The Welsh government this week announced ambitious new clean energy targets that would make the country one of the world’s leading renewables hubs.
Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths announced Wales should aim to source 70 per cent of its power from renewables by 2030, building on progress that has seen renewables generation treble since 2010, to account for 32 per cent of the country’s power last year.
“Wales must be able to compete in global low carbon markets, particularly now we face a future outside the EU,” she told the Welsh Assembly. “The ability to meet our needs from clean energy is the foundation for a prosperous low carbon economy.”
In addition to the 70 per cent goal for renewables’ share of the power mix, she also announced a target for one GW of renewable electricity capacity in Wales to be locally owned by 2030 and for all new projects to have an element of local ownership by 2020.
“I believe these are stretching but realistic targets which will help us to decarbonise our energy system, reduce long-term costs and deliver greater benefits to Wales,” she said.
Griffiths said the Welsh government would continue to support the roll out of renewables, citing the decision to make around €100m of EU Structural Funds available for investment in marine energy.
However, she also stepped up calls for the Westminster government to remove barriers to investment in new clean energy capacity, including new onshore wind farms and solar projects.
“The rapid changes of UK government policy have decimated large parts of the renewable sector in Wales and developments potentially valuable to Wales have been stopped in their tracks by UK Ministers,” she said. “The bulk of UK government renewables investment is now going to offshore wind projects outside Wales. This investment is paid for by Welsh bill payers, amongst others.
“There is a need for the bulk of energy supply to come from the most affordable technologies, if the costs are to be found from energy bills. These technologies therefore need a route to market if we are to meet our ambitious targets and deliver the most benefit to Welsh bill payers. That is why I have called repeatedly on UK government to stop the ideological exclusion of onshore wind and solar from the Contracts for Difference process.”
The Conservative manifesto raised the prospect of onshore wind development being permitted in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but the government is yet to provide any further details.
Industry insiders are hoping for clarification on the government’s upcoming clean energy plans in the imminent Clean Growth Strategy.