Wales launches publicly owned energy company with focus on community renewables

Image: Welsh Government

The new company, Ynni Cymru, will work to scale up community-owned renewable energy generation across Wales. It will allocate £750,000 to 11 projects over the next three years, in the first instance.

Payments will be made in grant form to support these projects. Among the successful projects are the  Dyffryn Ogwen Gynaladwy solar project in Bethesda, which will install solar panels on the roofs of business and community buildings; and Ynni Cymunedol Gwrog’s Tanygrisiau clean heat project.

Ynni Cymru will be based out of Wales’ first science park, M-SParc, near Gaerwen in North Wales.

Wales’ Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “The current market-based approach to the energy system is not delivering decarbonisation at the scale or pace necessary for the climate emergency and has not been retaining sufficient benefit in Wales.

“Local use of locally generated energy is an effective way to support net-zero and keep the benefit in our communities.

“With the launch of Ynni Cymru, we are on our pathway to meet the equivalent of 100% of our annual electricity consumption from renewable electricity by 2035, and to continue to keep pace with consumption thereafter.”

Plaid Cymru Designated Member Siân Gwenllian called the launch of the company “an ambitious project” which will deliver solutions to both the climate crisis and energy price crisis.

Gwenllian said: “How we produce and consume energy is an essential part of achieving net zero and establishing Ynni Cymru is a key development in our ambitions. We also know that whoever owns energy assets is hugely important.”

A UK-wide equivalent?

The Welsh Government is a co-op between the Labour party and Plaid Cymru.

Should Labour win the next general election for the UK, it has pledged to establish a publicly owned energy company to scale up clean electricity and heat generation within a year. Great British Energy would be based out of Scotland under Labour leader Kier Starmer’s plans.

The next general election is likely to happen next year.

At the weekend, Environment Minister Therese Coffey urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not to water down key green policies in the meantime, as swing voters often cite environmental policy approaches as a reason for leaving the Tories.

The Conservative Government has not signalled support for a publicly owned energy company. Instead, it has advocated for barriers to be removed to developing larger, privately owned renewable arrays – as well as next-generation nuclear. It is under pressure to clarify exactly how it plans to do so before the election.

Community Energy England has stated that just 23 new community-owned renewable energy generation assets were installed in 2021, the lowest number since 2017. It has been calling for more policy support for the community-owned approach.

Related feature: As the energy price crisis bites, is the future of renewable energy community-owned?

Comments (3)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    This is all good, but I’m not convinced that £750,000 support over 3 years is actually “an ambitious project” that will make a material step towards decarbonisation by 2035. We need more money, now.

  2. Martin Schwaller says:

    Ian Byrne, is quite right this is a very small amount of money dived up between 11 projects, lacks ambition and is desperately short of what is needed .

  3. John Coles says:

    There are many ways to raise money from local people. Triodos bank and Thrive renewables do that on a regular basis for renewable projects. There is a gain for the investors (not guaranteed), but if the Welsh government cannot provide proper funding a vehicle is needed that would do so. As has been said £750,000 isnt going to acheive much.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie