Monday 07/05 – The International Renewable Energy Agency reports that the renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs globally in 2017. Media reports indicate the UK’s solar panels contributed their largest ever share to the country’s energy mix during the May bank holiday weekend.
Tuesday 08/05 – The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee hears in its session on development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles of the need for interim targets towards the 2040 phase-out of internal combustion cars. Innovate UK launches a new £41.5mn fund for smart energy business models.
Wednesday 09/05 – Bristol City Council announces it is seeking up to £1bn investment in Bristol’s energy infrastructure over the next decade to help the city reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Energy UK launched a project to identify the challenges and opportunities of delivering a clean, green future UK energy system that meets consumer expectations. The House of Lords passes reforms to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.
Thursday 10/05/08 – The Competition and Markets Authority publishes the findings of its initial study on heat networks, concluding the sector should be regulated. The Oil and Gas Authority reveals that Oil and gas production efficiency on the UK Continental Shelf rose in 2017 for a fifth consecutive year.
Friday 11/05 – The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveils his draft environment strategy, including the introduction of London-specific carbon budgets and a target for 2GW of solar deployment by 2050.
Trade association Energy UK launched its Future of Energy vision document on Wednesday, 9 May, looking forward to 2028 – considering what will be expected of suppliers, generators and other players in the energy market of the future.
The energy industry commits to a future energy system that:
Particular issues are identified as the decarbonisation of heat and transport.
Decarbonising heat is seen one of the biggest challenges facing the industry and government. Any solution is seen as likely to involve seeking alternatives to natural gas to heat our homes and a greater focus on energy efficiency. Energy UK stated that industry and government will need to work together to find solutions that are attractive to customers in both price and performance. The use of low carbon gases, district heating, renewable heat and electrification are all identified as options, with each likely to have an active role in how domestic and non-domestic customers use heat.
On transport, electric vehicles are becoming a more popular consumer choice as technology improves, whilst opportunities for reducing emissions in HGVs and shipping are growing. However, managing a system with greater electrification will “present its own challenges and opportunities”.
Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy UK, commented: “The energy system of the future will be smarter, cleaner, decentralised and diverse. It will offer multiple opportunities to benefit customers, the UK economy and the environment. Technological advances can transform not just how we generate and use energy but also our experience as customers. However, enabling this revolution sets a number of challenges and questions for us all. It will require the funding and creation of different infrastructure and sources, a level playing field for the growing number of participants and most importantly fairness so that all customers, including the vulnerable, benefit from these advances.”
Energy UK will publish a series of subsequent papers throughout 2018, including on transporting energy to and from customers through transmission and distribution networks and improving energy efficiency for domestic, industrial and commercial customers.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee held a session examining issues relating to charging infrastructure on Tuesday, 8 May as part of its inquiry into the development of the market for electric vehicles.
The inquiry is exploring the role of electric vehicles in the transition to a low carbon economy. It is investigating the actions needed to support the development of the electric vehicle market, the challenges that electric vehicles represent for the electricity grid, and industrial opportunities for the automotive sector.
Witnesses at the session were: Robert Evans, Chair of the UK Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Association, Rasita Chudasama, Principal Transport Planner, Nottingham City Council, David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster and Matthew Eastwood, Head of Transport, Scotland at the Energy Saving Trust.
Asked what the barriers were to developing EV charging infrastructure, Evans said that the business case was a barrier in that the electric car market was slow to grow. He added that there was a land point issue, constraints on the low voltage network, and finally, organisation and knowledge still had to improve.
Eastwood added that attitudes in the private sector were more mixed with regards to electric cars and building infrastructure. As such, he said it was important to make the business case to businesses for building the infrastructure.
Later in the session Committee Chair Rachel Reeves asked how receptive businesses were to installing charge points. Martell responded that they installed charge points for free as they received revenue from usage which allowed for greater take up by businesses. On motorways, Martell noted that one organisation had a monopoly of charge points at service stations and that this was a problem. Reeves agreed to discuss the issue further following the committee session.
Asked why only five local authorities applied for funding to build on street parking charge points, Evans answered that it was not that practical because on street parking was fluid and people never parked in the same place; as such local authorities were resistant.
On broader grid impacts, Evans said that DNOs need to be sanctioned to be able to invest. He said that the cost was a barrier as businesses were charged to reinforce sub-stations in local networks to offset capacity decreases from EV charging.
Carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to have increased in the EU in 2017 when compared to 2016 figures, according to EU statistical office, Eurostat. The early estimate of CO2 emissions, published on Friday, 4 May suggest that emissions from fossil fuel generation increased by 1.8%.
CO2 emissions, says Eurostat, account for around 80% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions and are a major contributor to global warming. Eurostat’s estimates show that emissions for power generation rose in the majority of EU Member States. The highest increase (12.8%) was recorded in Malta, followed by Estonia (11.3%), Bulgaria (8.3%) and Span (7.4%). The UK recorded a decrease in emissions of 3.2%, alongside countries such as Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Latvia and Germany.
In presenting its data Eurostat pointed to several factors that influence emissions including climate conditions, size of population, economic growth, transport and industrial activity. The import and export of energy products can too impact emissions – for example, imported coal leads to increased emissions, while imported electricity has no effect on emissions in the importing country but will be noted due to generating activity in the exporting country.
