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Industry News Roundup July 2019

Wednesday 31/07 – Ofgem explains the decision to approve National Grid Electricity System Operator’s 2020-21 Black Start Strategy and Procurement Methodology. Black Start is the process of restoring power to the electricity grid after a total or partial shutdown. The next auction date for the government low-carbon support scheme, the Contracts for Difference, was announced. This is the scheme which has financed much of the UK’s offshore wind capacity.

Tuesday 30/07 – CEO of fracking firm Cuadrilla Francis Egan calls for the elimination of gas imports to the UK by 2050 and for Labour to abandon its opposition to fracking. Current News reports that network company Western Power Distribution has signed a flexibility deal with battery storage developer Anesco.

Monday 29/07 – The government confirms that the UK’s Carbon Emissions Tax of £16 per tonne of carbon emitted would apply from 4 November 2019 in the event of a no deal Brexit. This would apply to all UK stationary installations currently participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme – a system which requires large carbon emitters to trade the right to emit carbon with the aim of reducing overall emissions. The 588MW Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm officially opens off the north east coast of Scotland.

Friday 26/07 – BEIS Committee Chair Rachel Reeves writes to new Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom asking about the publication of the Energy White Paper, as well as asking for a Treasury review of the benefits of net zero. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announces plans to “ramp up investment” in green industries and deliver a £3.5bn investment in the Mersey Tidal Power Project.

Thursday 25/07 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes his first statement to the Commons, refusing to declare a climate emergency. The government publishes Digest of UK Energy Statistics, showing that UK installed capacity has exceeded 100GW and the low-carbon share of generation rose from 50% to a record 52.6%, driven by an increase in renewables. The government launches its £80mn ‘Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge’, which businesses of any size can apply to. Parliament rises for summer recess. SSE CEO Alistair Philips-Davies writes to the new Prime Minister, urging him to lift the ban on onshore wind.

Wednesday 24/07 – Greg Clark steps down as Business Secretary as part of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle. Andrea Leadsom takes over with Jo Johnson and Kwasi Kwarteng as Ministers of State for BEIS. Former BEIS Minister Claire Perry becomes COP26 President. The Climate Group publishes the first report on its energy efficiency EP100 initiative, reporting that, to date, major companies have saved enough energy to power Germany for one year.

Tuesday 23/07 – Boris Johnson takes over from Theresa May as the UK’s Prime Minister. Departmental ownership is essential in achieving net zero, Committee on Climate Change Chairman Lord Deben tells MPs on the Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee.

Monday 22/07 – The government publishes several consultations, covering areas such as a new funding model for new nuclear, carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and substantial energy industry code reform. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) also issues the five-year review of the Capacity Market – the scheme which guarantees the UK’s security of electricity supply. Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey criticises the government for not releasing the Energy White Paper.

Friday 19/07 – The government publishes West of England Local Industrial Strategy and South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy. As reported by Utility Week, the Labour Party was warned by a partner at law firm Clifford Chance that renationalising utilities would be not be easy.

Thursday 18/07 – BEIS’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker, Wave 30, finds that support for renewable energy has fallen from 84% to 82%, reaching similar levels to those in July 2018. Network operator UK Power Networks launches an electric vehicle smart flexibility trial.

Wednesday 17/07 – During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn cites new analysis carried out by his party which claimed that the government is set to miss the net zero target by 49 years. Solar Trade Association Chief Executive Chris Hewett sends an open letter to the Big Six and other electricity suppliers in support of the delivery of export tariff offers to solar households in advance of the Smart Export Guarantee – this is a scheme which would see energy suppliers guaranteeing a price to pay small-scale generators, such as businesses with solar panels, for exporting excess power to the grid.

Tuesday 16/07 – Interim Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore tells a Parliamentary committee of MPs that the five-year review of the 2050 net zero target could result in it being brought forward to 2045. The government and energy regulator Ofgem publish an open letter addressed to the Energy Networks Association making recommendations on how energy networks can act on the Open Networks project – the project concerns flexibility, which can enable businesses to gain access to cheaper electricity through changing their consumption behaviour.

