With ASKAR SHEIBANI
CEO Comtek Network Systems and chair DBF
Russia’s waging war against an independent country has hit Europe with an unpleasant economic reality wake-up call.
Europe, including the UK, never imagined Russian leaders would ever make a decision to conquer another independent nation in the 21st century.
The unfortunate fact is that the UK and Europe trusted the sanity of some of the powerful autocratic rulers and became seriously economically dependent on these countries.
What made the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, trust Russian President Putin, and the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron equally to trust the Chinese President Xi Jinping with a red-carpet reception?
Europe’s dependency on Russian energy, especially that of Germany, is critical. Any suspension of the supplies from Russia will have a substantial adverse economic impact in Europe and the UK.
The UK government has to start to examine our dependency on critical supplies from the countries that have these powerful autocratic rulers.
Russia’s actions demonstrated that the UK must have a much closer relationship with EU counties and the USA.
These are democratic, trusted nations with whom the UK has over 50 years of close relationships.
The UK must rethink and plan to develop a reliable and dependable energy supply strategy by becoming completely self-reliant.
The key question is; can the UK, one day become totally self-reliant in regard to energy? I believe it can.
However, we mustn’t ditch from our energy supplies fossil fuels such as gas and even coal.
The UK government must accelerate all its planned investment in the development of renewable and nuclear energy and redouble its efforts in identifying regions of the UK suitable for the construction of tidal energy projects.
North Wales is placed in an unusually unique position to contribute to the UK’s aspiration to reach Net Zero and eventual total energy self-sufficiency.
North Wales has skills and long experience in the deployment and operation of nuclear energy reactors.
The recent announcement by Rolls Royce, searching to identify a suitable location for their Small Modular Reactors (SMR), a low-cost alternative to large expensive reactors, is a welcome announcement.
The Welsh and UK governments should seize the opportunity and encourage Rolls Royce (a British Firm) to manufacture these reactors in Deeside or Wrexham (as the UK’s fantastic hub for manufacturing). These reactors could easily be deployed in Wylfa or Trawsfynydd; a region with an amazing pool of expertise.
North Wales’ opportunity to develop two tidal energy projects:
1. Morlais tidal project: eventually producing 240MW of electricity. This project has been approved and should go ahead soon.
2. North Wales Tidal Lagoon: a very large £7billion private sector energy project which, if constructed, could provide electricity to about one million homes, according to the project leaders.
3. Deeside has one of the largest solar panel farms in the UK
4. Park Adfer at Deeside Industrial Park is already producing electricity from general household refuse.
Deeside has been home to several electricity generating companies, some with aspirations to invest and be involved in generating renewable energies such as hydrogen.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a big shock and a massive wake-up call for the UK.
North Wales has the geography, massive manufacturing base and expertise in renewable and nuclear energy. North Wales can make a giant leap with the support of the UK and Welsh governments in making the UK a self-reliant country.