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Industry News Roundup January 2019

Thursday 31/01 – The 1GW Nemo Link electricity interconnector between the UK and Belgium begins operating. The Association for Decentralised Energy criticises the current “patchwork of overlapping, poorly coordinated and confusing policy choices”, which it said sees energy users targeted with multiple policies that have the same aim, face inconsistent eligibility rules and with an emphasis on outputs over outcomes.

Wednesday 30/01 – The government opens a new research competition on flexibility exchanges, with £4mn available. Flexibility includes demand-side response services. Seven energy efficiency projects are selected to share £2.7mn of government funding, as part of the government’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator.

Tuesday 29/01 – Oil and gas company Total announces that it has made a “significant” new discovery in the North Sea, with recoverable resources estimated to be 250mn barrels of oil equivalent. The UK National Risk Assessment on Security of Gas Supply 2018 is published by the government, concluding that the UK’s gas market is “resilient to all but the most unlikely combination of high demand and supply disruption”. Haven Power forms a partnership with demand-side response (DSR) provider GridBeyond – DSR allows energy consumers to change their consumption behaviour to help balance the grid and be rewarded with cheaper electricity. Additionally, small energy generators, such as businesses with solar panels, can provide surplus energy to help balance the grid.

Monday 28/01 – Analysis by Cornwall Insight estimates that, without changes to planning restrictions, offshore wind is likely to become cheaper than onshore wind in less than a decade. The Managing Director of EDF’s planned Sizewell C nuclear station, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, recommends that the most effective way to reduce the cost of nuclear is to repeat and copy an existing design, with a workforce, suppliers and skills that are already in place.

Friday 25/01 – The National Audit Office publishes the results of its investigation into oil and gas decommissioning costs concluding that government estimates of a £24bn total liability for taxpayers has a wide scope of uncertainty. Professional services firm Accenture research reports that “traditional energy suppliers” are missing out on cost savings and revenues by not tailoring their digital customer experiences, products and services to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Thursday 24/01 – The government launches a consultation on proposals to raise non-domestic consumer awareness of smart meters. The bosses of energy companies SSE and innogy state that renewables are well-placed to fill the capacity gap left by the suspension of plans for the Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury nuclear plants. Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie predicts that the UK will join the “subsidy-free solar club” in 2019. The firm said that there is 2.3GW of solar projects that either already have or are awaiting planning permission that could be delivered without help from government subsidies.

Wednesday 23/01 – National Grid’s electricity control room announces that it has introduced a new Distributed Resource Desk to enable power system engineers to give instructions faster to smaller generators, battery storage operators and demand-side response providers. A survey by sustainability advocates the Carbon Trust has finds that 67% of UK corporates are planning to disclose climate-related risks in their 2019 annual reports.

Tuesday 22/01 – EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete delivers a speech hailing the progress made at the recent UN COP24 climate summit. Energy UK Chief Executive Lawrence Slade argues for reform of the Capacity Market scheme (a subsidy to guarantee the UK’s energy security) in light of its suspension after a European General Court ruling, including making it technology neutral.

Monday 21/01 – The Energy Networks Association consults on its 2019 Phase 3 Work Plan, which aims to lay the foundations of the GB smart grid. The project aims to help give businesses, households and networks the ability to take advantage of new energy technologies to take control of their energy and lower their costs, and help underpin business growth and attract investment.

Friday 18/01 – Tesco plans to deploy solar panels on the roofs of several of its superstores in the UK. The North Connect interconnector between Norway and Peterhead in Scotland is granted planning permission by Aberdeenshire County Council.

Thursday 17/01 – BEIS Secretary Greg Clark confirms Hitachi’s suspension of its Wylfa and Oldbury nuclear power station projects. In a Commons statement, he says that that, despite the government offering a “generous package of support”, the company saw too great a commercial challenge. The BEIS Committee seeks views from industry as to how best to deploy carbon capture and storage at scale.

Wednesday 16/01 – Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres identifies climate change and sustainable development goals as key priorities. Elexon issues a consultation on a rule change proposal for Capacity Market interim charges that would act as a contingency fund to protect contract holders. Data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that investment in clean energy exceeded $300bn for the fifth year in a row in 2018.

Tuesday 15/01 – The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is defeated, with stakeholders highlighting the huge uncertainty this means for the future energy relationship with the EU. During a Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence session, the government is urged to deploy emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage and hybrid boilers at scale if the UK’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets are to be met.

Monday 14/01 – Defra publishes the Clean Air Strategy, setting long-term targets for emissions reduction and tighter controls for biomass sites. BEIS consults on establishing a new capacity planning threshold for energy storage projects. Ofgem consults on proposed licence changes it intends to implement in the event of a no deal Brexit. Backers of the new NEMO interconnector between the UK and Belgium confirm it will go-live at the end of the month. A European Commission report finds the UK spends more on fossil fuel subsidies that any other member state.

Friday 11/01 – The government publishes new information for businesses regarding energy arrangements after Brexit, with 57 of 63 required statutory instruments passed and 28 technical notices released. Think tank Localis says that outdated energy and infrastructure policies must urgently be modernised if the government is to meet its Road to Zero transport target. Hitachi is reported to have halted work on the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station project.

Thursday 10/01 – MPs warn that the government is not prepared for the eventuality that State Aid re-approval is not granted to the Capacity Market energy security scheme. Cornwall Insight CEO Gareth Miller writes to Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry recommending that the government adopt a revised Contracts for Difference floor structure to reignite investment in onshore renewables. National Grid’s Viking link interconnector wins planning approval after an appeal against East Lindsey District Council.

Wednesday 09/01 – VW confirms it will form an energy supply business to enhance its electric vehicle offerings. It is reported that wind output in Europe hit 2.1TWh and accounted for 20.1% of the region’s electricity demand on 8 January.

Tuesday 08/01 – The government consults on creating a Smart Export Guarantee as a replacement for the export tariff under the Feed-in Tariff scheme. It is intended to guarantee new small-scale renewable electricity providers payment from suppliers for the electricity they export to the grid. The proposals receive a cautious welcome from the Solar Trade Association and Energy UK. The Energy Technologies Institute reveals what it says is the world’s first operational grid-scale pumped heat energy storage system.

Monday 07/01 – In a major policy speech, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commits to making all new buildings in the Greater Manchester area net zero by 2028. A new report by climate change think tank E3G concludes that the electricity interconnectors linking the UK and the EU are becoming increasingly important in ensuring that the UK takes the least-cost pathway to decarbonisation.

Friday 04/01 – Whitbread, the company which runs Premier Inn, starts a battery storage technology trial at its Edinburgh site with E.ON. Vital Energi confirms it will install 5MW of water-source heat pumps to provide heating and hot water for the £250mn Queen’s Quay regeneration project.

Thursday 03/01 – Media reports indicate plans to merge BEIS, DfT and DCMS, but these are denied by Number 10. A new report by Carbon Brief reveals that UK electricity generation in 2018 fell to its lowest level since 1994, to 335TWh.

Wednesday 02/01 – A mobile electric vehicle charging station designed to be set up on company premises and in public areas is unveiled by Volkswagen. Day-ahead gas rises 0.48p/th to 59.58p/th, and day-ahead power gains £2.75/MWh to £67.75/MWh, amid forecasts of lower wind generation.

Tuesday 01/01 – The default tariff price cap comes into force, set at £1,137/ year for a typical dual fuel customer paying by direct debit. Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey criticises the cap as too little too late, citing the two-year delay between manifesto pledge and implementation.

Written By Graham Paul


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