The Informer

A group of industry organisations have urged the regulator to ensure its new network price controls don’t delay net zero; latest annual figures show UK energy consumption continues to fall; power system operators join forces to accelerate the clean energy transition; and a world-first reactive power project hits a key milestone.

  • Industry bodies urge Ofgem to ‘deliver not delay’ net zero

    A group of trade bodies and businesses from across the energy industry has urged Ofgem to help “deliver, not delay, net zero” as it considers its final price control determinations for electricity and gas networks.

    An open letter signed by 17 businesses and organisations comes as Ofgem concludes a round of open hearings ahead of publishing its decisions next month.

    Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables which published the letter, said: “Time is of the essence. The next five years will be crucial in our collective quest to tackle the climate emergency and we must all make sure we do everything we can to set us on the right pathway."

    “With governments in Westminster and Edinburgh committing to world-leading climate change targets the renewable energy industry is calling on Ofgem to ensure that investment in our networks is at least in step with, if not ahead of, this ambition.”

    “It must empower, not delay, investments in EV charging infrastructure as well as the grid connections and reinforcements needed to transport growing volumes of renewable energy. It must also have the agility and flexibility to adapt to keep pace with a pathway to net zero.”

    The letter is supported by industry trade bodies including RenewableUK and the Energy Networks Association, the CBI and a number of companies.

    Ofgem has proposed significant reductions in returns for network operators in the next price control period. The regulator has said that the reforms will not threaten the UK’s net zero ambitions and said that the new rates of return would bring the energy sector in line with similar sectors such as water. The next energy network price controls will begin in April 2021 for electricity transmission and gas networks and in 2023 for electricity distribution networks.

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  • UK energy consumption continues to fall

    Latest Government figures show total energy consumption in the UK dipped last year, with improved efficiency measures likely to have been a key factor.

    Data released by BEIS show final energy consumption across the country was 142 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2019, 1 per cent lower than in 2018, with all sectors contributing to the decrease.

    On a temperature adjusted basis, consumption fell by 0.8 per cent.

    The latest fall continues the long-term trends seen in consumption which has fallen by 11 per cent between 2000 and 2019.

    Domestic energy consumption last year decreased by 0.8 per cent although when average temperatures were taken into account it was almost unchanged. Over the longer term, domestic consumption has fallen by 12 per cent since 2000 despite a 14 per cent increase in the number of households and a 13 per cent increase in the population. Over the same timeframe, per household, consumption has fallen by 23 per cent.

    The industrial sector showed the largest decrease in consumption across the sectors, with a fall of 2.8 per cent. Consumption decreased in all industry sub-sectors except iron and steel where there was a 3.3 per cent increase.

    The transport sector registered a fall of just 0.4 per cent, with a decrease in petroleum consumption offset mostly by an increase in consumption in liquid biofuels.

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  • Power system operators join forces on transition

    Power system operators from around the world – including National Grid ESO - are to work together to tackle challenges to the clean energy transition.

    The Global Power System Transformation Consortium will look to overcome technical barriers related to the integration of clean energy into power systems “at an unprecedented scope and scale”.

    National Grid ESO is joined by system operators from Australia, California, Texas, Ireland, and Denmark.

    The founders are also partnering with more than 25 system operators from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and other regions as well as research and educational institutions from around the world.

    Fintan Slye, director of National Grid ESO, said: “Through the consortium, we’ll scale up global research collaboration on cutting-edge technical innovations in areas such as real-time intelligent control applications and state-of-the-art power electronics that will enhance the reliability and accelerate our transitions to best-in-class, low emission reliable power systems."

    “These pioneering innovations will be shared rapidly with countries around the world.”

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  • Bid to create new market for renewable energy hits milestone

    A ‘world-first’ project which aims to create a new market for renewable energy has reached a major milestone.

    The Power Potential initiative aims to enable distributed energy connected to local electricity network to provide a reactive power source to the grid, creating more capacity on the national transmission system and a potential new income stream for generators.

    The project, established by National Grid ESO and network operator UK Power Networks, said it has now built an end-to-end integrated platform to test the system in a live environment with multiple generators.

    The latest trial follows a series of short trials involving individual generators.

    Power Potential was established to help manage the rapid increase in the volume of renewable energy connecting to distribution networks without breaching safe limits.

    Dr Biljana Stojkovska, Power Potential project lead at National Grid ESO, said: “The start of the Power Potential trials marks an important milestone for this world-first innovation project, which aims to create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources."

    Through our collaborative approach with partners we’re applying groundbreaking engineering and economics principles to understand what’s happening in the power system and to unlock its unexploited potential."

    “We look forward to the next stage of the project during which we’ll get some more detailed insight into what the trial data is telling us.”

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  • Offshore wind benefits may have been underestimated

    The long-term economic benefits of offshore wind projects could have been underestimated by developers, according to a study.

    In a report focused on Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm in Scotland, academics from Oxford Brookes University found that job creation linked to the project was higher than originally expected.

    Operations and maintenance activities are expected to lead to the creation of between 40 - 50 full time equivalent jobs each year, through locally based contracts with suppliers and spending within the local community.

    Over its lifespan that could lead to up to 1,000 jobs compared to the 660 predicted during the project’s early development. In total the Vattenfall project is set to generate over £100 million in benefits over the next 20 years.

    The findings will help develop best practice for assessing the economic implications and opportunities arising from the growth of the offshore wind energy industry.

    Professor John Glasson, research lead for the Oxford Brookes University team, added: “The impacts of offshore wind farms on the human environment, and especially on local and regional communities adjacent to such projects, is an under-researched area. Such communities are often suffering greatly from the decline in traditional industries, such as shipbuilding, fishing and tourism."

    “There is a need for adequate planning and assessment tools for the key stakeholders – developers, consultancies, local, regional and national governments, development agencies and the general public.”

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