The Informer

This week's energy headlines: A major power project to link the UK and Netherlands together with North Sea windfarms is unveiled; Falling wholesale electricity prices are expected to help see balancing costs reduce by 30% this summer; National Grid has launched what it describes as the biggest upgrade for generations; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • North Sea power link to boost energy security

    Plans have been unveiled to build the world’s largest multi-use electricity power line under the North Sea to boost energy security. The LionLink project will connect the UK and the Netherlands to each other as well as with offshore wind farms. The cross-border electricity line will be only the second of its kind in the world, with the first having been built by Germany and Denmark. However, the LionLink will be able to carry more than four times the amount of electricity as its predecessor – making it the largest of its kind in the world. UK Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This historic deal with the Netherlands connects our two countries together through this exciting feat of innovation and engineering - the largest of its kind in the world which will provide enough electricity for more homes than in Manchester and Birmingham combined.” The new LionLink will carry 1.8GW of electricity, compared to Germany and Denmark’s Kriegers Flag, which carries 0.4GW. It will be developed by National Grid Ventures and TenneT and will be operational by the early 2030s. Read more

  • Balancing costs set to fall by around 30%

    Balancing costs could be around 30% lower this summer compared to last year due to falls in wholesale prices and measures taken by the system operator. In its Summer Outlook report National Grid ESO also forecasts that summer minimum power demands will be slightly lower than those seen across summer 2022, continuing the trend seen over the last couple of years. Peak transmission demand is also expected to be lower compared to recent years, as new embedded generation on the distribution networks is expected to suppress electricity demand at the transmission level. Although the report is focused on the summer months, the system operator said looking beyond “is obviously of importance this year as we head into next winter”. “We have already begun preparations for winter 2023/2024 and will be looking to share our analysis with industry over the coming months,” it said. It expects to publish its early view for winter 2023/24 by June, setting out how it sees system margin and daily operational surplus that it expects throughout winter. The full Winter Outlook Report is expected to be published in September or early October. Read more

  • National Grid launches ‘largest overhaul’ in generations

    The largest overhaul of the grid in generations has been launched by National Grid. It said the ‘Great Grid Upgrade’ programme will see significant new infrastructure built across England and Wales to move more clean energy from where it’s generated to where it’s needed, helping the UK meet its Net Zero ambitions and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. National Grid said the upgrade will also contribute to lower energy bills over the long-term, provide a catalyst for a green jobs boom and make the UK’s energy more self-sufficient. Carl Trowell, President, Strategic Infrastructure, National Grid, said: “Our vision is a clean, fair and affordable energy future for the UK. The Great Grid Upgrade will play a major part in delivering this.” The upgrade is part of National Grid’s programme of investment into the UK energy transition, which will see £16bn invested from 2021-2026 to support the UK’s net zero goals. It said the work would support the UK Government’s plans for a major acceleration of homegrown power in Britain’s plan for greater energy independence. Read more

  • Networks put forward three-step plan to accelerate connections

    A three-step plan to speed up connections has been put forward by network operators. The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said action is needed to respond to an “unprecedented number” of new connection applications as the country powers towards net zero. The association pointed out that in next few years network operators are set to mobilise over £22bn of investment into the UK’s electricity distribution infrastructure. ENA has set out three immediate priority areas to support customers connecting to the distribution network including reforming the connections queue, changing how transmission and distribution networks coordinate connections, and greater flexibility for storage customers through new contractual options. David Boyer, Director of Electricity Systems at Energy Networks Association, said although the measures will go a long way to speeding up connections, more fundamental changes will be needed. “Through the regulatory regime, we need to overhaul how connections are managed and enable networks to invest in capacity early. This early investment is crucial if we are to power millions of electric vehicles and heat pumps and connect the massive amounts of renewables and batteries we know are needed in the coming decade.” Read more

  • Huge growth predicted in battery storage

    Utility-scale battery storage capacity in the UK is set to grow to 24GW by 2030, according to new forecasts. An estimated £16bn will be invested in the sector, meaning UK will account for almost 9% of all global capacity installations sitting fourth in the table behind China, the US and Germany, according to analysis by Rystad Energy. The end-of-decade capacity will offer enough combined energy reserves to power 18 million homes for a year, the analysis shows. Rystad Energy believes the UK government will meet or beat its target for storage, but only if it government addresses some expected roadblocks including grid connections, supply chain issues and developing a policy framework for pumped hydro projects. “Large-scale battery developments will soon be the norm in the UK, solving the problem of balancing short-term power demand with the intermittency of wind and solar generation. And this could just be the start,” it said. “Further growth could soon be on the way if the government introduces additional incentives to spur investments.” Read more

  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    The latest energy trends and prices for February 2023 have been published, covering monthly production, trade and consumption of coal, electricity, gas, oil and total energy; retail price data, petrol & diesel price data and EU comparative price data.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has announced the successful projects under phase four of the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA). The programme aims to increase the number of technologies available to industry to reduce energy consumption, maximise resource efficiency, and cut carbon emissions.

    Ofgem has published its decision on a request to treat BSC Modification P452 Energy Bill Discount Scheme (EBDS) for non-domestic customers’ as an Urgent Modification Proposal. The change seeks to expand Elexon's vires to implement and act as a scheme administrator for the EBDS for non-domestic consumers.

    National Grid ESO’s deadline for Transmission Entry Capacity (TEC) amnesty is 30 April. The amnesty gives customers in the connections queue the opportunity to terminate or reduce TEC with little or no cost.