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Priority grid access must be guaranteed for small-scale renewable energy projects

January 18, 2016 6:03 PM

William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Environment, has urged Welsh Government Ministers to lobby Ofgem to give community energy project priority grid access.

The issue was raised during an Environment & Sustainability Committee meeting last week and was met with agreement from both the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM, and the Minister for Economy, Science & Transport, Edwina Hart AM.

Commenting, William Powell said:

"Priority access to the grid would provide an assurance for local renewable energy projects that they will be able to sell and transmit the electricity they generate from renewable sources at all times. Providing this priority grid access would be a really effective way of helping to promote local energy generation and the Welsh Government should be really pushing Ofgem on this. I am very pleased to have secured agreement from the Minister on this issue, but what we need now is for the Welsh Government to take action and prove their commitment on this.

"The EU's Renewable Energy Directive 2009 states that Member States shall provide for either priority access or guaranteed access to the grid system for electricity produced from renewable energy sources, and I believe this should be fully implemented. The Directive also states that appropriate grid and market-related operational measures should be taken in order to minimise the curtailment of electricity produced from renewable sources. At the moment, grid connections can be prohibitively expensive for small-scale community energy projects and I will be pressing the Welsh Labour Government to ensure that progress is made with Ofgem on this matter. "

Chris Blake, Director The Green Valleys (Wales) CIC also commented saying:

"In many parts of Wales the distribution grid is severely constrained. It is impossible for many renewable energy schemes to get connections at reasonable cost. But industrial energy customers are also being denied the ability to grow due to the inadequate rural grid. This is a double whammy for the rural economy - no new income from renewable generation and potential new jobs being lost."

ENDS

Notes to editor

The meeting can be watched via Senedd TV - the Ministerial evidence session referred to begins at 2.00.00.