Wales will require a significant increase in renewable generation in order to meet the target of 70% by 2030. Furthermore, it should be recognised that Wales’ increase in renewable energy development and generation is significantly hindered by grid constraints.
"Energy Trends December 2022", published by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, identifies how 27.5% of energy generation in Wales was from renewable sources in 2021.
Renewable Energy on Wales was published by The House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee in July 2021. In terms of energy generation in Wales, the document states, at paragraph 2, “Wales harnesses energy from a diverse range of renewable energy sources. Despite the increase in capacity, only 26.9% of Wales’ electricity generation 2019 came from renewables - as opposed to 61.1% in Scotland, 44.6% in Northern Ireland and 33% in England."
Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, makes an early and important reference to the climate emergency faced by Wales in his Ministerial Foreward, with there being a recognised need for Wales to focus on generating the energy it needs to support its communities and industries over the next 20 years. It is clear that delivering renewable energy is one of the Welsh Government's top national priorities for the next 20 years. Future Wales sets a clear direction of how Wales should be investing in infrastructure and development for the greater good of Wales and its people - the provision of renewable energy is firmly embedded to this future direction.
In October 2022, the Welsh Government published its Energy Generation in Wales 2021. With regards to the 70% renewable energy target by 2030, the document states "The total capacity of renewable energy projects installed in 2021 was more than double that installed in 2020. 116 MW of renewable electrical capacity and 29 MW of renewable heat capacity was installed in 2021, in comparison to a total capacity of 65 MW installed in 2020. However, 2021’s installation rate remains the second lowest in the last decade and is nearly 90% lower than the 2015 peak, when more than 1 GW of renewable energy capacity was installed.”
By adopting the advice published in the sixth carbon budget (December 2020), the UK government set a new legally-binding target to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. This follows the governments previous commitments to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 under amendments to the Climate Change Act 2008 which were written into law in June 2019.
Echoing the national commitments, Swansea Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has pledged to become a net carbon city by 2050 while at the same time accelerating the council's effort to lead by example by doing the same by 2030.
It is widely recognised that to achieve both local, national and global targets, significant investment is required into the rapid deployment of proven renewable and low carbon energy technologies (such as solar power and energy storage) to decarbonise the energy sector.
Swansea Council's Green Infrastructure Strategy considers how green infrastructure can be increased in Swansea in order to make it better adapted to climate change and better for people and wildlife. The strategy vision is for a city with high quality multifunctional green infrastructure, which delivers resilience, prosperity, nature, health, wellbeing and happiness to the citizens and visitors of Swansea. There are five Principles of Green Infrastructure to be applied in order achieve this vision:
Making sure that all Green Infrastructure in the city centre provides as many benefits as possible. For example, it may reduce pollution and/or flooding, offer shelter and/or food for native animals (birds, insects and/or small mammals), provide shade during hot summer days, and create attractive pleasant and/or calming spaces for people to meet, relax and play.
Adapted for climate change
Absorbing water to reduce flooding, providing summer cooling and accommodating wildlife. Green Infrastructure also helps mitigate climate change by capturing and locking up carbon.
Helping our physical and mental health by absorbing pollution, providing clean air, clean water, food and space to exercise, socialise and play and space to have contact with nature.
Supporting a wide variety of native species providing shelter and food and creating green corridors across the city centre linking to existing strategic wildlife corridors.
Smart and Sustainable
Providing solutions, techniques and technologies that are low maintenance and reduce pollution and waste and maximise the use of recycled or sustainably sourced materials.
The Council will work towards targets to double (from 13% to 26%) Green Infrastructure by 2030 and to increase tree canopy cover to 20-25% by 2044.