Lee Waters: Wales needs to “move faster” to reach renewables targets

(Title Image: Wales Online)

In his short debate yesterday (17th October 2018), Lee Waters AM (Lab, Llanelli) – citing recent concerns from scientists that we’re reaching a “tipping point” on climate change – called for Wales to “move faster” to reach renewable energy generation targets.

Earth is currently on target to be 3C warmer by 2100 and 1.5C warmer by 2040. Lee said that even if 1.5C doesn’t sound like much, the impact it would have, including increasingly extreme weather events, is enormous.

“We must begin, like Germany and Denmark, by targeting a decrease in our energy demand, by increasing efficiency and eliminating waste. We can then start to decarbonise electricity. The Welsh Government’s target is to produce 70 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2030. We currently produce just 42 percent of our electricity from renewables and we need to move faster. We only have 12 years left to meet our target.”
– Lee Waters AM

He was optimistic that onshore renewable energy generation was close to being operated without government subsidy and this illustrates the potential in rural parts of Wales. To fully realise the potential, Lee said storage capacity for renewable energy had to increase.

Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central) said it was time to “translate words into action”, calling for radical changes to the planning system to help, not penalise, people who want to help meet zero-carbon emission targets.

In reply, the Energy, Planning & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), revealed that work is already being undertaken to see how Wales can meet 100% of our energy demands from renewables by 2035 – though she was cautious as to whether that could actually be achieved.

Despite Lee saying onshore renewables were close to being subsidy-free, the Secretary called for the UK Government to reconsider subsidies for onshore energy:

“I’ve raised concerns with the UK Government about their decision to exclude onshore wind and solar technologies from contracts for difference, the proposed closure of the feed-in tariff, and the lack of funding to support wave and tidal technologies. These support mechanisms have driven the mass uptake of renewable generation and enabled dramatic cost reductions. We need the UK Government to review the current subsidy regime so it reflects the importance of onshore wind and solar to an affordable energy mix.”
– Energy, Planning & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths

Planning policies were due to be revised by the end of 2018 and will place requirements on local authorities to identify possible sites for solar and wind energy generation as well as set local targets for renewable energy.

A further debate on Wales’ role in the UK and global energy market is due to take place on November 20th.