The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: Low levels of wind generation have led to a coal-fired plant being brought back into service; Cutting grid connection costs for charging stations are among Ofgem’s priorities to enable rapid acceleration of EVs; New figures show power imports hit a record high last month.

  • Coal plant fired up as wind dips

    A coal-fired plant has been brought out of stand-by to help meet the UK’s needs amid soaring gas prices. Two units at EDF’s West Burton A plant, which is due to be taken out of service next year, returned to service to provide grid stability on Monday as a high pressure weather system led to low wind generation levels. The move, which saw coal meeting just under 4% of the country’s energy needs, came as rising gas prices continued to see power prices strengthen. National Grid ESO said it had a “range of generation types available to draw on” and that it looked for the “most cost-effective solution to ensure safe, secure system operation”. EnAppSys reported on Sunday that the day-ahead auction clearing price had reached a weighted average of £731/MWh for the evening peak, the highest since 15th January, 2021. The £230/MWh baseload price for the day was also an all-time record. A jump in demand as countries reopen from lockdowns and disruptions to supplies has pushed gas prices higher across Europe. The Nuclear Industry Association said the move to use the West Burton plant out of stand-by “underscores the urgency of investing in new nuclear capacity” “Otherwise, we will continue to burn coal as a fall-back and fall well short of our net zero ambitions.” Read more

  • Ofgem sets out plans to support EV rollout

    Strengthening the network and enabling smart charging are among regulator Ofgem’s priorities to support the 14 million electric vehicles expected to be on British roads by 2030. The plans aim to ensure the grid capacity needed is in place and the regulator is also planning to bring down costs for EV charging stations where they are most needed. Ofgem said it was also looking to support the development of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies to allow EV owners to earn money by exporting electricity back from their car battery to the grid which will also help reduce the amount of electricity generation needed at peak times. The regulator said V2G, combined with an uptake of smart charging, could reduce peak demand equivalent to the generation capacity of up to ten large nuclear power stations. Neil Kenward, Ofgem’s Director of Strategy and Decarbonisation, said EVs will revolutionise the way the nation uses energy and provide consumers with new opportunities to engage in the energy market. “Our EV priorities not only provide a way to meet our climate change targets but importantly offers ways to protect consumers from rising bills, through a three-prong approach of increased use of electric vehicles, smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology which together can help drive down costs for all GB bill payers.” Read more

  • New record for GB power imports

    A new record has been set for electricity imports into GB as interconnector capacity continues to grow. Data from consultancy EnAppSys shows that on August 20, net imports reached a high of 5.8GW. Factors included the new NSL link to Norway running a test to send power to GB ahead of its go-live date next month, High volumes of power imports are likely to continue in the short to medium term as interconnector capacity increases. Phil Hewitt, director of EnAppSys, said: “The NSL link will give GB access to cheap and green hydro power from Western Norway. When this link goes live, it’s expected that Norway will export its low-priced hydro energy into Britain almost all of the time. Expect records to be broken again then or at least when full load tests take place in September. By Christmas, GB will have 8.4GW of installed cables from other markets, meaning that around 25% of the electricity required could be sourced from overseas. However, in the long term, Britain could become a net exporter of power as greater offshore wind capacity is built around the country. Read more

  • Pandemic has been ‘lost opportunity’ for energy transition

    The global pandemic has been a ‘lost opportunity’ for speeding up the energy transition as Covid-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting rather than transforming existing industries, according to a report. The latest Energy Transition Outlook from DNV has also warned that even if all electricity was ‘green’ from now on, the world will still fall a long way short of achieving the 2050 net zero emissions ambitions of the COP21 Paris Agreement. The report said electrification is on course to double in size within a generation and renewables are already the most competitive source of new power. However, DNV’s forecast shows global emissions will reduce by only 9% by 2030, with the 1.5˚C carbon budget agreed by global economies emptied by then. Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO of DNV, said: “We’ve seen governments around the world take extraordinary steps to manage the effects of the pandemic and stimulate a recovery. However, I am deeply concerned about what it will take for governments to apply the resolution and urgency they have shown in the face of the pandemic to our climate. We must now see the same sense of urgency to avoid a climate catastrophe.” “Many of the pandemic recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries. A lot of ‘building back’ as opposed to ‘building better’ and although this is a lost opportunity, it is not the last we have for transitioning faster to a deeply decarbonized energy system.” Read more

  • Ofgem pledges £450m to help transition to net zero

    A fund has been launched to spearhead a new approach to energy network innovation to help businesses and homes become greener. Ofgem said the £450m fund would keep bills as low as possible, drive the UK towards its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and help turn the UK into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy. Ofgem said network companies, system operators, businesses and researchers will be able to use the money to drive big ideas that accelerate the transition to an emissions-free energy system and at the same time help to position the UK as a world leader in energy innovation. Projects funded could range from ensuring the networks are ready to roll out clean heating solutions such as heat pumps, to developing ways for network companies to work together across transmission, distribution, system operation, gas and electricity. Jonathan Brearley, Chief Executive of Ofgem, said: “What we need more than ever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero is innovation. The Strategic Innovation Fund means cutting-edge ideas and new technologies become a reality, helping us find greener ways to travel, and to heat and power Britain at low cost.” Read more