The Welsh Government has announced that the number of installations of solar panels should increase within Wales.
Advisors to the Welsh Government have advised that all new houses in Wales should be fitted with solar panels, and this advice also applies to those who are building extensions at their property or if they are carrying out any major renovations. Due to this advice, there has been a call for the building regulations to be updated in order to accommodate an increase in renewable energy use within residential properties.
There is already a target, set out by the Welsh Government, that requires Wales to be running 100% on energy that is generated from renewable energy sources. This target has a deadline year of 2035, and is a significant increase from the previous target set for 2035, which required 70% of Wales’s energy to come from renewable energy sources.
In order to reach this target, the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, or the NCIW, have stated that a serious intervention needs to take place. The Welsh Government has claimed that they will take the advice from their advisors and the NCIW when reviewing the building regulations, including adding solar panels.
There is a target that requires Wales to be running 100% on energy generated from renewable energy sources.
Figures from 2021 show that 55% of Wales’s energy demand was being generated by renewable energy sources. This included solar energy, wind power, and hydropower. This is through several renewable energy technologies including solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric generators.
There have been warnings that this is not enough for the Welsh Government to reach their 2035 target, and more must be done. The NCIW must work with the government to adapt and update infrastructure to accommodate the rise in renewable energy source use. Currently, the Welsh Government have been criticised for not having concrete and significant plans in place to reach their target, and that their plans for introducing new green and sustainable energy schemes, in recent years, haven’t been created and released as quickly as they should have. Including plans to increase the number of solar panels being installed.
These updates within Wales could take time and it has been described as a ‘complex’ area. This is because any changes that need to be made, need to be agreed by both the UK and Welsh Governments.
The Welsh Government has been in control of their building regulations since 2006, however, there have been claims that the government has not being doing enough to make newly built housing sustainable and in line with standards that are environmentally friendly.
There have been calls for stricter rules for companies that build these new houses, including adding rules that mean they legally have to add green technologies such as insulation, solar panels, and energy efficient lighting. These technologies will be able to lower the homeowner or tenants’ electricity bills, whilst also reducing the greenhouse gas emissions released, and lowering the overall carbon footprint of the building.
There has been opposition to these updates to the building regulations, as many companies feel that these changes, such as adding solar panels, could be too expensive. Daniel Parry, the Director of Development for one of the biggest housing associations in North Wales, Adra, has claimed that:
“You’re looking at maybe £20,000 more per property
to install these measures.”
On the other hand, Nick Tune, the CEO and Commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales states that:
“We need to insulate ourselves – literally – from the
troubles we’ve been having with fluctuating
prices of gas and electricity.”
The NICW have advised that these updates are added to the building regulations, such as including insulation and solar panels, to not only protect people from fluctuating energy prices, but also to protect the planet. Dr Jenifer Baxter, who is the Deputy Chairwoman for NICW, was asked if she believed that including these new rules for new housing would be a major issue for companies and whether developers will look elsewhere to build new houses. She replied by stating: