The Informer

Businesses are calling on the UK Government to boost investment in renewables by reforming rates; Ofgem issues final orders to suppliers over unpaid £15m; and investment in offshore wind in the UK continues to soar despite COVID-19.

  • Businesses call for tax reform to boost renewables

    A coalition of organisations representing major British industries has urged the chancellor to exempt renewable energy technologies such as solar PV and battery storage from business rates.

    In their submission the bodies, which represent businesses across retail, property, construction and technology, argue that the move would boost commercial deployment and provide vital green jobs to aid the economic recovery from Covid-19.

    The Solar Trade Association (STA) estimates that excepting solar PV from rates could deliver 1,500-1,800 additional jobs a year and increase business investment in the UK by more than £315m a year.

    The submission argues that many businesses shelved plans to install solar on their sites after a change in the way business rates are calculated saw early-adopters punished by premiums rocketing by as much as 500%.

    STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett said the tax break would ease the “frankly unjustified and disproportionate tax burden on renewables”.

    National Federation of Roofing Contractors CEO James Talman said: “The roofing industry is in a prime position to help the government reach its net-zero target through the installation of solar technologies on Britain’s commercial roof spaces. However, we are being held back by the archaic business rates system, which is stifling investment and innovation.”

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  • Ofgem issues final orders to three suppliers over unpaid £15m

    Ofgem has issued three suppliers with final orders over a total of £15m in outstanding payments under the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff levelisation schemes.

    The three suppliers - Nabuh Energy, Robin Hood Energy and Symbio Energy - failed to pay into the buy-out fund or present the required number of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) by the initial deadlines of 31 August and 1 September. Robin Hood Energy also failed to pay its FIT levelisation payment.

    Last month Ofgem consulted on issuing the final orders, as well as four more final orders for suppliers including Tonik Energy which has since ceased to trade. The other suppliers have either paid or provided sufficient assurances that they will pay.

    Cathryn Scott, Ofgem’s Director of Enforcement and Emerging Issues, said: “The Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff schemes provide vital support to renewable electricity generators and play an important role in Great Britain’s journey to a greener, fairer, energy system."

    “This enforcement action shows that we will take robust action if suppliers undermine such schemes by failing to meet their obligations, which could lead to them having their licence revoked.”

    In a separate announcement, Ofgem said supplier Utilita had overcharged almost 40,000 of its prepayment customers by over £125,000. Utilita has refunded customers affected and agreed to pay a further £500,000 in redress.

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  • UK retains top ranking for new offshore wind

    The total pipeline of global offshore wind projects has grown by almost 50% so far this year despite the impact of the pandemic, according to new figures.

    RenewableUK’s latest Offshore Wind Project Intelligence report reveals that the total capacity of offshore wind projects worldwide which are operational, under construction, consented, in planning or in development currently stands at 197.4 gigawatts (GW), up from 134.7GW in mid-January. Just over half of the pipeline (50.5%) is in Europe (99.6GW).

    The UK retains its top spot with a total pipeline of 41.3GW, up 12% since January when it stood at 36.9GW. China has risen from fourth place into second with a 80% increase from 14.5GW to 26.1GW. The USA retains third place with 10% growth.

    RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn said “The global appetite to develop new offshore wind projects remains enormous, despite the pandemic this year. The UK and many other countries are counting on the rapid growth of the offshore wind sector to be a key driver in the worldwide green economic recovery."

    “The UK remains the biggest market for offshore wind in the world and our capacity is set to quadruple over the course of this decade following the Prime Minister’s landmark commitment to power every UK home with offshore wind by 2030."

    “As well as providing clean, low-cost power, our industry will continue to revitalise coastal communities, grow the UK supply chain and export our offshore wind goods and services around the world, as our unrivalled expertise is now in huge demand globally”.

    In terms of operational capacity, the UK still has the most in the world (10.4GW), Germany is in second place with 7.7GW, China is third (4.6GW), Belgium fourth (1.8GW) and Denmark fifth with 1.7GW.

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  • Pioneering project aims to boost system stability

    A trial has got underway of a project which aims to boost system stability and reduce network costs as more renewable generation is connected to the grid.

    The ‘Project Phoenix’ initiative is being trialled over the next 12 months at a substation in Scotland with plans to roll out the technology across further locations once complete.

    The project aims to address system issues created by the closure of thermal power stations including reducing overall inertia within the network and the fact voltage control is becoming limited. The project will be combining two existing technologies, synchronous condensers and static compensators.

    SP Energy Networks, National Grid ESO, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, The University of Strathclyde and The Technical University of Denmark have worked together on the project. They will analyse the live trial data to prove the concept ahead of rolling the technology out wider.

    Colin Taylor, Director of Processes and Technology at SP Energy Networks, said: “This world first innovative project has just reached a key milestone following the commencement of its live trial. Technology like this allows us to accommodate even more renewable generation on our electricity system while maintaining levels of system stability and resilience."

    “Globally leading and innovative projects such as Phoenix are not only important from a network perspective but also from a green recovery and net zero perspective.”

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  • Plans unveiled to raise £200m to invest in renewables

    An investment trust has announced plans to float on the stock market and raise up to £200m to invest in renewable energy projects.

    The Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust said it has already identified a portfolio of around 96MW of operational solar PV projects in the UK.

    The trust’s investment manager has also identified a significant pipeline of assets together worth more than £1.5 billion.

    Tom Williams, Head of Energy and Infrastructure at London-based Downing, said:: “Renewable energy plays a critical role in satisfying energy demand as Europe accelerates its transition away from fossil fuels in an effort to meet carbon reduction targets.”

    He said the trust will focus on delivering sustainable income streams and capital growth by investing in a portfolio of renewable energy and infrastructure assets diversified “not only by technology but by geography, project stage and revenue”.

    Downing has managed 116 investments into solar parks, wind farms and hydroelectric plants since 2010.

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