The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: Plans for a new nuclear power station which could meet 7% of the UK’s needs get the go-ahead; A House of Lords committee says urgent action is needed by the Government to avoid a disorderly transition to Net Zero; Moves to potentially re-open a huge gas storage site off the east coast of England take a step forward.

  • Sizewell C gets go-ahead from Government

    Plans for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station, which would meet around 7% of the UK’s power needs over its 60-year operating life, have been given the green light by the Government. Discussions are now underway with French energy company EDF around the funding of the project which is expected to cost £20bn. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed the development consent for the project which would be built next to the existing Sizewell B, which is still generating electricity, and Sizewell A, which has been decommissioned. EDF said the new two-reactor plant could generate 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, enough for about six million homes. However, campaign group Stop Sizewell C said it was considering an appeal against the decision citing technical concerns, impacts on the environment, and the cost to consumers. Read more

  • Lords urge action to avoid ‘disorderly’ shift to Net Zero

    The House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) has called on the Government to take urgent action to avoid a disorderly transition to Net Zero. In a new report looking at the Government’s Net Zero and Energy Security plans, the committee said the consequences of the Ukraine crisis have made the Government’s aims “more complex”. The EAC said the Government should now publish a Net Zero delivery plan which takes account of energy security, making clear what decisions and operational actions are needed, and by when. “Any such plan will need to incorporate the flexibility required by a three-decade, economy-wide transition,” it points out. It highlights key actions which are needed now such as developing market models for technologies like long-duration storage, blue and green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. Committee Chair Lord Bridges said: “The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on energy prices has been a wake-up call on how vulnerable our energy security is. “The Government has set ambitious targets for low-carbon power generation, but there is a gap between those ambitions and practical plans for delivery. If we don’t plug that gap, and fail to ensure that our energy is reliable, affordable and renewable, our transition to net zero will be disorderly – and we will all pay the price. “So action is needed to build investor confidence, mobilise more capital and accelerate the deployment of renewables in the decades to come. The message to the Government is clear: act now to avoid falling into the gap.” Read more

  • Re-opening of Rough gas storage site moves step closer

    The potential re-opening of the Rough gas storage site off the coast of Yorkshire has moved a step closer after Centrica was awarded a licence for its operation. The site used to supply around 70% of the UK’s gas storage capacity but was closed in 2018 on economic grounds. Concerns over gas supplies this winter has led to moves to re-open the site. The award of a licence by the North Sea Transition Authority means Centrica can progress with seeking the further regulatory approvals needed before operations could start. There has been speculation that the Government may need to agree possible financial support to carry out the work needed for the site to re-open. Read more

  • Solar PV meets quarter of UK demand during heatwave

    Solar power met as much as a quarter of the UK’s electricity demand during the recent heatwave, according to new figures. Industry body Solar Energy UK said generation reached a peak of 7.77GW gigawatts on the hottest day, about six times more than the capacity of the UK’s largest nuclear power station, Heysham 2. Over 24 hours, solar provided an estimated 66.9 gigawatt-hours, or 8.6% of the UK’s power needs. Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK, said: “This is climate change. This is happening. This is not a drill. We have the next decade to accelerate the renewables sector. What’s good news now is that solar and wind are the most affordable way to generate electricity in the UK. We have the solutions to the energy security crisis.”
    The industry body said optimum output from the solar capacity deployed across the UK is reached at around at 25°C. For every degree either side of that, it is lowered by about only 0.5%, though newer modules have improved performance. Their output now varies by only around 0.35% per degree, according to manufacturers. Read more

  • More work needed to accelerate energy digitalisation

    More work is needed across Government, regulators and industry to pave the way for a digitalised energy system, according to an update report. In a joint response by BEIS, Ofgem and Innovate UK to the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce, set up to help modernise the energy system to unlock flexibility and drive clean growth towards Net Zero, a number of priority areas are highlighted for immediate focus. The report said it recognises that to achieve deliver interoperability in the energy sector requires considerable action and BEIS will carry out a study to examine the opportunities, risks and potential architectures of a digital spine. As part of work to unlock the value of customer actions and assets, development of a consumer consent dashboard will also be explored. The response concludes that without concerted action from BEIS, Ofgem, Innovate UK and industry there is a risk of increased industry costs, delay to the transition to a Net Zero energy system and limits to the choices for consumers to use their devices and data. Read more