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Renewable energy plan tabled to replace canned Wylfa nuclear plant

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A Welsh think tank has put forward an ambitious plan to run the country solely on renewable energy. 

The report, A plan for Wales’ renewable energy future published by think tank Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) calls on the Welsh government to harness 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.  

The report follows the on-going uncertainty over the Wylfa nuclear project, which was set to provide 8,000 jobs to North Wales and supply 2.3GW to the grid. The project remains in limbo after being suspended in January by developer Hitachi due to financial concerns.  

The IWA are calling on the Welsh government to capitalise on Wales’ potential for renewable energy in a 10-point plan.  

The plan includes a major coordinated push from government, industry, and academia to establish Wales as a global leader in marine energy and floating offshore wind.  

The Welsh coast has vast potentional for new tidal and wave energy development, in areas like Pembrokeshire, into the Celtic Sea and off the coast of Anglesey, according to the report. IWA estimates the Welsh coast has capacity for 4,000MW of new marine energy infrastructure.

Last year, the government canned plans for the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay project. However, new life has been breathed into the project, after project backers confirmed support from private financial backing.  

The IWA also call on upgrades and reinforcement to the grid to accommodate a new wave of renewable energy sources.

Other recommendations include changes to heating and power for new homes, better use of smart technology to improve energy consumption and transport de-carbonisation.

Writing in the report, IWA director Auriol Miller said jointly led radical change could led to serious economic benefits for Wales.

“Our ten essential actions to re-energise Wales by 2035 show the way ahead, based on the evidence that we have gathered throughout this project,” she wrote.  “Our plan is ambitious, and requires shared public and political ambition. We seek a radical change. We can choose to be a beacon of sustainability and make renewable energy a cornerstone of our Welsh identity.

”We can reap greater economic benefit, grow local and community ownership of the Welsh economy and tackle the scourge of fuel poverty. Together, we can and must shape a cleaner, greener chapter in our industrial story.” 

The Welsh Government renewable energy targets were based on previous research and campaigning by the IWA.

Image shows tidal turbine undergoing testing in Scotland. 

IWA action points

  • Fund the future: through an immediate 12-18 month low carbon economic stimulus for Wales which accelerates action on renewable energy and energy efficiency  
  • Renew Wales’ homes: through improved building standards and a long-term greener homes programme 
  • Retain the benefits in Wales: by requiring all new renewable projects above 5MW to have between 5 and 33% community and local ownership by 2020  
  • Use local land for local benefit: by ensuring that planning regulations and public land are used in support of new renewable energy schemes and create maximum local benefit 
  • Focus on delivery: by ensuring there is sufficient capacity and expertise in key public bodies to deliver the vision in practice  
  • Future-proof the grid: by getting the electricity grid ready to meet Wales’ energy aspirations  
  • Get SMARTer: by ensuring Welsh businesses, local and community organisations are supported to capitalise on and lead the shift to smarter energy technology and business transformation  
  • Get ahead in marine: by taking a coordinated approach between government, industry, academia and others to establish a global advantage over marine energy and floating offshore wind as niche Welsh services  
  • Harness the potential of bioenergy: enabling Wales to create a world class circular economy  
  • Decarbonise transport: through a comprehensive ‘Transport Decarbonisation Plan’ co-produced by key public bodies and the transport sector, backed up by a national travel survey 

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