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New Research Highlights Economic Opportunities to Wales from Onshore Wind Energy

30 January 2013

  • Report commissioned by industry and the Welsh Government indicates the significant economic opportunities that onshore wind offers to Welsh economy
  • £2.3 billion Gross Value Added and 2,000 jobs could be added to the economy if Welsh Government ambitions for onshore wind are met.

The potential opportunities of onshore wind to Wales have been revealed today in a report commissioned by the wind energy industry in Wales, RenewableUK Cymru and the Welsh Government.

The report, entitled Economic Opportunities for Wales from Future Onshore Wind Development was produced by Regeneris Consulting and Cardiff Business School. It highlights a potentially significant and steady stream of economic benefits for Wales from onshore wind energy development and operation. It also finds that £2.3 billion GVA could be added to the Welsh economy between 2012 and 2050, as long as the expected share of investment from the Welsh Government’s 2025 ambition of 2,000MW of onshore wind is captured.

The investment could support around 2,000 jobs annually over the same time period, through construction, operation and management, decommissioning and repowering of the turbines.

On the other hand, if consenting rates for onshore wind projects continue at the same rate as they have for 2001–2011, the contribution to the Welsh economy could drop to a total of£0.9billion between now and 2050 with less than 1,000 jobs per annum being supported by the industry over this period.

The report estimates that whilst construction and manufacturing could stand to see a particular benefit from the development of onshore wind, the benefits could be spread across a range of sectors, as a result of supply chain effects and the consumer expenditure of employees whose jobs are supported by the sector.

Dr David Clubb, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said: “The report demonstrates that onshore wind energy could provide substantial economic benefits for Wales and also help us to become a more sustainable nation. The opportunity will only arise if the industry is enabled to meet Welsh Government aspirations for onshore wind, which in turn requires a much higher consenting rate.

“Without a significant shift in the consenting rate, and in the overall approach of planning policy in Wales to this sector, we will continue to be held hostage by rising fossil fuel prices and we will fail to meet our renewable energy ambitions with a corresponding missed opportunity to generate livelihoods for more than 2,000 people in Wales.”

Minister for Environment & Sustainable Development, John Griffiths, said: “This report is a welcome addition to the body of evidence that demonstrates that a low carbon transition is not just an environmental imperative, but also a significant economic opportunity for Wales.

“The Welsh Government will be working with the industry and looking to them to demonstrate how, with our help, they ensure that job creation and GVA share are delivered against the expectations set out in this report.

“We continue to believe the Welsh Government is best placed to align Wales’ energy aspirations with the needs of our communities. That is why we have repeatedly called upon the UK Government to transfer the power over the consenting of large-scale energy projects to the Welsh Government, in line with the powers already devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Professor Calvin Jones, Deputy Associate Dean for Engagement, Cardiff Business School, said: “Previous research by Cardiff Business School has shown that Wales is the most fossil fuel dependent of British regions. This report shows that there are significant economic benefits from investment in alternative technologies, but only if we can find a regulation and planning regime that encourages such investment within a properly strategy approach to energy generation in Wales.”

Of the developers surveyed for the report, the majority were positive about trying to use Welsh suppliers, particularly for civil engineering, environmental services and consultancy. These developers also see some potential to increase their use of Welsh firms for development and construction, as well as for ongoing operations and maintenance.

Based on developer forecast, just over a third (35 per cent) of all expenditure in the construction phase is on average expected to be retained within Wales, along with 71 per cent of planning and development spend. The report estimates that in 2005-11 the planning and construction of onshore wind projects in Wales contributed an annual average of £7.8million to the Welsh economy and 335 jobs.

Case studies in the report illustrate how developers and Local Authorities have worked to develop a supply chain. For example, for the planned Pen y Cymoedd 256MW project which won planning approval in 2012, ‘Meet the Contractor’ events have been held with potential main contractors and local sub-contractors for potential suppliers to understand the developer’s requirements. Vattenfall, who are developing the project, also made use of local suppliers as a criterion within the procurement of main contractors, along with monthly monitoring of the use of local firms by these contractors.

Community Benefit Funds are another way to secure positive impacts for local communities. In the case of Pen y Cymoedd, the proposed Community Benefit Fund of £1.8million per annum has the potential to deliver significant socio-economic benefits locally. Examples of other ways that developers can help the community benefit are also included, such as at Ffynnon Oer where RWE npower renewables has sponsored improvements to the Afan Mountain Bike Trails, which are an important tourism asset in the Afan Valley.

The report recommends that Welsh Government works with developers and local planning authorities to identify barriers and propose solutions for development necessary grid and key road infrastructure.

There is still scope for a more comprehensive map of the supply chain in Wales for onshore wind, and the report recommends that RenewableUK, Welsh Government and developers work together to undertake a mapping exercise to help identify potential opportunities and to share best practice.

The report was commissioned by an industry and government working group comprising RenewableUK Cymru, Amegni, RWE npower renewables, RES, SSE Renewables, ScottishPower Renewables, Tegni, Vattenfall, Walters Group, West Coast Energy and the Welsh Government.

Economic Opportunities for Wales from Future Onshore Wind Development - English Economic Opportunities for Wales from Future Onshore Wind Development - English

Economic Opportunities for Wales from Future Onshore Wind Development - Welsh Economic Opportunities for Wales from Future Onshore Wind Development - Welsh

For further information, please contact:

Sara Powell-Davies, Communications Manager, RenewableUK Cymru, 07815 550 983

Notes

  1. RenewableUK Cymru is a branch of RenewableUK that was established in 2006 to help achieve Welsh Government renewable energy ambitions and influence future energy policy in Wales.
  2. Regeneris was commissioned by RenewableUK Cymru, onshore wind developers and the Welsh Government to undertake an assessment of the economic opportunities from onshore wind development for Wales. The study has been carried out in collaboration with the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School, with advice from PMSS Ltd., a renewables advisory firm.

 

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RenewableUK is the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy. Formed in 1978, we have an established, large corporate membership ranging from small independent companies, to large international corporations and manufacturers. Acting as a central point of information and a united, representative voice for our membership, we conduct research; find solutions; organise events, facilitate business development, and promote wind and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. Our vision is for renewable energy to play a leading role in powering the UK.