Utilities

Just over a year after buying First Utility, Royal Dutch Shell has rebranded the British household energy supplier and is switching all its customers to renewable electricity as the oil and gas giant seeks to expand its low-carbon business. The move by the Anglo-Dutch company poses a challenge for Britain’s long-standing retail power suppliers whose profit margins have come under growing pressure due to intense competition and the regulator’s price cap. First Utility, which has around 710,000 energy customers, has been rebranded as Shell Energy and joins a handful of energy brands such as Bulb and Octopus Energy that offer all customers 100 percent renewable electricity.

Reuters 24th March 2019 read more »

Times 25th March 2019 read more »

Telegraph 24th March 2019 read more »

On Sunday, Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, announced that its First Utility retail power business would be rebranded as Shell Energy, with 700,000 households switched to renewable power. Customers will be offered not only cleaner electricity but discounts on fast-charging for their electric vehicles as well as broadband and smart-home technologies. Shell has floated the idea that by the 2030s it could be the largest power company in the world. Meanwhile, Enel, the Italian electricity group that by some measures holds that title today, last week highlighted the rapid growth in its network of electric car-charging points. By the end of 2018 it had installed 49,000 worldwide, up 63 per cent during the year, chief executive Francesco Starace said as he announced annual earnings. The competition to provide the best offerings is given an additional edge by a clash of cultures. People who work in the high-stakes world of oil and gas have traditionally looked down on the humdrum plodders of the electricity sector, described by one gas executive as “useless”. The next decade will reveal whether that confidence is justified. On the oil side of the energy industry, pressure from investors is forcing companies to look at ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions, while the rise of electric vehicles is threatening to put a brake on the growth in demand for crude. Vitol, the world’s largest independent energy trader, said last Tuesday it expected oil demand to peak within 15 years, and intended to focus on cleaner fuels and power trading in the coming years. Total, the French oil and gas group, has a similar message. “We really think as an energy company,” Philippe Sauquet, its president of gas, renewables and power, said at the recent CERAWeek conference in Houston.

FT 25th March 2019 read more »

Octopus Energy has launched a dedicated green, flexible electricity supply service for transport operators looking to ensure their electric vehicle (EV) fleets are charged up during the cheapest times of the day using 100 per cent renewable energy. The firm claims the ‘Electric Juice’ tariff, a collaboration between its business energy and electric vehicles arms, is the first of its kind in the UK, and comes after consultation with more than 20 EV charge points companies last year. It is based on the company’s Agile Octopus time-of-use tariff, which launched last year to enable customers to take advantage of half-hourly changes in the price of electricity, with the price higher during times of peak demand for electricity, and cheapest when demand is low. Octopus Energy has estimated that tariffs which vary based on time of day can save customers up to £229 compared with standard tariffs, and recently partnered with Amazon’s Alexa device to improve customer access to up-to-date changes in prices on the tariff. Electric Juice comprises a range of four tariff options, which can be tailored to suit different businesses’ needs, the company said. It includes a six-monthly review to assess whether companies are on the most appropriate tariff structure, it added.

Business Green 25th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 25 March 2019

Companies

When the great and good of the oil industry gathered at their annual conference in Texas this month, they were joined by a few unfamiliar names. In a sign of shifting times, the guest list at Ceraweek in Houston also included Amazon Web Services boss Andrew Jassey and executives from Japanese car maker Mitsubishi. Big Oil, facing disruption from huge shifts in technology and energy use, is gradually trying to do something about it. Shell executive Maarten Wetselaar, responsible for so-called new energies, spoke for the first time of the Anglo-Dutch giant’s ambitions to become the world’s biggest electricity company in little more than a decade. He outlined audacious plans for up to 30% of Shell’s $400bn (£303bn) business to be in generating, trading and selling electricity, compared with a fraction now. “Electrification is the biggest trend in energy over the next 10 to 15 years because we think it is the easiest way to decarbonise energy usage.” Meanwhile, energy efficiency is making household devices less power hungry, and efforts are under way to electrify home heating. This month, the UK said that gas boilers would be banned in new homes by 2025 to ease climate change. The proportion of energy provided by electricity is set to jump to about 50%, up from 20% now. Within that, renewables such as solar and wind power are set to become the world’s target source of global electricity by 2040, BP is predicting, as the technology gets cheaper. Shell’s plan to shift towards electricity is a logical next step for it and many of its peers, positioning it as a provider of energy, not just oil and gas – but it also plays to its core strength. Others are also dipping their toes into the electricity market. French oil and gas major Total splashed out $1.7bn on Direct Energie in a challenge to state-controlled utility EDF. BP bought a small stake in UK supplier Pure Planet and has a partnership with solar power developer Lightsource BP, taking a 43% stake in the company. The tie-up is central to an advertising campaign BP has launched in recent weeks.

