The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The demand for 100% renewable energy from leading companies is rising strongly; A report says the Government has failed to come up with the policies to achieve its ambitions on emissions reduction; Rising raw material costs could temporarily push up the price of renewable energy projects.

  • Surge in demand for 100% green energy from businesses

    The demand from major businesses to source 100% renewable energy is surging, according to latest figures. Total electricity demand from corporates signed up to the RE100 initiative has risen 20% in just eight months and is now larger than that of the UK. Together, businesses who have pledged to source 100% renewables have a demand of 334TWh, compared to the 326TWh used to power the whole of the UK last year. They are set to save CO2 emissions equivalent to the burning of more than 118 million tonnes of coal per year. 
    Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 for the Climate Group, said: “Business demand for renewable electricity is racing past that of G7 countries, because it makes business sense as well as environmental sense. “But many hundreds more, big corporates are yet to take this relatively easy step towards net zero carbon. To meet global climate targets, and to remain competitive in a world driven by cheap, clean electricity, it quickly needs to become the norm to power your business with renewables. “Governments must do more too. In many countries, from the EU to Asia, there are barriers to fulfilling the corporate appetite for clean power. Which is bizarre as business investment makes it easier to meet national targets and drives green growth and jobs." Read more

  • Warning over major gaps in UK net zero plans

    The independent body which advises the Government on climate change has said it is “absolutely critical” that ministers set out how they plan to meet emissions reductions targets before the COP26 climate summit later this year. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) said the Government deserves credit for the “historic climate promises” made in the past year. However, it said it has been too slow to follow these up with delivery. “This defining year for the UK’s climate credentials has been marred by uncertainty and delay to a host of new climate strategies. Those that have emerged have too often missed the mark. With every month of inaction, it is harder for the UK to get on track,” it warned. The CCC has called for a number of measures including a ‘net zero test’ to ensure that all Government policies, including planning decisions, are compatible with UK climate targets. It also said plans for the power sector, industrial decarbonisation, the North Sea, peat and energy from waste must be strengthened. Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC said: “We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.” Read more

  • Price rises could push up renewable project costs

    Rising prices for raw materials as economies start to recover could see new build renewable energy projects become more expensive, according to a report. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said prices of some commodities needed for wind and solar projects have jumped in recent months. As a result, solar PV module price increases of 7% have been seen in China and 10% in India since the second half of 2020. Prices of wind turbines in India have gone up 5% over the last six months. Although price rises have not yet resulted in an increase in overall projects costs BNEF said that if the price rises continue, new-build renewable power could temporarily become more expensive for almost the first time in decades. However, BNEF pointed out that some of the increase is expected to be absorbed by the supply chain and longer-term purchasing agreements will also protect some developers from the spike. BNEF’s latest cost of energy report also said that China, India and most of Europe already benefit from solar power generation that is cheaper than coal-based electricity. Read more

  • National Grid ESO hails stability ‘world-first’

    A Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant is helping to keep Britain’s power system secure in what is believed to be a world first. Triton Power’s Deeside Power Station’s two gas turbines have been repurposed to provide National Grid ESO with system support services as part of a six-year contract. The plant will provide inertia and reactive power to keep power supplies secure without generating any electricity, reducing the need for carbon emitting generators to come online and enabling more wind and solar generation. It is believed to be the first conversion of a gas turbine rotor to provide standalone inertia and stability services anywhere in the world. The two gas turbines will use a small amount of power from the grid to spin the rotors and provide stability. National Grid ESO said the contract will see it procure an equivalent amount of inertia as would have been provided by around five coal-fired power stations – and save consumers up to £128 million over six years. Mick Farr, Chief Executive Officer at Triton Power, said: “The conversion of an aging traditional fossil fuelled power plant to provide grid stability services is what the energy transition is all about. It is so satisfying to see the same assets reused in a way that enables the transition and can be considered recycling in its purest form.” Read more

  • Plans for major new pumped storage project unveiled

    Plans to build a new pumped storage hydro station in Scotland have been unveiled. Drax is looking to expand its ‘Hollow Mountain’ power station at the Ben Cruachan mountain in a project which more than double the electricity generating capacity at the facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside the mountain and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW. The new power station would be built within a new, hollowed-out cavern which would be large enough to fit Big Ben on its side, close to Drax’s existing 440MW pumped storage hydro station. More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to create the cavern and other parts of the power station. The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations. The company said that the decision to seek planning permission to expand pumped storage hydro at Cruachan is a landmark moment in unlocking the vast renewable resources needed in the UK. It said pumped hydro storage will help Scotland towards its target of reaching net zero by 2045, five years before the UK as a whole. Read more