Wales 'not delivering energy projects', conference told

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Media captionPoliticians have been criticised for acting as a barrier to energy company investment in Wales

Wales has failed to deliver energy projects and needs better leadership to improve the situation, an energy conference has heard.

Speakers at the Policy Forum for Wales in Cardiff called for change and said planning was slow and bureaucratic.

Wales' sustainability commissioner said developers and politicians needed to understand local people's concerns.

Natural Resources Minister Carl Sergeant said the government was hoping to establish a Welsh energy company.

He also said it was increasingly important energy was generated close to the communities where it was used and the government would support community projects which explored ways of generating their own power.

The conference was looking at new ways to attract energy companies to Wales and ensure supplies were sustainable and affordable.

One of the delegates, Simon Power from engineering consultancy firm Arup, told BBC Wales there were mixed messages from government and a level of change was required.

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Image caption Baroness Randerson called on energy companies to 'grasp the mettle'

Andrew Jones from S&C Electric Europe Ltd said they found most of their work outside Wales.

"At the moment there are no clear markets at all. It's complete confusion about are we in renewables, what type of renewables we're in.

"Unfortunately, industry needs clear markets and if there's total confusion maybe we will accept the Welsh government's offer to export our technology because other markets have much clearer market signals and you know you can do repeat business there."

Plans for two offshore windfarms in Wales have been ditched in recent years.

David Club, director of Renewable UK Cymru, said what was needed was an improvement in the planning process.

"The Welsh government lacks capacity in terms of the manpower and administration," he said.

"If energy's going to be devolved within five years I think it's incumbent upon government to start preparing for that."

'World leader'

Baroness Randerson, who was delivering the keynote speech on behalf of the UK government, called on private companies to "grasp the challenge".

She said: "From small scale, community based renewables to Wylfa Newydd and tidal lagoons, I want Wales, once again, to be a world leader in energy supply and in the manufacture of the technology it requires."

Plaid Cymru's energy spokesman, Llyr Gruffydd, said a publicly-owned Welsh national energy company would put customers before shareholders.

"A Welsh national energy company, in the hands of the people of Wales, would make investment and long-term development the priority, not shareholders' dividends."

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