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Onshore renewables key as National Grid lays out pathways for net zero in South Wales

Upgrading homes to meet EPC standards alone could save over 30% of heating. Image: Robert J Heath.

Upgrading homes to meet EPC standards alone could save over 30% of heating. Image: Robert J Heath.

Onshore wind and solar energy need to be increased in South Wales to enable a net zero energy system in the region by 2050.

Following two years of analysis from over 18 organisations, National Grid has released the Zero 2050 report, which details a number of achievable pathways to this decarbonisation. Ensuring a just transition must be at the core of all of these, it argued.

Ten ‘no regrets’ actions were identified that can be taken now, including expanding onshore renewables and improving energy efficiency in buildings through a major residential retrofit programme. This should include the development of a robust heat pump supply chain, and the incentivisation of commercial and industrial energy efficiency.

Modelling used within the report found that if all recommended energy efficiency measures in Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for homes were to be implemented, heat demand would decrease by 30% annually in Cardiff and Newport and 32% in Swansea.

Opportunities for industry co-location and circular economy processes should be considered, along with work to develop an approach to decarbonising behind the meter industrial supply.

The role of demand side response should be investigated further, as should the potential of hydrogen salt cavern storage at a UK scale. Network studies to understand the feasibility and cost of transitioning networks to hydrogen should also be undertaken.

A co-ordinated electric vehicle charging rollout programme must be delivered, and finally the options for carbon capture, use and storage should be investigated along with CO2 export from South Wales.

Julie James, minister for climate change at the Welsh government congratulated National Grid and its partners on the “complex and impressive work”.

“I look forward to building on the work as we develop clarity on the grid infrastructure Wales needs, which is necessary to allow Wales to take the actions set out in the report.”

Zero 2050 was put together by companies including National Grid Electricity Transmission, National Grid Gas Transmission, Western Power Distribution and Wales & West Utilities, as well as the Welsh government and experts from Cardiff University and energy and transport consultants.

Individual reports into each of the 11 workstreams were produced, and combined. The report's release comes ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, helping provide analysis as countries gather to set out more ambitious decarbonisation goals.

“Now, more than ever, with changes to how we travel, heat our homes and use energy it’s vital that organisations and individuals come together to help achieve the collective goal of net zero,” said Robin Gupta, net zero innovation manager at National Grid Electricity Transmission.

“Projects such as Zero 2050 are crucial in providing leadership and guidance and can offer a blueprint for decarbonisation in South Wales. We look forward to sharing the findings and helping the industry continue progress in the months and years ahead.”

To read National Grid’s full Zero 2050 report click here.

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