Renewable energy in Wales Contents

4Renewable energy and the local economy

Local ownership and “upskilling” the Welsh workforce

39.Numerous stakeholders told us that the UK Government should focus on supporting local employment as part of its shift towards a ‘net zero’ economy. Written evidence from Vattenfall stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to rebuild national resilience and support the clean energy transition through retraining and upskilling the UK workforce. They argue that, although focusing on opportunities that maximise benefits for the UK economy may increase the cost of new infrastructure in the short term, this will best support local economies in the long-term and provide additional opportunities for export-driven growth.44 The Crown Estate also argued that building a net zero workforce will only be achievable through cross-sector efforts to up-skill workers.45

40.However, stakeholders such as EDF expressed concern over whether Wales would have the capacity to create more jobs following the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because the rate of local deployment of renewable energy has significantly slowed in recent years, partly due to the long-standing challenge of electricity grid constraints on development in Wales.46

41.Oral evidence from Michelle Davies, International Head of Clean Energy and Sustainability at Eversheds Sutherland, told us that “over the next five years all companies in Wales will have to be on some kind of decarbonisation journey”. Due to this, Wales could be well-placed to take advantage of the significant skills shortage globally within the decarbonisation sector. Ms Davies told us that “if Wales is a country that pulls together a strategy for this, it could not only be delivering those jobs for solutions in Wales, but it could be exporting that expertise to other areas as well”. However, if Wales is unprepared for the transition, those who are seeking an organisation to provide decarbonisation services and solutions - they could be technical, operating or financial–will source help from outside the country.47

42.At our session on 29 April 2021, David T.C. Davies MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, was questioned about how the transition to a green economy will impact jobs in Wales:

[Chair] A 78% cut in carbon emissions by 2035, that is less than 14 years away. Implicit in those targets, as you have both alluded to, are big changes in society and in the economy. Are you absolutely confident that the plans are indeed in place for achieving the kind of transition in the Welsh economy that you are talking about and for seeing new jobs created to replace the ones which, frankly, will be lost as a result of these changes?

[David T.C. Davies] I think you are right that the plans are ambitious. They are achievable, but there will certainly be consequences as a result. I think we have to accept that the public want us to be ambitious about cutting carbon emissions. I don’t accept that that is going to lead to job losses. I think it will be job changes rather than job losses, but of course there will be consequences for society.48

43.The shift to a net zero economy will be one of the most significant economic transformations in decades. It will have far reaching consequences for communities and individuals across the UK, for livelihoods and lifestyles. While this decarbonisation journey offers potentially rich rewards, it also contains significant risks for the Welsh economy. While Wales’ natural resources may lend themselves to renewable generation projects, there is no guarantee that the supply chains and workforces involved in the development of these programmes will be based in, or come from, Wales. Securing the benefits of, and minimising the risks from, the shift to net zero will, among other things, require a comprehensive strategy, and focus, on upskilling the Welsh workforce.

44.If the UK Government intends to ensure that jobs will not be lost during the transition to a greener economy, it needs to work with the business sector and stakeholders including the Welsh Government to develop a comprehensive strategy for upskilling the current workforce, leveraging new opportunities and tackling the barriers, including grid constraints, that currently threaten to undermine the potential gains from the shift to a net-zero economy. As a sign of the UK Government’s commitment to securing progress at the COP26 summit, as well as of its broader net-zero agenda, we call on the UK Government to convene, prior to the COP26 summit this Autumn, a high-level panel of stakeholders to begin work on a reskilling strategy.

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution

45.In November 2020, the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution was launched. The Ten Point Plan pledges £12 billion of government investment and up to three times that from the private sector to create and support 9,000 jobs in clean energy across the UK within the current Parliament, and up to 250,000 by 2030. The Government has set an additional target to produce 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, which they believe should support up to 60,000 jobs on its own. The plan sets out that most jobs created in Wales will be in the installation and construction sectors, but does not explain how the 250,000 jobs will be split across the four nations.49

46.At our oral evidence session on 14 January 2021 with the Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt Hon Simon Hart MP, the Secretary of State told us that he was “very optimistic that almost a disproportionate number of the jobs that will be available in the next five to 10 years will be in various different parts of Wales, particularly coastal areas”.50 However, no evidence was provided to support this statement.

47.Wales, natural resources, coastline and all round renewable energy potential should mean that it benefits significantly from the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for the Green Industrial Revolution. However, we are concerned that the UK Government has provided no information on how many of the jobs envisaged by the plan will be located in Wales.

48.While Wales has the potential to benefit from the Ten Point Plan, it will not do so automatically or by right. Rather, it will require a clear vision, and a specific plan, for job creation from the UK Government. Using the Ten Point Plan as a starting point, the UK Government should develop a Wales specific plan that provides a detailed route-map and aspirations, including in terms of job numbers, for the Ten Point Plan in Wales. The UK Government should also commit to set aside parliamentary time for this Wales specific plan to be debated by MPs. This plan should be published, and time made available for a debate on the floor of the House of Commons, or in a special session of the Welsh Grand Committee, before the end of the current year.

44 Vattenfall. REW0028.

45 The Crown Estate. REW0040.

46 EDF. REW0033.

Published: 29 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement