The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The system operator gets powers to remove projects which are holding up grid connections; Up to 4GW of capacity could be unlocked from offshore wind projects in the pipeline; Renewables leaders call for action to deliver on pledges in the King’s Speech; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • Ofgem acts on ‘zombie’ projects

    Developers of ‘zombie projects’ will be forced out of the queue for electricity grid connections under new rules announced by regulator Ofgem.

    In a major shift from the existing ‘first-come, first-served’ system, which has led to a bottleneck of projects, ready-to-go generation and storage projects to enable net zero can be fast-tracked. From 27 November National Grid ESO will have the power to introduce strict milestones into connection agreements and terminate projects if they do not hit them at each project stage. The ESO will publish guidance on how it will use its powers with first terminations likely to happen as early as 2024.

    Eleanor Warburton, Ofgem’s Deputy Director for Institutions for Net Zero Energy Systems Management and Security said: “We want new power on the grid as quickly as possible, so if you’re ready, you can connect sooner. If you’re not ready and are blocking the progress of others, you’ll be removed – you can’t sit in the queue with no consequences.”

    Last week the chief executive of National Grid said “fundamental reform” is needed to improve the connections regime and pave the way for net zero.

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  • Bid to unlock extra 4GW of offshore wind

    An extra 4GW of capacity could be unlocked from offshore windfarms already in development under plans announced by the Crown Estate.

    The developers of seven offshore wind farm projects believe additional capacity can be generated from the areas of the seabed they hold existing rights for.

    The Crown Estate said that since awarding rights to these projects, offshore wind technology has improved, enabling more clean energy to be generated from the same seabed area.

    Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine, at The Crown Estate, said: “These proposed capacity increases make use of seabed areas that have been previously granted rights, are not being fully utilised, and may have limited options for alternative uses.”

    The Crown Estate said the process to examine whether this additional capacity can be made available in a way which “remains true to our commitment to nature and biodiversity”.

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  • Industry leaders want policy measures to meet King’s Speech pledges

    Industry leaders have called on the Government to set out the policies needed to achieve the pledges made on renewables in the King’s Speech.

    The speech committed to attract record levels of investment in renewable energy and to speed up grid connections to reach net zero.

    RenewableUK has now asked the Chancellor to set out specific policies in his Autumn Statement later this month.

    Chief Executive Dan McGrail called for a commitment to set an overall CfD budget and maximum strike prices at “appropriate and sustainable levels” which allow for a return on investment for vital new projects.

    The industry body is also calling for the Electricity Generator Levy to be removed from offshore wind projects which choose to sell their power directly on the open market before taking up their CfD.

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  • Suppliers to pay £10.8m over smart meter targets

    Five energy suppliers will pay out a total of £10.8m after missing smart meter installation targets for 2022.

    Following action by Ofgem, the companies have agreed to pay into the regulator’s voluntary redress fund which help consumers in vulnerable situations most at risk from cold homes and high energy bills.

    Ofgem said the five suppliers - British Gas, OVO, Bulb, E.ON, Scottish Power and SSE - fell short of the installation targets set for 2022, culminating in a shortfall to install a total of 1,026,628 smart meters by the required deadline.

    Cathryn Scott, Ofgem’s Director of Enforcement and Emerging Issues, said: “The installation of smart meters is a vital step in the modernisation of our energy system and the path to net zero by 2050. Smart meters give customers better information about their energy usage helping them budget and control their costs.”

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  • UK and US strike fusion energy partnership

    The UK and US have launched a major new partnership to accelerate the development of nuclear fusion technology.

    The Government said the move will help transform global efforts to reach net zero and deliver energy independence.

    The energy generated from fusion is many million times more efficient than burning coal, oil or gas and could generate a near unlimited supply of clean electricity.

    It is the UK’s first formal international fusion collaboration since the launch of the £650m Fusion Futures Programme, which aims to ensure the UK remains at the cutting-edge of innovation through training opportunities and dedicated funding for fusion companies.

    Nuclear and Networks Minister Andrew Bowie said: “International collaboration is key for advancing fusion and achieving our ambition of getting a commercial fusion reactor grid-ready by 2040. The UK and the US are world-leaders in this technology, and pooling our resources will unlock new private sector investment.”

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  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    Energy UK has published its response to a consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) consenting process.

    Scottish Renewables has issued a draft response to Ofgem’s open letter on strategic transmission charging.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published updated guidance on the operation of the UK ETS markets and how to take part in auctions and in trading on the secondary market.

    Ofgem has sent a letter to non-domestic energy suppliers setting out its expectations for this winter. It also provides an update on the market review and subsequent policy development,

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published projections of energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and electricity generation from 2022 to 2040.