Eric has worked on the strategic development of Wales for some 50 years and in recent years he has helped train over 2000 finance officers in schools on how to maximise grant income, and develop school businesses. He also ran a business that sold thousands of ex corporate computers to schools.
Coronavirus has pressed the pause button on the whole world.
One major benefit has been the dramatic drop in noise and air pollution. People want to keep the world pollution free.
Wales is ideally placed to benefit, economically, from a world free of pollution. It is the perfect location to expand on shore and offshore wind farms, to to develop community energy parks, and launch a major green energy industry.
The only problem to overcome is how to deal with the intermittency of green energy, and how to remove the back up need for polluting gas and coal power stations.
Fortunately everything is moving in Wales’s favour. The cost of wind energy is halving every 10 years, new double sided perovskite /silicon solar panels will reduce the cost of solar by a quarter, and companies like Tesla are producing millions of low cost batteries with huge potential storage capacity. Low cost second hand batteries can by reused in industrial battery storage units indefinitely, without degradation. Electricity can also be stored bi directionally by the owners of electric vehicles and home based battery powerwalls. Hydrogen can be produced from sea water, using green energy.
So what should Wales do?
The Government should negotiate with technologists and investors world wide. It should create community benefit energy parks which link new efficient windfarms, with state of the art solar parks. It should encourage large scale offshore wind farms using fixed and floating platforms.
Wales green energy output should be quadrupled by 2030, and fed into the electricity gird. Any surplus would be stored in batteries of 500 gigawatts plus, or used to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen would be used for vehicles or fed into the National Grid gas pipeline. This way green energy would make money all the time and encourage investors. The world is awash with long term investment funds looking for a stable, long term income.
The process can encouraged by Welsh planning law. The Swansea City Deal proposes building “Active Houses” that generate and store electricity. Welsh building regulations could specify that all new residential and commercial buildings become active buildings with electric vehicle charging points (and that could include change of use.) Planners can proactively support community energy parks, and developments like the Milford Haven Energy Kingdom.
Everything changes with cheap green energy. In 2035 new polluting cars will be banned from sale. The Welsh Government could tackle Wales dangerous air pollution levels by giving 5 years notice that by 2025 polluting vehicles will pay tolls to access city and town centres, valley roads, trunk roads and motorways. Electric vehicles would be toll free. Buses can be replaced by battery or hydrogen vehicles by 2030 and Transport for Wales could run the rail infrastructure to ensure low cost electrification, plus battery/ electric or hydrogen / battery hybrid trains.
None of this is difficult. Private funding is available, it will create jobs and make Wales wealthier and healthier.