The Informer

This week’s headlines: a slump in onshore wind investment last year should send a warning to the Government over its net zero ambitions; National Grid’s pension fund strikes a £185m renewable investment deal; new figures show UK low carbon generation growth stalled in 2019; and a Danish investor is to back a storage and solar pipeline across the UK.

  • Warning over dramatic fall in onshore wind investment

    A steep fall in the number of new onshore windfarms being built in the UK should be a “flashing red warning light” for the Government on its net zero ambitions, according to a renewable industry body.

    RenewableUK said 23 new onshore windfarms began generating in the UK, but all but one of them had secured support from subsidy schemes before they were closed.

    According to the figures supplied to The Guardian, that compared to more than 400 in the peak year of 2014 and the average set over the last decade of 208 new projects a year.

    Renewable UK director Rebecca Williams said the data showed the UK was falling short on the progress needed to meet its legally binding climate change targets.

    “This is a flashing red warning light on our net zero dashboard and we urgently need a new strategy from government,” she said.

    Read more

  • National Grid pension fund in £185m renewables deal

    Octopus Renewables has been chosen to manage a £185 million investment fund on behalf of the National Grid UK Pension Scheme (NGUKPS).

    The 25-year fund is the third institutional renewable energy income partnership to be managed by Octopus.

    Alex Brierley, Co-head of Octopus Renewables, said: “With predictable income, diversification and sustainable investment all at the forefront of institutional investors' minds, this commitment by NGUKPS shows that our renewable energy income partnership series continues to provide an attractive solution for investors.”

    Since it was founded in 2010, Octopus Renewables has grown to become the largest commercial-scale solar energy investor in Europe, and now has more than £3.2 billion of energy assets under management, stretching across solar and onshore wind.

    The company floated on the stock market last year, raising £350 million to eclipse its initial £250m target.

    Read more

  • Low carbon generation stalled in 2019

    Output from low-carbon sources in the UK grew by less than 1% during 2019, with growth in renewables offset by problems at nuclear power stations, according to analysis firm Carbon Brief.

    The increase in output from low-carbon sources was the smallest for a decade and raised questions over the UK’s ability to hit its 2030 target on carbon intensity and its 2050 net zero goal.

    The figures paint a different picture from those published by National Grid earlier this month. Carbon Brief said National Grid’s data was for Great Britain only but that its analysis covered the UK as a whole. It also said its figures were based on the total amount of electricity generated within the UK rather than on electricity “supplied” to the GB grid, including imports and excluding that used on site – for example, to run nuclear plant cooling systems.

    Carbon Brief warned that the opening of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station wouldn’t offset the closure of the Dungeness and Hunterston atomic plants.

    It said low-carbon output needs to rise from 176TWh in 2019 to 276TWh in 2030, having climbed by just 1TWh in 2019.

    Read more

  • Danish investor backs UK storage and solar expansion

    A Copenhagen-based firm has joined forces with a UK investor in a joint venture to fund the development of a UK storage and solar pipeline of more than 500 MW.

    European Energy, which will work with London-based Armstrong Capital Management, said it had been looking at the UK market for some time and was looking forward to “delivering hundreds of MWs of subsidy-free renewable energy projects” in the years ahead.

    Thorvald Spanggaard, Project Director at European Energy said: “We are already working on developing our own portfolio of wind and solar sites, but have been looking for some time for local partners to help us to accelerate our development activities.”

    Meanwhile, search engine operator Google has unveiled plans to open the world’s largest corporate solar and battery project to power a datacentre in Nevada.

    NV Energy will build a 350MW solar farm and a 280MW bank of batteries to run the $600 million (£460m) centre. Google will use artificial intelligence to keep its datacentre cool.

    The company has been using only renewable energy to power its data centres and offices since 2017.

    Read more

  • Offshore wind to supply 5% of global power by 2040

    Global output from offshore wind turbines will soar from 25GW today to 418GW by 2040, according to predictions by analysis firm Rethink Energy.

    Such an increase would mean offshore wind would account for 5% of the world’s power.

    Installing the necessary turbines would require $1.3 trillion (£1 trillion) of investment and would create eight million jobs.

    China is tipped to overtake the UK as the largest offshore wind market in 2026, with Asia-Pacific leap frogging Europe by the end of the decade.

    Rethink Energy added: “There will be a second coming, as more and more floating wind turbines are added to the mix, driving a growth in offshore wind greater than many analysts expect.”

    Read more