The Informer

This week’s headlines: Onshore wind is to be allowed to compete for renewable subsidies after a change of Government policy; regulations and market mechanisms need updating to enable energy flexibility services to achieve their potential; and another nail in the coffin for UK coal generation is announced.

  • Green light for new onshore wind

    Renewable industry leaders have welcomed the Government’s decision to allow onshore wind to compete for subsidies under the next Contracts for Difference round in 2021.

    Solar, energy storage and floating offshore wind will also be able to take part under plans announced by the Government. It added that readmitting onshore wind into auctions for subsidies for the first time since 2015 would help the UK quadruple renewable energy generation in the UK.

    As part of the plans announced by new Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma, he said local communities will have a more effective voice on developments through proposals for tough new guidance on community engagement for developers.

    Sharma said: “Ending our contribution to climate change means making the UK a world leader in renewable energy. We are determined to do that in a way that works for everyone, listening to local communities and giving them an effective voice in decisions that affect them.”

    RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said: Backing cheap renewables is a clear example of the practical action to tackle climate change that the public is demanding, and this will speed up the transition to a net zero economy.”

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  • More UK energy flexibility urged

    Ministers need to change regulations and market mechanisms to enable greater use of demand-side response (DSR), energy storage and other flexibility services, according to a new report.

    The paper from bodies including Energy UK warned that, despite widespread consensus on the importance of flexibility and its potential, progress with integrating it into the energy system has been “slow and patchy”, and that the UK risks failing to make the most of the opportunity.

    Charles Wood, Energy UK’s Head of New Energy Services & Heat, said: “The products, technology and finance are all there, but the opportunities and incentives aren’t – meaning business cases for investment aren’t stacking up.”

    The report came as the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) unveiled funding for two flexibility pilot projects.

    Project TraDER will create an exchange to allow generators to interact with flexibility assets, while Piclo Flex will be launched as a nationwide flexibility marketplace.

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  • Trio of breakthrough technologies could slash emissions

    Battery storage chemistries, high-temperature heat pumps and green hydrogen have been named as the “breakthrough technologies” which will help decarbonisation in the years ahead.

    A report by Dutch consultancy firm DNV GL said that the three technologies have the potential to “significantly decarbonise” carbon-dioxide-heavy industries by 2030.

    Demand for solid-state batteries will be driven by the transport sector, it predicted.

    The next generation of heat pumps will be able to generate 200C, allowing them to supply heat to heavy industry, the report forecast.

    DNL GV expects “green” hydrogen – produced using renewable energy to split water in electrolysers – will be able to compete by 2030 on cost with “blue” hydrogen, which is made by splitting the methane found in natural gas.

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  • Drax to end coal generation in 2021

    Power station operator Drax expects to stop burning coal at its eponymous power station in Yorkshire in March 2021.

    The UK Government’s ban on coal-fired generation is due to come into force in 2024.

    The company said it will keep its two coal-fired units operational until September 2022 so that it can meet its capacity market contracts if required.

    The firm added that it was liaising with trade unions over job losses as a result of the decision.

    Four of the station’s six units have already been converted from burning coal to biomass.

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  • UK sets out EU energy agreement terms

    The energy industry has welcomed the UK Government’s inclusion of energy in its negotiating stance with the European Union (EU).

    Climate change, carbon pricing and energy trading via interconnectors all form part of the document.

    Domestic measures are already in place to allow electricity and gas trading to continue through the interconnectors, even if a deal isn’t reached by 31 December.

    Ministers plan to setup a UK emissions trading system (ETS) and said they would consider linking it to the EU ETS, in a similar way to the Swiss ETS.

    Audrey Gallacher, Acting Chief Executive at trade body Energy UK, said: “The UK Government rightly recognises the importance of the UK energy sector and the need to continue collaboration on energy and climate to tackle climate change and achieve our ambitious decarbonisation targets to reach net zero by 2050.”

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