A proposed two-site Freeport for south-west Wales has the potential to boost the region’s economy and help Wales move faster towards net-zero carbon emissions, according to bid sponsors in a Well-informed person Discussion panel.
The UK and Welsh government is considering a number of offers to create Freeports in Wales. One of these is Celtic Freeport’s bid, which would create special status areas at Port Talbot and Milford Haven to support the renewable energy industry.
Insider’s Wales Freeport Breakfast was heard from partners and supporters of Celtic Freeport’s bid, which is run by Associated British Ports, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Port of Milford Haven.
The offer has the potential to create 16,000 jobs across south-west Wales, according to Karen Jones, chief executive of Neath Port Talbot Council. She said: “Following the decline of our mining industry, it really has the potential to transform the quality of life and prosperity in our area, also the region as a whole.”
The Port Talbot free port site would be close to the Tata steelworks. Jones said: “We are eager to do all we can to secure the future of steelmaking in our area. The more we can do to lift people out of poverty and deprivation, the more it will give us the opportunity to operate public services.” and create other opportunities. to improve life throughout our area.
He said the bid partners would aim to “support local businesses so they can get the economic benefit.”
The bid sponsors envision the floating wind turbine kits to be assembled in Port Talbot; and that Milford Haven would provide early-stage, operation and maintenance services.
By a show of hands, the majority of the audience at the event agreed with the proposition that Freeports had the potential to boost the Welsh economy.
Tom Sawyer, chief executive of the Port of Milford Haven, said the proposals would enable Wales to deploy offshore wind and hydrogen more quickly: “We see ourselves on the threshold of the next era in our energy evolution.
“We need to make sure we are delivering the essential services needed for a path to net zero that supports the hydrogen industry and supports the Celtic Sea matrix (wind farm), while making sure our colleagues on the waterway can decarbonise.” .
Wales has an opportunity to create an industry that could win international jobs, according to Sawyer: “We see ourselves creating… a cradle in both places to create the services and industries, the experience and skills, that can service the matrix of the Celtic Sea; but also to start exporting more fully”.
Sawyer said business opportunities would include innovation and technology, machine learning, and manufacturing.
He added: “We are determined to have a just energy transformation for our waterway, one where the environment is protected, communities are supported, businesses are able to transition from what they do now to what they need to do in the future. future, safe in the knowledge that they will get a return on investment.
RWE, the energy group, hopes to create floating offshore wind turbines in the Celtic Sea. Philippa Powell, project leader for Celtic Sea Floating Wind at RWE, said: “There is a huge opportunity here for the developers (and) the supply chain that we will need to help us develop our projects, supply our projects, operate our projects, and install our projects
“The supply chain benefits will spread across South Wales, South West England and the rest of the nation. We have incentives from Freeport to bring in supply chain companies as well as help existing supply chain “.
He said the floating units for the turbines are not yet being produced on a commercial scale anywhere in the world, adding: “This is the opportunity for Wales. We want to see these floats on a commercial scale, fabrication, assembly and installation.” home of Wales”.
South Wales needs to develop “massive amounts of renewable energy” for business, according to Chris Williams of the South Wales Industrial Cluster, whose aim is to encourage sustainable industry in the region.
He said: “A cookie factory might be using natural gas to bake their cookies. In the future, they won’t want to do that, because they’ll want to bake net zero cookies. So we’ll want to convert (their) oven to an electric oven or maybe a a hydrogen furnace.
“So that facility must receive that amount of electricity and hydrogen from the regional infrastructure. So that regional infrastructure must be developed. Also that infrastructure must be filled with a lot of renewable energy and hydrogen.
“So the Celtic Freeport bid will vastly accelerate capacities for hydrogen and capacities for that massive amount of renewable energy, sending a global message across the world: South Wales is developing the infrastructure it needs to do things the right way. net zero. So if you’re going to invest in manufacturing capabilities, come to South Wales.”
The Insider’s Wales Freeport Breakfast took place at Brangwyn Hall in Swansea on January 19. To view a recording of the event online, click here.