The Informer

This week’s headlines: A report argues that more than 100GW of new renewable capacity will be needed for the UK to hit net zero; a streamlining of planning permission for battery storage sites is in the pipeline; and a £40m project has been launched to look at installing tidal energy turbines in the English Channel.

  • UK needs 100GW of new renewables to hit net zero

    More than 100GW of additional renewable energy capacity and up to 30GW of short-term storage to help balance the intermittent generation will be needed to help the UK reach its net-zero target, according to a new report.

    Government policy must also change to create the market conditions needed to add enough technology such as flow batteries, compressed or liquid air storage, and hydrogen storage to the grid, said the Aurora Energy Research report.

    More than 20GW of fixed storage capacity alone will be needed to tackle a “Kalte Dunkelflaute” – a period when the wind doesn’t blow, which happens on average for two weeks each autumn.

    Increasing the UK’s renewables capacity by 100GW – compared to the 47GW currently in place - would generate an additional 185TWh of excess power, which analysts believe could be used to produce hydrogen to decarbonise the heating and transport systems.

    In addition to the extra renewables capacity, a further 20GW of nuclear power and 3GW of carbon capture and storage will also be required.

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  • Ofgem proposes new financial checks for existing suppliers

    Ofgem is proposing to introduce new financial tests and checks for existing suppliers in the wake of a series of failures of companies in the sector.

    The regulator has already introduced new rules for market entrants and under its proposals for existing suppliers would be able to request independent audits of suppliers’ customer service operations and financial status.

    New checks would be introduced for growing suppliers before they hit certain thresholds of customer numbers requiring them to ensure they have the operational capability to effectively serve their customers.

    All suppliers would also have to assess their readiness for orderly failure by maintaining ‘Living Wills’ setting out what would happen in the event of their failure.

    The announcement came just days after Ofgem appointed Total Gas & Power to provide energy to the 280 business customers previously supplied by Rutherford Energy Supply, which was trading as Uttily Energy before it ceased trading. It was the seventh supplier this year to fail.

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  • Plans to simplify planning rules for energy storage

    The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has unveiled proposals to let local councils decide on planning applications for energy storage projects.

    At present, all sites above 50MW need to be assessed under the national planning regime, which can take 18-24 months and add additional costs to a project.

    Under the new proposals – a consultation on which runs until 10 December – pumped hydro-electric schemes will be the only projects that need to enter the national planning system.

    The Renewable Energy Association had campaigned for the previous 50MW local council limit to be raised and said it was “surprised and pleased by the proposals” although the details will still need to be assessed.

    Head of Policy Frank Gordon added: “This proposal should significantly reduce the relevant pre-construction costs for larger energy storage projects, unlocking more flexibility in the system and leading to less hardware upgrades and back up capacity for the networks.”

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  • ‘Game-changing’ tidal energy scheme approved for Channel

    A group of companies, universities and public bodies in the UK and France have launched the €46.8 million (£40.4m) Tidal Stream Industry Energiser Project (TIGER), which aims to install 8MW of tidal stream devices in the English Channel.

    TIGER wants to use the devices to drive the development of further products and services.

    The total theoretical tidal energy capacity in the Channel is nearly 4GW, enough to power up to three million homes.

    The project is being led by the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) and involves 19 partners, with 69% of the funding coming from the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

    Stephen Wyatt, OREC’s Research & Innovation Director, described the project as “game-changing” and added: “This project brings together multiple organisations from across the UK and French supply chains to work towards validating the pathway to commercialisation, ensuring that sustainable, predictable and affordable tidal electricity plays a role our future energy mix as we tackle the global climate emergency.”

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  • Energy white paper now expected in 2020

    Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom has told the House of Commons’ Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee that her department’s long-awaited energy white paper has been delayed until the first quarter of 2020.

    Committee Chair Rachel Reeves expressed doubt over whether the new deadline would be met.

    Leadsom said the responses to two recent consultations on nuclear power and carbon capture and storage needed to be integrated into the white paper, although plans for nuclear fusion are unlikely to be ready in time.

    The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s independent advisor, had previously said that policies need to be put in place this year if the UK is to meet its 2050 net-zero target.

    The parliamentary committee also question Leadsom over domestic energy efficiency, tidal power and Brexit.

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