Grid Connection costs are “hugely frustrating” for people who wanted to do something about climate change.

You may have caught Dan Mccallum on BBC News this morning.

Climate change: Green energy barriers ‘threaten’ net zero goal

By Steffan Messenger

BBC Wales Environment Correspondent

Problems starting more green energy schemes in Wales need to be urgently addressed if climate change targets are to be met, senior MPs have said.

Access to funding, skilled workers and space on power lines are all slowing a shift towards renewable energy.

Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee wants a specific action plan from UK ministers.

The UK government said it had invested heavily in “bold plans for renewables” across the UK.

The Welsh government has set a target for net zero emissions by 2050, but said it needed UK government support to achieve this.

The cross-party committee said, with an abundance of wind and rain and sea on three sides, Wales could be a leader in generating clean energy as coal and gas stations are replaced.

As of 2019, there were 72,834 renewable energy projects in operation – 3,841 more than in 2018.

However, they account for only 26.9% of Wales’ overall electricity generation, compared to 61.1% in Scotland, 44.6% in Northern Ireland and 33% in England.

MPs fear renewable energy firms may bypass Wales if barriers are not addressed.

What are the issues affecting green energy schemes?

Something the industry has been complaining about for years is grid capacity “significantly hindering renewable energy development”, especially in areas such as mid Wales.

Developments are being put off or downgraded because of the prohibitive costs involved in upgrading power lines.

The committee called on the UK government to work with energy regulator Ofgem to plan more investment across the grid network.

Port infrastructure also needs attention to facilitate the development of big offshore windfarms and more innovative marine energy schemes.

There are also calls for a new approach to how access to the seabed is managed by the Crown Estate so there are more regular leasing opportunities, though this is sure to prove controversial with wildlife and environment groups.

Wales has huge potential when it comes to generating electricity from the sea with demonstration zones set up off the coast of Pembrokeshire and Anglesey.

However, the report said gaps in subsidies paid to get projects off the ground was holding back wave and tidal schemes in particular.

Failure to address this would risk development of a sector that could generate £4bn for the UK economy, the committee said.

Rhys Wyn Jones, director of Renewable UK Cymru, said Wales would not “achieve net zero, decarbonise our society and unleash the skills and jobs that will really drive the Welsh economy” without making critical infrastructure investments.

Awel Aman Tawe, a community energy project which has installed two wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, north of Swansea, is already providing enough clean power for more than 2,500 homes.

But manager Dan McCallum said plans to put up three more have been stalled due to the “unviable” grid connection cost of about £3m.

“We all want to press ahead but we can’t take the project forward until we’re able to see the grid cost is reasonable,” he said.

Merthyr Town Football Club, which is owned and run by its, fans recently had £35,000 worth of solar panels fitted to the roof, cutting its electricity bills by 20%.

Board member Rob Davies said: “The main advantage is to reduce our carbon footprint but it also saves on our energy costs which we are then able to use the savings to invest in other parts of the business.”

Does Wales have the skills?

There is no guarantee those working on projects would be based in or come from Wales, the committee said, which wants more effort to train the Welsh workforce in skills such as learning how to install, operate and maintain solar panels.

The MPs want the UK government to convene a “panel of stakeholders” to begin work on a reskilling strategy for Wales.

Stephen Crabb, committee chairman, said: “It is clear there is no shortage of ambition within Wales but we need to see a clearer strategy from the UK government if Wales is to capture all the opportunities that are emerging.”

What has the response been?

It is a complicated area with powers of energy split between both Westminster and Cardiff Bay, as well as the involvement of organisations including Ofgem, the National Grid, local distribution networks and the Crown Estate.

The Welsh government said it wanted the UK government to work with it “so that we can identify and address the barriers we face and maximise opportunities”.

Jess Hooper, programme manager of Marine Energy Wales, said it was vital the committee’s recommendations were acted upon to ensure Wales was “not left behind”.

The Crown Estate said it was “committed to working closely with the market and stakeholders to help optimise the potential of the seabed as a source of cost-effective and green energy”.

The UK government said it was working with its Welsh counterpart, looking to “build on the findings of the Green Jobs taskforce to ensure we have the skilled workforce we need to deliver on our green ambitions”.

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