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Industry News Roundup May 2018

Thursday 31/05 – Media reports indicate that the UK government is preparing to announce an outline deal this week on the funding it will provide for Hitachi’s Wylfa nuclear power plant, with Hitatchi apparently seeking a price £15/MWh lower than Hinkley Point C. National Grid announces that it wants a new procurement process for black start capabilities in place by the mid-2020s and wants to involve renewables and battery storage. Stock market indices company FTSE Russell has released a report that claims the green economy is now as big as the fossil fuel sector.

Wednesday 30/05 – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, announcing a £4.9mn grant from Scottish Enterprise to build a subsea manufacturing campus in Scotland's north east that will support the global oil and gas industry. Drax submits an application for a development consent order for its plans for 3.6GW of new gas capacity and up to 200MW of battery storage. South Somerset District Council announces it is to build a 25MW battery storage system.

Tuesday 29/05 – MPs launch an inquiry into carbon capture, usage and storage. The government sets out its decisions on a range of issues relating to reforms of the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. Smart Energy GB research shows more than 8mn people in Britain are considering buying or leasing an electric vehicle in the next five years.

Monday 28/05 – The UK and Canadian governments launch a joint £11mn challenge to explore opportunities presented by smart grids and storage. IRENA research finds companies in 75 countries actively sourced a total of 465TWh of renewable energy in 2017.

Friday 25/05 – SSE confirms plans to construct an 840MW £350mn CCGT power station at Keadby, without a Capacity Market agreement in place. Canary Wharf Group promises all its new developments will be carbon net zero or net positive by 2030, as part of a sweeping new sustainability strategy.

Thursday 24/05 – Scottish Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham pledges that Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world to achieve a 100% reduction in carbon emissions. The Oil and Gas Authority offers 123 licences over 229 blocks or part-blocks to 61 companies in the 30th Offshore Licensing Round. It is announced that Arriva will be powered by 100% renewable electricity after entering a three-year electricity supply contract with SSE Business Energy.

Wednesday 23/05 –  Energy UK shares its views on potential improvements to the Energy Market Reform framework, including introducing a revenue stabilisation Contract for Difference. Energy Minister Claire Perry commits £21.5mn of UK funding towards a global carbon capture and storage challenge. A civil servant states at an event that the department is not planning to change the rules for the Contracts for Difference scheme before the 2019 auction.

Tuesday 22/05 – The government consults on its draft Clean Air Strategy, confirming it plans to maintain the existing EU model of integrated industrial pollution control post-Brexit. Ofgem opens an investigation into National Grid Electricity Transmission’s demand forecasting. Cuadrilla seeks consent to hydraulically fracture the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas well at its Preston New Road site. 

Monday 21/05 – Prime Minister Theresa May pledges that new technologies and modern construction practices will be harnessed to at least halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030. Climate change think tank Sandbag warns that EU climate policy has hindered the development and commercialisation of processes and technologies that can reduce emissions from carbon-intensive industries.

Friday 18/05 – Media reports indicate BP is considering taking Conoco’s stake in the Clair North Sea field. Major investors overseeing $10.5tn in assets demand oil and gas companies intensify their efforts in addressing climate change in an open letter to the Financial Times. The House of Lords has rejected government plans for a new environmental protection body during the Third Reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill on 16 May.

Thursday 17/05 – National Grid releases its full year results, with UK asset growth to be sustained at the top end of the 5-7% range for the medium term, and of at least 7% in the near term. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire confirms plans in a written ministerial statement to consult on loosening planning laws for fracking. The proposals are sharply criticised by a range of organisations, including Labour, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

Wednesday 16/05 – The National Audit Office finds that the introduction of a capacity cap to the 2017 Contracts for Difference auction enabled small fuelled-technology projects to raise the strike price of larger projects resulting in an increased cost of around £100mn/ year. The Public Accounts Committee concludes the Renewable Heat Incentive failed to meet its objectives of increasing rates of low-carbon heating or providing value for money for consumers. The Environmental Audit Committee reports that government policy changes have resulted in investment in UK clean energy hitting its lowest level since 2008.

