How Wales can maximise its wind resources and bring value to communities and the economy | WindEurope
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How Wales can maximise its wind resources and bring value to communities and the economy

On 28 February the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, met with representatives of the European wind industry in Brussels. They discussed the benefits wind energy is bringing to Wales and the significant opportunities for its further growth there, both onshore and offshore. They focused on how to maximise benefits to local communities and how Wales can develop its supply chain and logistics, including for the big volumes of floating wind it plans to develop in the Celtic Sea.

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, met with WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson, Manon Kynaston of RenewableUK Cymru, and other representatives of the European wind industry in Brussels on 28 February as part of his St. David’s Day visit to Brussels. They had a roundtable discussion about the current state of wind energy in Wales and the country’s ambitious plans for its future development, both onshore and offshore.

Wales has 1.2 GW of onshore wind today and much more under development. With 730 MW of offshore wind, and a plan to develop 4.5 GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea by 2035 the Welsh Government wants renewables to provide 100% of Wales’ electricity by 2035. Currently, 70% of Welsh renewable electricity comes from wind.

Wind offers Wales not just clean energy but many benefits for local communities and major opportunities for investment and jobs. Community funds financed by wind farms already bring £6.5m a year to those living near wind farms, with some also benefiting from co-ownership models.

Offshore wind presents a particularly promising opportunity for Wales, with the potential to unlock substantial economic value. The Crown Estate is poised to open a tender for the right to develop 4.5 GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea. This will create major demand for steel and opportunities for Port Talbot, both for the Tata Steel plant and the local port which has great potential to be a hub for the manufacturing of floating structures and assembly of the turbines. Milford Haven will also benefit as a hub for the operation and maintenance of turbines.

This ambitious vision for Wales’s wind energy future is not without its challenges. Significant investment is required for the logistics and infrastructure needed to support the expansion of wind both on- and offshore. And the consenting authorities will need to be strongly resourced. The European wind industry is committed to working closely with the Welsh Government to help turn Wales into a wind energy powerhouse.

The Rt. Hon. Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales said: “We are absolutely committed to meeting our renewable energy targets and ensuring sustained economic benefit for Wales. This will be achieved through continuing to work closely with industry, the Crown Estate, UK Government, local communities, and our partners across Europe.”

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Wind energy already brings major benefits to Wales and its local communities. And it can do much more. The Welsh Government has a great vision for the build-out of onshore wind and the development of floating wind in the Celtic Sea. This offers huge opportunities for local industry too, including steel and ports.”

RenewableUK Cymru Assistant Director Manon Kynaston said: “The wind sector already provides major investment into Wales and with the current pipeline of projects stands ready to deliver immense economic growth over the next decade. The role of the Welsh Government is critical to attracting inward investment, and providing a stable policy environment to ensure Wales’ ability to compete in the global market. The industry looks forward to working collaboratively with the Welsh Government to achieve this.”