Sunday Times 24th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Utilities

UK energy firm SSE has unveiled a new sustainability strategy for 2030 aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that will deliver a 50% cut in carbon intensity, trebling its renewable electricity output and facilitating the uptake of 10 million electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.

Edie 21st March 2019 read more »

Herald 22nd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 22 March 2019

Utilities

Good Energy has defied the gloom of the UK’s energy market by selling more green energy to a growing number of companies with green sustainability targets. The renewable energy company more than doubled annual profits despite a record number of suppliers collapsed under the pressure of rising energy costs last year. Good Energy said it offset the fierce competition in the household energy market by increasing its green energy sales to businesses by almost a quarter. As a result profits climbed to £1.6m, from £700,000 the year before, as eight rivals collapsed and others deepened their losses in the face of rising costs and competition. Juliet Davenport, Good Energy’s chief executive, said demand for green power was rising because major UK companies were making commitments to reduce their carbon emissions, or use renewable energy. “They are looking to their supply chains to do the same,” she said. Ms Davenport said Good Energy’s 150,000 household customers have a total of 600 megawatts of home solar power installed – as much as a small gas-fired power plant.

Telegraph 2th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 March 2019

Net Zero

THE Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill is in its early legislative stages in the Scottish Parliament. It will set in place new ambitious targets to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 as well as introducing new powers to set Scotland on course to net zero emissions by a date which is yet to be decided. Scotland is a small, agile nation and has had the leadership in place for many years at all layers of government and business to reach these goals, so we should embrace these targets and work collaboratively to achieving them. The Scottish economy will continue to benefit from low-carbon investment and the jobs and efficiencies it creates. The UK Government in partnership with Scottish minsters has asked the Committee on Climate Change to advise it when the UK economy can achieve net zero emissions. This could mean the UK would become the first amongst the G7 nations. We are proud at BT of the work we have done to reduce our emissions over the last 25 years. We have a big responsibility, as we use around one per cent of the UK’s electricity each year keeping the UK connected, and we continue to reduce our energy consumption year on year. Last year, BT set in place a new pledge to become a net zero-carbon business by 2045. We are confident we can achieve this having put in place a science-based target in line with a 1.5C trajectory in 2017 having met our original emissions target – to reduce our emissions by 80 per cent by 2020 – four years early.

Herald 21st March 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 March 2019

Utilities

It will celebrate its 20th birthday next year but Simon Rogerson, co-founder of one of Britain’s fastest growing private companies, says that the financial services group Octopus has its work cut out for years to come. Its bread and butter is investing in small and medium-sized companies but the diverse group has six divisions including Octopus Energy, a rapidly expanding renewable power supplier, as well as a venture capital arm and a healthcare unit that invests in care homes and retirement villages. Octopus picks areas of expansion based on where it believes customers are poorly served. “Financial services and energy are the least two trusted sectors in the world so they’re ripe for disruption,” Mr Rogerson says. The company is making a concerted effort to try to attract more institutions such as pension funds to invest in areas such as venture capital and renewable energy infrastructure. However, there are no plans for Octopus to grow more limbs. “These are giant sectors,” Mr Hulatt says.

Times 20th March 2019 read more »

Green energy supplier Octopus has this week announced a new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa device, which will provide consumers with the chance to take advantage of time of use energy tariffs using voice automation. In what the companies describe as a first of a kind service, consumers will be able to use the Alexa hub to adjust energy usage based on half-hourly price changes offered by Octopus’ recently launched time of use tariff.

Business Green 19th March 2019 read more »

Oil companies want to become power utilities to meet rising demand from electricity in transport and from growing populations. The strategy makes perfect sense but could be risky for regulators and consumers if it results in a new breed of gigantic energy-controlling monopolies. On one hand, watchdogs in developed markets such as the UK should welcome the introduction of relatively new players such as Shell and BP to challenge the Big Six conventional utilities. On the other, electricity markets are politically sensitive and oil majors would make easy targets for politicians keen to look like they are protecting consumers if profits become too inflated. The Labour Party has threatened to nationalise parts of the electricity industry if it gains power in Britain. Meanwhile, regulator Ofgem was forced last year to introduce price caps to reduce household energy costs in response to political pressure. Introducing big oil into the debate could further fan the flames. There is also the question of shareholder value for oil industry leaders to consider. Can Shell and other oil majors afford to lift spending in their embryonic electricity businesses and still maintain adequate levels of expenditure on their conventional oil and gas divisions, which remain the main drivers of profits and investor returns?

