THE Welsh Government will be looking into undergrounding for electricity cables according to a recent statement.

The Welsh Government’s minister for climate change, Julie James, recently issued a statement on Wales’ electricity transmission infrastructure needs for net zero.

In the statement, she discusses how the grid is ‘a critical part of the energy system’ and that the UK Government decides how it is planned and funded and highlights the Welsh Government’s powers through planning and working with Ofgem and network operators to ‘reflect Welsh requirements in their plans.’

She speaks abut the rapid changing of the energy system and the work being done to help ensure changes benefit Wales and respond to the climate emergency.

She also focuses on undergrounding – which is being championed by many residents in relation to current projects such as Bute Energy’s Towy Valley cable plans.

In the statement, she said: “Welsh policy starts from the presumption that grid should be underground wherever possible, to reduce the visual impact. This contrasts UK Government starting position that connections will be by overhead lines.

“National Grid Transmission Owner has commissioned a report updating the costs of delivering overhead lines and underground cables which suggests conventional approaches to undergrounding can cost between 3 to 20 times the cost of overhead cables. Undergrounding can also have environmental impacts across a 40m wide corridor. Visual factors therefore must be balanced with other considerations.

“An alternative process of undergrounding, cable ploughing, is championed by a Carmarthen based company. It has been used for decades by distribution network companies for smaller cables. However, in other countries such as Germany it is being used for some transmission cables, though these are not the same type of cables as we use in this country.

“As part of the follow up to the Future Energy Grids for Wales report, establishing whether cable ploughing is technically possible for the largest lines will be important in understanding whether undergrounding can be more extensively adopted to increase acceptability and speed of delivery of new grid.”

The comments in relation to undergrounding were welcomed by Adam Price, MS for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. He said: “I welcome some of the comments to further research on undergrounding and cable ploughing in particular as methods for electricity transmission here in Wales.

“With some of the large-scale grid connections that are being mooted in Wales currently this research is much needed.

“I am especially pleased to see a Carmarthenshire company flying the flag for technological innovation in this area. I think deepening our understanding here in Wales of the lifetime costs of overhead vs underground transmission lines is an essential part of forming an informed government policy, so that the Welsh Government can make decisions armed with the best information possible.

“The feedback from communities in my constituency has been clear – undergrounding presents an excellent option that preserves cultural local heritage in areas such as the Tywi Valley whilst delivering the upscaling of grid connections that Wales clearly needs to meet the growth in electricity demand we have domestically.”