The Welsh government has announced the launch of a state-owned energy developer, aiming to have more than one gigawatt of local generation by 2030, enough to power around 750,000 homes.
The new state-owned energy developer will scale up the deployment of renewable energy, initially through the development of onshore wind projects on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which covers 6% of Wales and is largely made up of hilly sites and windy.
The aim is for the new company to be created by April 2024, with the first projects obtaining planning permission towards the end of the decade.
As elsewhere in the UK, some renewable energy projects on Welsh Government Woodland have been developed by state-owned energy developers, meaning the benefits flow back to their respective countries.
Currently the largest onshore wind farm in Wales, Pen y Cymoedd between Neath and Aberdare is managed by an offshoot of the Swedish government.
Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday afternoon, Climate Change Minister Julie James said the energy benefits created in Wales will bring greater benefits to the people of Wales.
Excess funds generated by the new developer will be plowed back into the public purse to be reinvested in improving the energy efficiency of homes in Wales and creating good quality, local and clean jobs.
The Minister said:
We want to harvest our wind and use it to generate electricity that directly benefits the people of Wales.
We will create a public renewable energy developer. This is a long-term, sustainable investment that puts net zero and communities in Wales at the heart of the transition we need.
We are in a climate emergency and our approach stands in stark contrast to the UK government’s focus on fracking and fossil fuels – opposed by most communities and incompatible with our international obligations.
With the cost of living soaring and a continuing lack of certainty over energy supply, the minister said the current UK market was “bad for bill payers”.
The goal of Wales’ energy policy is to ensure a reliable and diverse energy mix that delivers local benefits.
Climate Change Minister Julie James added:
This is a historic moment for Wales. The cost of living crisis is directly linked to the sharp rise in the cost of energy, which reinforces the need for an approach that is more in the hands of the Welsh.
If other countries are to be trusted, we should expect huge returns on our investments and – as we share the ambitions of these other nations – we have a real opportunity to produce income that will really help us perform here. .
We take positive steps to ensure we meet our net zero commitments in a way that benefits our communities.