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Industry News Roundup May 2019

Friday 31/05 – The GB electricity system ends the month still without coal, extending its record without the fuel to 14 days as recorded by National Grid ESO. 120 businesses sign an open letter calling for the government to accept the Committee on Climate Change advice of a net zero carbon emissions target at 2050.

Thursday 30/05 – UK Energy Research Centre analysis studies the scale of flexibility in GB’s gas networks. The government published the outcome of the Capacity Market (CM): Further Technical Amendments consultation, deciding, based on the responses received, to allow the participation of certain renewable technologies (solar and wind) in the CM. The CM is a government scheme which guarantees the UK’s security of supply.

Wednesday 29/05 – The third allocation round for the Contracts for Difference scheme opens – this a government scheme which supports low-carbon generation. Businesses including Drax, National Grid, Centrica and Affinity Water publish joint letter pledging support for the UK’s bid to host the UN’s Conference of Parties (COP) climate conference in 2020.

Tuesday 28/05 – National Grid ESO confirms that GB has gone 264 hours without coal-fired generation, breaking the previous record. International Energy Agency research finds that the global decline in nuclear capacity could result in an additional 4bn tonnes of carbon emissions.

Monday 27/05 – Drax, Equinor and National Grid Ventures announce they have signed a memorandum of understanding committing them to work together to explore how a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage network and a hydrogen production facility could be constructed in the Humber in the mid-2020s. Media reports claim that steel companies have called on the government to “level the playing field” concerning power prices.

Friday 24/05 – Ofgem publishes its decision on the network price control methodology for RIIO-2, setting the allowed baseline return on equity at 4.3% (CPIH) with a cost of equity range of 4.0-5.6% - the amount that network companies are allowed to make. This is almost 50% lower than under RIIO-1 and the lowest ever capital rate for energy network companies in the UK. In a recent announcement regarding the climate strike, Interim Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore has stated that he admires people’s passion in “wanting to halt the catastrophic impacts of climate change” and added that tackling the issue is “rightly a top priority for all generations”.

Thursday 23/05 – BEIS releases is Final Statement for the second carbon budget period, showing that the outturn against the target for the period 2013-17 was beaten by 14%. The department also publishes an update on the UK’s progress to date on the Clean Growth Strategy Grand Challenge mission of halving the energy use of new buildings by 2030, outlining key areas of success.

Wednesday 22/05 – A London School of Economics report recommends a reformed approach to carbon pricing if the UK is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. UK Power Networks (UKPN) has announced its plans to invest £15mn in Active Network Management (ANM), including a new integrated, intelligent software platform from Smarter Grid Solutions. An international consortium led by Smarter Grid Solutions will build and deploy the ANM system, which will enable over 500MW of Distributed Energy Resources (DER), mostly renewable energy like wind and solar to connect to the network.

Tuesday 21/05 – An Energy Systems Catapult study funded by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) outlines the most efficient low-carbon heating upgrade pathways for five UK common housing types. The Offshore Wind Industry Council confirms its new Solving the Integration Challenge workstream– part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal – has commenced.

Monday 20/05 – Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry takes leave of absence and is replaced for the interim by Chris Skidmore. Energy UK publishes its latest energy switching figures, showing that a record 668,371 business and household customers switched supplier in April.

Friday 17/05 – The government announces a new investment opportunity focused on the development of “cutting-edge” electric vehicle batteries. As reported by Utility Week, UK Power Networks announces that it has awarded £450,000 worth of contracts to six companies as part of its second tender for flexibility services.

Thursday 16/05 – Labour publishes its new Bringing Energy Home proposals, which includes plans to transform National Grid by bringing it into public ownership and create national, regional and municipal agencies responsible for owning and maintaining infrastructure and ensuring access to affordable energy. Responses to the plan are mixed, with the energy networks and energy supplier trade associations reacting negatively, but the GMB trade union calling it a “big and bold announcement”.

Wednesday 15/05 – The Department for Transport announces £25mn in funding for several projects exploring innovation in zero emissions transport. The Association for Decentralised Energy launches its new Flex Assure compliance scheme designed to improve access to flexibility services for businesses. SSE announces that construction of the 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm, off the coast of Scotland, is complete.

Tuesday 14/05 – The Solar Trade Association announces that the UK’s solar generation has hit a record high of 9.47GW, surpassing a previous record set in May 2017. A report published by SmartestEnergy finds that Scotland is responsible for the majority of new independent generation in 2018.

Monday 13/05 – Business Secretary Greg Clark announces a reduction in the target capacity for the replacement Capacity Market T-1 auction for 2019-20 from 4.6GW to 2.7GW. The Capacity Market is the scheme which guarantees the UK’s security of supply. Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt writes to Chancellor of Exchequer Philip Hammond urging him to use the Autumn Spending Review to commit to a “once-in-a-generation” transformation of the UK’s energy networks.

Friday 10/05 – BEIS releases the government’s response to the Smart Metering Implementation Programme consultation, including proposed changes to Smart Energy GB’s remit to include microbusinesses in its engagement campaign. The regulator Ofgem publishes a report setting out the results of research into how microbusinesses engage with energy and the implications for the Competition and Markets Authority’s Price Transparency Remedy. Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt urges Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to use his Autumn Spending Review to commit to a “once-in-a-generation” transformation of the UK’s energy networks.

Thursday 09/05 – BEIS publishes its latest Public Attitudes Tracker, finding that public support for renewable energy has risen to 84% in March 2019. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker affirms that the European Union will continue to focus on immediate and urgent climate policies to 2030.

Wednesday 08/05 – Committee on Climate Change Executive Chris Stark tells the Commons BEIS Committee that the government must establish and deliver by 2020 a plan to decarbonise the UK’s buildings. National Grid ESO confirms that GB has achieved its first coal-free week since 1882. 

Tuesday 07/05 – The government announces a new competition for pre-production projects that can enhance the UK’s long-term capabilities and supply chain in zero emissions vehicles. As reported by ITV, a new report from Citizens Advice finds that energy customers including businesses have missed out on £5.1mn in compensation from electricity networks for poor customer service and power cuts over the past three years.

Friday 03/05 – A wide-ranging consultation from the government and the devolved administrations sets out a range of proposals for carbon pricing once the UK leaves the EU. Ofgem launches its strategic review of the microbusiness retail market.

Thursday 02/05 – The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) publishes its advice to government calling for the UK to adopt a 2050 net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions without adverse cost impacts above those implied by current targets. In response, Commons BEIS Committee Chair Rachel Reeves announces an evidence hearing on the proposed target and its implementation. Several industry groups respond positively to the CCC’s recommendations. The Scottish government immediately commits to adopting its proposed target of net zero by 2045.

Written By Graham Paul


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