Telegraph 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Utilities

German renewables and energy retail giant Innogy SE stepped up its investment in “disruptive” clean technology start-ups last year, backing 61 companies through its innovation arm and growing the value of its portfolio by more than 50 per cent, it revealed today. Set up in 2014 with a focus on investing in companies involved in decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitisation or democratisation of energy, the firm’s Innovation Hub has now funded almost 90 start-ups, creating a portfolio worth €162m in total, it said. But the announcement came as Innogy last week lamented a “turbulent year” across its wider global energy business, which saw its year-on-year earnings fall by seven per cent to €2.6bn due to lower than expected returns from renewables, challenges in its electricity and gas retail business, and the collapse of the planned merger of its UK business with npower. The firm said “unusually low levels of wind across large areas of Europe” acted as a drag on its financial results, with earnings from renewables alone down to €299m in 2018 from €355m the previous year. However, it said it expected an increase in earnings from its renewables business this coming year due to expanding capacity, based on more “normalised” weather conditions.

Business Green 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Urenco

Urenco, the uranium processing specialist, has released annual figures for the year to December 31, 2018, which show a slight increase in revenues, although income before tax slipped. Urenco UK is based at Capenhurst near Chester, and produces enriched uranium to enable nuclear power stations around the world to generate electricity. It employs around 300 people.

Business Desk 15th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 15 March 2019

Utilities

One of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers could be wound down after failing to stem heavy losses, its owner has said. Germany’s Innogy said it was considering all options for Npower, which supplies gas and electricity to about 2.5 million UK households, after the collapse of its proposed merger with SSE last year. Bernhard Guenther, Innogy’s chief financial officer, said one such option was “selling the customer book and winding down the operations of the business”, which employs about 6,000 people in the UK. Such a move would cost Innogy hundreds of millions of pounds. Innogy was also open to offers to buy all of Npower, he said, or could still transfer it to rival Eon as part of a wider deal, which had been its expected fate. Npower is the smallest of Britain’s Big Six energy suppliers and has been loss-making for the past four years despite restructuring efforts and heavy job cuts. Losses deepened to €72 million in 2018 from €63 million a year earlier, Innogy said yesterday, as the supplier lost almost 660,000 customer accounts.

Times 14th March 2019 read more »

A pair of German-owned Big Six energy suppliers have plunged to a loss as the cap on standard energy bills takes it toll on supplier profits. The owners of Npower and E.ON UK both revealed losses for their British supply arms, which also face unprecedented competition from a growing number of nimble new entrants. Innogy said it has been forced to cut its dividend after taking a €1.5bn (£1.29bn) writedown on Npower, which lost 650,000 customers last year. In a seperate set of financial results, E.ON UK plunged to a loss of €1m for 2018, down from a €108m profit the year before, due to “persistently challenging market conditions”. Innogy warned investors that its UK supply business would continue to drag on profits in the year ahead after failing to offload Npower in a spin-off deal with SSE in 2018.

Telegraph 13th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 14 March 2019

Utilities

The German group Uniper has recorded a net loss of EUR 492 million for the year 2018, against EUR 538 million a year ago, due to poor hedge charges and depreciation of its power plants, said Tuesday electrician. The loss “is mainly attributable to impairments of EUR 681 million on the Datteln 4 and Provence 4 power plants as well as on the gas storage portfolio in Germany,” said Uniper. The new German coal plant, Datteln (1.1 GW), has been delayed and is expected to be commissioned by mid-2020. However, it is unlikely that this unit will ever be operational due to the proposed exit of coal from a working group appointed by the government in January. In parallel, strikes continued to affect the production of its French plant Provence, which has recently been converted from coal to biomass.

Montel News 12th March 2019 read more »

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas groups, is aiming to become the largest electricity company by the 2030s, as it prepares for a fundamental shift in global energy supplies towards lower-carbon sources. Maarten Wetselaar, Shell’s director of gas and new energies, told the Financial Times that the group could develop a power business, including supplying customers, trading and providing equipment, that was the same size as its oil or gas operations. Speaking at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Mr Wetselaar said that if Shell achieved its goal for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, “the amount of power – of clean power – we will need to be selling . . . will make us by far the biggest power company in the world”. Achieving its ambition would depend on being able to secure an acceptable return on capital of 8-12 per cent, he said, but added: “With our brand, our global presence . . . and the adjacency to our gas business – we can get our hands on the cheapest gas anywhere – we should be able to win.”

FT 13th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019