Wales urged not to miss out on economic benefits of renewables

The Swansea Bay City Region could miss out from the massive economic and social benefits that renewable energy could bring if new investment and policy changes are not forthcoming, according to a new report.

The Economic Impact of Energy Transition in Wales: A Renewable Energy System Vision for Swansea Bay City Region report by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) claims £4.6bn of investment in renewable electricity generation, plus £1.2bn in domestic energy efficiency interventions, could support some 4,500 jobs and boost the Welsh economy by £1.66bn.

But the report argues that in order to capture the significant opportunities that renewable energy could bring, there has to be more investment, research and innovation.

‘The Swansea Bay City Region has already shown ambition and leadership on energy and the region is well-placed to act as a pathfinder for Wales to maximise its renewable energy potential,’ IWA project coordinator, Shea Buckland-Jones.

‘Building on the IWA ‘Swansea Bay City Region: A Renewable Energy Future’ report which was launched in April 2018, this new report outlines the scale of the economic opportunity that renewable energy presents in the region.

‘Without significant changes to the policy, regulatory and financial contexts, the
Swansea Bay City Region and Wales more generally are likely to miss out on the majority of economic (and social) benefits from the investment required to move the Swansea Bay City Region, and then Wales, to a renewable, sustainable footing,’ added Ms Buckland-Jones.

‘Collectively, we need to shift the dial on our ambition and action if Swansea Bay City Region, and the rest of Wales, is to reach its renewable energy potential.’

Professor Calvin Jones from Cardiff Business School and report author, said: ‘This analysis outlines economic opportunity that arises with a truly transformative approach to energy generation and domestic refurbishment.

‘If we can lever all our resources to build climate-friendly infrastructure in Wales there is real economic, as well as ecological benefit – and these benefits will arise for some of the communities that need the opportunities most.’

In June, the Government officially rejected plans for a £1.3 billion tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, after months of speculation.

Business secretary Greg Clark said the renewable energy project did not meet the Government’s value for money requirements, and ‘it would not be appropriate to lead the company to believe that public funds can be justified’.

To read the full IWA report, click here.

Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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