The Informer

This week's energy news headlines: The system operator unveils proposals for a £58bn grid upgrade; New figures show renewables generated more power than gas this winter; Labour announces plans to invest in floating offshore wind. Our industry round-up includes the latest updates from Government departments and energy regulators.

  • ESO unveils £58bn investment proposals

    Plans for a £58bn investment in the electricity grid by 2035 to meet a growing demand for decarbonised power have been unveiled.

    The Electricity System Operator (ESO) said the investment will allow Britain to exploit the economic potential of being a leader in offshore wind by moving power to where it is needed.

    The ESO said its plan supports decarbonisation, jobs, and economic growth however it also said it requires “swift and coordinated action” across the energy sector, government, the regulator, and communities to deliver the network infrastructure needed in time.

    The proposals include an expansion of the offshore grid with the potential for a new electrical spine spanning potentially from Peterhead to Merseyside, supplying homes and businesses across Scotland and North England.

    Fintan Slye, Executive Director of the ESO said: “Great Britain’s electricity system is the backbone of our economy and must be fit for our future. To deliver the clean, secure, decarbonised system set out by Government and devolved governments we must take swift, coordinated and lasting action working collaboratively across all parts of the energy sector, government, the regulator and within our communities.”

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  • Renewables beat gas over winter

    Renewables provided more of the UK’s power needs than gas this winter, according to new analysis.

    Power generated by wind, hydro and solar is estimated to have reached around 55TWh compared to around 45TWh from gas power stations.

    The renewable generation is the equivalent to running around 21 million UK homes for a year. Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at ECIU, said: “With or without new licenses, the North Sea will continue its inevitable decline so we’ll need to import ever greater quantities of gas from abroad unless we cut our demand by rolling out more renewables.

    “The price of gas is set by international markets so the choice for the UK is stark. Boost British renewables and achieve clean power or import more gas at a price we can’t control.”

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  • Labour would back floating offshore wind farms

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has announced plans to use state backing to invest in floating offshore wind farms.

    On a visit to port in Wales, Sir Keir said publicly-owned Great British Energy would use some of its £8.3bn budget to invest in projects.

    "In an increasingly insecure world, with tyrants using energy as an economic weapon, Britain must take back control of our national energy security," he said.

    "Here in Wales, the potential for offshore wind is enormous, and the UK Tory government is squandering it. With public investment through Great British Energy we can unlock billions more in private investment to turbocharge jobs and growth for Wales."

    However Adrian Ramsay, co-leader of the Green Party, described the investment plan as "a drop in the ocean" and pointed out it came after Labour back-tracked on its £28bn a year green investment plan.

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  • Scotland’s 2030 climate goals “no longer credible”

    Scotland has “no comprehensive strategy to decarbonise towards Net Zero” according to a new report.

    The Climate Change Committee said continued delays to the updated climate change plan and further slippage in promised climate policies mean it no longer believes that the Scottish Government will meet its statutory 2030 goal to reduce emissions by 75%.

    The Scottish Government delayed its draft Climate Change Plan last year despite the 2030 target only being six years away.

    This has left a significant period without sufficient actions or policies to reach the target; the required acceleration in emissions reduction in Scotland is now beyond what is credible.

    “Scotland has laudable ambitions to decarbonise, but it isn’t enough to set a target; the Government must act. There are risks in all reviewed areas, including those with significant policy powers devolved to the Scottish Government,” said Professor Piers Forster, interim Chair of the Climate Change Committee.

    The Scottish Government said it would carefully consider the report’s recommendations before providing a formal response.

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  • AI energy projects secure £1.7m backing

    Projects using artificial intelligence (AI) to help improve weather forecasting for solar generators and for businesses to cut energy costs have won a share of £1.7m of Government funding.

    The backing is from the AI for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme which supports the development of technologies in the UK’s transition to net zero.

    Project which won support include one at the University of Nottingham which will use a combination of ground-based cameras and satellite images to analyse cloud cover and movement to forecast solar energy production.

    Optimise-AI in Cardiff has also received backing to help businesses and industry use AI to optimise energy efficiency in buildings through the development of a system that works alongside Internet of Things sensor readings

    Minister for Affordability and Skills Amanda Solloway said: “These projects will use our world-leading research and scientific expertise to enhance our renewables sector and boost our energy efficiency through the use of AI in the transport, land use, and electricity space.”

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