The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The deal struck at COP26 keeps 1.5C alive, but its pulse is weak warns summit president; A key interconnector will return to service well ahead of a previous estimate; The RO mutualisation process is to be triggered for the fourth year in a row.

  • COP26 deal keeps 1.5C alive but more action needed

    Organisers of COP26 say the deal struck at the summit keeps hopes of a 1.5 degree limit on temperature rises alive, but commentators warn much more ambitious climate pledges by world leaders are now urgently needed. Two weeks of intense talks ended with The Glasgow Climate Pact, the first ever deal to explicitly agree to reduce coal use although a last-minute change lobbied for by India and China watered down the wording from “phase out” to “phase down”. The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries to help them adapt to climate impacts, but critics say it fell far short of what was needed. COP26 President Alok Sharma said the deal has kept 1.5 degrees alive but “its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action”. Prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK will now work “tirelessly” with other countries to achieve a breakthrough over the next 12 months while it still holds the COP presidency "We will push for more ambitious goals, stronger plans and better implementation so we further narrow that gap to 1.5 degrees.” RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said there still a “mountain to climb” to limit global warming to 1.5C but said there had been significant progress on commitments to cut emissions. “The agreement specifically calls for a rapid scaling up of clean power generation and, for the first time, it urges countries to act faster on phasing down coal and fossil fuel subsidies – commitments which were long overdue,” he said. Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said the summit had been a major step along the way to tackling climate change, but added it “still left us far short of the target of limiting warming to 1.5C”. “That it is why it is so important that countries agree to put forward by the end of next year more ambitious pledges for emissions cuts by 2030.” Read more

  • Interconnector to return to full service ahead of forecast

    A key interconnector between the UK and France is to return to full service 10 months ahead of previous estimates. National Grid said the full 2GW of capacity of the IFA power link is expected to be back in action on 16 December 2022. The link has been operating 1GW since last month and National Grid said it no longer needs to take the other 1GW out of service from May 2023 to October 2023, as it previously had indicated. “Our priority has been to ensure we safely maximise IFA capacity to support Winter security of supply,” said National Grid in a statement. The interconnector was hit by a fire at its site in Kent in September. At the time National Grid stressed that its other interconnectors were operating at full capacity and that the North Sea Link interconnector to Norway was coming on stream before the Winter period. Read more

  • Shortfall in Renewables Obligation scheme for fourth year running

    Regulator Ofgem has said the mutualisation process for the Renewables Obligation scheme is to be triggered for the fourth year running after a number of energy retailers failed to pay money owed, Suppliers had to meet a late payment deadline of 31 October for sums due under the scheme. Ofgem said it was “currently completing our calculations and internal checks on late payments received and payments to be redistributed” with the total amount to be published next month. Under mutualisation, the shortfall is shared among those suppliers who have paid into the scheme. Meanwhile, the regulator is issuing five suppliers with provisional orders, compelling them to pay £575,000 in total for the Feed-in Tariff scheme. The suppliers failed to make payment by the second quarter payment deadline of 10 November. Read more

  • New England-Scotland power links move forward

    Plans for two new offshore power links between Scotland and England have moved forward after an assessment by Ofgem. In its findings from an initial needs case assessment, the regulator said there was a clear benefit to consumers by progressing with plans, recognising the crucial role they play in supporting the growth of renewables. Working with SSEN Transmission and Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) submitted preferred options for two 2GW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electricity ‘superhighways’ between Torness and Hawthorn Pit and Peterhead and Drax. NGET said with 40GW of offshore wind to be connected by 2030 – compared to 10GW connected today – the additional links will reinforce Britain’s electricity transmission network to allow for increased flows of renewable power. Chris Bennett, Acting President of NGET said: “We welcome the positive news from Ofgem. The Scotland to England Green Links are part of our ambition to reinforce our network along the East Coast to support the significant growth in renewable and low carbon generation. We believe they will deliver the best value for money for consumers, while helping the UK decarbonise and achieve its net zero ambition”. Together with SP Energy Networks and SSEN Transmission, NGET will now consider the detail of Ofgem’s consultation ahead of the Final Needs Case submission next month. If approved, work would start on Torness-Hawthorn Pit in 2023, expected to complete in 2027 and Peterhead-Drax in 2024, expected to complete in 2029. Read more

  • Collaboration deal to help decarbonise Scotland

    The Scottish Government’s economic development arm has signed a deal with Japan’s Marubeni Corporation to collaborate on areas including floating offshore wind and green hydrogen. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aims to contribute to Scotland’s target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Marubeni – parent firm of SmartestEnergy - owns stakes in power projects across 19 countries with total net capacity of about 12GW. Adrian Gillespie, CEO of Scottish Enterprise said: “Scotland has strong trade and investment links with Japan, particularly in key sectors such as renewable energy. “This MoU with Marubeni will strengthen our valued relationship and support Scotland’s net zero ambitions. We look forward to working with Marubeni to develop our long-term partnership.” Yoshiaki Yokota, CEO of Marubeni’s Power Business & Infrastructure Group, said: “Having world-leading decarbonisation targets coupled with well-structured and experienced institutions to enable them, Scotland provides truly exciting business opportunities, through its focused approach to renewable energy and net zero. “We are confident that with our global experience including floating offshore wind and hydrogen projects, we can contribute to achieving those targets.” Read more