The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The system operator is to look into the reasons behind the high balancing system costs seen in recent weeks; Tidal energy is set for a £20m a year boost under the CfD scheme; Figures show green gas from sources including cow manure is making an increasing contribution to the energy mix.

  • System operator to review balancing market costs

    System operator National Grid ESO is to undertake a review of the balancing market following what it said had been a number of “very high-cost” days in recent weeks. It said as the costs are ultimately borne by consumers it is important to “fully understand the factors driving the market”. “There are many issues that can, and will, have contributed to the high costs. Our review will seek to ensure that, at a time when households’ budgets are under strain, consumers can continue to have confidence in the market,” National Grid ESO said in a brief statement. The review will be run by the National Grid ESO Market Monitoring Team and will be carried out by external consultants. Monthly balancing costs topped £300m for the first time ever in October. The level was more than 30% higher than the previous month and more than double the same period in 2020. Prices in the balancing mechanism hit a record high of £4,037.80/MWh in September. Read more

  • Tidal energy wins £20m a year CfD backing

    The UK government is to invest £20 million per year in tidal stream electricity in a move it said would kickstart a new chapter for the industry and support energy security. The money will be ring-fenced as part of the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference Scheme due to open next month, and will bring the total funding for the round to £285m a year. The Government said tidal energy has the potential to be a “very reliable source of generation”, given the predictability of the tides. It said including it in the UK’s low-carbon energy mix will make it easier to match supply with demand, and reduced the reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices. Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “As an island nation we are perfectly placed to capitalise on clean marine energy, building on our booming offshore wind sector which is now a British industrial success story. “The investment today provides a major push for tidal power to become a key part of the next generation of renewable electricity projects needed to strengthen energy security as we work to reduce our dependency on volatile fossil fuels.” Read more

  • Green gas can now heat over 750,000 homes

    Green gas production from sources including cow manure, left-over food and household sewage is now enough to heat over 750,000 homes. The figure was released by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) which said the growth of biomethane gas also supports greener electricity production by displacing natural gas. A total of 109 biomethane green gas production sites are now connected to Britain’s gas grid, with developers now building a further 23 sites across the country. In 2011, only 1 site was connected to the gas grid. The report also showed that 74% of Britain’s local gas pipes have now been upgraded so they are ‘hydrogen-ready’, to help ensure homes will have a choice of different green heating technologies to reduce their carbon emissions, including hydrogen-ready boilers. David Smith, Chief Executive of ENA, said: “Homegrown, locally-produced green gas is a great way of reducing emissions from our heat and electricity production, especially when it comes to keeping Britain’s homes warm and lights on during the long, cold winter nights. “These figures show how cow-dung from our farms, left-over food from our restaurants and sewage from our water treatment plants have a huge role to play in reducing the carbon emissions from our towns, villages and communities, all whilst providing them with secure energy supplies.” Read more

  • Nuclear power has lowest CO2 emissions says report

    Nuclear power produces less CO2 emissions over its lifecycle than any other electricity source, according to a new report. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) also found nuclear has lower land, mining and metals use than other low-carbon technologies. The commission’s report points out that every electricity source produces some CO2 at various stages, including during construction, operation and decommissioning. The UNECE study says nuclear ranges from 5.1 – 6.4g CO2 equivalent per kWh of generation compared to wind (7.8 – 21g CO2 eq./kWh) and solar (7.2 – 83g CO2 eq./kWh). All are many times lower than gas at 403 – 513g CO2 eq./kWh and coal at 753 – 1095g CO2 eq./kWh. Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed what he said was a “detailed, scientific assessment confirming nuclear as a green and sustainable technology, that uses less carbon, less land, and less material than any other”. “If we are serious about cutting emissions and meeting net zero targets, we must act on the science and build new nuclear alongside other low-carbon sources of energy.” Read more

  • 400-fold growth in long-duration energy storage needed

    Dramatic growth of long-duration energy storage will be vital to hit net zero, a new report argues. By 2040, there needs to be 400 times present day levels of storage able to hold energy for at least four hours according to the Long Duration Energy Storage Council which has been set up by a number of leading players in the sector. However, costs need to fall by some 60% to make it economically viable and significant investment is needed to help achieve that. Long-duration energy storage covers technologies including mechanical, thermal and chemical, that can store energy to support electricity supply for days or even weeks. Long-duration storage can help provide flexibility across the entire energy system including power, heat and hydrogen. The new report said widespread deployment of LDES could provide up to 140 TWh of energy capacity by 2040, which would store 10% of all electricity consumed worldwide in a net-zero energy system. That would result in savings of 1.5 to 2.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, 10 to 15% of today’s power sector emissions, the report said. Read more