The Informer

This week's headlines: The Government faces a legal challenge to its approach to onshore wind; The name of the new energy system operator is unveiled; Latest annual figures show Scottish renewable generation met more than the nation’s energy demand; Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • Regulatory news and consultations round-up

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and Ofgem have published a joint consultation on new electricity supply and generation licence conditions to support implementation of new ownership arrangements for Elexon The consultation closes on 21 February.

    National Grid ESO is inviting feedback on proposed changes to the five statements addressing the procurement and use of balancing services under Standard Condition Licence C16.

    The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published a consultation seeking views on potential transitional support arrangements to facilitate the transition of large-scale biomass electricity generation to power BECCS.

    Scottish Renewables has published analysis of the expected pipeline of new onshore wind projects, extensions to existing projects, life extensions and re-powering projects expected between 2023 and 2030.

  • Government faces legal challenge over onshore wind

    The Government is facing a legal challenge from a campaign group which claims it is “stubbornly refusing” to back new onshore wind projects.

    The move follows the Government’s revised policy on energy infrastructure recently coming into force. The Good Law Project said onshore wind power is still excluded from the list of projects with national significance.

    It has begun legal action to force ministers to explain why onshore wind has been excluded.

    The organisation’s Legal Director Emma Dearnaley said since planning rules were changed in 2015, it has faced higher barriers than any other infrastructure projects.

    “In the middle of a climate crisis, Ministers are focusing their efforts on keeping the fossil fuel industry thriving for decades to come,” she said.

    The Government has responded by pointing out the UK has a world leading renewables sector. “The streamlined National Planning Policy ensures councils can respond more flexibly to the views of their local communities when they wish to host onshore wind by looking at the views of the whole community, rather than a small minority, when considering a planning application,” it said.

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  • New energy system operator name revealed

    The name of the new independent body responsible for planning Britain’s electricity and gas networks and operating the electricity system has been revealed.

    The National Energy System Operator (NESO) is set to be launched this summer and in the meantime the existing ESO will retain its name.

    Fintan Slye, Executive Director, ESO said the NESO will be “at the heart of the whole energy system”.

    “We are continuing to deliver on our core role of energy security, affordability, and sustainability as ESO today, and to transform elements of the business to ensure we are ready to take on new accountabilities as the NESO later this year."

    Established in the Energy Act 2023, the NESO aims to be a new approach to managing the UK’s energy system. It will drive forward net zero across both the electricity and gas systems, operating a ‘whole system’ approach.

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  • Scottish renewables more than meet nation’s demand

    Scotland’s renewable energy projects have generated the equivalent of 113% of the nation’s annual electricity consumption, new statistics show.

    The figure for 2022 is the highest recorded to date, and 26% up on 2021.

    Scotland’s Energy Secretary Neil Gray said the achievement was a significant milestone on the journey to Net Zero.

    “Scotland has the skills, talent and natural resources to become a global renewables powerhouse,” he said.

    “Our ambition is not only to generate enough green electricity to power Scotland’s homes and businesses, but also export electricity to our neighbours, supporting jobs here in Scotland and the decarbonisation ambitions of our partners.”

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  • £80m Government funding for green heat projects

    Almost 2,000 businesses and homes could be heated with sewer power as part of an £80m Government funding package.

    The Green Heat Network Fund is providing of £11m of support to a project in Bolton, Greater Manchester which will see energy extracted from both sewage and waste hot water from washing machines, bathrooms and kitchens to fuel a new heat pump, as part of the town’s first district heating network.

    Other projects in Exeter, London and Hull have also received funding.

    Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “These innovative projects will help drive down energy costs while also demonstrating why the UK has led the way in cutting carbon emissions.

    “They show how energy sources can be found in the most unexpected places – as more homes and businesses will benefit from cleaner heating and lower energy bills.”

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  • Nuclear plant costs could rise by a third

    The final cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could rise by around a third and completion could be three years later than expected.

    French developer EDF said its updated costs estimate could see the final bill reach £35bn.

    "Like other major infrastructure projects, we have found civil construction slower than we hoped and faced inflation, labour and material shortages, on top of Covid and Brexit disruption," the company said in a letter to staff working on the project.

    The UK Government, which has recently announced its ambition for a major expansion of nuclear power to help reduce emissions and boost domestic security of supply, has made an additional £1.3bn available to support the construction of Sizewell C.

    When it eventually opens, the power station is expected to generate enough electricity to supply six million homes over the next 60 years.

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