Currently, Wales and the UK does not have an adequate grid network, and this could potentially hold back an array of green energy projects in Wales.
The Crown Estate has confirmed that there is scope for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea to generate 20GW of energy, but without a grid network capable of harnessing this energy, investors and developers are reticent.
In an era of climate emergency, history may well look back and ask why this issue was not accelerated with the same urgency that came about in the covid epidemic. Is it less important? Or are our politicians lacking the information needed to make decisions and get it done? All eyes are now on UK government ministers.
In both North and South Wales, the electrical grid requires significant investment to enable the connection of forecasted offshore renewable energy projects over the next two decades. Moving the electrons from the shore and out into the national grid, requires more transmission lines and more energy storage capacity.
The Celtic Sea programme presents an opportunity to accelerate the delivery of grid connections by taking a co-ordinated approach. Whilst this is under way, developers and wider stakeholders in the Celtic Sea all agree that a sense of urgency is needed.
Richard Little of RWE and project director at the Pembroke Net Zero Centre, talks in detail about the urgency that is needed to address the grid issues.
Simon Cheeseman from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and Jay Sheppard of Marine Energy Wales, summarised the challenges and solutions in upgrading the existing grid network.
Hopefully the sector will have a clearer vision in the future, with The National Grid currently undertaking a holistic network design process and looking at the Celtic Sea to try and create a joined up approach.
Those with a stake in the development of the Celtic Sea are eagerly anticipating the outcome of that so they can understand how their own projects will be connected to the grid.
It’s now up to the UK government to find the investment required to futureproof our grid network – if they don’t, it’s clear Wales and the UK will not achieve its NetZero targets.