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Egni 2024: M-SParc host conference to address the challenges of Net Zero

M-SParc’s 5th annual Egni (Energy) Conference addressed key policies that affect the country’s journey towards net zero. With the general election announced this week, the timing was perfect and gave the audience an opportunity to challenge policy- and decision-makers to accelerate the pace of progress towards a sustainable future.

The conference lineup featured voices from various backgrounds of the energy sector, from nuclear to tidal, as well as levels of government, including David TC Davies; Secretary of State for Wales, Jeremy Miles; Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy, and Welsh Language, and Rhun ap Iorwerth; Leader of Plaid Cymru.

Nyah Lowe, President of Undeb Bangor, kicked things off with some eye-opening statistics. She painted a picture of the struggles students face in living sustainably: 59% feel uncomfortably cold in private rentals, 54% report damp and mold issues, and 1 in 10 are forced to use food banks. Her message was clear and urgent: 

There is a huge disparity in sustainability between where we currently are and where we want to be.

Nyah Lowe, Undeb Bangor

M-SParc’s Low Carbon Innovation Manager, Dr. Debbie Jones, whose team led on the planning of the conference, spoke on M-SParc’s work in the low carbon sector, with a focus on nuclear, tidal, wind, solar, hydrogen and decarbonisation in the region. With 52 tenant companies and 28 virtual tenants companies ,78% of whom work in the low-carbon sector, Dr. Debbie spoke of future plans, including the planned second building on the Science Park Site.

It was great to host another brilliant Egni conference here in M-SParc. It’s really important to challenge each other, policy and decision makers to make sure we’re doing all we can to reach Net Zero, and we look forward to carrying on the good work here in the Egni team over the coming months!

Dr. Debbie Jones, Low Carbon Innovation Manager, M-SParc

Dr. Debbie Jones, Dr. Peter Robins and Dr. Simon C. Middleburgh

Dr. Simon C. Middleburgh of Bangor University’s Nuclear Futures Institute spoke of the need for collaboration, emphasizing how vital it is that businesses in the region are sponsoring engineering students. Dr. Middlesburgh was joined by Dr. Debbie and Dr. Peter Robins of the university’s School of Ocean Sciences to discuss the renewable energy potential in North Wales.

Jeremy Miles emphasised the necessity for Wales to learn from international best practices.

The scale of the endeavour is daunting, and climate change impacts every part of life. The further we go, the tougher the decisions for policymakers.

Jeremy Miles, Welsh Government

David TC Davies, on the other hand, offered a more upbeat perspective. In a prepared statement, he spoke of opportunities like the Wylfa Power Station and highlighted Bangor University’s new engineering course that will help to close the skills gap. There was an opportunity for questions and statements from the floor, when Dr Mary Gillie from Local Energy challenged the government’s reliance on gas, which is driving the worst energy crisis in recent history.

Ffion Medi Jones, M-SParc’s STEM and Skills Officer, brought the voices of the younger generation into the spotlight. She shared insights from pupils across Anglesey and Gwynedd, many of whom are anxious about the future of their homes due to issues like rising sea levels. Their message to policymakers was poignant yet clear: more must be done to protect their future.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Leader of Plaid Cymru, took a reflective stance, urging the UK Government to leverage its power for progressive change. Despite critiquing the slow progress, he inspired hope by reminding us all of Wales’ potential.

We in Wales have the potential, and that’s the main point to take forward.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru

The conference closed with a panel discussion lead by Anglesey comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean, featuring Gwen Parry-Jones, Interim CEO for Great British Nuclear, Grant Peisley, Director of Ynni Cymru, and Heledd Cressey, Head of Renewable Energy Policy for Welsh Government. The message was clear; we have the resources in Wales to be sustainable, but our biggest barriers are the grid, a skilled workforce, and time. With the world set to cross the threshold of a global temperature rise limit of 1.5 °C*, we are in a climate emergency; reaching Net Zero should be our priority to secure the future of the planet, but it also has economic impact. Reaching Net Zero will go a long way to helping communities in Wales tackle the cost of living crisis as well, leading to a truly sustainable future.

*set by The Paris Agreement (2016)

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Tom Burke

Digital Innovation Manager

Tom used to work at the KFC in his hometown of Colwyn Bay before it mysteriously burned down. He then spent several years “on the lam” in East Germany, where he worked as an animator in Berlin. When the wall fell, Tom came home.

He enjoys climbing and hates ice-skating.