The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: Ofgem has set out plans for a more localised and flexible energy system; UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% last year but global energy sector emissions are still rising; Industry leaders warn that planning reforms will do little to lift the effective ban on onshore wind in England; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • Ofgem sets out vision for more local and flexible energy system

    Regulator Ofgem has set out plans for a more decentralised, decarbonised and dynamic energy system. It said proposals in a consultation for the development of local smart energy systems could reduce system costs, accelerate the take up of electric vehicles and heat pumps and help ensure more renewable energy can be accommodated. The regulator has also issued a call for input from across industry about building the world’s first distributed energy 'super’ marketplace to facilitate the buying and selling of surplus electricity from low-carbon energy storage, generation and smart devices, like electric vehicles. The regulator said the two papers were part of its wider reform agenda, working with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, to promote more flexible and efficient use of energy. Akshay Kaul, Interim Director of Infrastructure and Security of Supply, said: “We need a radical rethink of the energy system, markets and grid to establish a net zero power system by 2035 and net zero economy by 2050. “The energy crisis underlines the urgent need to shift from volatile fossil fuels to clean energy. Our economic security requires us breaking the link between cheaper renewables and expensive hydrocarbons; accelerating access to homegrown, clean and secure energy; cutting strain on the grid and freeing capacity for renewable power." Read more

  • UK greenhouse gas emissions fell 3.4% last year

    The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% in 2022, thanks to strong growth in clean energy, above-average temperatures and record-high fossil fuel prices suppressing demand. Analysis from Carbon Brief also found UK emissions have now fallen in nine of the past 10 years, even as the economy has grown. The drop in 2022 puts UK emissions 49% below 1990 levels, while the economy has grown 75% over the same period. A 15% reduction in coal use also means UK demand for the fuel is now the lowest it has been for 266 years. However, figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that although global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by under 1% in 2022 they still remain on an “unsustainable growth trajectory”. The IEA said the continued rise means stronger actions are needed accelerate the clean energy transition and move the world onto a path towards meeting its energy and climate goals. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: “We still see emissions growing from fossil fuels, hindering efforts to meet the world’s climate targets. International and national fossil fuel companies are making record revenues and need to take their share of responsibility, in line with their public pledges to meet climate goals. It’s critical that they review their strategies to make sure they’re aligned with meaningful emissions reductions.” Read more

  • Planning reforms won’t lift ban on onshore wind investment

    New planning proposals by the UK Government do “almost nothing” to lift the effective ban on new onshore wind in England, according to an industry body. In its response to a consultation on reform plans to attract investment into the technology in England, RenewableUK said it was “highly concerned” that not enough is being done to remove barriers preventing onshore wind from being rapidly deployed. “There is a fundamental disconnect between Governmental net zero ambitions and the practicalities of the National Planning Policy Framework for enabling onshore wind,” it said in its consultation response. “If the Government is serious about its commitment to net zero and security of supply ambitions, then there must be a clear ambition for national deployment targets for onshore wind and a policy framework supportive in place to deliver on these commitments. Without this, it is difficult to see how the proposals will enable any significant difference”. The industry is calling for Ministers to reverse two specific measures introduced in 2015 which were designed to stop nearly all new onshore wind projects going ahead in England. No onshore wind farm can go ahead unless the relevant local authority has drawn up a detailed local plan which identifies all areas would be suitable of onshore wind development. Also, if just one person objects to an onshore wind farm planning application it can be rejected by the local authority. Only two small onshore wind turbines were installed in England last year. Read more

  • New energy department lacks delivery plan for decarbonisation

    Ambitions to decarbonise power by 2035 are at risk because the UK’s new energy department lacks a delivery plan, a report has warned. The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has made “little progress with a long-term delivery plan” for all electricity to be generated through clean energy sources. The report points out that the Government is predicting a 60% increase in electricity demand due to transport and heating in buildings switching to electricity from fossil fuels. It has set an ambition that by 2035 all electricity should be generated using clean sources, subject to maintaining security of supply.. However, the NAO said because predecessor department BEIS was focusing attention on responses to high energy bills, it scaled back its work on coordinating long-term power sector decarbonisation. Gareth Davies, Head of the NAO, said: “It is understandable that DESNZ and its predecessor BEIS has focused on dealing with the immediate energy crisis over the past 12 months. But one consequence of this is that it lacks a delivery plan for decarbonising power by 2035, which is the backbone of its broader net zero ambition. “The longer DESNZ goes without a critical path that brings together different aspects of power decarbonisation, the higher the risk that it does not achieve its ambitions, or it does so at a greater than necessary cost to taxpayers and consumers.” Read more

  • Business leaders set out Net Zero priorities

    Business leaders have set out seven key areas that government policy needs to focus on to help achieve Net Zero while growing the economy. The Corporate Leaders Group UK (CLG UK), which includes major companies include Amazon and Unilever, said a robust Net Zero strategy was vital to accelerate further action from businesses and support them in implementing commitments. Among the measures called for include establishing an Office for Net Zero to drive delivery and monitor progress across government and development of an action plan setting out what skills and jobs will be required and how these needs will be met. It also urges wide-ranging planning reform at local and national levels, including the introduction of a Net Zero test and a review of bottlenecks in the system. Director of CLG UK Beverley Cornaby said: “We need to approach the hurdles ahead of us holistically– nothing meaningful will be possible if we tackle climate action in a piecemeal way. Taking this view of action in the round offers opportunities to move change along at pace and scale. A cross-cutting approach mean we can address needs of people, climate and nature simultaneously.” Read more

  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    Ofgem has issued a call for input on the future of distributed flexibility. It sets out the regulator’s vision for a common digital energy infrastructure and three models for what that could look like. It has also issued a consultation on the future of local energy institutions and governance.

    Ofgem has published the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) levelisation report for October to December 2022. details the total FIT payments made by FIT licensees during the quarter. It has also published details of distribution of RO payments after the late payment deadline for 2021-22.

    Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary of State Grant Shapps has set out his departmental priorities in a speech at Chatham House.

    RenewableUK has published its response to the UK Government’s consultation on how to reform the planning system to bring back onshore wind in England.