are higher than ALL others across Wales, with the largest currently being 400 feet. And the Moelfre and Bryn mega-monsters are to be 820 feet – almost Shard-size. None are needed – Wales is self-sufficient for renewable energy already.

It’s hard to comprehend how large the turbines proposed for rural Wales really are. Image credit The Times
About 1500 tons of concrete is required for the foundation of each turbine.

We could point out that UK wind energy was only 5,600MW average in 2021, and a minimum of only 35MW under High Pressure. The UK needs over 30,000MW daily to power Homes, Offices, Factories, Hotels, Farms, Pubs and Hospitals, without any substantial number, as yet, of electric cars, buses, trucks or motorbikes. There are almost 33 million cars in the UK, of which only 380,000 are electric, around 1.15%. There is no way that renewable energy can cope with the diktat of all car owners switching to electric – there are not enough acres available and there will be rare earth shortages as the West falls into the electric trap. The Zero Watch Foundation estimates that the UK commitment to Net Zero is already costing consumers another £2,000 each on our annual energy bills, as costs are passed on to the public. The leading energy generation providers, the ‘Big Six’, are British Gas/Centrica (British), SSE/Ovo (British, includes SWALEC), EDF (French Government-owned), Npower (owned by German Innogy/RWE), Scottish Power (owned by Spanish Iberdrola) and E.ON (formerly PowerGen, owned by German E.ON). In 2020, SSE/OVO and Scottish Power made over a billion pounds profits between them. With four of the six transferring profits back to their countries of origin, the situation is replicated in all the denationalised industries.

This is the base of a 250m turbine under construction in Germany

The above huge projects are the tip of the iceberg. But there are dozens of other applications for wind renewables across Wales, as it is almost impossible to build them elsewhere in the UK and Ireland. A selection of the main sites is as follows – the latest figures are:

Bridgend – Pant-y-Wal (Pennant-Walters) est. output 41MW; Fforch-Nest (Npower) 39MW

Carmarthenshire – Brechfa Forest extension (unknown) 25MW; Llanfynydd Energy Park (Gamesa Energy) 32MW; Mynydd-y-Betws (Cambrian Renewable Energy – consented) 37MW. (Total 94MW)

Ceredigion – Rhos Garn (RES) 20MW appealing refusal; Dynyn Hill (Wavecrest) 22MW; Moel Fferm (Airtricity) 44MW. (Total 86MW)

Conwy – Nant Bach (NUON) 30MW

Denbighshire – Derwydd Bach (Tegni) 22MW; Gorsedd Bran (Tegni) 28MW (reapplication); Brenig (Brenig Wind) 50MW. (Total 100MW)

No matter how many tons of concrete in the foundation, turbines still can and do blow over or lose their sails.

Forestry Commission – Dyfnant Forest (unknown) 38MW; Mynydd Margam (unknown) 41MW; Troed-y-Rhiw (unknown) 21MW; Mynydd Caerau (unknown) 19MW; St. Gwynno Forest (unknown) 39MW; Clocaenog Forest (unknown) 125MW; Brechfa Forest South (unknown) 64MW; Brechfa Forest North (unknown) 50MW; Esgair Fraith (unknown) 96MW; Mynydd Bychan (unknown) 17MW; Hirfynydd (unknown) 14MW; Tyle Mawr (unknown) 171MW. (Total 695MW)

Merthyr Tydfil – Merthyr Common (Bheara) 11.5MW

Neath Port Talbot – Mynydd Marchawel (RES) 32MW; Tonmawr (Aciuna) 16MW; Maesteg (RDC) 23MW; Ffynnon Oer (Enlac) 21MW; Llynfi Renewable Park (Gamesa) 70MW; Hirfynydd (Acciona) 30MW; Varteg Hill (West Coast Energy) 10MW; Crynant (Energy Tech/Acciona) 17MW; Seven Sisters (RDC) 23MW; Maesgwyn (Pennant Walters) 45MW; Resolven (RDC) 143MW; Glyncorrwg (ECO2) 12MW; Mynydd y Gwrhyd (Awel Aman Tawe) 11MW. (Total 453MW)

