Welsh Government plan for state-owned renewable energy company

WALES is to set up a state-owned renewable energy company to tackle energy insecurity, the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency.

The company, which is yet to have a name, will initially look at developing onshore wind farms on the country’s woodland estate, the Welsh Government confirmed on Tuesday.

It is expected to launch in April 2024 and will become the only government-run company of its kind in the UK.

The nation’s climate change minister Julie James said the “significant” profits generated by the business would be reinvested back into the community, with income also going towards making homes more energy efficient and creating clean energy jobs.

During a statement in the Senedd, Ms James said: “This is a truly historic moment for Wales.

“If other countries are anything to go by then we should expect considerable returns from our investment and – as we share the ambitions of these other nations – we have a genuine opportunity to produce income that will really help us to deliver here.

“We are in a climate emergency and our approach is in stark contrast to the UK Government that is focusing on fracking and fossil fuels – opposed by most communities and incompatible with our international obligations.”

The minister called the current UK market “bad for bill payers” and said the ambition was to make energy cheaper for Welsh households.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer vowed last month to set up a publicly owned clean energy company within the party’s first year of government should it come to power.

The government in Cardiff Bay said it had been working on its idea to start a renewable energy business since early 2020.

It is estimated the first projects will begin two to three years after the company launches, with money expected to start rolling in towards the end of the decade.

Limited grid capacity outside the North and South Wales corridors will however constrain the type of projects the government is able to explore.

A report released last week by the UK Government’s Welsh Affairs Committee called Westminster’s lack of action on improving grid connectivity a “significant threat to economic growth in Wales”.

Committee chairman Stephen Crabb MP said Wales had “huge potential” in the renewable energy market and called for grid improvements to be “sped up”.

However, the Welsh Conservative’s shadow minister for climate change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, called for more detail on the plans.

“As we face the ever-pressing issue of climate change and the increasing cost of energy, a new approach to renewable energy is needed in Wales. Unfortunately, Labour’s new plan provides no clarity,” she said.

“There has been no detail as to how much money is going to be invested and no clarity as to how this plan will fit with the existing Energy Service.

“Labour ministers must listen to Welsh Conservative plans to establish a £150 million Wales Marine Energy Investment Fund to ensure Wales has access to vast amounts of clean and affordable energy.”

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