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Cardiff needs green energy ‘revolution’ to reach net zero

A GREEN energy revolution will be needed in Cardiff if the the city is to reach net zero by 2050, according to a Cardiff Council cabinet member.

Cllr Dan De’Ath, who is the city council’s cabinet member for climate change, strategic planning and transport made his comments ahead of a new energy plan being put before members of the local authority’s environmental scrutiny committee this week.

Dan De’Ath, Labour councillor for Plasnewydd, Cardiff (pic: Ed Barnes)

The plan, called the Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP), shows that Cardiff will require the equivalent of 12 Lamby Way solar farms and solar panels on tens of thousands of homes to reach its net zero goal.

LAEPs are also being developed for the other local authority areas in Wales and will be funded by the Welsh Government, which will use the findings to inform and develop its national energy plans and policies.

According to Cardiff’s LAEP, the city’s new energy system will also require widespread adoption of heat pumps and wind turbines.

Cllr De’Ath said: “The evidence is clear – Cardiff needs a green energy revolution that will enable the city to meet Welsh Government’s 2050 target for a net-zero Wales, power its future, and create skilled new jobs.

“This is a plan for the whole city and much of what is needed – for example increasing the capacity of the national grid – is not for the council to deliver itself, but we’ve worked closely with energy infrastructure providers, business and industry to develop the plan, so that it can serve as a key evidence base to guide the development of a greener energy system.”

National Grid Electricity Distribution (formerly Western Power) and Wales & West Utilities have also committed to using Cardiff’s LAEP to inform their decarbonisation strategies.

Cardiff’s LAEP sets out a need for the following:

  • 120MW ground-mounted solar PV – the equivalent of 12 Lamby Way solar farms
  • 510MW of roof mounted solar PV – the equivalent of 115,000 domestic roofs
  • 19MW of power generated by around nine wind turbines
  • 26,000 electric vehicle chargers, both in private houses and publicly accessible land
  • 160,000 heat pumps, to move buildings away from gas boiler reliance
  • 91,000 homes to be retrofitted with energy efficiency measures
  • A 2.5 times increase in national grid capacity

In addition to this, around 4,410Gwh of electricity from renewable sources – approximately 78% of Cardiff’s electricity – will still need to be imported from outside the city.

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The council said the LAEP was based on extensive data collected from partners and stakeholders across the city region and utilised industry standard modelling techniques.

Cllr De’Ath added: “Today, there is one solar farm in Cardiff – the new 9MW council-owned facility on what used to be a landfill site at Lamby Way – the fact that the equivalent of twelve of them again will likely need to be built over the next 25 years highlights the scale of what needs to be achieved.

“It will be a challenge – and it will require significant private sector investment and external funding to be secured – but there are steps the council can and will take to support the plan now and in the future: integrating the findings into the replacement Local Development Plan and looking at changes to planning guidance; using the plan data to develop economic policies that smooth the transition and maximise the potential for green economic growth, and developing a Green Deal for the city which will drive forward our One Planet Cardiff strategy and help deliver a carbon neutral future for Cardiff.”

The council’s former cabinet member for climate change, Cllr Caro Wild, said at an environmental scrutiny committee meeting in March that it would be impossible for the local authority to become net zero by 2030 as things stood.

At the same meeting, he and council officers also pointed to the difficulties that the city had in reaching its target.

Statistics compiled by the department for energy security and net zero show that carbon emission output in Cardiff went from 1.8m tonnes in 2019 to 1.6m tonnes in 2022 and then up to 1.78m tonnes in 2023.

The council’s head of climate emergency response, Gareth Harcombe, said that this was due to “bounceback” from the Covid-19 pandemic, but acknowledged that carbon reduction was not at the pace it needed to be.

At the time of the scrutiny committee meeting, the council said it was proposing to undertake a ‘green paper’ review, which would involve consultation with members of the public and look at what funding and partnerships were needed for the council and city to achieve net zero.

Cardiff Council’s environmental scrutiny committee will meet to discuss the LAEP on Thursday, July 11.

It will then be discussed by Cardiff Council cabinet members at a meeting on Thursday, July 18.