The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: Rising raw material prices are pushing wind turbine prices up; Artificial intelligence could help the grid forecast solar generation minutes ahead; The Government writes to key business sectors urging them to make greener choices to help the net zero push.

  • Turbine supply issues could put targets at risk

    Increases in commodity and logistics costs are expected to see wind turbine prices rise by as much as 10% over the next 12 to 18 months, according to a new report. Analysts at consultancy Wood Mackenzie also warn that longer term supply chain issues could pose issues for decarbonisation targets in some countries. The report said rising costs of steel, copper, aluminium, coupled with a four-fold increase in logistics costs, have already seen increased turbine prices over the last six months. Turbine prices are expected to return to normal levels by the end of 2022, but the consultancy has warned that manufacturers and turbine suppliers must adopt next-generation technologies and materials because supply chain bottle necks for important materials will emerge over the next four to five years as demand for turbines continues to grow. Shashi Barla, Wood Mackenzie Principal Analyst said: “If the capacity of critical capital components and raw materials does not expand over the next two years, the wind turbine industry will encounter supply constraints that could pose issues for country-level decarbonisation targets.” Barla cited bearings, semi-conductors and carbon fibre as some of the critical components at risk of future shortages. Read more

  • AI project aims to improve grid solar forecast

    Artificial intelligence is set to be used to improve the way the system operator forecasts solar generation. A project between National Grid ESO and tech firm Open Climate Fix (OCF) aims to develop a first-of-its-kind solar forecasting service for its national control room. The ‘nowcasting’ service uses a machine learning model to forecast minutes and hours ahead rather than days. Increased certainty in solar forecasts could mean less carbon-emitting generation is needed in reserve and reduce balancing costs for consumers. Carolina Tortora, Head of Innovation Strategy and Digital Transformation at National Grid ESO, said: “Accurate forecasts for weather-dependent generation like solar and wind are vital for us in operating a low carbon electricity system. “The more confidence we have in our forecasts, the less we’ll have to cover for uncertainty by keeping traditional, more controllable fossil fuel plants ticking over.” Read more

  • Key business sectors urged to make green choices

    Retail, technology and manufacturing firms have been urged by the Government to make greener choices including switching to renewable energy. In open letters to all three sectors, MP Andrew Griffith, the UK COP26 Unit's Net-Zero Business Champion, has asked them to consider committing to halving emissions by 2030 on the road to net-zero by 2050 at the latest. He said making greener choices can reduce business running costs, and “also show customers the sector continues to be serious about sustainability”. Businesses are also urged to state their commitment through the UK Business Climate Hub which the Government has set up. “By making this pledge, they will be joining an international community of thousands of likeminded businesses, and will be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign as one of thousands of ‘climate leaders’ across the country,” said Griffith. “These companies are acting as role models and inspiring others in the community to find meaningful ways to take positive environmental action.” Read more

  • Potential of AD to cut emissions being overlooked

    The potential of the biogas industry to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions is being overlooked by the Government, according to an industry body. The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has called on ministers to provide policy support to the industry through implementation of better co-ordination on anaerobic digestion (AD) infrastructure. ADBA estimates that with the proper support, AD could reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2030. Charlotte Morton, ADBA’s Chief Executive, said “there is no Net Zero without biogas”. “Anaerobic digestion is a mature, readily available technology which offers a fully circular and immediate solution to help address climate change in the short- as well as long term. “The UK AD sector has however suffered from a lack of coordination between government departments to provide a coherent platform on which to fully deploy this industry, which not only generates green energy but also acts as a waste management solution.” Read more

  • Ofgem orders supplier to pay into renewable scheme

    Ofgem has made a provisional order for supplier Symbio Energy to pay around £450,000 into the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme after delays in payments. Any supplier that failed to pay its payment by the deadline of 11 August 2021 is in breach of the rules of its supply licence. Ofgem said Symbio has failed to make its Year 12 Quarter 1 FIT payment by the deadline and has said it will pay on 3 September, over three weeks late. Ofgem said this will delay the distribution of money to generators and suppliers. At the same time, Ofgem is consulting on a final order requiring Symbio to respond to a request for information on the supplier’s cash flow forecasts. The request follows its failure to make previous deadlines for payment into Government renewable schemes. Ofgem said this kind of request for information is “common and routine” for it to issue. If Symbio fails to comply, it could end up having its licence revoked and Ofgem may open a formal investigation into the potential non-compliance, which could result in the supplier paying a penalty. Meanwhile, Ofgem has launched an investigation into Community Energy Scheme UK in relation to sales practices and solar panel installations for social housing tenants in Stoke-on-Trent. It said the opening of the investigation “does not imply that we have made any findings about non-compliance” with consumer protection rules. Read more