The renewables revolution surges ahead as Wales generates more green electricity
More than two-fifths of the electricity used by Welsh consumers last year came from renewable sources, new figures show.
A report published yesterday by the Welsh Government reveals the progress the country has made towards Cardiff Bay’s target of generating 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
According to the report, 43% of Wales electricity consumption in 2016 came from renewable energy, up from 32% the previous year.
The Energy Generation in Wales 2016 report provides an estimate of the sources of energy generation in Wales, the number of projects and installed capacity to the end of 2016. The report also shows: There are more than 67,000 renewable projects, up 23% since 2014;
Renewable energy capacity increased by 47% since 2014, making up 18% of all electricity generation;
There has been a 97% increase in renewable heat capacity;
There are 62,420 renewable energy projects in local ownership, generating 575MW;
Solar PV is the most common renewable technology, accounting for 81% of renewable projects;
Onshore wind has the largest installed capacity of renewable technology, with a 54% increase in capacity since 2014.
In September, Energy Secretary Lesley Griffiths announced she wanted Wales to generate 70% of its electricity consumption from renewables by 2030. She also set targets for renewable energy projects to have at least an element of local ownership by 2020 and for at least one gigawatt of renewable electricity capacity to be locally owned by 2030.
Ms Griffiths said: “We are committed to accelerating the transition of our energy system in Wales, particularly through the increased use of renewable energy. Our priorities are to increase energy efficiency, reduce our reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels and to actively manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“That is why I commissioned the Energy Generation in Wales study to provide a complete picture of energy in Wales and for us to see the progress that has been achieved.
“In September, I set ambitious new targets to deliver a low-carbon energy system and secure benefits for Wales. Today’s report shows we are already making very encouraging progress on renewable energy.”
There have been some significant developments in Wales’ renewable energy sector over the past two years which have contributed to the increase in generating capacity.
In 2015 the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay – the largest in Wales and second-largest in the UK – was commissioned, adding 576 MW (megawatts) of capacity.
And in October 2016 the 76-turbine Pen y Cymoedd straddling Rhondda Cynon Taff and Neath Port Talbot, the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales, was commissioned, adding a further 228 MW, enough to power 188,000 homes or 15% of the Welsh total.
Wales is also home to the UK’s largest solar park, the 72.2 MW Shot-wick Solar Park next to Shotton Paper Mill in Deeside, sold earlier this year to Foresight Solar Fund.
Ms Griffiths added: “2016 was quite a year for energy here. We generated enough renewable energy to provide 43% of the electricity we used. Flintshire already hosts the biggest solar project in the UK and now we have Pen y Cymoedd, the largest wind project in England and Wales.
“By using our abundant natural resources in a sustainable way, we can ensure energy continues its important role in achieving our energy and decarbonisation targets. By doing so, we will deliver a prosperous and low-carbon Wales.”
The figures show that Welsh consumers used 16.1 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity in 2016. This compares to 6.9 TWh of electricity that was generated from renewable sources.
The rest of the 38.8 TWh total of generated electricity came from fossil fuel burning power stations. Six combined-cycle gas turbines and one coal-fired power plant provided 95% of the fossil fuel generation.
> The Pen y Cymoedd wind farm on the Rhigos Mountain above Treherbert