Monday 15/07 – The government launches two consultations on electric vehicles, the first on changing building regulations to increase uptake, and the second on requirements for all new private chargepoints to use smart technology. National Grid ESO confirmed its decision to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which will encourage stakeholders to be more flexible in the way they use energy, subsequently lowering their bills and carbon footprint.

Friday 12/07 – The BEIS Committee publishes Energy Efficiency: Building Towards Net Zero. Committee members concluded that a “major upgrade of the energy performance of the UK’s entire building stock will be a fundamental pillar” in achieving net zero. The Residential Landlords Association criticises the BEIS Committee’s call for an increase in the amount that private landlords of the most energy inefficient properties should contribute to meet required standards.

Thursday 11/07 – National Grid ESO issues its Future Energy Scenarios report, highlighting that net zero by 2050 requires immediate action and the need for greater coordination across the whole energy system, with digitisation and data becoming a critical enabler. As reported by Utility Week, National Grid has said that large-scale deployment of carbon, capture and storage technology will be essential to meet 2050 net zero target.

Wednesday 10/07 – The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released its 2019 Progress Report to Parliament, concluding that urgent action is needed now to meet the 2050 net zero target. Labour Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey says the report confirms that the “government has no plan to tackle the climate emergency declared by Parliament.” A Commons debate around Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development examines the UK’s bid to reach net zero. BEIS Parliamentary Under-Secretary Andrew Stephenson warned that on the current trajectory, the aspirations of the Paris climate agreement will not be met. Calling the CCC’s latest critiques “fair," he added that in most areas the government had signalled a "clear policy intent" and stressed the importance of green finance to support businesses.

Tuesday 09/07 – The government confirms that all zero emission vehicles will pay no company car tax in 2020-21, 1% in 2021-22, and then return to the planned 2% rate in 2022-23. Naturalist Sir David Attenborough tells MPs on the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee that they need to take the electorate with them in order to tackle climate change.

Monday 08/07 – BEIS Parliamentary Under-Secretary Lord Henley tells the Lords that the government has no plans to review onshore wind policy. The Trades Union Congress publishes A Just Transition to a Greener, Fairer Economy urging the retraining of workers displaced by climate policy.

Friday 05/07 – The government announces new legislation exempting electric cars and taxis from premium rate vehicle excise duty to encourage uptake of zero emission vehicles. Ofgem releases its annual report and accounts for 2018-19, outlining an increase in consultancy expenditure as well as its performance against KPIs.

Thursday 04/07 – Interim Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore confirms that the government will not increase the 6GW capacity cap for the third Contracts for Difference allocation round. Ofgem releases its Business Impact Target 2018-19, assessing the impact of key regulatory provisions. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders blames “confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives” on the fall in the sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 50.4% in between June 2018 and June 2019.

Wednesday 03/07 – Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart announces plans to invest more than £190mn in new research related to climate and the environment, with an emphasis on resilience in the developing world. Energy provider GETEC and Rolls-Royce intensity their collaboration on the design, construction and operation of decentralised energy supply systems in Europe. National Grid Electricity Transmission publishes its draft RIIO-2 business plan, announcing its intention to invest up to £7.4bn to operate its network over five years.

Tuesday 02/07 – The government’s Green Finance Strategy sets out its plans to align private sector financial flows with clean, environmentally sustainable and resilient growth. Committee on Climate Change Chief Executive Chris Stark tells the Treasury Select Committee that the government needs to be more ambitious to achieve net zero by 2050. The Energy Networks Association consults on six new flexibility commitments.

Monday 01/07 – Prime Minister Theresa May says the Office for Low Emission Vehicles is to lead a review on how to build national high-speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Lords debates the motion passed by the Commons on 1 May to declare a Climate Emergency.

Written By Graham Paul


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