Speaking exclusively to the JEP, Dr Alan Whitehead, the Labour MP for Southampton Test, urged the islands to use their natural assets of large tidal ranges and capacity for wind, solar and geothermal power in a drive towards clean energy supplies.
He added that Jersey’s offshore reefs, such as the Minquiers and Écréhous could be used as platforms for wind farms.
Former Environment Minister Rob Duhamel said in 2013 that it would be possible to build a wind farm 25km to the southwest of Corbière and suggested EU grants could be sought to develop renewable power sources around the Island.
And in 2015, the Crown gifted the Island’s foreshore and seabed to the public of Jersey, in a move that was cited as paving the way for the development of renewables in the Island’s territorial waters. There has, however, been little movement on the matter since then.
Earlier this year, the States of Jersey declared a climate-change emergency and set a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, meaning the Island will aim to remove as much carbon as it puts into the atmosphere by that date.
Environment Minister John Young has since said that plans for a tidal barrage across St Aubin’s Bay may be discussed in the next Island Plan and has also shown enthusiasm for the Island developing offshore wind farms and other renewables.
A report released by his department has indicated that just 5% of Jersey’s waters could be used to generate 3.5 times the Island’s power needs using wind turbines.
Dr Whitehead, who is the co-chairman of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Channel Islands, said that the islands have several resources they could use to become a net energy exporter.
‘The Channel Islands have the number one tidal resource of anywhere in the British Isles,’ he said.
‘There’s been moves about undersea turbines in the Alderney Race – the currents are so strong there. And a tidal barrage is a really good concept.
‘The tidal range and tidal scour in the bay generally gives rise to all sorts of possibilities and it is completely unexploited at the moment.
‘You could see the Channel Islands being able to export enormous amounts of energy from their resources and that would be to the great benefit of the islands themselves.
He added: ‘The islands, as far as I know, are on a geothermal aquifer so you could do a lot of geothermal work, in principle. They are also pretty sunny, so you could do a lot on solar.
‘You have tremendous sites around the islands, such as the Minquiers and Écréhous, which could give you land-based wind but without an onshore footprint. Obviously, if you stuck a load of wind turbines across St Mary, St Ouen or Rozel that would really disfigure the place.
‘And as well as barrages, you could have tidal lagoons, which would not impinge on the land mass and help generate loads of money for the islands.’
Alderney recently signed a 25-year agreement to buy renewable energy from four underwater turbines off the nearby French coast, meaning the island will no longer need to rely on diesel generators to produce electricity.
Meanwhile, discussions took place in Guernsey this week concerning a reforestation scheme in Costa Rica to help offset the carbon footprint of Jersey’s sister island.