The Welsh Affairs Committee, a select committee of the House of Commons in the UK Parliament, has called for a ‘Ten Point Plan’ to be developed and published by the UK and Welsh Governments this year to provide clear strategy for the renewable energy sector in Wales.
Wales could be a leader in renewable energy, according to the Committee, with strengths in offshore wind, among other natural energy sources, and significant new potential emerging in floating offshore wind.
Currently, Wales has three operational wind farms installed off its coast: Gwynt y Mor, Rhyl Flats and North Hoyle; and part of the new 3 GW offshore wind development proposed in the UK by BP and EnBW will be built off North Wales.
Two floating wind projects, developed by Blue Gem Wind, are also currently moving towards realisation and to being the first floating wind farms installed off the Welsh coast.
Nevertheless, if Wales is to meet its renewable energy potential and maximise the opportunities offered by the shift to net-zero, clearer plans will be needed for job creation and ensuring communities benefit from the growth generated by renewable energy development, as well as for overcoming infrastructure issues such as grid capacity, according to a new report released by the Welsh Affairs Committee.
Due to a lack of a clear strategy for the renewable energy sector, the report recommends a specific ‘Ten Point Plan’ for Wales be developed and published this year.
The plan should be developed in a partnership between the UK and Welsh Governments to advance renewable energy.
This plan should address upskilling the current workforce, with work being undertaken in advance of COP26 in November, and for the UK Government to address grid capacity issues with Ofgem to facilitate future renewable energy generation.
“With the UK hosting COP26 in November, there has never been a more important moment to recognise the potential that exists in Wales for much greater renewable energy output”, said Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP. “It is clear there is no shortage of ambition within Wales but we need to see a clearer strategy from UK Government if Wales is to capture all the opportunities that are emerging”.
The Committee also identified port infrastructure as an area requiring the attention of UK and Welsh Governments to realise the full potential of offshore renewable opportunities.
The Crown Estate should develop a new approach to optimise the environmental and economical potential of the seabed, working closely with developers to ensure adequate leasing rounds be offered on a regular basis. The Committee argues this would be essential for the development of offshore wind and wave and tidal projects.
Furthermore, a current funding gap between innovation funding and the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme risks holding back wave and tidal energy projects and the Committee argues that failure to address this funding gap would risk impacting development for a sector which could generate GBP 4 billion to the UK economy.
In addition, the UK Government should explore re-introducing generation tariffs to the Smart Export Guarantee, building on the success of Feed-in Tariffs which attracted investment to small-scale renewable electricity generation, according to the Welsh Affairs Committee.