The Informer

This week's headlines: both the Conservative and Labour Parties announce a series of measures aimed at accelerating the push to net zero; Ofgem gets tough over missed RO payments; and the Hinkley Point C nuclear project looks set to come in billions of pounds over budget.

  • Energy takes centre stage at party conferences

    Both the Conservative and Labour parties have set out plans for major investment programmes to decarbonise the economy towards net zero.

    At its party conference, Labour said it would build 37 offshore wind farms in which the public will own a 51% stake if it wins the next general election. The opposition party’s “People’s Power” plan would generate 52GW of power, enough for 57 million homes, by 2030 alongside 67,000 jobs.

    Labour said the plan would trigger £83 billion of government and private sector investment and likened the public stakes to those held by bodies in Belgium, Denmark and Germany.

    Meanwhile, The Conservative Party said it would introduce measures to accelerate the uptake of electric cars, plant a million trees and provide £220m in funding for nuclear fusion research.

    However, Lawrence Slade, Energy UK’s chief executive, said with just 120 quarters until 2050, much more urgency is required to “seriously address what is one of the most critical issues of our age.”

    “We need to see action that will really shift the dial - including a Government-funded national energy efficiency programme and measures to tackle complex areas such as the decarbonisation of heat, which will be critical to achieving our climate targets.”

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  • Ofgem orders suppliers to pay £14.7m over missed RO deadline

    Four suppliers have been ordered to pay a total of £14.7 million after missing a deadline for money owed under the Renewables Obligation.

    If the suppliers fail to pay by 31 October, Ofgem said it could start the process to revoke their licence to supply energy.

    The regulator said its action sends a strong signal that all suppliers must meet their obligations or face the consequences.

    Under the RO scheme, suppliers have to demonstrate they have sourced enough electricity from renewable sources to meet their obligation by presenting ROCs to Ofgem by 1 September. If they don’t have enough ROCs to meet their obligation, they must make up the shortfall by paying into a buy-out fund by 31 August.

    Having failed to pay into the buy-out fund or present the required number of ROCs by the deadlines, the four suppliers now have until 31 October to make the outstanding payments, plus interest.

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  • Hinkley Point C could run £2.9bn over budget

    EDF Energy has said that its Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset will cost between £21.5 billion and £22.5bn, an increase of between £1.9bn and £2.9bn on previous estimates.

    The French company also said that the risk of the project being delivered 15 months later than planned had also risen.

    EDF said: “Cost increases reflect challenging ground conditions which made earthworks more expensive than anticipated, revised action plan targets and extra costs needed to implement the completed functional design, which has been adapted for a first-of-a-kind application in the UK context.”

    Martin Young, an Analyst at investment bank Investec, said: “This is clearly bad news for nuclear new build prospects in the UK, particularly in light of recent record low offshore wind prices.”

    The base for the second nuclear reactor is due to be completed in June 2020.

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  • Renewables set for double-digit capacity growth in 2019

    Strong growth from solar and wind is expected to help global renewable energy capacity to grow by 12% this year, or almost 200GW, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    The rise would be the largest since 2015 and would mark a turnaround from last year’s stalled performance.

    Solar is tipped to post a 17% increase or nearly 115GW, following an 80% drop in the cost of equipment since 2010.

    Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said: “The stark difference between this year’s trend and last year’s demonstrates the critical ability of government policies to change the trajectory we are on.”

    A question mark still hangs over the performance of solar in China, where the IEA described the market as “soft”.

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  • Scotland sets ‘toughest’ climate change targets

    The Scottish Parliament has backed plans for Scotland to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK Government’s target.

    The Climate Change Bill also includes measures to cut emissions by 75% by 2030, which the Scottish Government believes to be the “toughest statutory target” of any nation in the world.

    Any remaining emissions would need to be offset through measures such as planting trees.

    In a separate move, Investments in some green projects such as small renewable energy projects and EV charging points may no longer need planning permission under proposals to relax planning rules issued by the Scottish Government.

    Meanwhile, the legislation to create a Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) has begun its journey through the Holyrood parliament.

    Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns, said: “It was great to hear Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrat MSPs speaking in support of changes to the SNIB Bill that would put tackling the climate crisis in the bank’s founding legislation.”

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