The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: UK gas storage capacity rises significantly as the Rough site reopens; A ban on fracking has been reimposed by the new Prime Minister; Wind generation sets a new record according to statistics from the system operator; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • Gas security boosted as Rough reopens

    The Rough gas storage facility has reopened in a move which has increased the UK’s back-up capacity by 50%. The owner, Centrica, said the reopening followed significant engineering upgrades over the summer and commissioning over early autumn. The first gas has now been injected into the site in over five years and it is ready to store up to 30 billion cubic feet for UK homes and businesses over this winter. The work done so far means that Rough is operating at around 20% of its previous capacity this winter. Grant Shapps, Business and Energy Secretary, said: “The UK has diverse gas supplies with connections with Norway and other European countries and a number of LNG import terminals. “However, it still has some of the lowest levels of gas storage in Europe at 9 days, compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 days and the Netherlands at 123 days. The flexibility in Rough allows cheaper gas to be stored ready for winter, helping to reduce or stabilise costs for UK energy consumers”.
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  • Government signals change of tack on fracking

    A ban on fracking has been reinstated by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who has also cast doubt on the development of new onshore wind. In the Commons, Sunak said he stood by the 2019 manifesto pledge to maintain a moratorium on fracking. The move is a reversal of the policy of predecessor Liz Truss. However, answering a question from Labour MP Alan Whitehead about new onshore wind development, Sunak replied: “When it comes by energy policy, I stick by what we said in our manifesto. The important thing is though to focus on our long-term energy security. “That means more renewables, more offshore wind and indeed more nuclear; that’s what this government will deliver.” The Conservative Party manifesto currently rules out new onshore wind turbines in England. Read more

  • Wind generation sets new UK record

    Wind generation has set a new record in the UK, prompting calls from industry leaders to further step up investment in capacity. Statistics from National Grid ESO showed that onshore and offshore wind farms generated 19,936 megawatts (MW) of electricity during one half hourly period last week, beating the previous record which was set in May. Wind generated 52.2% of the nation’s electricity when the record was set, although the share has been as high as 64% in the past. RenewableUK Chief Executive Dan McGrail said: “As we head towards winter, it’s reassuring for people to know that Britain’s onshore and offshore wind farms are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping the lights on and reducing our reliance on expensive gas imports. “That’s why it’s important to speed up and scale up on the amount of onshore and offshore wind capacity were installing - to boost our energy security and to reduce electricity bills for consumers, as new wind projects generate electricity cheaper than any other source.” Read more

  • Cabinet reshuffle sees another change for energy

    New Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has said he is looking forward to leading his department to “fix our energy market” after taking up his post after a cabinet reshuffle. Shapps, who replaced Jacob Rees-Mogg, had previously served as Transport Secretary under Boris Johnson. At a meet with BEIS staff after the announcement, Shapps said: “The department has a clearly huge agenda, in particular on energy prices. Let’s get to work.” “As Business and Energy Secretary, I look forward to leading the department to fix our energy market and deliver growth and prosperity for the UK.” Rees-Mogg’s actions during his short tenure in the post had included pausing the Energy Security Bill for further review. It is not yet clear what the plans for the bill are under the new regime. Read more

  • Plans for state-owned renewables developer in Wales

    The Welsh Government has announced plans to set up a state-owned renewable energy developer to boost security of supply and help tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Surplus funds generated through the new developer will go back into the public purse to be reinvested in improving energy efficiency in homes in Wales and creating good quality, home grown, clean energy jobs. The developer will scale up renewable energy rollout, initially through the development of onshore wind projects on the Welsh Government woodland estate. Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “The cost-of-living crisis is directly related to the major increase in the cost of energy, which strengthens the need for an approach that returns more to the people of Wales. “If other countries are anything to go by, then we should expect considerable returns from our investment and – as we share the ambitions of these other nations – we have a genuine opportunity to produce an income that will really help us to deliver here.” Read more

  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    BEIS is consulting on business model designs and regulatory arrangements for hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure. It said the work is part of efforts to enable the hydrogen economy to delivery its “substantial potential carbon and economic benefits”. More details here.

    BEIS has also published the latest annual statistics covering energy consumption in the UK, with information across industry, transport, domestic and services. More details here.

    Auction dates during 2023 for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) have been published by ICE. More details here.

    Ofgem has issued Delta Gas and Power Ltd with a final order compelling it to pay more than £530,000 in unpaid Renewables Obligations. Should Delta fail to pay, Ofgem may take further enforcement action which could include revoking the supplier’s licence. More details here.