The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The energy industry urges the Government to fill in the gaps on its Net Zero strategy; Renewables projects will benefit from the launch of a green savings bond; A report has warned that energy prices could stay high in the months ahead.

  • Industry calls for more detail on Net Zero strategy

    Industry leaders have urged the Government to set out detailed implementation plans for its long-awaited Net Zero strategy. The strategy – described as a roadmap for transforming every sector of the economy – spans key areas including energy generation, transport, heat and buildings. Backing for two carbon capture and storage projects, £380m of extra funding for offshore wind and £120m for new nuclear technologies were announced as part of the strategy. Although industry body RenewableUK welcomed the commitment to a “world-leading transition to renewable energy”, it said gaps remain on how that will be achieved. “For example, we need a detailed strategy on how to accelerate the growth of renewable hydrogen as this will provide vital flexibility in a range of areas which have been difficult to decarbonise,” said CEO Dan McGrail. "We know what the end goal is, but now we need to focus on the speed of delivery. Rethinking how quickly we can invest in and deliver new infrastructure is crucial, as the heat pumps and EVs of the future will need clean, cheap renewable power to make this a successful and low cost transition”. The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) said it was disappointed there was not more detail around key issues such as clear routes to market, tax reforms to unlock investment, and how to achieve more flexibility in the energy system and grid networks. Rebecca Newsom, the head of politics at Greenpeace UK, described the strategy as “more like a pick and mix than the substantial meal that we need to reach net zero”. Read more

  • Renewable energy set for boost from Green Savings Bonds

    Offshore wind and low carbon innovations will be among the projects to benefit from backing under the world’s first Green Savings Bonds, according to the UK Government. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the investment bonds give savers the opportunity to back the Government’s green projects and put their money to work in the fight against climate change. “The UK is already a world leader in green finance and these innovative new savings bonds will deliver both financial returns and environmental benefits, in a transparent and secure way,” he said. The bonds will be available from NS&I’s website and are offered at a 0.65% fixed annual rate over a three-year term. The Government said it will report regularly so savers can see which projects have been funded and the positive environmental impact their investment is making. However, Laura Suter, head of personal finance at investment firm AJ Bell, said the interest rate being offered was disappointing “Why would savers lock their money away for three years for the same interest rate they can currently get in an easy-access savings account? This equation makes even less sense now the nation is looking down the barrel of an interest rate rise from the Bank of England, which will lead to a hike in savings rates,” she commented. Read more

  • High prices set to continue if renewable generation remains low

    Trends of high prices are likely to continue into the winter if levels of renewable generation remain low, according to a review of the market. The report on the third quarter of the year by energy consultancy EnAppSys said wind generation during the quarter was 28% lower than the same period last year, and low nuclear utilisation and unfavourable conditions for solar further reduced supply margins. The quarter saw 1.15TWh of coal generation, a 335% increase from Q3 2020. The last three coal plants left in the fleet - Drax, Ratcliffe and West Burton - all saw generation in the quarter. Imports were higher than last quarter, though a fire at the IFA interconnector reduced capacity in the last two weeks of the quarter. The spike in gas prices meant the break-even cost of gas generation increased to such a degree that by mid-September, at times it became cheaper to generate using the least efficient coal units than the most efficient gas units. “Looking ahead to Q4, if levels of renewable generation remain low, trends of high prices are likely to continue into the winter,” the report warned. Read more

  • New inertia tool launched by system operator

    A new grid stability measurement service which will pave the way for more renewables is set to come into operation. A grid-scale ultracapacitor has been installed at a clean energy hub on Teesside and will send pulses of power through the system to provide a real-time view of inertia, the force generated by spinning parts at generation sites. It is the first time anywhere in the world that signals have been sent in this way through a power system to allow properties like inertia to be measured in a live operational environment. The system has been developed by Reactive Technologies and Chief Executive Marc Borrett said its deployment by the system operator is a significant milestone. “The challenges facing Britain on its net zero journey are familiar to grids across the world and with the support of our strategic investors and partners, we are extremely excited to help unlock as many 100% renewable grids around the world as possible, accelerating the global transition to a clean energy system.” Read more

  • ESG concerns weigh heavily on consumers

    More than half of consumers say they are willing to boycott firms which have a poor performance on issues such as the environment. A poll conducted ahead of COP26 found that climate change tops consumers’ concern and most respondents said Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) claims should be regulated with penalties imposed for poor practice. The survey by communications firm SEC Newgate found there was strong public demand for “consistent and measurable” ESG reporting. Consumers also wanted to see organisations to take responsibility for issues such as their supply chains and contribution to local communities. SEC Newgate CEO and founder Fiorenzo Tagliabue said: “Strong and growing community focus on ESG matters represents a fundamental challenge for corporates and governments everywhere. “ Read more