The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: CfD auctions to support major renewable projects are to be held every year from 2023; Green generators can now compete to provide stability services for the system operator; A domestic flexibility trial is to be launched to look at how consumers could help cut grid balancing costs.

  • CfD frequency boost for renewables

    The renewables industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it is increasing the frequency of CfD auctions. From March 2023, auctions will be held every year rather than every two years in a move aimed at increasing energy security and decarbonisation progress. Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We are hitting the accelerator on domestic electricity production to boost energy security, attract private investment and create jobs in our industrial heartlands. “The more clean, cheap and secure power we generate at home, the less exposed we will be to expensive gas prices set by international markets.” Kwarteng said the CfD system had been a major success since its launch, and he highlighted the dramatic reductions achieved in the cost of offshore wind. RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail described the increased in auction frequency as a “major step forward” on the path to net zero. “It's good news for consumers too, as it means the UK will be reducing its vulnerability to volatile international gas prices and increasing the volumes of low-cost renewable energy in our energy system,” he said. “There's a huge appetite among renewable energy developers to invest in building more projects, which will help to grow the UK supply chain at a faster rate.” Read more

  • Renewable generators get grid stability green light in world first

    System operator National Grid ESO can now procure stability services from renewable generators in a move it said was crucial to help enable net zero. A modification to the GB Grid Code has set a specification for ‘grid forming’ which will enable generators and interconnectors to compete to provide stability services alongside operators of synchronous generation. Grid forming allows equipment connected to the network through a HVDC converter, such as renewable generation or interconnectors to provide system stability support in a similar way to conventional generators that are directly connected to the transmission system. Britain is the first country to have achieved this step, which is being watched with interest by system operators and manufacturers around the world. Tony Johnson, who led the project for National Grid ESO’s markets team, described it as a “breakthrough moment”. “This a key piece in the energy transition jigsaw, that will ensure we can operate a fully decarbonised grid and deliver on our net zero commitments. “It’s the culmination of up to 10 years of thinking and working with stakeholders to find the common ground between what equipment is capable of doing and what the system needs. The code change means interested stakeholders can now prepare their equipment to meet the required specification to be able to participate in the procurement process for system services including providing inertia and frequency support. This is currently being progressed through National Grid ESO’s stability pathfinder projects. Read more

  • Domestic flexibility trial set to launch

    A flexibility trial to encourage consumers to turn down their electricity use at times of peak demand is being launched. System operator National Grid ESO and Octopus Energy are behind the pilot which will see customers asked to respond over pre-defined two-hour windows during winter. Households that cut their electricity use by 40-60% during these periods will receive free electricity during them. National Grid ESO said the trial will help build its understanding of how consumers can support the management of a zero-carbon grid and reduce balancing costs. Isabelle Haigh, the system operator’s head of National Control, said: “Encouraging households to engage in exciting climate-friendly energy opportunities like this trial will be crucial in our transition to net zero. “System flexibility is vital to help manage and reduce peak electricity demand and keep Britain’s electricity flowing securely.” Read more

  • Scottish wind sector set to treble in size

    Scotland’s wind industry could treble in size by 2030 if plans in the pipeline for new projects are realised, according to industry body Scottish Renewables. Its latest supply chain reports highlights the potential impact on the wider economy from the huge growth expected in both on and offshore wind. Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said the potential pipeline in Scotland has “never been stronger". “Renewable energy projects across Scotland deliver many benefits to our urban, rural and island communities, providing low-carbon heat, transport and electricity as well as creating employment opportunities for the people who live there,” she said. The pipeline includes the 17 new offshore wind farms which are being taking forward following the results of the recent ScotWind seabed leasing round. Meanwhile, BEIS has re-approved plans for Vattenfall's 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm after consent was previously overturned by a High Court judge. Campaigners had raised concerns about its effect on the landscape but the Government said there was a pressing need for more renewable sources of power. Read more

  • Nuclear fusion breakthrough by UK scientists

    Scientists in the UK believe they have made a major breakthrough in efforts to develop practical nuclear fusion. The JET Laboratory in Oxfordshire beat its own world record for the amount of energy it can extract from bringing together two forms of hydrogen. The experiments produced 11 megawatts of power over five seconds, more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997. A much larger fusion reactor using a similar design to the UK laboratory is under construction in France. Nuclear fusion, which powers the stars, could potentially provide virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy on earth. Dr Joe Milnes, Head of Operations at the UK laboratory, said: "The JET experiments put us a step closer to fusion power. We've demonstrated that we can create a mini star inside our machine and hold it there for five seconds and get high performance, which really takes us into a new realm." Read more