The Informer

This week’s headlines: many of the UK’s biggest businesses have called on the Government to use the Covid-19 economic recovery as a springboard to faster decarbonisation; new figures show renewables investors reap much bigger rewards than backers of fossil fuels; and the UK’s largest solar project gets the green light.

  • Covid-19 recovery can be springboard to green economy say UK bosses

    More than 200 of the UK’s leading businesses have urged the Government to ramp up investment in areas such as renewables, EVs and energy efficiency to deliver a green recovery from the pandemic.

    In a letter to the Prime Minister signed by the CEOs of companies including National Grid, BT and Lloyds Banking Group, they say the huge investment needed in the wake of the pandemic is an opportunity to rapidly accelerate decarbonisation and the push to net zero.

    Measures put forward include an investment boost for low carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries, a focusing of support on sectors that deliver economic benefits as well as decarbonisation, and putting conditions on financial help to ensure firms getting bailout cash have a sustainable approach.

    The letter says: “‘With the UK facing major economic and social concerns including the risk of high unemployment and rising regional inequality, we believe that an ambitious low carbon growth and environmental improvement agenda can do a lot to address these concerns, as well as make the UK economy better prepared to deal with future shocks such as those related to climate change.”

    The letter was co-ordinated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG).

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma this week assured a global climate change event that the UK will put a green recovery in place and said that there was no question of postponing action on climate change in light of the COP26 summit in Glasgow being delayed until November 2021.

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  • Renewables investors reap bigger rewards

    Investors in renewable energy firms have seen significantly higher returns than backers of fossil fuel businesses over the past decade, according to new research.

    The study by Imperial College London in collaboration with the International Energy Agency found shares in stock market listed renewables firms have outperformed fossil fuel stocks in the US, UK, Germany, and France over the past decade.

    They have also shown more resilience during the coronavirus pandemic.

    In the US, renewable power stocks rose over 200 per cent between 2010 and 2020, more than double the total gains for fossil fuel stocks, which climbed 97 per cent.

    However, Dr Charles Donovan, executive director of the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School, said opportunities to back clean power remain limited for individual investors.

    "There's momentum gathering behind renewable power, based on its economic advantages," said Donovan. "Our results show that renewable power is outperforming financially, but has still not attracted sizable support from listed equity investors."

    He added: "Existing norms in the investment industry will have to change to provide savers and pensioners with better ways to participate in the upsides from a clean energy transition."

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  • UK’s largest solar farm gets green light

    Construction of a 350MW solar farm on the North Kent coast will get underway next year after the UK Government gave the green light to the plans.

    The subsidy-free £450 million Cleve Hill Solar Park project, being developed on a 958-acre site by Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy, will be the UK’s largest solar farm.

    In a first for the UK, it will use an ‘East-West panel orientation’, with designers predicting its 880,000 panel should be able to generate 44 per cent more electricity than if the site used panels oriented south.

    The project had been opposed by some local heritage and wildlife organisations.

    Its size means it will be the first in the UK to be designated as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ under the planning system.

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  • Ofgem to introduce gas charging reforms

    Ofgem has confirmed plans to reform the UK's gas transmission charging regime from the beginning of October.

    In a final decision following a consultation, the regulator says it will introduce a ‘postage stamp’ methodology to calculate tariffs, rather than basing the fees on distance.

    Although some concerns were raised in consultation responses over implementation of the changes this year given the disruption caused by Covid-19, Ofgem said “we consider that it is in the overall interests of consumers that the reforms are implemented sooner rather than later.”

    “We recognise that many homes and businesses are facing a difficult and uncertain period with the global COVID-19 pandemic, with mounting financial pressures on many households, public bodies, small businesses and large consumers."

    “Taking the interests of all gas consumers in the round, we have concluded that consumers are best served by the proposed implementation in October 2020.”

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  • Plans for new nuclear station put forward

    Plans for a new nuclear power station on the coast of Suffolk have been submitted by French energy group EDF.

    The proposed £18bn Sizewell C site, which will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, will supply around 6m homes.

    EDF said the nuclear power station could provide a huge stimulus to the UK economy following the pandemic with around 25,000 jobs and 1,000 apprenticeships will be created during construction.

    By using the same design, EDF hopes to benefit from reduced construction costs and lower risk.

    Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson CBE, Managing Director of Sizewell C said it was a net zero infrastructure project ready to kick-start the economy following the Coronavirus crisis.

    “It will offer thousands of high-quality job opportunities and long-term employment for people living in Suffolk and it will strengthen the nuclear supply chain across the country.”

    However, local campaigners opposed to the plans have said that lower power demand means the project is not necessary. They have also urged that formal consultation on the plans is put back until after Covid-19 social distancing measures have been relaxed to ensure people can attend public meetings.

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