Fast and sustained action needed to increase Wales’ electricity generation capacity 

“Meeting 2035 targets in energy generation will require more than doubling the best energy build rate achieved in the last 60 years and sustaining it over 12 years.”


The Wales Centre for Public Policy has submitted evidence to support the Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group’s analysis of “How could Wales meet energy needs by 2035 while phasing out fossil fuels?”


Electricity demand is expected to increase significantly with the transition to net zero – up to 50% higher than pre-Covid levels by 2035, and 100% higher by 2050 (CCC, 2023).


Our policy briefing – Challenges and Opportunities of decarbonising Wales’ energy system by 2035 shows that while reaching a 2035 net zero target is still achievable in this area, it will require ‘fast, large-scale and sustained action’ to increase Wales’ generation capacity to meet electricity demand, the focus of this review. In fact, it will mean more than doubling the best energy build rate achieved in the last 60 years and sustaining it over 12 years.

Additional generating capacity will need to reflect predicted increases in electricity demand in areas such as heat, transport and industrial electrification, digitalisation of the economy and demographic changes.

The evidence review – Accelerating deployment of energy infrastructure – finds examples where other countries such as the Netherlands, Finland and the United States have accelerated planning processes in order to expediate renewable energy build. We recommend that:

  • Aspects of Wales’ planning system could be temporarily streamlined, in line with the ambitions of the Infrastructure Bill, while that Bill passes through the Senedd.
  • Pre-assessed areas for wind generation infrastructure in Wales could be developed further.
  • Public engagement should be meaningful, participatory, and citizen-led where possible, and begin early in the planning process.
  • Wales could implement digital tools similar to FAST-41 in the United States to increase project transparency and public engagement.
  • Procedures intended to encourage rapid deployment should not inadvertently create new administrative hurdles across other levels of the planning system.

Opportunities for Wales

The evidence also shows there are opportunities for Wales including:

  • Wales’ abundant marine energy potential, an area which could enable Wales to be at the forefront of new developments including floating offshore wind and tidal lagoons with government support.
  • Trawsfynydd, if chosen for deployment of small modular reactors, could generate new skills and expertise which could bring Wales a global skills profile
  • A north-south energy transmission connection could provide economic development and Wales’ skilled fossil fuel workforce could play a key role in this transition.
  • Renewable infrastructure and jobs could be more evenly distributed throughout Wales, helping to retain the younger, working-age population.

Recognising the central importance of energy to our economy and society, WCPP calls for joined-up and long-term thinking about how to manage the energy transition – while recognising the need for public engagement and behaviour change.

The author of the policy briefing, WCPP’s Dr Jack Price said, “Decarbonising the electricity system by 2035 will require a daunting level of infrastructure development, far in excess of anything we have managed in the past 50 years.

“Speeding up decision-making in planning cases and supporting the rollout of additional capacity in devolved areas will therefore be crucial. Electricity is not fully devolved and Wales will need to work closely with the UK government, Ofgem and the Electricity System Operator to achieve its goals.”

Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group Chair Jane Davidson added, “Decarbonising Wales’ electricity system by moving to low- and zero-carbon electricity generation and electrification of heat, transport and industrial processes will be a vital part of accelerating action here commensurate with climate science

“WCPP’s research from other countries shows that changes to Wales’ planning and consenting process can significantly accelerate progress in this area. We will be looking at this important evidence very seriously as we continue our review. ”