The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: Record investment went into renewables in the first-half of the year despite supply chain challenges; More action is urged to help businesses deal with rising energy costs; Plans to re-power up to 1,000 onshore wind turbines across the UK have been unveiled.

  • Renewables investment hits record high

    Global investment in renewable energy in the first half of the year set a record high of more than £180bn, according to new figures. BloombergNEF said the uptick in investment reflects an acceleration in demand for clean energy supplies to tackle the ongoing global energy and climate crises. Investment in new large- and small-scale solar projects rose 33% from the first half of 2021 with wind project financing up by 16%. The growth came despite challenges faced in rising input costs for key materials such as steel, as well as supply chain disruptions and rising financing costs. Albert Cheung, head of analysis at BloombergNEF, said: “Policy makers are increasingly recognizing that renewable energy is the key to unlocking energy security goals and reducing dependence on volatile energy commodities. “Despite the headwinds presented by ongoing cost inflation and supply chain challenges, demand for clean energy sources has never been higher, and we expect that the global energy crisis will continue to act as an accelerant for the clean energy transition.” Read more

  • Warning over impact of business energy cost hike

    Higher energy costs could see businesses fail with the impact felt across the economy, according to analysts. Many firms will see their energy bills rocket when new contracts are negotiated in October according to data from Cornwall Insight. It warned some will face bills five times their current price, as concerns over Russian gas supply, tight electricity markets in Europe, and a global disruption to Liquified Natural Gas see prices spike. Robert Buckley of Cornwall Insight said: “Business energy prices have climbed considerably in the past 15 months, and they stand on the verge of another significant steep uplift when new contracts come in to place for the period from 1 October. “Logic dictates that there can only be so long that so many businesses can pay so much more for their energy without knock-on consequences for themselves, their suppliers, and the wider economy.” Buckley said although there had been significant focus on the impact of rising bills on households there has been “strikingly little” said about the affordability of business energy bills. “We must think much harder about what this energy crisis is doing to business. This is not only to ensure we don’t see loss of output, but so we don’t see companies with heritage, roots in their communities and otherwise good prospects washed away,” he added. Read more

  • Plans to repower 1,000 wind turbines announced

    Plans to repower up to 1,000 onshore wind turbines over the next eight years have been unveiled. Octopus Energy Generation, one of Europe’s largest investors in renewable energy, is partnering with turbine manufacturer EWT on the plans to upgrade older turbines. The new turbines will range from 250 kW - 1 MW. Work begins this Autumn and the partners aim to be finished by 2030. Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Generation, comments: “We need to build enormous amounts of new renewable power, but at the same time it’s a no-brainer to make better use of the UK’s existing onshore wind turbines. “There’s a huge untapped opportunity to repower wind turbines that communities have already hosted for many years. This means powering even more homes with cheaper, local, green energy, helping to drive down energy bills and provide energy security.” Read more

  • Ofgem says price cap move will reduce risk of supplier failure

    Ofgem has warned households face a “very challenging winter” as it announced the energy price cap will be updated quarterly rather than every six months. The regulator said the change will help provide the stability needed in the energy market, reducing the risk of further large-scale supplier failures which it said cause huge disruption and push up costs for consumers. Jonathan Brearley, CEO of Ofgem, said: “The trade-offs we need to make on behalf of consumers are extremely difficult and there are simply no easy answers right now. These changes ensure the price cap does its job, making sure customers are only paying the real cost of their energy, but also, that it can adapt to the current volatile market.
    “We will keep working closely with the Government, consumer groups and with energy companies on what further support can be provided to help with these higher prices.” Read more

  • Smart meter network traffic set to rise 500%

    Demand and usage across the smart meter network is forecast to increase by 500% over the next four years, according to new figures. In an update from the Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates the network, that connects smart meters to energy suppliers, it said it now has 21 million meters connected. Within the next 12 months, the DCC said more than half of the homes in Britain will have an interoperable smart meter that can work between energy suppliers and have the capability to provide half-hourly meter reads. Angus Flett, Chief Executive of the DCC, said the figures highlighted the organisation’s pivotal role supporting the energy transition and UK’s journey to Net Zero. “Our network is already providing detailed and critical data needed to understand future energy demand. As we move to more sustainable generation sources, the proportion of weather-dependent generation powering our homes and industries will increase significantly. “The UK’s new smart electricity grid will address these challenges by balancing supply patterns with new demand that will emerge from the widespread adoption of technologies such as EVs and heat pumps.” Read more