The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: A report warns the UK risks becoming a net importer of renewable energy due to transmission charging favouring overseas generators; Ambitious targets mean an offshore wind turbine must be installed every day for the next 9 years; More than 70 organisations demand action to support community energy on the road to net-zero.

  • GB transmission charging puts green investment at risk

    Billions of pounds of green infrastructure investment is being put at risk by the UK’s transmission charging regime, according to new research. The disparity between what generators in the UK and on the continent pay favours EU energy imports said the Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG) which carried out the analysis. The analysis shows that on average, EU generators pay 46p megawatt hour (MWh) in transmission system charges, while in Scotland the average this year is £6.42/MWh. In the North of Scotland the price is even higher at £7.36/MWh. The report said the issue means the UK risks becoming a net importer of renewable energy in the decades ahead, despite having the best wind energy resource in Europe. Marc Smeed, Associate Director of RIDG, said: “Of 36 countries in the European transmission network, 20 do not charge generators at all and only five levy charges based on location. ”Compare this to Scottish offshore wind projects, which our analysis forecasts will pay £10/MWh – around a quarter of a project’s revenue – to access the grid in the years ahead. Addressing this imbalance would help unlock the best wind energy resources in Europe, bringing billions of pounds of investment and jobs to some of the most remote and disadvantaged parts of the UK.” Read more

  • Offshore energy workforce could grow to 220,000 by 2030

    The equivalent of one new offshore wind turbine needs to be installed each weekday for the next nine years for the UK to meets its 2030 target for the technology, according to a report. The UK Government wants to see 40GW of capacity installed by then, which could also increase the nation’s offshore workforce from 160,000 to as many as 220,000 people, found the report by Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University. It estimated as much £170bn could be invested in capital and operating activities in the UK offshore energy sector between 2021 and 2030, including spending on oil and gas, offshore wind, CCUS and hydrogen. Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of the Energy Transition Institute at Robert Gordon University and lead author, said: “Successful delivery of the UK and the devolved governments’ energy transition ambitions has the opportunity to secure around 200,000 jobs in 2030 for the offshore energy workforce. “With the overall number of jobs in the UK oil and gas industry projected to decline over time, the degree of transferability of jobs to adjacent energy sectors such as offshore wind, CCUS, hydrogen or other industrial sectors will be key to ensuring the UK retains its world class skills and capabilities.” Read more

  • Urgent action called for to support community energy

    More than 70 organisations have penned an open letter to the Government and Ofgem urging them to act now to support the long-term growth of community energy. The organisations, including Greenpeace and the Renewable Energy Association, have joined forced in the wake of an Environmental Audit Committee’s report which expressed disappointment at the Government’s virtual omission of community energy from its Energy White Paper. The committee said that regulatory barriers and lack of Government strategy were stalling UK community energy on the path to net zero” and advised that the importance of community energy be emphasised in the forthcoming Net Zero Strategy and recommended a number of “practical support measures to harness the potential of community energy”. The open letter signatories say that it is imperative that funding for these “practical support measures” is provided for in the Treasury’s Net Zero Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review, this autumn. Emma Bridge, Chief Executive of Community Energy England said: “The Select Committee’s thorough inquiry has produced excellent recommendations which we urge the government to act upon. Community energy only needs a ‘fair playing field’ to return to exponential growth, mobilising an army of local allies for the urgent energy transition to net zero. This would represent good value for government money.” Read more

  • Warning over carbon capture project subsidies

    An environmental think-tank has claimed a bioenergy with carbon capture and storage plant (BECCS) could cost UK consumers £31.7bn in subsidies. Ember said that the plans put forward by Drax, which would be a world first, would see the plant capture carbon emissions of wood burned for electricity and store them under the North Sea. Ember’s central estimate for the cost to energy bill payers is £31.7bn over a 25 year plant lifetime and it warned that the Government “cannot be sure that BECCS will deliver the negative emissions being paid for”. Phil MacDonald, Chief Operating Officer at Ember, said; “High price tags are sometimes necessary for innovative green technologies. But with biomass, there’s a real risk that the UK doesn’t get what it’s paying for. We must be absolutely certain we’re not spending billions of pounds to accidentally increase our contribution to climate change.” However, Drax refuted Ember’s calculations and said they were based on "a series of false assumptions that do not reflect our current proposals to deliver carbon negative power at Drax". “By 2030, the introduction of BECCS on just two of Drax’s biomass units could capture around eight million tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to 40% of the Climate Change Committee’s 2050 net zero BECCS power target, and it is widely recognised that in order for the UK to reach its legally binding net zero target, negative emissions technologies like BECCS must be deployed," it said. Read more

  • Government to kickstart green industrial revolution with £166.5m pot

    The Government has announced a major funding package to drive forward developments in technology including carbon capture, greenhouse gas removal and hydrogen. It said the £166.5m funding will help benefit energy-intensive businesses like Tate & Lyle and BAE Systems reduce costs by improving efficiency and will create over 60,000 well-paid green jobs across the UK. The announcement comes in the wake of the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan for an industrial revolution. Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the support will encourage the rapid development of the technologies needed to reign in emissions and transition to a green economy, “We’re boosting our armoury for the fight against climate change and backing innovators and businesses to create green jobs right across the UK.” The funding includes £20m to establish a new virtual Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre that will accelerate the decarbonisation of key energy-intensive industries which currently make a significant contribution to UK emissions. Run by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, the Centre will bring together new technologies and address the challenges faced by industrial areas, helping to provide solutions that reduce costs, risks and emissions. Read more