Wales can dramatically increase renewable energy capacity by 2025

“Wales should be at the forefront of the transition to a low-carbon energy as part of the global fight against climate change,” she said at the launch of the Assembly Government’s ‘Energy Policy Statement, A Low Carbon Revolution.’ The strategy details the ambitions to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy and how it will be achieved.

“The Energy Statement details how Wales has the potential to produce twice the amount of electricity it currently uses from renewable sources  by 2025, with 40% coming from marine, a third from wind and the rest from sustainable biomass power or smaller projects using wind, solar, hydro or indigenous biomass.”

“The potential is truly inspiring and I am confident that our Low Carbon Revolution will provide the right framework to realise this potential,” says Davidson. “Wales once led the way in carbon-based energy; our goal now is to do the same for low carbon energy.”

Wales has 1,200 km of coastline with significant amounts of marine energy, and a previous target of 7 TWh a year of green energy by 2020 can be expanded to 35 TWh/a, she says. Currently, Wales consumes 24 TWh from fossil, nuclear and renewable energy facilities.

Climate change is an imperative for low-carbon energy

“Climate change is the greatest environmental, economic and social challenge facing the planet,” the document explains. “Our future well-being, both material and social, will be dependent on achieving sufficient supplies of affordable low-carbon energy.”

The potential in Wales is £50 billion for investments in large renewable energy projects within the next 15 years and Wales will also invest heavily in community-scale renewables and domestic energy efficiency, with the prospect of attracting “further significant investment” through the new Wales Strategic Energy Performance Investment Programme.

“Our energy needs in a modern society will remain considerable, and must be met securely from low carbon sources,” it notes. “We will move to resilient low carbon energy production via indigenous (and thus secure) renewables, on both a centralised and localised basis.”

“Based on Wales’ natural advantages in areas such as wind and marine renewable resources, our aim will be to renewably generate up to twice as much electricity annually by 2025 as we use today and by 2050, at the latest, be in a position where almost all of our local energy needs, whether for heat, electrical power or vehicle transport, can be met by low carbon electricity production,” it concludes.

Strategy contains detailed actions for renewable energy technologies

Action on small-scale renewables will include:

  • an initial £15m EU funding programme to support 22 community energy projects across Wales
  • maximising the significant benefits of providing domestic heat through renewable means in all our programmes
  • supporting the early introduction of a UK renewable heat incentive scheme
  • working with stakeholders to encourage the take-up of renewable energy financial incentives from micro- to macro-scale projects
  • championing the potential benefits of feed-in tariffs for community renewable energy projects
  • encouraging the piloting of smart-grid technology in Wales
  • supporting small-scale renewables developments through the planning system in Wales
  • providing domestic renewables as part of our Home Energy Efficiency Scheme
  • promoting local energy generation, including as part of public sector schemes and procurements
  • promoting ‘whole house’ integrated energy efficiency and micro-generation investments, including in our zero carbon demonstration developments.

Wind, tidal, wave, hydro and geothermal are examined

For offshore wind, Wales will promote the optimum use of offshore wind turbines in order to deliver a further 15 kWh per day per person of capacity by 2016, and will work with regulator and grid company to address the need for additional offshore and onshore electrical grid connections. It will promote appropriate opportunities for deep sea wind farms and reflect those considerations in drawing up future Marine Spatial Plan and marine designations.

On tidal energy, the aim is to test the appropriateness and cost effectiveness of steps to exploit the tidal range of the Severn estuary by ensuring that both costs and benefits of any project are fully understood and explained, and considering the applicability of tidal range technologies elsewhere in Wales.

The government wants to capture at least 10%  (8 kWh/d/p) of the potential tidal stream and wave energy off the Welsh coastline by 2025, which it will do by retaining the option of using EU convergence funding for new marine technology and supporting the prospects for a tidal stream nursery test/demonstration site for commercial scale developments off West Wales.

The aim for onshore wind is to have 4.5 kWh/d/p of installed capacity by 2017, which it will do by ensuring that wind farms fully deliver wider community benefits, and addressing transportation concerns associated with larger wind turbines. Wales will work closely with the grid company and regulator to ensure that new grid connections are provided sensitively, and promote further use of brownfield sites for smaller-scale projects.

Hydropower and geothermal are tabbed for 1 kWh/d/p, while bioenergy and waste will be expected to deliver 6 kWh/d/p.

The Assembly Government’s Technical Advice Note Planning for Renewable Energy sets a 4 TWh per annum renewable electricity production target by 2010 and a 7 TWh target by 2020. Its micro-generation action plan contains targets for the installation of 20,000 micro heating systems by 2012, rising to 100,000 by 2020; 10,000 micro electricity systems by 2012, rising to 200,000 by 2020; and 50 combined heat and power and/or district heating systems in place by 2020.