Energy Policy – Scotland

Letter Jack Ponton: I await with interest the business plan for Ms Sturgeon’s national energy company which will provide Scottish consumers with energy at ‘nearly the cost price’. Ms Sturgeon definitely talks about energy , ‘renewable of course’. One wonders if, like Mr Miliband, when drawing up the UK’s renewables targets, she is confusing ‘energy’ with ‘electricity’? Two thirds of domestic energy consumption is gas. There is no way in which the quantity consumed in Scotland could be produced by the only renewable process, anaerobic digestion. This was originally intended as a means of converting organic waste, but in practice has relied on crops specially grown as feedstock. There is only enough arable land in Scotland to provide enough of this to supply gas for 130,000 of our 2.4 million households, and most of this land is required to grow food. It is also probably the most expensive source of fuel gas. If Ms Sturgeon wants cheaper, though not renewable, gas it would have to be imported, probably ‘fracked’ gas, and perhaps from England, as fracking is banned in Scotland. So only one third of most household bills might be alleviated. Currently consented wind developments are certainly now sufficient to provide all Scotland’s electricity renewably, but only when the wind is blowing. When it isn’t we now have to import electricity from England. It is also unclear how this “green” company could avoid selling nuclear-generated electricity from Torness and Hunterston, or indeed from England or France. Electricity on the grid is not labelled by its source. The wholesale cost of electricity is less than half of what consumers pay. Contrary to popular belief, no one is making much money right now selling electricity. It may surprise those whose electricity bills have just increased to hear that wholesale prices are at a near record low.

Times19th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 October 2017

Brexit

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

Parliament 18th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 October 2017

Electric Vehicles

Royal Dutch Shell has launched a fast-charging service for electric vehicles at three Shell service stations near London and in northern England, the company said on Wednesday. The service, which charges most electric vehicle batteries from zero to 80 per cent within half an hour, is the oil major’s first foray into fast-charging electric vehicles, whose use is set to grow with consumers’ demand for cleaner cars.

Independent 18th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 October 2017

Energy Policy

Last week’s big Clean Growth Strategy reveal brought to a close months of delays, anticipation and, if you believe ministers, careful consultations with stakeholders. For much of the past year the energy market lay in wait, assured in the knowledge that government officials were taking their time in producing a body of work with all the required insight and input needed to set the UK on a decarbonisation glide path to the 2030s. But when push came to shove, it appears that the government’s consultation efforts barely extended beyond Whitehall. OK, perhaps that is to do the CGS something of a disservice. The plan, although lacking precise policy details and plenty of specifics, does contain a good degree of sterling work. And it’s work that will put many investors at ease and the UK on a good footing. The full implementation of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan will do wonders for unlocking the potential of renewables and storage, and renewed emphasis on energy efficiency technologies in non-domestic buildings is hugely significant. And that’s without mentioning the near sea change in rhetoric towards clean energy. No longer are renewables the elephant in the room – that role is seemingly now fulfilled by a rather sizeable white one down in Somerset – now they are clearly considered to be a pivotal element in our future energy landscape. Which is why it’s particularly perverse for the government to have overlooked one of the cheapest, most pervasive renewables in solar. If you missed mentions of solar in the CGS then fear not, you weren’t the only one. When it came to PV, the document read more like a sales brochure for the technology’s progress than it did a policy briefing regarding its future. References to solar were largely limited to much-feted cost reductions and developments secured in the absence of subsidy. In doing so, it ignored what is quickly becoming more an orchestra than a chorus of calls for solar to be welcomed back into the Contracts for Difference fold. Instead of competing in fair, transparent and technology-agnostic auctions, solar is confined to the bench.

Solar Power Portal 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Nick Molho: This strategy differs markedly from some of its predecessors in that it enjoys clear cross-government backing. Gone are the days – it seems – of contradictory ministerial statements coming from the same department. Not only does the strategy contain a foreword from the Prime Minister, in which she commits her government to “help British businesses and entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities which the global low carbon economy presents”, but it also sets out a comprehensive set of actions that will have required support from several government departments beyond the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In the power sector, the reconfirmation that £557m will be made available for further CfD auctions of offshore wind projects is very positive. It will help the industry develop a pipeline of investable projects (which could result in 10GW of new capacity when including projects from the last auction), build on the significant cost reductions delivered in the auction round of September 2017 and invest in the UK’s growing supply chain. However, one notable absence in the strategy is the future of mature renewables like onshore wind and solar power. Given how cost-competitive these technologies have become, the government should work with industry to develop a subsidy-free mechanism that will encourage the development of projects in parts of the country where communities want them.

Business Green 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Energy Costs

British Gas owner Centrica has refused to rule out a legal challenge to the Government’s proposed price cap on energy bills, while coming under fire from MPs and regulator Ofgem for its heavy reliance on expensive standard tariffs. Grilled by MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, Centrica’s UK boss of home supply Sarwjit Sambhi declined five opportunities to say whether the company would call for a judicial review of the cap. Earlier this month the Government published draft legislation for an absolute cap on prices until 2020, meaning that it will set a maximum price per kilowatt hour that suppliers can charge. Mr Sambhi said there was “not sufficient detail” in the bill thus far to declare Centrica’s position. But he added: “A key outcome if the energy bill is put to legislation is that the cap should reflect the cost of actually supplying energy to customers.”

