The Informer

This week’s headlines: A new report warns that investment in the greater energy flexibility the UK needs is at risk; the main political parties step up their environmental promises ahead of the election; and a new £340m interconnector between Ireland and the UK moves forward.

  • Warnings over power system flexibility

    Barriers to investment in greater flexibility in the UK’s power networks need to be urgently addressed according to an industry body after a report found the country is ranked second to last place in Europe.

    The report, published by the Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology (REA), studied nine European countries and found the only system with less flexibility than the UK’s was France.

    The Netherlands topped the table, with Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Norway also scoring highly, while Germany joined the UK and France in lagging behind the pack according to the report which was commissioned by Drax and Eaton.

    The REA blamed regulatory uncertainty, lack of visibility on returns and technical challenges for impeding flexibility investment in the UK.

    Chief Executive Nina Skorupska said: “The REA is calling for the next government to address the barriers to flexibility by delivering wholesale systems change and reform Ofgem as a priority.”

    Read more

  • Pledge over green R&D as election nears

    Boris Johnson has promised to increase the UK Government’s spending on research and development to £18 billion a year in 2024-25 if his Conservative Party wins next month’s general election.

    In a speech at electric taxi maker LEVC, Johnson also pledged to invest £800 million in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

    Commentators now expect the Conservative manifesto to include a target of establishing the first CCS sites by the mid-2020s. They also expect pledges to invest a further £500m to expand the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network so that everyone in England and Wales will be within 30 miles of a charging point and to increase the offshore wind capacity target to 40GW from 30GW.

    The Labour Party recently pledged to upgrade the energy efficiency of every home in the UK as part of its net zero plans which also look to ensure 90 per cent of electricity generation is from renewable sources by the end of the next decade.

    The Liberal Democrats said they would spend £100bn tackling the effects of climate change and protecting the environment if elected.

    Read more

  • Ireland-UK interconnector moves forward

    Planning applications have been submitted to build the £340 million Greenlink interconnector between Ireland and the UK.

    Plans for the 500MW connection have been lodged with Nature Resources Wales and the Foreshore Unit at the Irish government’s Department of Planning, Housing & Local Government.

    If planning permission is granted then the developer aims to commission the interconnector in 2023.

    Angus Norman, Project Director for Greenlink Interconnector, said: “Along with the recent signing of our grid connection agreement with EirGrid – another significant milestone – the Greenlink project is on a clear pathway towards the start of construction.”

    The interconnector would link EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford with National Grid’s Pembroke substation in Wales.

    Read more

  • New coal mine gets go-ahead despite opposition

    The UK Government has given the green light to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to drill the UK’s first deep coal mine for a generation.

    The Ministry of Housing turned down calls from environmental groups to review Cumbria County Council’s decision to back the project.

    The Woodhouse colliery is expected to extract around 2.5 million tonnes of coking coal each year from beneath the seabed.

    The coal is expected to be used by the steel industry instead of imported fuel, while the mine is expected to create around 500 jobs.

    Former Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron argued: “Cumbria has so many renewable resources to provide energy – water, wind and solar – and we should most definitely not be taking the backwards step of opening a new coalmine.”

    Read more

  • Drastic changes needed to avoid climate emergency – IEA

    The latest World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise if governments stick to their current policies.

    The report forecasted that energy demand will increase by 1.3% each year until 2040 if current policies remain in place.

    Even if stated policies are enacted then countries will remain “well off track” to avoid the ravages of climate change.

    Instead, the IEA called for politicians to follow a sustainable development scenario by harnessing multiple technologies and fuels.

    “For this to happen, we need strong leadership from policy makers, as governments hold the clearest responsibility to act and have the greatest scope to shape the future,” added Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.

    Read more