Powys – Bryn Titli (Npower) 10 MW; Mynydd Waun Fawr, Llanerfyl (NUON) 48MW; Mynydd y Gwyn, Y Foel, Llangurig 81MW; Carno extension (Ameoni) 16MW; Llandinam extension (CeltPower) 25MW; Llandinam repowering (CeltPower) 50MW; Carreg Llwyd Hill, Llanbadarn Fynydd (RES) 50MW; Cemmaes 3 (Acciona) 30MW; Waun Garno (Acciona) 20MW; Llandinam P&L (Eurus) 31MW; Carno (Npower) 33MW; Mynydd Clogau (RES) 14MW; Cemmaes (First Windfarm) 15MW; Carnedd Wen, Llanbrynmair, Barwy (Npower) 50MW; Llanbrynmair South (RES) 88MW; Pen Coed, Llangadfan (Gamesa) 20MW; Mynydd yr Hendre, Carno, Dwynriw (Awel Newydd) 40MW. (Total 621MW)

Rhondda-Cynon-Taf – Ferndale (EON) 10MW (consented); Maerdy (Renewable Energy) 24MW; Hirwaun (Pennant Walters) 36MW; Mynydd Portrel (Tegni Cymru) 9MW. (Total 79MW)

Swansea – Mynydd-y-Gwair (Npower) 48MW (The final application removed some Turbines from very sensitive Peat Bog areas to reduce the capacity to 34MW to ease Planning Approval at Public Inquiry appeal).

TOTAL APPLICATIONS 60 new sites – 2,258MW (wind optimum output, not including Bute Energy’s 16 sites and the Irish government 1 site)

OPERATIONAL WINDFARMS 2,039MW (year 2020)

PEMBROKE GAS OUTPUT 2,181MW (constant)

WELSH ANNUAL CONSUMPTION 1,380MW

That is another 2,258MW planned across Wales, itself more than the 1,380MW Wales used in 2019! By the end of 2020, Wales had operational wind sites with an optimum capacity of 2,039MW. What in Hell’s name are our politicians doing? In future, on an optimum capacity day, Wales will over 3 times the power it needs from wind, not counting solar. And it already has more power than it needs (2,180MW) from Pembroke Gas station. Let us add, say, a minimum of another 1,200MW from the Bute Energy proposals. That will be wind and gas capacity of 7,677MW, over FIVE times Welsh energy requirements. Who benefits? Not the Welsh people. Not tourism. Politicians? That seems to be the only answer. Men and women can meet their Maker knowing that they have destroyed rural Wales. I just hope God is Welsh, as he would definitely redirect them somewhere much warmer. Politicians will not abandon their policy as it will prove that they have been wrong for over two decades. To carry on destroying Wales should be a criminal offence. (Of course, exporting our ‘green energy’ will benefit England’s statistics).

The Cardiff Bay Government’s “Energy Generation In Wales” report from which many of the figures in this article are taken

None of these wind sites bring ANY economic benefit to Wales. Will there be any uncovered hill outside Snowdonia left in Wales? Many of the smaller sites will later apply for an extension, which will be granted, as the area is despoiled anyhow. It should be noted that Forestry Commission land belongs to the people of Wales. Its main function for decades was to cover Wales with non-native Sitka Spruce, giving massive dark green forests, fairly useless for most native flora and fauna, across the land. Neath-Port Talbot is not a massive area but wants another 453MW optimum output from renewables. Hardly anyone in these areas will have heard of these planning applications. Mynydd Marchawal, or Mynydd March Hywel as it used to be spelt, in between Neath and Pontardawe, a pristine ‘moel’ (bare hill) overlooking Rhos, the site of a battle, tumuli and archaeological remnants. It will be destroyed with access roads and pylons. And forget any meaningful historical survey.

Even if the whole of Wales, every square inch, was covered with wind turbines, the nation would generate only a sixth of the UK’s present energy needs. Professor David MacKay, who backs wind power, writes in his book, Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, that wind farms will need at least five times more land than previously estimated to make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs. The claim comes as the Environment Agency is about to announce plans to build up to 80 turbines on its own land. Are there any environmentalists in the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales? They are there to protect the land, not desecrate it forever, by following the decree of innumerate politicians, none of whom seem to have a physics or engineering background.

Why has England, for years, built none of these useless monstrosities? Any sane person knows that at night, or in lousy weather, solar panels produce no energy. Equally wind sites often do not produce. We cannot store electricity on any large scale, so at all times we need the near-immediate availability of electric power from other sources. Feeding wind and solar power into the National Grid requires a constant, expensive balancing act. If we build these, Wales will at last be an acknowledged world leader. 76 new wind sites, with some of the highest wind towers in the world, in one of the smallest nations, will make Wales a laughing stock. No other country in the world is building these monsters onshore. Wales will at last be a true world leader – in scientific, economic, environmental and cultural stupidity, while its people, the original British, live in one of the poorest areas of Western Europe.