Telegraph 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Brexit

Labour has threatened to vote against nuclear industry contingency measures post-Brexit, claiming they give ministers a blank cheque to make “controversial policy decisions”. Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the Nuclear Safeguards Bill contained so-called Henry VIII powers which would enable the Government to pass laws with less scrutiny in the Commons. She told MPs: “The job of a legislature is to legislate: the Bill before us as it stands is effectively a blank cheque handing that job over to ministers. “And I hope that the Minister can respond today with an iron-clad guarantee that the Government will not use those powers in that way but the ultimate guarantee will be to change the face of this Bill itself. “Safeguards are vital for our nuclear industry, but they are needed for our parliamentary democracy as well.” Speaking during the Bill’s second reading, Ms Long Bailey received cheers from the Government benches as she said there needed to be a nuclear safeguarding regime for the UK after it leaves the EU “should all else fail”. But she said: “Let me add a caveat to that: we will need to see evidence of substantial amendment of the procedure set out here in this Bill, and evidence that the Government is really thinking about the best post-Brexit Euratom formulation before we can wholeheartedly commit at report stage and third reading to the passage of this Bill.”

Energy Voice 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Brexit

The UK’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said Monday only 10% of the UK’s general public agree with the government’s decision to leave the Euratom atomic energy treaty at the same time it leaves the European Union (EU).

Kallanish Energy 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 October 2017

Energy Policy – Scotland

Alastair Martin chief strategy officer of Flexitricity: Shaping a sustainable, fair and competitive energy market for the future is a major challenge for both Scottish and UK Governments. Technology outpaces policy; our needs and capabilities are changing as fast as in the era of electrification. Yet the ghost of fuel poverty stubbornly refuses to be slain. Community energy changes the game. We’ve already seen how this can work – Aberdeen, Gateshead and Nottingham all have publicly-owned community energy schemes based around heat networks. Community schemes can find synergy between different energy uses and generation capabilities. One site’s cooling problem is another’s heating opportunity. A solar farm might be held back by network constraints just when it’s sunniest, but not if there’s a local vehicle charging station ready to soak up the excess. Community energy doesn’t just diversify the energy mix; it can actually make money for the consumer. Better yet, community energy means community engagement. Creating a challenger supplier is a lot cheaper than nationalisation, and it’s more likely to have the desired effect of forcing established suppliers to improve their game. But by supporting community energy, SturgeonPower could transform the dynamics of the Scottish energy system. Communities are diverse. Some are ideal for heat networks; some are located close to renewable resources. Some have energy-hungry industry nearby, while others are centres of commerce. We’d like to see the new business supporting a decentralised network of community energy assets of all types, underpinned by full use of smart grid technology to ensure these assets are used to maximum efficiency. It’d be big, bold and unprecedented – but the time for timidity is over. Energy is transforming anyway. By getting into the heart of that change and directing it towards communities, the First Minister can achieve her goal of protecting vulnerable people, and at the same time make energy work for everyone.

Energy Voice 16th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 October 2017

Electric Vehicles

With China, India, Norway, UK, France and California planning to ban manufacture and sales of new internal combustion engine cars, and electric vehicles (EV) on the rise, will a solar roof become popular add-on option for plug in EV’s, and how many kilometres a day can they provide? The solar roof on the Prius can generate enough electricity for 3-5km/day. Several groups are targeting between 10-30km/day with more specialised light weight 4 seater electric cars.

Renew Economy 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 October 2017

Energy Policy

The best part of a year late, the Government this week finally published its Clean Growth Strategy. It’s pretty decent as far as it goes – but that’s nowhere near far enough. This legally required tome – all 165 pages of it – sets out some of the ways ministers propose to get the UK back on track to meet our carbon budgets, which we’re in danger of overshooting. It doesn’t entirely do that, but its tone is refreshingly positive after years of blinkered mutterings from this and the previous Government about the supposed costs of ‘green crap’. At a time when the US is doing all it can to scupper not just its own decarbonisation but that of the rest of the world, the UK is reassuringly clear that this has only hardened the world’s resolve to act. Trump sets about rekindling the US coal industry; the UK paints climate action and industrial success as going hand in hand. And it is unambiguous on what the Government sees its main role in cutting emissions: creating ‘the best possible conditions for the private sector to innovate and invest’. It’s an industrial strategy plan first and foremost, and a pretty welcome one. The strategy is one giant come-hither to investors, whose outlook may have been understandably shaken by the economic uncertainty of Brexit, the whole ‘green crap’ thing, or both.

New Economics Foundation 13th Oct 2017 read more »

The Government’s long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy details more than 50 initiatives to decarbonise the UK economy in line with the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but does the ambition have enough quantifiable targets in place to deliver?

Edie 13th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 October 2017