Tuesday 15/05 – UKERC highlights lobbying and regulatory pressure, innovation and investment as three key areas where incumbent behaviour may affect the future of heat. The Smart Meters Bill completes Third Reading in the House of Lords. Consultants Vivid Economics find that Carbon Capture and Storage requires improved dialogue and collaboration between public and private stakeholders if it is to successfully play a role in decarbonisation trajectories.

Monday 14/05 – The Green Alliance warns that the government has overlooked resource efficiency as a climate policy to cut carbon emissions. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the UK will consider imposing sanctions on Russian gas and oil post-Brexit. Solar output from 9.42GW of capacity provides a new record.

Friday 11/05 – Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveils his draft environment strategy, including the introduction of London-specific carbon budgets and a target for 2GW of solar deployment by 2050. Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry launches a £20mn fund to support businesses embracing the potential for a future UK hydrogen economy.

Thursday 10/05 – The Competition and Markets Authority publishes the findings of its initial study on heat networks, concluding the sector should be regulated. The Oil and Gas Authority reveals that oil and gas production efficiency on the UK Continental Shelf rose in 2017 for a fifth consecutive year. Bristol City Council announces it is seeking up to £1bn of investment in Bristol’s energy infrastructure over the next decade to help the city reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Wednesday 09/05 – Appearing before MPs, Mark Shorrock of Tidal Lagoon Power states he has not met a UK government minister for 16 months and asks for clarity on the progress of the decision on whether to support the Swansea Bay project. Energy UK launches its Future of Energy project, looking ahead to the challenges of the energy sector in 2028 with a consumer-centric view. The House of Lords passes reforms to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

Tuesday 08/05 – The Nuclear Safeguards Bill returns to the Commons, with the government agreeing to a Lords amendment to seek the “closest possible arrangement” with Euratom after Brexit. In its latest session on EVs, the Commons BEIS Committee hears of the need for interim targets towards the 2040 phase-out of internal combustion engine cars. Innovate UK announces a new £41.5mn fund for smart energy business models.

Monday 07/05 – The International Renewable Energy Agency reports that the renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs globally in 2017. Media reports indicate the UK’s solar panels contributed their largest ever share to the country’s energy mix during the May bank holiday weekend. Media reports suggest that Iberdrola has decided to sell its 2GW of gas power plants in the UK.

Friday 04/05 – Ofgem approves a proposal that will implement a scheme to incentivise the detection of electricity theft.  Barratt launches the first ever green mortgage for energy efficient homes. EDF acquires the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind project near the coast of Scotland for more than €500mn from Mainstream Renewable Power.

Thursday 03/05 – Hitachi meets Prime Minister Theresa May for talks on government funding for the proposed Horizon nuclear power station. The BEIS and Welsh select committees launch a joint inquiry into the government’s decision making on the Swansea tidal lagoon. Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry indicates that the government’s upcoming post-2019 solar direction could provide a “really positive” set of outcomes for the industry. She added that the Conservative Party is “absolutely not against onshore wind”.

Wednesday 02/05 – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commits the Scottish government to £500mn of energy efficiency funding to 2021. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult finds tidal stream has the potential to "significantly reduce costs" from approximately £300/MWh today to below £90/MWh within 1GW of deployment. The Energy Networks Association seeks views on the challenges and opportunities of the Open Networks Project.

Tuesday 01/05 – The UK rises to 7th in the latest EY renewables international rankings. The Energy Technologies Institute releases a report looking into nuclear cost drivers, finding significant scope for cost reduction. BP reports its profits grew by 71% year-on-year in Q1 2018, with the increase attributed to 14% growth in underlying production compared to last year and stronger oil prices. 

Monday 30/04 – Citizens Advice criticises Ofgem’s decision not to open a Mid-Period Review of the 2015-23 electricity distribution price controls, the Energy Networks Association responds that networks have delivered record investment at a lower level of cost than pre-privatisation. Labour unveils plans to fund local authorities to deliver energy efficiency upgrades. Car manufacturer Volvo sets a target of meeting 50% of its sales through fully electric vehicles by 2025.

Written By Graham Paul


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