The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The system operator expects electricity demand to be higher this summer although still to be impacted by the pandemic; Electric vehicles achieved a record market share of new car sales last month; Nine energy data projects win backing under a competition to address challenges in delivering net zero.

  • Higher summer electricity demand forecast

    Electricity demand this summer is expected to be slightly higher than in 2020 although the impact of Covid is likely to continue to dampen power needs, according to National Grid ESO’s Summer Outlook report. Minimum demand is expected to be 17.2GW while the high summer peak is expected to be 32GW. That compares to a summer minimum last year of 16.2GW and peak of 31.5GW. The ESO said it has retained the Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM) service introduced last summer to help manage periods of low demand. However, under its central demand case it is not currently forecasting any requirement to use the service, although it may call on it if needed due to weather conditions or Covid-19 impacts on demand. Fintan Slye, ESO Director, said: “Managing low demand is one of the most complex scenarios our control rooms have to face and can require a greater number of actions to safeguard security of supply. “We believe that we have the right tools and services available to manage system operability for the summer, including services introduced last summer such as ODFM and Dynamic Containment.” National Grid ESO has also published its outlook for gas, with demand expected to be slightly lower than last year due to a reduction in gas-fired electricity generation. Read more

  • UK electric car sales accelerate

    Sales of electric and hybrid car sales hit record levels in the UK in March in a further sign of the accelerating shift away from petrol and diesel. Sales of battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids accounted for a combined 13.9% of the market, up from 7.3% a year earlier, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). A total of 22,000 electric cars and another 17,000 plug-in hybrids were sold. Tesla's Model 3 electric car was the UK's third best-selling vehicle last month with almost 6,600 registrations. SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said although the pandemic had led to the industry going through very difficult times, the EV sales figures were a positive trend. "New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it,” he said. Meanwhile, a report from consultancy Knight Frank said that commercial property sites that cannot accommodate the needs of EV users at sufficient scale will be less attractive to occupiers. Read more

  • Energy data projects win funding

    Nine innovative digital energy data projects have been awarded funding to help the drive towards net zero. Under a competition backed by the Government’s science funding agency UKRI, projects were required to develop applications that address the challenges faced in delivering net-zero local energy systems. The successful projects include one aimed at integrating the smart meter system data across the UK to identify those who would benefit from energy efficiency measures. Another is a technology platform for maximising the benefits of digitally-controlled crop production by managing the energy input. Rob Saunders, challenge director for the ‘Prospering from the Energy Revolution’ challenge, said: “The quality and range of concepts put forward in this initial competition not only shows what is possible by using some of the newest ideas in data and technology, but also highlights the variety of inefficiencies in the current energy landscape that can be improved as we move towards our net-zero ambitions in the UK. “Whether it’s industry, farming, investment or efficiency for people’s homes, there is a part to play for innovative technology that reduces usage for us all. We are now looking forward to helping these projects move to the next phase of bringing their solutions to life through testing and development of the ideas.” Read more

  • System operator to pay £1.5m over electricity demand forecasts

    National Grid ESO is to pay £1.5m after failing to provide accurate electricity demand forecasts. Ofgem said publishing demand forecasts is a critical responsibility of the system operator and that the energy industry may rely on them forecasts to calculate how much electricity to generate and buy. In 2017, the regulator introduced a financial incentive to drive National Grid ESO to produce more accurate forecasts. Ofgem’s investigation found that for five months between April and October 2017, National Grid ESO’s forecasts were periodically either over or under GB demand and that it did not have sufficient compliance processes in place and there was a lack of oversight by the management at the time. It will pay £1.5m into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund to support vulnerable energy consumers and innovation. Ofgem said National Grid ESO co-operated during the investigation and by settling the investigation early, the company has qualified for a 30% discount from the proposed £2.1 million penalty. Ofgem’s Director of Enforcement Cathryn Scott said: “Ofgem’s rules on publishing accurate information are clear and must be followed. The £1.5m payment sends a strong message to the system operator that it must follow the rules.” Read more

  • Plans unveiled for UK’s largest electrolyser for green hydrogen

    A planning application has been submitted to build what would be the UK’s largest electrolyser next to a major windfarm. The 20MW electrolyser will be the key component of a green hydrogen facility located close to ScottishPower’s Whitelee windfarm, the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. The electrolyser would be able to produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, roughly equivalent to fuelling over 550 buses to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back again each day. The facility will be powered by a 40MW solar farm, across 62,000 individual solar cells, and a 50MW battery energy storage scheme which are also part of the planning submission. This hydrogen production facility could support ambitions by local authorities to create zero emissions vehicle fleets using only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. ScottishPower expects a decision on the planning application in autumn 2021. Read more