With concern over global warming, other countries are working to reduce their carbon-based power, either through nuclear or renewable technologies. However, the chief executive officer of Jersey Electricity, Chris Ambler, said that many renewables resulted in more expensive electricity due to the development costs. He believes that ground-based solar installations are now economically viable in Jersey, but that off-shore wind turbines would triple the price of electricity in the Island.
‘There’s a development going on in Saint-Brieuc, just off the coast of Brittany, which is currently a 500 mega-watt development and the price that they have just struck with the French government is 150 euros per megawatt hour, which is roughly three times what we’re paying today.’
However, although it will not provide economical power for Jersey, Mr Ambler said that it could be a lucrative export industry. ‘When we looked at this we thought maybe there’s an opportunity to do a development and export the power into the EU, enjoy the subsidy of the EU because they’ve got to do their own de-carbonisation of their network, and is there a way of Jersey Electricity playing a role in facilitating that?’
JE presented a plan to the States several ago, but the lack of cohesive strategy within government has made dealing with the States difficult. Mr Ambler said: ‘I think the States are not always easy to deal with because you’re dealing with different ministers who might have different points of view on how a policy should be implemented and they might have different points of view of policy. For a company like us that can be quite difficult if the States and the States Assembly and the Council of Ministers have their own ministerial directorates, for want of a better word.’
Mr Ambler said they were still keen to discuss the proposed project: ‘It could happen. It depends on the ambition for the States. It depends on if they’re willing to invest in exploring these opportunities – they’re not insignificant investments. We’ve said that we’re happy to shoulder some of the cost of that for the benefit of the Island, if we can come to some kind of arrangement. I think there’s potential.’