Renewable energy in Wales Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Opportunities for Wales

1.The Crown Estate plays a crucial role in the management of the UK’s seabed and in ensuring that economic development arising from leases to developers works in tandem with the conservation and protection of our natural resources. We recognise that this is not an easy balance and we thank The Crown Estate for their hard work and the judicious way in which they discharge their responsibilities. (Paragraph 23)

2.Over the course of our inquiry we heard significant demand from energy companies for additional seabed leases to be made available. These leases are essential to the development of offshore energy generation in Welsh waters. We therefore welcome the recent announcement from The Crown Estate of a new leasing opportunity for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. This new leasing opportunity will be particularly significant for the marine sector in Wales and, through its focus on projects of circa 300MW in scale, will be an important step towards the UK Government’s ambition to deliver 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. (Paragraph 24)

3.We encourage The Crown Estate to continue to work proactively with developers to ensure that adequate leasing rounds continue to be offered on a regular basis in the future. Of most importance is that there is, as far as possible, alignment between the timetables being used by The Crown Estate for its leasing rounds and the timeframes which underpin developers investment decisions. The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy should work with The Crown Estate and energy developers to explore how there can be greater alignment of timeframes for, as well as clearer communications of, leasing opportunities. We also recommend that the UK and Welsh governments should explore mechanisms for more effectively distributing wealth generation from renewable energy projects to communities in Wales. (Paragraph 25)

Subsidy schemes and finance

4.The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme has been highly successful in supporting renewable energy development in Wales. However, emerging marine technologies such as wave and tidal require additional support to bridge the gap between innovation funding and CfDs. (Paragraph 30)

5.The UK Government must address the funding gap for emerging marine technologies or risk negatively impacting their development. As a first step, Ministers from Her Majesty’s Treasury, in cooperation and coordination with Welsh Government Ministers, should arrange to meet with representatives from the marine energy sector as a matter of urgency to investigate the feasibility of introducing Innovation Power Purchase Agreements. Such Agreements could provide a powerful catalyst for investment in emerging technologies and help support innovation and development in renewable energy projects. (Paragraph 31)

6.The Feed-in Tariffs scheme had been hugely successful in attracting investment in small-scale renewable energy generation. We are concerned, however, that its replacement scheme the Smart Export Guarantee has been widely criticised by small-scale renewable developers as being too limited in scope and for its apparent lack of ambition. We are also concerned at reports that the roll out of smart meters has been hindered in rural areas due to infrastructure problems and urge the UK Government to work with the Welsh Government to resolve these issues. (Paragraph 37)

7.This is a critical moment for the climate agenda. If the UK Government is to achieve its ambitious net-zero targets, it needs to have a subsidy programme that succeeds in attracting private sector and community investment in small-scale renewable energy generation. The UK Government should therefore, as a matter of urgency, explore re-introducing generation tariffs to the Smart Export Guarantee in order to adequately support small-scale renewable energy generation. As consumers are currently only guaranteed to be paid less than zero, the UK Government should also examine bringing back a fixed tariff to incentivise further small-scale energy generation. The UK Government should report back to us within the next three months on its review of these proposals. (Paragraph 38)

Renewable energy and the local economy

8.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. (Paragraph 43)

9.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. (Paragraph 44)

10.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. (Paragraph 47)

11.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. (Paragraph 48)

Issues facing the renewable sector in Wales

12.Effective collaboration and co-operation between the UK and Welsh governments will be essential if Wales is to achieve net zero by 2050. Significant issues such as grid capacity and port infrastructure, in particular, require cross-government working if they are to be resolved, and there are a number of key areas where there are common interests and opportunities for further collaboration between the UK and Welsh governments. Existing programmes and schemes to develop the supply chain’s capacity and capability through clusters such as the South Wales Industrial Cluster and Celtic Sea Cluster should continue to enable cross-border working. (Paragraph 56)

13.The UK Government should focus on maintaining a close working relationship with the Welsh Government, particularly in regard to major energy systems challenges such a grid capacity and port infrastructure. To facilitate effective collaboration, where renewable energy projects in Wales are under consideration, the UK Government should invite Welsh Government Ministers to attend and participate in the Ministerial Delivery Group. (Paragraph 57)

14.Interconnectors have been proven to provide strong benefits for decarbonisation, because of this the role of interconnectors is expected to greatly increase in the decades leading to net zero. As an interconnector in Wales would allow excess energy, which is likely to be created due to the abundance of wind energy in the country, to be exported rather than curtailed, there are clear opportunities for Wales to benefit. This is particularly significant for Welsh waters in light of the EU’s requirement for 300GW of offshore wind by 2050. (Paragraph 62)

15.Further to the UK Government’s recent collaboration with the EU on a potential North Sea grid, the UK Government should consider the opportunity for further export from the Celtic Sea to the continent and the creation of a Celtic Sea Economic Zone. (Paragraph 63)

16.We received a considerable amount of evidence arguing that grid capacity issues are currently significantly hindering renewable energy deployment throughout Wales, and are likely to continue to do so in the future. If the UK Government is unaware of the severity of this issue, it would suggest that their engagement with stakeholders on issues affecting renewable energy development has not been sufficient. (Paragraph 71)

17.The UK Government must recognise that Wales’ increase in renewable energy development and generation may be significantly hindered by grid constraints if action is not taken. To mitigate this risk, the UK Government must work in collaboration with Ofgem to plan anticipatory investment in Wales, so that the significant uplift in renewables generation which is likely to occur is not handicapped by our currently severe grid constraints. The UK Government must also engage with key stakeholders to ensure that these constraints are adequately addressed in such a way that will not delay the Welsh decarbonisation roadmap. (Paragraph 72)

18.Wales is well-placed to benefit from the significant potential of fixed bottom and floating offshore wind around the Welsh coast. However, existing issues with the supply chain and port infrastructure must be addressed if the country wants to take advantage of these opportunities. (Paragraph 79)

19.The UK Government should make clear the likelihood of further funding of ports infrastructure in Wales to support the emerging offshore wind sector. Further port investment should be encouraged for Welsh ports, particularly the Celtic Sea ports, in any future funding rounds. Freeports are one current area where significant investment is being discussed by the UK Government, and we urge the UK and Welsh governments to reach agreement, as soon as possible, on the funding arrangements for a freeport in Wales. If these discussions can be unblocked, the competition process for a Welsh freeport should place a heavy emphasis on renewable and net-zero considerations and should look to facilitating investment in the development of renewable energy generation. (Paragraph 80)

20.The UK and Welsh governments, as well as port operators, and energy companies with developments in Wales, should work together to learn the lessons from the North East of England, where a clear strategy, focus, and public and private sector investment have led to the Port of Blyth becoming a hub for renewable energy development and jobs. If Wales is to make the most of its offshore potential, then her ports will need to have the right infrastructure and the skills base which can ensure that investment in energy development also results in investment in jobs and skills in Wales. (Paragraph 81)

Published: 29 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement