The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The system operator launches the first stage of a new balancing platform; £2bn of backing is announced for green hydrogen projects to power businesses; World leaders agree to a move away from fossil fuels but environmentalists say it falls short of what is needed; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • Balancing mechanism ‘revolution’ underway

    The system operator has launched the first stage of a new platform which it says will revolutionise the balancing of supply and demand on the network.

    National Grid ESO said the Open Balancing Platform will unlock new levels of precision for the ESO control room, enabling a new tool that will allow control room engineers to send hundreds of instructions to smaller balancing mechanism Units and battery storage units sites at the press of a single button.

    The system will drive increased value for consumers by increasing the optimisation of network balancing, speeding up the process and reducing costs.

    Future stages of the Open Balancing Platform will be delivered across 2024 and 2025 and by 2027 it will grow to replace both the existing Balancing Mechanism and the Ancillary Services Dispatch Platform.

    Craig Dyke, Director of System Operations, ESO, said: “The Open Balancing Platform is critical to delivering the balancing system we need to meet net-zero. Further diversification of generation assets, both in technologies and size require that we deliver more flexible solutions to increase efficiencies and competition, to support the delivery of our zero carbon ambition and to create savings for consumers.”

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  • £2bn boost for green hydrogen projects

    The Government has announced £2 billion of backing to support 11 major projects to produce green hydrogen.

    It has also confirmed suppliers will receive a guaranteed price for the clean energy they supply. The projects will invest over £400m over the next 3 years, generating more than 700 jobs and delivering 125MW of new hydrogen for businesses including the Sofidel paper mill in South Wales and InchDairnie Distillery in Scotland, who plan to run a boiler on 100% hydrogen for use in their distilling process.

    Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said: “This funding represents the most significant step in scaling up the UK’s hydrogen economy to date – speeding up progress towards the government’s ambition to deploy up to 10GW low carbon production capacity by 2030.”

    Ministers have also opened a new second round of funding that companies can apply for to support their projects and published a production roadmap, which sets out the government’s plan for future allocation rounds in 2025 and 2026.

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  • COP28 agreement ‘sets world in right direction’

    A new global agreement on climate change at COP28 was hailed as the biggest step forward since 2015 although measures fell short of what many campaigners were hoping for.

    Almost 200 countries have agreed to a move away from fossil fuels although the final text did not go as far as a phase-out.

    The talks also saw an agreement reached to fund assistance for those most impacted by climate change.

    COP28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber said nations had "confronted realities and set the world in the right direction".

    However, although the World Wildlife Fund said the agreement was a significant moment in the fight against climate change, it said the deal fell short of consensus on the full phase out of fossil fuels.

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  • Renewables powers Britain’s lowest carbon quarter on record

    A strong contribution from renewables saw Britain’s electricity supply achieve its lowest carbon quarter on record.

    Renewables supplied more than 40% of Britain’s electricity demand in the third quarter of 2023, helping emissions fall below 150 g/kWh for the first time ever.

    Last quarter’s generation mix produced an average of just 143 grams of CO2 per kWh according to the latest Drax Electric Insights report produced by Imperial College London Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, described it as a “milestone moment in the UK’s decarbonisation journey”.

    “Getting our carbon emissions down by more than two-thirds in just a decade is a real achievement.

    “With our renewable capacity continuing to grow, we should see more clean power records broken in the coming years. However, the long-term picture is more complicated, and it is vital that government continues to explore how to unlock investment in clean energy technologies.

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  • Networks unveils plans to release 139GW of capacity

    An industry action plan to release enough grid capacity in the next year to decarbonise Great Britain’s power grid have been unveiled by network operators.

    The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said plans to unlock 139GW of capacity “open the door” to customer projects to fully enable decarbonisation by 2035.

    As well as releasing up to 90GW of capacity by cleaning up the connections queue and actively managing a “first ready, first connected” process, up to 70GW of applications will be accelerated by allowing some applicants to connect faster, before enabling works are completed.

    Nearly 3GW of capacity will be achieved through network operators changing the modelling and assumptions for storage projects at both transmission and distribution level, to better align with actual usage patterns.

    A further 46GW of capacity will be released by making network planning processes more coordinated and realistic.

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  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    Energy UK has published a new report, Energy Matters: Across the Economy, featuring a collection of essays from business leaders, community groups and parliamentarians.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has issued an open consultation on the Hydrogen Storage Business Model: market engagement on the first allocation round.

    Ofgem has published its decision to approve CMP425: Billing Demand Transmission Residual By Site. It said the urgent CUSC modification will provide clarity around TDR charges for transmission connected demand sites with multiple suppliers and supplier BM Units.

    The Government is seeking views on a proposal to introduce a new threshold for bringing cases to the Energy Ombudsman to include small business consumers. It closes on 31 January 2024.

    Ofgem has published the Feed-in Tariffs Annual Report for 2022-23.