The National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) has recommended ways to maximise renewable energy generation and help the country meet carbon targets.

The NICW called for an “immediate review” into building regulations that would see all new housing developments fitted with solar panels and batteries to store excess energy.

The extremely low cost of both solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies is one of the reasons the NICW suggests mandating them on newbuilds.

According to the International Energy Agency, the cost of solar has plummeted in recent years because of improvements in panel technology. This has led to a higher percentage of sunlight being converted into electricity. In the early 1980s, the average cost of solar panels was around £24 per watt. Today, it is less than £0.40 per watt – a 98 per cent cost reduction.

The NICW said that solar thermal technologies in particular can make a sizeable impact on buildings with high demand for hot water, such as leisure centres, swimming pools and care homes.

It also said it had received evidence that housing developers were “banking” projects that were not advanced in the development process so they did not need to comply with modern energy efficiency requirements.

To avoid this, “any potential loophole in the transitional arrangements must be closed to ensure that the new developments comply with the highest standards”, it said.

It suggested introducing a sunset clause that would apply the latest energy efficiency requirements to projects that have not been developed in a “timely” fashion.

The NICW also called on the Welsh government to present a plan for Welsh energy leading up to 2050 and revamping the energy grid.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, deputy chair of the Commission, said:

“We are now facing a time in our history where if we do not make a concerted effort to change how we deliver new infrastructure then our ambitions for net zero and the wellbeing of future generations will be in jeopardy.”

Aleena Khan, NICW commissioner, said:

“As a young person, I understand the importance of Wales acting decisively in tackling the climate and nature emergencies. I hope the Welsh government will consider each of our proposals carefully and the impact they will make on us meeting our energy and carbon targets.”

Source: Engineerin & Technology

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