Access to energy is fundamental for modern societies. It underpins much of our daily lives, from the building we live in, the products and services that support our economy, the transport we rely on and the leisure activities we enjoy.
There is a growing awareness that our existing energy sources are finite and are having a negative impact on the climate.
The Energy Trilemma
The three key issues regarding energy, called the Energy Trilemma, are:
- Energy security, which includes things such as security of supply and reliability of infrastructure
- Energy equity, relating to how accessible and affordable the energy supply is across a population
- Environmental sustainability, which looks at moving towards renewable and low carbon energy supply to address our climate change challenges
Energy and Climate Change
Climate change is the greatest environmental threat humanity has ever faced and the biggest challenge. The energy supply sector, (all energy extraction, conversion, storage, transmission and distribution) is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions which causes climate change.
Energy lies at the heart of climate change challenge. The Welsh energy supply sector contributed 38% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, which is also the largest source of emission.
Our energy systems need to achieve faster transition towards higher energy productivity and falling carbon intensity to address the energy trilemma.
New technologies such as renewable generation, and storage technologies like batteries and hydrogen are emerging as older forms of energy generation, like coal powers stations exit the system.
Energy transition also alters the supply and demand issue which has an impact on system reliability and costs.
There is a two-part solution to this energy challenge:
- reducing emissions stemming from energy supply by increasing the share of low or zero-carbon energy in the supply mix
- moderating growth in demand for energy by radically increasing energy efficiency and energy productivity (the economic output generated from each unit of energy used)
Doing both these things should enable us to satisfy future demand for energy without overheating the planet, energy supplies will be cleaner, and people’s needs will be met more efficiently.
Energy and Devolution
Energy is a reserved matter, which means strategic decisions and regulatory responsibilities relating to energy issues such as security, affordability and market fairness are made at the UK Government level. However, the Wales Act 2017 represents a shift whereby the Act devolves responsibility to the Assembly for larger scale energy generating and functions in relation to excepted energy buildings.
Wales’ Energy Targets
In September 2017, The Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths proposed the following targets for Wales
- Wales to generate 70% of its electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2030
- 1GW of renewable electricity capacity in Wales to be locally owned by 2030
- By 2020 all new renewable energy projects to have at least an element of local ownership
Work is underway to ensure a framework is in place to help deliver these targets.
Welsh Energy Policy Framework
The Welsh Government's energy policy is set out in Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition (2012). The aim is a low carbon economy that delivers jobs and long-term prosperity working in partnership with businesses and communities to deliver a smarter low carbon energy future for Wales.
Our work on Energy
Natural Resources Wales has many duties in relation to energy matters. Our Energy Guidance Note provides more details of our role and outlines our key approaches on energy issues.
Energy Delivery Programme
The Energy Delivery Programme is responsible for delivering the Energy Development Portfolio, which covers a range of work streams relating to renewable and non-renewable energy opportunities and developments such as;
- Onshore Wind Energy Programme
- Small-Scale Hydro Programme
- Third Party Access for Energy Programme
- Energy Business Opportunities Programme (eg Energy Park Concept)