The Informer

The system operator warns again over tight margins on the grid amid the cold snap; energy industry leaders await more detail on the implications of the Brexit agreement; and a huge offshore wind farm capable of powering 2 million homes gets the green light.

  • System operator forecasts margin squeeze again

    The cold snap and lower renewable generation levels are again expected to lead to tight margins on the electricity system later this week.

    In its latest warning issued late yesterday, system operator National Grid ESO said its forecast cushion of spare capacity is expected to be reduced between Wednesday and Friday and it is looking at steps to increase it.

    However, in an updated blog on its website the system operator said that the tight margins seen of late “are not a sign of the future”.

    “We’re well prepared to deliver safe and reliable electricity in the years ahead, and are already transforming the way we operate Britain’s network in readiness to be able to run entirely with zero carbon power by 2025,” it said.

    Although it said the grid was not getting harder to balance, it is becoming more complex as more renewables enter the mix and electricity generation patterns become more weather dependent and harder to forecast.

    It also stressed that the latest margin update was not related to Brexit.

    “Since the end of the transition period, the flow of electricity over interconnectors has continued uninterrupted to and from EU countries, and we don’t anticipate any future arrangement changing that,” it said.

    Recent weeks have seen the system operator issue a series of notices aimed at encouraging generators to increase supply.

    National Grid ESO has stressed the notices are routine tools and don’t signal there is not enough generation to meet demand.

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  • Energy sector awaits further detail on Brexit deal

    The recently announced Brexit agreement has been welcomed by energy industry leaders as they await further details on key issues such as new cross-border electricity trading arrangements.

    According to the European Commission, the agreement announced on Christmas Eve establishes an “ambitious framework” for cooperation on renewable energy and tackling climate change.

    The Commission said new long-term, trading arrangements will be put in place by next year to ensure continued flows across interconnectors.

    The agreement will also see the UK and EU cooperate on the development of renewable capacity in the North Sea.

    However, both parties must also maintain their commitments to meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change or the agreement could be suspended.

    Emma Pinchbeck, Energy UK's Chief Executive said “It is great news that a deal has been reached between the UK and the EU – and the best outcome for the energy sector, our customers and for our Net Zero target.

    “We now await further details on important issues on climate and energy, including new cross-border trading arrangements and the cooperation on carbon pricing."

    “We must continue to prioritise energy issues and continue to show global leadership on decarbonisation, particularly ahead of the UK hosting the COP26 Summit in 2021."

    RenewableUK said the organisation welcomed the announcement of a Brexit deal as “we hope it will provide certainty for investors and stability for hundreds of companies developing and operating vital renewable energy projects throughout the UK”.

    “We'll need to study the text of the agreement in detail and there are several key points we'll be looking out for, but the agreement of a free trade deal on goods will help the British manufacturers exporting renewable technology to EU countries.”

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  • Huge offshore wind farm gets green light

    The UK Government has given the go-ahead for the 2.4GW Hornsea Three project in the North Sea.

    The project will see up to 231 turbines installed by Danish firm Orsted off the coast of Yorkshire and once complete, it could power over 2 million UK homes.

    A planning consent ruling on the project had been delayed over concerns about possible impacts from the project on kittiwakes breeding at protected sites on the coast.

    Compensation measures to be carried out include the construction of mussel beds, recovery of ‘ghost’ fishing gear from the sea and the creating of nest boxes for seabirds.

    Orsted said the project will make a significant contribution towards meeting the UK’s net zero commitments.

    RenewableUK chief executive Hugh McNeal described the go-ahead as a “landmark” decision for the country’s net zero ambitions.

    “Investing in large scale offshore wind power is good for our environment and our economy, boosting productivity and creating thousands of high-quality jobs,” he said.

    “Green growth will be vital to support our long-term economic recovery in the years ahead. This major project will also help us to maintain our global lead in offshore wind, as well as building up our UK supply chain.”

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  • Net zero industry hubs targeted in £8m funding deal

    Six UK projects are to share £8 million in government funding to help create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial zones by 2040.

    The zones will see all industries in a region collectively reducing their carbon dioxide emissions to as close to zero as possible using low-carbon energy sources and new technology such as carbon capture.

    The six regions will now produce detailed plans for reducing emissions across major areas of industrial activity, where related industries can benefit from utilising shared clean energy infrastructure, such as renewables, carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and low-carbon hydrogen production and distribution.

    Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world’s green industrial revolution, with ambitious targets to decarbonise our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    “This funding will help key industrial areas meet the challenge of contributing to our cleaner future while maintaining their productive and competitive strengths.”

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  • Wind breaks new record as greenest year on record expected

    Wind power has generated more than half of the country's electricity for a full day for the first time.

    Strong winds during Storm Bella saw British wind farms contributing 50.67% of the nation’s power on 26 December, according to data from Drax Electric Insights. The record broke the previous one of 50% which was set in August.

    The achievement was one of a series of low carbon records broken in 2020 which is set to make it the greenest on record in terms of electricity generation.

    Data from National Grid ESO also showed that 2020 saw the first ever coal-free Christmas Day in Britain, compared with 2019 when it accounted for 1.8% and 2009 when it was 20%.

    Average carbon intensity – the measure of emissions per unit of power generator – also reached a new low during the year.

    In December the carbon intensity of British electricity fell to 181 grams of CO2 emissions per unit of generated electricity, down from 529 gCO2 per kW/h in 2013.

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