The Informer

This week’s headlines: The UK’s capacity market is expected to back in operation shortly after the European Commission’s judged it does comply with state aid rules; Labour has unveiled a proposed fast-track route to decarbonisation; and plans for a pioneering liquid-air energy storage project are announced.

  • Capacity Market gets EU green light

    Electricity generators will receive around £1 billion in back payments in January after the European Commission said the UK’s Capacity Market does comply with state aid rules.

    The European Court had suspended the scheme after Tempus Energy claimed it put demand-side response players at a disadvantage.

    But the European Commission said: “Notably, the commission did not find any evidence that the scheme would put demand response operators or any other capacity providers at a disadvantage with respect to their participation in the scheme.”

    Sara Bell, Tempus’s founder, accused the European Commission of having “caved to industry pressure”, while Tempus added that it will be “studying the judgment to determine what to do on behalf of consumers who deserve better than this”.

    Trade body Energy UK welcomed the decision, while Chief Executive Lawrence Slade adding: “The Capacity Market can now continue to do the job it has done successfully for a number of years, ensuring security of supply at the lowest cost to customers in times of high demand.”

    But Jonathan Marshall, Head of Analysis at the Energy & Climate Change Intelligence Unit think tank, argued there remain “major doubts if it is the right tool to deliver low-carbon electricity during the 2020s” and said it continues to shut out innovative and disruptive technologies.

    Read more

  • Labour unveils fast-track decarbonisation plans

    A group of independent energy industry experts have outlined 30 ways to decarbonise the energy system by 2030 in a report commissioned by Labour.

    Measures include upgrading every home in the UK with energy-saving measures such as insulation and double glazing, focusing first on damp homes and eliminating fuel poverty for 2.5 million people.

    Other recommendations include installing eight million heat pumps, erecting 7,000 offshore wind turbines and a further 2,000 onshore wind turbines. Labour also wants to triple the UK’s current solar capacity.

    Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business & Energy Secretary, said: “Inaction on climate by Conservative and Lib-Dem coalition governments has led to a lost decade in the race to cut emissions from our energy system.”

    She said the report makes a major contribution to Labour’s plans to kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution.

    Read more

  • Plans for pioneering energy storage project unveiled

    Highview Power has unveiled plans to build the largest energy storage project in Europe by erecting 50MW liquid-air storage tanks at a disused power station in an unnamed location in the North of England.

    The plans follow on from a 5MW demonstration project at a landfill site in Bury, Greater Manchester, which was funded with an £8 million grant from Innovate UK.

    The “cryo-battery” will be capable of storing excess renewable energy for weeks, as opposed to the hours provided by traditional lithium-ion batteries and could power 50,000 homes for five hours.

    Highview said its technology would offer the lowest levelised cost of storage for large-scale applications at £110/MWh for a 10-hour, 200MW system.

    Chief Executive Javier Cavada added: “Long-duration, giga-scale energy storage is the necessary foundation to enable baseload renewable energy and will be key to a 100% carbon free future.”

    Read more

  • Ofgem turns down plans for Scottish islands renewables links

    The energy regulator has rejected SSE’s plans to lay subsea cables to carry excess renewable electricity from Shetland and the Western Isles to the British mainland.

    In March, Ofgem said it was “minded to approve” a 600MW cable from Shetland to Scotland costing £709 million, but the 457MW Viking wind farm has since failed to win a Contract for Difference (CfD).

    Ofgem was already “minded not to approve” a 600MW link to the Western Isles, but may back a 450MW cable instead if both the Stornoway and Uisenis wind farms won CfDs.

    Yet only 240MW of the required 369MW won CfDs in the Outer Hebrides in the latest auction.

    Rob McDonald, Managing Director for Transmission at SSE, said: “We welcome Ofgem’s continued commitment to provide a way forward for both the Shetland and Western Isles transmission links and allow the determination of the Needs Cases.

    “Ultimately, a successful outcome will depend on renewable developers on both island groups demonstrating that sufficient generation will progress to underpin the transmission investment cases.”

    Read more

  • Renewables set for 50% growth by 2024

    Falling technology costs and enabling government policies are forecast to trigger a 50% rise in global renewable energy capacity over the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) latest report.

    Capacity is predicted to increase from 2.5TW to 3.7TW by 2024, equivalent to the current total output from the United States.

    Solar is tipped to account for 60% of the increase thanks to more panels being mounted on homes and businesses.

    The IEA forecasts that solar’s costs will decline by a further 15% to 35% by 2024.

    Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said: “Distributed photo-voltaic’s (PV’s) potential is breath taking, but its development needs to be well managed to balance the different interests of PV system owners, other consumers and energy and distribution companies.”

    Read more