The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The Government says it is taking a pragmatic approach to Net Zero as it announces controversial new North Sea licences; Ofgem unveils a series of measures aimed at improving customer service; Renewables achieve a new record share of generation in 2022; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • PM defends ‘pragmatic’ Net Zero approach

    A raft of new North Sea oil and gas licences are among energy security measures being set out by the Government this week. The first of more than 100 new licences will be awarded in the autumn as part of what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said was a pragmatic approach to achieving Net Zero while keeping costs down for consumers. Millions of pounds of funding has also been announced for a major carbon capture project in Scotland. In addition, Sunak and Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will meet energy industry leaders throughout the week to discuss opportunities to bolster energy infrastructure and independence, security and prosperity in the years to come. However, the announcement of new oil and gas licences was strongly criticised by opposition parties and environmental groups. The SNP said although energy security is important, the UK also needs to consider "the looming climate catastrophe". Read more

  • Ofgem unveils proposals to improve customer service

    Energy regulator Ofgem has unveiled a series of reforms aimed at improving customer service standards for businesses and households. Measures it is to consult on include better complaint handling between suppliers and businesses and extending micro business protections to all firms so energy bills spell out what is being paid to energy brokers. As Ofgem’s powers in non-domestic retail market are more limited than in the domestic sector, the regulator is also asking the Government to consider further protections in areas it doesn’t have the power to regulate, like energy brokers. For households, the proposals include enabling more effective support for customers struggling with bills, including early intervention to identify and offer support such as temporary repayment holidays when consumers are unable to pay. Neil Lawrence, Director at Ofgem, said: “While we have seen good practice from some suppliers, we expect every company to raise the bar to provide a consistent service that customers can rely on – and this mission should be driven from the top.” Read more

  • Renewables hit new record in 2022

    Renewables generated a record annual amount of the UK’s power in 2022, according to new statistics. Green energy’s share of electricity generation increased to 41.5% from 39.6% last year, with wind achieving a new record high share of 24.7%. Fossil-fuel generation fell slightly to 40.8%, according to the figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said: “It’s great to see renewables setting new records across the board, generating record amounts of clean power last year, making us less dependent on expensive gas imports at the very time when fossil fuel costs rocketed up, causing an energy crisis which we’re still grappling with. “Government and industry must pull out all the stops to increase our energy security by ensuring that vital new clean energy projects can be built faster, onshore and offshore.” Read more

  • Major energy projects set for planning fast-track

    Offshore wind farms and nuclear power stations would be among the major infrastructure projects fast-tracked through the planning process under new plans. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said reforms to the system will ensure vital projects are not held back by “slow and burdensome planning processes”. Measures announced in a consultation on the changes will mean faster consenting, more effective consultation and more resources. A group of ministers from environment, energy, levelling up and transport departments will drive progress, troubleshoot potential issues that hold up progress, and rapidly develop practical solutions to speed up delivery. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Strong communities need to be supported by vital infrastructure; the transport links, power plants and buildings that underpin our everyday lives. “Significant infrastructure projects don’t just ensure that people can get to work easily, do their recycling, and power their homes. They also create jobs, grow our economy, and help us become fit for the future.” Read more

  • £170m funding confirmed to speed up Sizewell C

    The Government has confirmed a further £170m of funding aimed at speeding up preparations for the Sizewell C nuclear power station. The investment will be used to prepare the Suffolk site for future construction, procure key components from the project’s supply chain, and expand its workforce. The Government said Sizewell C would provide reliable, low carbon power to the equivalent of 6 million homes over 60 years – saving the UK as many as 9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said Sizewell C was a bridge between the ongoing construction of Hinkley Point C and a longer-term ambition to provide up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity from homegrown nuclear energy by 2050. “Our new nuclear fleet will provide clean, reliable, and abundant energy whilst driving down bills, boosting economic growth and ensure that the UK is never held to energy ransom by tyrants like Putin.” Sizewell C would help deliver the government’s ambition for up to 24GW of the UK’s power to come from nuclear sources by 2050 – four times the current level. Read more

  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has launched a consultation seeking views on the operational reforms which the government is looking to make to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) consenting process. The consultation closes on 19 September.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published a revised National Emergency Plan setting out established procedures for responding to gas and electricity emergencies.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published a report providing a summary of the <a href=" target="_blank">UK ETS for the first 2 years of the scheme.

    Ofgem has published an update on the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (NDRHI) for April-June 2023.

    National Grid ESO has launched a Code Administrator Consultation (CM089 & CM091) on Implementation of the Electricity System Restoration Standard & Implementation of Emergency and Restoration Code Phase II. It closes on 17 August.