1 February 2023

The road to net-zero by 2050 is paved with achievable short-term goals. Wales has announced an “ambitious but credible” plan for achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035. While this may sound like an impossible goal, renewables currently provide for 56% of Wales’s existing energy consumption.

Although Wales is on the path to green energy, it faces similar challenges to elsewhere in the UK. Energy infrastructure, including connecting renewable energy to the grid, poses an uphill battle for Wales’s green energy future.

However, Wales’s 2035 goal is a significant one. Achieving net-zero by 2050 requires the UK to double its current renewable energy. This mid-term goal offers a path forward and there’s a vital role for the agricultural industry to plan in achieving it.

Green Switch Capital is working to create a sustainable, self-reliant energy market in the UK with over £350 million invested in renewable diversification with 150,000+ tonnes of CO2 carbon savings being made every year. Our land-leasing programme enables farmers to earn a guaranteed, passive income and benefit from green energy.

Is 100% Renewable Energy Achievable by 2035?

Wales is already on route to reaching its previous targets established in 2017 with over half of its electricity coming from renewables. This progress has led the Welsh Government to announce an ambitious plan to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035.

The newly launched plan includes a target of at least 1.5 GigaWatt of renewable energy capacity being locally owned by 2035 – with the exclusion of heat pumps. The 2035 plan depends on scaling support from the UK government and a reduction of the technological costs involved.

While Wales’s previous plan signalled an ambition to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, this newly unveiled plan reflects the growing concerns about the impact of climate change. Last summer’s rising temperatures, skyrocketing energy bills, and concerns around food security have led policymakers to develop medium-term goals to ensure the 2050 ambition remains achievable.

This renewable energy goal also reflects the need to rapidly increase our electricity capacity to reflect growing demand in the future. Wales’s 2035 target shows a credible move towards putting this capacity in place.

A 2035 goal of 100% renewable electricity creates a pathway for a more sustainable future, powered by a self-sufficient green energy industry. Hitting this 100% goal will allow Wales to keep up with the rate of electricity consumption and demand going forward.

Wales faces the same challenges as the rest of the UK. The infrastructure and supply chain pose key hurdles, including establishing connections to the grid. Offshore wind is a particular focus for the Welsh government as it’s working with the Associated British Ports to oversee preparatory work for wind projects.

What We Can Learn from Scotland

Scotland has been leading the way in the UK’s drive towards renewable energy. The Welsh government and policymakers will want to learn the lessons of Scotland’s success with green energy.

Scotland produced new record amounts of renewable energy during the summer of 2022, largely due to the heatwave and increased solar energy. Its renewable output was also helped by higher wind speeds and increased rainfall that were utilised as renewable energy after additional capacity came online before the start of the summer.

This record peak accounted for a 36% increase in renewable energy from the same period in 2021. It’s also over 25% higher than renewable energy output in any previously recorded second quarter. Scotland’s increased green energy output helped to mitigate against skyrocketing energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Scotland generated 18,568 GWh of renewable electricity in the first half of 2022 with a 10.5% increase in renewable energy capacity from June 2021.

While Scotland is making promising progress, its goals are not as ambitious as Wales. The country is aiming to generate 50% of its energy consumption from renewables by 2035 with decarbonisation being a 2050 goal.

How Close Is the UK To Net-Zero?

One of the most highly publicised policies of the UK government is achieving net-zero by 2050 to limit the consequences of climate change. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy is vital to achieving this.

The International Energy Agency has warned that the world needs to double its transition rate to renewable energy if it realistically wants to reach net zero carbon by 2050. While there is a role for the government to play in stimulating new developments, the private market can drastically expand energy capacity and output.

The IEA’s report also points to 2030 as a significant landmark on the path to meeting the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Renewable electricity generation needs to reach roughly 66% to remain on track and scale up to meet future demand.

Hitting this goal will require 12% more renewable generating capacity each year for the next 8 years to double the current rate. Repurposing unused agricultural land will be key to maximising capacity by establishing new solar farms as one of the most affordable renewable energy forms.

2020 saw renewables account for almost 30% of global electricity generation. IEA estimate that 2021 saw an 8% increase in capacity. It’s worth noting that growth in 2020 was due in part to lower power demand during lockdown, leading to renewables taking a higher share of electricity generation as demand fell for coal and gas.

The only way Wales and the rest of the world can achieve these goals is by putting the infrastructure in place, from grid connections to developing new solar farms. Government policy is falling behind private sector initiatives to expand capacity. At Green Switch Capital, we’re working with farmers and landowners to repurpose less desirable land for renewable energy developments.

Wales’s 2035 goal reflects the need to scale renewable energy capacity to tackle climate change and reduce energy costs. Public energy projects alone are not enough to keep the 2050 net-zero goal alive.

Green Switch Capital is working with hundreds of landowners across Britain to boost renewable energy capacity and production through land-leasing programmes. We’re aiming to create a sustainable, self-reliant energy market to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and protect the agricultural industry. Contact our team today to find out more about our land leasing programme.