As part of our ongoing series of weekly features we asked our expert panel and contributor network;
What Opportunities Exist for the Renewables Sector in Wales?
Our panel's thoughts can be found below, but if you would like to contribute to this feature, or any of our future features, please contact [email protected]
Ian Beynon | Head of Energy Reduction & Engineering
Renewables in Wales have gone from strength to strength, but there’s still a large amount of scope to innovate further and drive the development of sustainable energy. Acting now could put Wales in a great position to be a world-leader when it comes to renewable technology.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity that’s currently available is to decentralise energy and create small-scale smart grids. This, combined with large energy storage capacity, allows communities to take advantage of locally generated renewable energy in a far more stable and consistent way than is currently possible through the grid.
Executing this correctly in Wales both locally and nationally, where there are ample renewable energy sources, could quite easily set a precedent for cases around the UK and further afield. I believe that key lies in energy storage to act as the balancing point between intermittent renewable generation and demand patterns.”
Steve Hack | Director
From the position of being policy driven to integrate sustainability into its activities, Wales is enjoying widespread progress and development in the environmental sector. Despite the stutter to its growth caused by the significant changes to the Feed in Tariff, the renewable energy sector is still growing and significantly reducing carbon emissions.
Communities are benefiting from grants made by programs funded by renewable energy projects and these are having real impacts to peoples lives, especially in the valleys and rural areas.
Port of Milford Haven
Tim James | Director of Energy Development
Wales is in the right position to capture a strong share of the marine energy sector – estimated to be globally worth £76bn by 2050. Over the past decade extensive research carried out by Welsh Government has identified world-class natural wave and tidal energy resources around the Welsh coastline and this has been pivotal in attracting €100m funding for developers. It’s complemented by changing Governmental policies that now actively champion the development of a decarbonised energy sector.
There are significant projects in north and south Wales which have the assets to deliver what the industry needs. Pembroke Dock Marine, a Swansea Bay City deal project, is focused on unlocking innovation and maximum operational efficiency to help developers reach commercialisation and drive down the cost of marine sourced energy. It will also have valuable application across the blue economy. With the next round of Crown Estate leasing for offshore wind creating opportunities on the coast, and the potential for the growth in fixed / floating wind, we can see significant opportunities for Wales’ business community.
Marine Energy Wales
David Jones | Project Director
Wales recognises that the marine energy sector has a crucial role to play in supporting peripheral rural economies, ports, supply chain clustering, diversification and resilience. In taking a lead in this new maritime sector, Wales sees the huge low carbon global opportunity in terms of exportable skills and knowledge. It is for these reasons that Wales has prioritised €100 million of EU Structural Funding for marine energy, which has led to multiple project developments taking place around the coast and creating 100s of new innovative jobs.
We believe that this funding, alongside the Swansea Bay City Deal and a range of supportive policy including The Environment (Wales) Act and The Well-being of Future Generations Act, Wales is creating one of the most supportive landscapes in the world for marine energy. However, what is now critical is that the UK Government understands the importance of marine energy to Wales and provides revenue support for this new innovative new sector.
Dr Randall Bowen | Sales & Commercial Director
With the Welsh climate and landscape perfectly suited to renewable technologies like wind, hydro and — of course — tidal power, we automatically think about generators when we consider the renewables sector in Wales. But renewable energy represents a huge opportunity for all businesses in Wales, including the 240,000 SMEs.
Firstly, because ethical buying choices are on the rise — among millennials alone, some 72 per cent are prepared to pay more for goods that are environmentally and socially responsible, according to Neilson. Secondly, we’re seeing more large corporates going renewable through schemes like the RE100, and they will increasingly expect their supply chains to be too.
This increasing demand for green credentials makes switching to 100% renewable electricity a simple and effective way for businesses to cut their carbon footprint and improve their competitive advantage, whether they sell directly to consumers or to other businesses.