The latest figures released by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) have revealed that globally most government’s policies are not on track to meet their Paris Agreement commitments. While the report notes that progress has been made since November, it said that the latest figures pointed to an urgent need to governments to scale up both their policies and targets” to make sure they are in line with limiting warming to the specified 1.5 degree target.
The CAT highlighted the rapid growth of renewable energy from wind and solar, particularly in the US and in China. At the same time, the CAT notes the positive impact of many countries turning away from coal, particularly in the UK which has decreased its coal in electricity generation from nearly 40% to 7% in just three years.
The EU has not yet “effectively proposed an adequate policy response” to the targets set out in the Paris Agreement. The report went on to state that it is crucial that the EU and its member states take positive action by turning views into policies. The EU is reported to have seen the fastest decrease in emissions in the power sector, but the CAT recommended that a “complete phase out” of coal is needed by 2030 – the UK is noted as a member state that has set a phase out that can achieve this.
Despite the overall global growth in renewables, in the EU renewables development is reported as slowing down with newly installed capacity in 2014-16, 40% lower than in 2010-12. The statistics also showed that the EU as a whole is also falling behind nations including China and Norway in the uptake of EVs.
Research released on Wednesday, 2 May, has revealed that investment in UK renewable energy fell 56% in 2017.
Law firm TLT’s Clean Energy Investment Trends 2018 attributed this substantial reduction to the end of government subsidies for onshore wind and solar. However, TLT Head of Energy and Renewables, Maria Connolly noted: “Despite the challenges, the clean energy market remained stable and began to adapt to the realities of the post-subsidies era.”
Trends highlighted for the year included the diversification of portfolios in response to these government changes. The reported highlighted that despite an 84% reduction in annual deal value and a 63% drop in transaction numbers, the diversification of investment portfolios allowed offshore wind to deliver a 33% rise in project deals.
However, TLT found the maturity of the onshore wind market linked to the fall in project finance annual transaction values (-62%) and deal numbers (-42%). Although, the onshore wind market has the potential to recover and participate in future subsidy auctions, provided the scheme can demonstrate its costs are low enough, the local community is engaged, and planning permission is granted.
Furthermore, although solar acquisitions remained high represented by a 42% increase in annual deal value, both areas saw a decline in the number of deals. The report found this reduction to be a result of 2016-17 being the final year of the Renewable Obligation being open to solar, in addition to the end of subsidies. Meanwhile, bioenergy saw a significant drop in investor interest leading to an 86% and 70% reduction in deal value and the number of deals respectively.
The report suggested the progression in smart technologies, electric vehicles and energy storage projects kept the market steady as investors looked to diversify their portfolios into alternative technologies to replace the traditional subsidised onshore wind and solar projects. Energy storage became a key player in the market being recognised to contain significant investment opportunities as it won its first contracts in the National Grid Enhanced Frequency Response and Capacity Market auctions.
The report found energy storage contains two attractive investment prospects. The first involving co-locating energy storage with existing operational technologies such as solar or wind to maximise revenue streams, increase project longevity and make new subsidy free developments viable. The second, utilised behind-the-meter energy storage projects with a direct corporate off-taker linked with revenues from National Grid contracts.
Dan Wells, Infrastructure Partner at Foresight Group, commented: “We expect that 20% of our new fund will be invested in renewable-enabling infrastructure, which includes storage,” adding “We can invest in storage anywhere in the world, the UK is a real leader in putting investment mechanisms in place for storage.”
The UK’s solar panels contributed their largest ever share to the country’s energy mix during the May bank holiday weekend – the hottest on record.
According to data from National Grid reported on Tuesday, 8 May, solar installations reached a peak of 28.5% of the UK’s electricity production, compared to the 24.8% share contributed by gas fired power plants. The previous record set by solar was 26.1% of generation, which occurred last July. The peak output for solar generation occurred between 1.30pm and 2.00pm on Sunday 6 May, reaching 9.28GW. However, this output fell short of the record peak output of 9.37GW set on 26 May 2017.
Despite these highs solar power continues to make up a smaller share of the UKs energy mix due to the need to meet weekday demand from more conventional power plants. National Grid noted across Sunday’s full 24-hour period solar power contributed 11.1% of the electricity generated, compared to the reliant output from gas-fired power and nuclear power, comprising 34.6% and 27.5% of power output respectively.
The UK currently has 13GW of solar capacity deployed, which is expected to grow to 18GW by 2023 with improvements in battery technology.
A new £41.5mn fund for smart energy business models was announced by Innovate UK on Tuesday, 8 May.
As part of the industrial strategy challenge fund programme, Prospering from the Energy Revolution. The funds purpose is to support the design and practical demonstration of new business models that intelligently link supply, storage and demand in heating, power and transport.
The competition aims to prove that smarter local energy systems can deliver cleaner and cheaper energy services by the early 2020s. As a result, entries should be designed to reduce energy bills by at least 25% and cut carbon emissions in line with UK targets such as those set by the Paris agreement.
The fund is divided into two parts with up to £40mn available for three smart energy system demonstrators and up to £1.5mn available for studies into new, smarter approaches to local energy. successful projects could result in businesses attracting up to 45% of their project costs and will be supported by an energy integration network, including the Energy Systems Catapult leading researchers and government and independent regulatory bodies.
The deadline for applications is 25 July.
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