The Informer

A report argues that carbon prices in the UK need to reach £75/tonne by 2030 if the nation is to meet its net-zero target; plans for a new nuclear plant in Wales have been shelved; and media reports over proposed changes to the rules over smart meters have been criticised.

  • Higher carbon pricing urged for net zero

    Carbon prices in the UK need to reach £75/tonne by 2030 and renewable subsidies should be shifted away from being levied onto electricity bills to help achieve net zero, according to a new report.

    The white paper from the Zero Carbon Campaign, made up of scientists, business leaders, environmental and academic experts, argues that carbon prices should begin to be increased incrementally from 2021 and should apply to all upstream producers of emissions if the nation is to meet its 2050 net-zero target.

    A higher carbon price across both power and heating could bring in annual revenues of £27 billion by 2030 and could be used to fund support mechanisms such as the Renewables Obligation and Contracts for Difference schemes, which the report argues should no longer be levied directly onto electricity bills. New support schemes for the expansion of renewables could be funded by general taxation or carbon charge revenues.

    The campaign also argues carbon pricing instruments including the Carbon Price Support (CPS), the UK Emissions Trading System (UK ETS), Climate Change Levy charges (CCL) and Climate Change Agreements (CCA) should be streamlined, with a single, simple mechanism.

    The report stressed that “a carbon charge is neither the only policy required to get to net-zero nor the only source of funding”.

    “More will be required to fund R&D and industry transition than a carbon charge is likely to raise. But carbon charges could form a very substantial part of the money needed, whilst driving the behaviour necessary to transition.”

    The Zero Carbon Commission was formed in February 2020 to review the UK emissions pricing landscape and explore how it might be re-designed to be consistent with the UK’s legislated ‘net zero’ target.

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  • Plans for nuclear plant in Wales shelved

    Proposals for a £16bn nuclear power plant in Wales have been scrapped after Hitachi said it was pulling out of the project.

    Work on the Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey was suspended last year because of rising costs after the Japanese company failed to reach a funding agreement with the UK Government.

    Hitachi has now confirmed it is withdrawing from the project and in a statement said: “Hitachi made this decision given that 20 months have passed since the suspension, and the investment environment has become increasingly severe due to the impact of Covid-19.”

    The Welsh Affairs Committee described the withdrawal as "a blow for Wales and the UK's ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."

    Committee chairman Stephen Crabb MP said: "This was set to be the largest energy project Wales had ever seen with a positive impact on skills and employment in the region.”

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  • Networks hit back over ‘misleading’ smart meter reports

    Media reports over a proposal to enable network operators to temporarily switch off consumer equipment such as EV chargers in an emergency have been criticised by an industry body.

    Several newspapers reported on a proposal by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) for a modification to the Smart Energy Code to allow network companies to temporarily switch off technologies like domestic chargers connected to smart meters in the event of an emergency to avoid network overloads.

    The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said the articles in response to the proposals, which were tabled in July, were “inaccurate and misrepresent the measures energy networks have in place to ensure security of supply”.

    Ross Easton, Director of External Affairs at ENA, said: “Networks are there to keep Britain’s energy flowing and are doing exactly that. The proposed modification makes it clear that this would only take place as a last-resort contingency measure and only with the consent of the customer, taking place where new, innovative and flexible solutions have not been able to protect the whole network. The claims that have been made are irresponsible and misleading and may hinder the move to smart meters which is vital to achieving net zero emissions.”

    Ofgem has been quoted as saying it would expect to see further clarity on the governance arrangements that would apply to the proposals, including the definition of an emergency situation and how consumer interests would be protected, before the modification is submitted to it for a decision.

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  • Tesla in UK balancing mechanism first

    A storage project using Tesla batteries has become the first to use a new IT platform launched to help smaller providers access the balancing system.

    The electric vehicle and battery firm successful traded under National Grid ESO’s wider access application programming interface (API) which aims to open up the market for non-traditional participants to join through a more simple, cost-effective, web-based route.

    The API introduces a new way for providers to connect and communicate in real-time with the ESO’s systems and the balancing mechanism, as an alternative to the fixed line connections that providers have traditionally used.

    Tesla used its Autobidder platform to access the balancing mechanism for the 7.5 MW Holes Bay battery energy storage plant commissioned by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Harmony Energy in Dorset. Roisin Quinn, Chief Engineer at National Grid ESO, said: “As we shift away from fossil fuel generation to cleaner, decentralised power, new opportunities are emerging to diversify our energy mix and make our electricity system smarter and more flexible. Our wider access initiative is helping to drive that change.

    Meanwhile, a new report from Cornwall Insight has highlighted how battery energy storage is increasingly being used to balance the grid. It showed that there has been a 149% increase in the accepted volumes in the balancing mechanism for batteries between June and August 2020. However, there have been even greater increases for gas reciprocating engines, which are up 338%, and aggregated units, which saw an increase of 518% year-on-year.

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  • Ban on fossil fuel vehicles set to be brought forward

    Plans to ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles are expected to be brought forward from 2040 to 2030 to help accelerate the rollout of electric vehicles across the UK.

    The announcement is expected alongside the long-awaited Energy White Paper which the Government last week said will finally be published this Autumn. In response to a parliamentary question, BEIS minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the paper “is a priority”.

    It will set out how the Government plans to achieve net zero and is expected to confirm measures including support for the green hydrogen industry.

    Sales of pure electric and hybrid cars overtook diesel cars for the first time in the three months to June.

    The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government, has called for the fast-tracking of electric vehicle charging points to hasten the move towards a full phase out of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032 or earlier.

    A group of major corporates including Tesco, Dixons Carphone, E.ON and SSE this week publicly called on the UK Government to target 100% zero emission car and van sales from 2030.

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