Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change
Today, I published the Summary of Responses to the Consultation on Wales’ Renewable Energy Targets.
As I highlighted when launching the consultation, the climate crisis and recent energy price surge has brought into sharp focus the need for a further step change in the Welsh Government’s ambitions. A local supply of secure, affordable renewable energy, within the context of a strong Great Britain network, is the foundation to a prosperous, zero-carbon society.
The evidence base I published alongside the consultation made clear the challenge that confronts us, and the fact we need a range of technologies and scales of development to achieve our ambitions.
I was very pleased with the support for our renewable energy ambitions and the targets the Welsh Government has set. The targets underline the importance we place on the next decade and the need to increase the pace of our response to the climate emergency. The targets we are setting will give policy ambition certainty to the renewable energy sector.
Regarding energy generation, there was broad agreement with our proposals to continue focussing on electricity to meet future demand, and for us to use the Climate Change Committee’s Balanced Path as a basis for our electricity demand projections. Following the support we had for our proposal, I am adopting the target for Wales to meet the equivalent of 100% of our annual electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2035, and to continue to keep pace with consumption thereafter.
Our community energy proposals underlined the importance we place on community and local projects across a broad range of renewable technologies and scales of development. We believe it is vital that communities benefit directly from the projects in their local area. Demonstrating our ambition for this sector, we are adopting the proposal for at least 1.5 GW of renewable energy capacity to be locally owned by 2035, scaling up our current target for 1 GW by 2030.
The responses to the consultation highlighted concerns over how our proposals for heat pumps would be quantified, as this would require detailed information on the capacity of a large number of individual units. The responses pointed to the benefits of adopting a unit target in this area, rather than a capacity target.Taking these concerns on board, I have considered the most suitable means of setting a unit target. I believe the support we previously had for adopting the CCC’s Balanced Pathway - together with the fact that my forthcoming Heat Strategy also uses the Balanced Pathway - means that accepting their projections on the heat pumps numbers Wales needs by 2035 is the best solution. Therefore, our target in this area will be for 580,000 heat pumps to be installed in Wales by 2035, contingent on scaled up support from the UK Government and reductions in the cost of technology.
Finally, I have been adamant that Wales must feel the benefit of our renewables revolution. Responses to the consultation supported this proposition and the need to encourage investment and manufacturing to create long-term economic benefit for Wales. The importance of improving skills across the sector, especially for community renewable energy projects, was a common response to the consultation; particularly since such projects provide opportunities for local training and employment, while generating income and reducing energy costs. I agree and believe that at this stage we adopt the target in the consultation and that the Welsh Government track the growth (turnover and employment) in the low-carbon energy sector in Wales, using the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey. We will supplement this data with information from industry leaders and representative organisations. We will use this data to measure the success of our implementation plans to upskill the workforce and support economic growth in Wales.
It is vital that we do all we can to transition away from fossil fuels and scale up our deployment of renewable energy as a way to support net-zero and our local communities. As I stated when launching this consultation, setting these targets is a demonstration of our ambition, and I invite you all to work with us to make this vision a reality.