Terry Breverton FCIM FIC FRHistS FRSA

Notes:

Energy Generation in Wales 2020: ‘Fossil fuel generation in Wales in 2019 had a total capacity of 7.4 GW from three fuel sources: 1.6 GW of coal, 0.2 GW of diesel generation and 5.6 GW of gas power. Electricity generation capacity from fossil fuels remained the same in 2019 as it was in 2018. The largest of the gas power plants is situated in Pembrokeshire, the diesel generators are geographically spread across Wales and there was a single coal power station, Aberthaw, in the Vale of Glamorgan, which has now closed. Following the decommissioning of the Barry Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station in March 2019, the four remaining gas plants made up 85% of total gas power capacity in 2019; Pembroke, Connah’s Quay, Severn Power (now dormant) and Baglan Bay. Wales also has approximately 814 MW of small-scale (<100MW) fossil fuel electrical capacity, which includes diesel generators, CHP projects, open cycle gas turbines and gas reciprocating engine sites.’ There are photos in this document of our Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS and Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS. Wales also has a Commissioner for Future Generations, Sophie Howe. One wonders what qualifications are needed for the latter, an interest in science fiction?

The Senedd believes that biomass is a ‘green’ renewable, but even Sir David Attenborough now realises that cutting down forests in the USA and Canada, transporting the wood to a wood pellet manufacturer, then transporting the pellets to Europe to be unloaded and transported to be burnt for electricity – is not ‘green’. It takes around 20 years for a replanted tree to again contribute its previous level to atmospheric carbon reduction. Deforestation facilitates one part of the carbon cycle, increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere. It prevents forests from absorbing any further carbon by destroying the trees. It inhibits this aspect of the cycle and leads to increased levels of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive ignores these fundamental principles: that forests are a natural carbon sink, that wood is a limited resource, and that wood is a source of carbon dioxide when burnt. Many scientists who conducted research on bioenergy have warned that increasing the combustion of wood is not compatible with the emergency they believe is posed by our climate breakdown: ‘we only have a decade left to drastically limit our CO2 emissions’. There seems to be money involved in many political decisions.

Intriguingly, the Welsh Government seems to ignore the latest EU ‘U-turn’ – should that be an EU-turn? ‘Europe will count natural gas and nuclear as green energy in some circumstances’ – Catherine Clifford, CNBC.com – ‘Generally speaking, using natural gas to generate electricity or to heat or cool many homes at once will be considered sustainable, while other uses may be excluded. They will have to be below certain emissions thresholds, and are only approved to 2030 or 2035, depending on the specific situation… some observers were encouraged by the vote and see it as an indication that European governmental leaders are facing the tough reality that it will take time and many steps to transform energy infrastructure, according to David Blackmon, an energy-related public policy analyst and consultant based in Texas. The vote “reflects a growing recognition that the ongoing ‘energy transition’ is going to be far more complex and difficult to achieve than the overarching, simplistic narratives,” Blackmon told CNBC. “The fact that a legislative body as environmentally focused as the European Parliament has been now recognizes the role that both natural gas and nuclear must play to ensure the continent’s energy security and stability is a welcome shift in outlook that should serve as an example worth of emulation by the Biden administration.” And if using natural gas helps in the ultimate goal of eliminating coal, then that is a justifiable decision, some say.’

2 thoughts on “Wales Is Building What England Doesn’t Want – Part II

  1. Where on earth (because they’re not here in Wales) are the right minded politicians and journalists to address this on a national level? We have approached Plaid Cymru, Llyr Huws Gruffydd is Chair of the Climate Change. Environment & Infrastructure Committee tasked with overseeing and monitoring development and implementation of the Future Wales zplan 2040. We were met with not just apathy but clear collusion. Party of Wales? With friends like this who indeed needs enemies?

    1. Non, I have followed the experience that you share with so many other communities for a long time and I am utterly baffled by the way these politicians are so wedded to a green ideology that is flawed. That there was room for the development of “clean energy” technologies is beyond dispute but the way these people have been seduced to back one type of frequently unreliable solution beggars belief. It stands comparison with the fervour of the religious nutjob, the utter devotion of a Hitler-adoring Nazi of 80-90 years ago, the commitment of a modern day jihadist terrorist. “My way or no way”. They just can’t tolerate a closer appraisal of that which they advocate and that is just plain dangerous.

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