Our Preparing Wales for a Renewable Energy 2050 report is the culmination of this Commission’s ‘Year 1’ work. We undertook research into how the Welsh Government can capture the value of renewable energy to Wales, what opportunities and challenges lie ahead and how the Welsh Government can best engage the public on this issue.
The reports from these individual pieces of research can be found here:
- Net Zero Infrastructure Strategy – Arup
- Challenges and Tensions in Achieving Net Zero – Mace Consulting
- Renewable Energy Conversations in Mid Wales – CAT / CSE / Dulas
The information in the research reports has been supplemented by insight gained from NICW engaging with other stakeholders directly.
The report fulfils part of NICW’s remit to analyse, advise and make recommendations to the Welsh Government on Wales’ longer term strategic economic and environmental infrastructure needs over a 5–80-year period.
The report contains NICWs recommendations to Welsh Ministers on how changes can be made to enhance renewable energy development in Wales which best meets the needs of our communities. It is expected that the Welsh Government will respond ‘in due course’ to the Commission’s recommendations.
A summary of our recommendations
- By 2025, the Welsh Government should present a vision for energy in Wales to 2050, with an accompanying Strategy and Action Plan to set out its long-term ambition. This should include detail on renewable energy production and grid development. These should be informed by extensive public engagement which use recognised methodologies for maximum effect. The implementation of this Vision should be overseen by a cross-Government / sector group, chaired by the Minister.
- By 2025, planning for the electricity grid in Wales should be based on policy considerations as well as functionality. A shift is needed for grid planning to consider the needs of Wales and be strategically developed with a long-term view.
- By 2025, Ofgem should reform the system that plans for and delivers grid access for renewable energy to enable rapid deployment. Policy considerations should become a factor in determining grid connections. Innovative forms of grid development should also be encouraged.
- An immediate review of Part L of the Building Regulations is needed to mandate the use of renewable technologies (especially solar thermal and solar photovoltaics) and battery storage in all new developments, and in significant renovations or extensions.
- Permitted development rights should be immediately reviewed with a specific focus on eliminating impediments to measures that increase renewable energy generation, with a shifted focus on the climate crisis.
- By 2025, where renewable energy planning applications (and associated regulatory regimes) have a mandated, statutory time allocation, decisions should default to a positive if the time allocation elapses with no response (‘positive silence’ approach).
- By 2025, a pooled planning resource for energy should be created to share expertise and technical skills for articulating planning policies, engaging with the public and considering planning applications.
- A Renewable Energy (Wales) Bill should be brought forward in the next Senedd to legislate to enable greater community ownership from renewable energy.
- Policy should require renewable energy developments to offer up elements of community ownership and repowering of sites should be greatly simplified but include community ownership requirements.
- The forthcoming Freeports initiative should be seen as an opportunity to allow more community renewable energy in a deregulated environment.
- By 2030, The Crown Estate’s functions in Wales should be completely devolved to a new body that has as its principal aim the reinvestment of all funds in Wales for the long-term benefits of the people of Wales in the form of a Sovereign Wealth Fund.