‘Lack of UK Government leadership’ on Wales green energy grid constraints, claim
Wales’ renewable energy potential, and the green jobs and skills needed to reach net zero, are threatened by a lack of UK Government leadership on improving grid connectivity, the Welsh Affairs Committee has said.
This inaction – and delays in approving grid connections – holds back progress on the UK becoming more energy resilient, it added, saying it also puts economic growth at risk for communities across Wales poised to exploit opportunities ranging from floating offshore wind to tidal energy.
The Committee recognised that there is positive work underway, including National Grid ESO’s blueprint to connect offshore wind to the grid and the appointment of a Networks Commissioner tasked with reducing timelines for grid connectivity.
However, more intensive grid reform, led by the UK Government, is necessary to support the anticipated demand for renewable energy and to make decarbonisation in Wales a reality, it said.
Barriers identified by the Committee include the regulatory framework not allowing anticipatory investment, delays in planning consent and high upfront connection costs making many projects financially unviable.
The Committee said it is keen to learn from the UK Government how it will achieve its aim to reduce consenting and licencing processing times by 50% within a year.
Resolving these issues, and creating a more streamlined approach, is vital for economic growth in Wales, it added, saying many renewable energy projects that are ready to be built are being held back amid uncertainty over how they will connect to the grid.
‘Clear leadership needed’
Welsh Affairs Committee Chair Stephen Crabb MP said: “The twin challenges of UK energy security and Net Zero demand a new approach to grid infrastructure in Wales.
“Wales has enormous potential as a key location for clean energy generation. But inadequate grid capacity, and the lengthy timescales involved in delivering improvements, will hold back investment in vital new projects.
“With developers wanting to accelerate investment in opportunities like floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, the UK Government must demonstrate a similar level or urgency and ambition in reducing the costs and barriers to new grid connections.
“Although the UK Government has taken steps to improve the delivery of grid improvements, so far it is not clear that these will achieve the necessary step change required.
“Without clear leadership on this issue that pulls together the different parties involved, inadequate grid capacity will continue to be the biggest block on the pathway to Wales reaching Net Zero.
“Community energy projects are a key part of the emerging picture for local and affordable green electricity supply to households in Wales. But here too, lack of grid capacity is preventing the full potential being reached.”
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