Furthermore, Wales’ suitability for renewable technologies makes self-generation a great option for businesses wanting to cut costs as well as carbon, and even generate revenue by contributing to the grid.
CHC Waste Facilities Management Ltd
Sam Campkin | Sales Director
In 2016, the UK generation of commercial and industrial waste was 27.7million tonnes. Although this was a reduction from 32.8million tonnes in 2012 showcasing positive progression, it’s still a staggering amount of waste produced each year. Here lies an opportunity for Wales to be at the forefront of developments in sustainability, recycling all waste possible to reduce that being sent to landfill each year.
We’re already seeing companies being rewarded for their recycling habits, with rebates being offered on baled recyclables and segregated materials, encouraging increased recycling for businesses of all sizes. However, we can now potentially offer similar schemes for other materials that should be recycled, in order to ensure that the volume of products sent to landfill is minimised, utilising materials for as long as possible and ultimately moulding a sustainable culture. Particularly as China’s waste restrictions came into force in 2018 reducing exported waste, the renewables sector is in a position to thrive and maximise on our materials.
Andrew Padmore | Chief Executive Officer
Egnida is an award winning business based in Wales at the cutting edge of integrated low carbon solutions that link up energy, vehicles and smart software and technology.
Clearly, we’re keen for Wales to benefit as much as possible, though we feel there are barriers that need to be broken down for this to happen. One in particular is to allow growing innovative Welsh business to work at scale with the Welsh public sector. Egnida has successfully developed and implemented innovative solutions for the public sector in Wales that reduce its costs and environmental impacts, including local authorities and the NHS. However, when we try to scale these we tend to get “squeezed out” by Welsh Government or organisations funded by Welsh Government that offer more traditional solutions. This tends not to be the case outside of Wales. The impact of this is we are expanding the team outside of Wales very rapidly to meet market demands but we are unable to do the same in our home country. There must be a better way to achieve a more joined up approach for the benefit of Wales?
Keith Mortimer | Director
Opportunities for innovation and growth in the renewables sector must not be wasted. The UK government rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon Project was disappointing. Wales must take full ownership, motivating and driving projects that can develop a sustainable future. This means investing in people and facilities, providing governance and direction which can build on Welsh USPs.
As in previous history, Wales is differentiated by its location, natural resources, its people and an ability to harness innovation. Coal and steel might be replaced by tidal power and new technology, with an unchanging goal of enabling sustainable outcomes of advantage to Welsh people.
Investment in people, training and facilities will encourage entrepreneurs in massive markets supporting clean energy, future transport and first-class infrastructure, so that productivity and growth can build economic strength and the capacity for independent action.
The Welsh government can add value in driving growth by offering clear vision and commitment, taking charge of the future and encouraging investors, at a time when positive action has never been more necessary. A key USP for Wales is the ability to demonstrate a cooperative spirit that can propel our local economy forward, maintaining Welsh links in Europe and forging new relationships.
Matthew Jones | Managing Director
The renewable sector in Wales is flourishing of late, with the country being passionate about securing a sustainable future. As more small and large-scale projects pop up across the country, it is safe to say that we lead by example in Wales.
R&D Tax Relief is a huge opportunity for the renewable sector, particularly for those firms who are in a Research and Development phase. R&D Tax Credits are a generous government tax incentive created to reward companies who try to achieve something which is technically challenging; including research for renewable energy projects.
Businesses with the right advice and support can rely on the comfort blanket that R&D Tax Credits provide, permitting them to claim money back that they have spent on research and development. As the sector continues to advance over the next few years, we expect to see more and more Welsh companies making use of such schemes. However, when compared to the UK business community, figures show that we are not using this relief to the utmost. Through our research, we found that this is due to the fact that businesses either do not know this tax relief exists or do not think they will qualify.
In order for Wales to exist as a leader in renewable energy, we need to be exploring financial breaks of this nature wholeheartedly.