The Welsh Government has announced this week it intends to set a renewable electricity target of 70% by 2030 at the same time as it announced a £4.5 million commitment to boost the marine and tidal energy sector of North Wales.
Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment Lesley Griffiths spoke to the National Assembly and said that she wants the country to be at the forefront of global decarbonization efforts and announced that she was setting a 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. Wales has trebled its renewable energy generation since 2010, and in 2016 it generated 32% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.
But, following in the wake of another of the UK’s members, Scotland, it wants to be a world leader when it comes to renewable energy and decarbonization.
“Wales must be able to compete in global low-carbon markets, particularly now we face a future outside the EU,” said Lesley Griffiths. “The ability to meet our needs from clean energy is the foundation for a prosperous low carbon economy.”
The announcement was made up of several smaller targets which are to feed into the overall 70% goal. Griffith also set a target that 1 GW (gigawatt) of renewable electricity capacity be locally owned, and that by 2020 all new renewable energy projects have at least an element of local ownership.
“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.
While the Welsh Government is able to set a lot of its own policies due to the Devolved Authority status, not all areas have been devolved to Wales, leading Griffiths to call on the UK Government to step up and support technologies to the point where they can compete in the market.
“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,” Griffiths explained. 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 Cabinet Secretary’s announcement comes only days after Welsh Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates announced that a combination of European Union and Welsh Government funding would go towards boosting the marine and tidal energy sector in North Wales. Specifically, £4.5 million will go towards supporting Mentor Môn’s £5.6 million Morlais scheme which is intended to accelerate the development and commercialization of multiple tidal stream technologies in the Morlais Demonstration Zone in Anglesey.
“The energy generated from wave and tidal flows can play a major role in delivering our ambitions for a Welsh low carbon economy as well as creating sustainable jobs and growth,” said Ken Skates. “Wales’ coastline means we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the blue economy, which is why the Welsh Government is committed to supporting the creation of new tidal demonstration zones that will help industry develop and test new and innovative tidal and wave technologies for commercial success.”