The re­new­ables revo­lu­tion surges ahead as Wales gen­er­ates more green elec­tric­ity

Western Mail - - BUSINESS IN WALES - Chris Kelsey As­sis­tant head of business [email protected]­

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.

Richard Wil­liams

> The Pen y Cy­moedd wind farm on the Rhi­gos Moun­tain above Tre­herbert

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