The Informer

This week’s headlines: network operators hit back at speculation over the risk of outages during the Covid-19 outbreak; the Triad scheme to reduce peaks in demand gets a temporary reprieve; and Ed Miliband is named as the new shadow Energy Secretary.

  • Networks criticise blackout warnings

    The UK’s energy networks have stressed the system is “operating exactly as it should” as they responded to speculation over potential blackouts during the Covid-19 crisis.

    Media reports warning of outages surfaced after one network operator wrote to vulnerable customers with advice on what to do in the unlikely event of a power loss.

    David Smith, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association responding by saying the UK has one of the most reliable electricity networks in the world, “supported by stringent contingency plans and a workforce of 36,000 people.”

    “We’re keeping energy flowing during the coronavirus pandemic and the network is operating exactly as it should,” he said.

    Energy UK also said suppliers are working to identify customers who need additional financial help under the current crisis.

    Meanwhile the introduction of social distancing measures is continuing to see a fall in energy demand in the UK of around 10-15% and downward pressure on prices.

    Last weekend high levels of renewables generation saw negative prices briefly fell to as low as -£19/MWh on Sunday afternoon, according to Cornwall Insight’s modeller Thomas Edwards who also said demand of around 19GW was “getting towards summer overnight levels.”

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  • Triad system gets temporary reprieve

    The current Triad system aimed at encouraging large industrial and commercial energy users to reduce consumption is to remain in place longer than expected after Ofgem agreed to a request from National Grid ESO to delay changes to transmission charging.

    A new charging system was originally planned to come into force in 2021 as part of changes under the regulators Targeted Charging Review, but the current scheme will now continue for winter 2021/22 after Ofgem agreed to a request to withdraw a code modification which would have given effect to the changes.

    Under the Triad system, the three periods of highest demand over a winter are used to determine Transmission Network Use of System charges (TNUoS).

    SmartestEnergy’s Head of Pricing Tom Putney said that with draft tariffs for April 2021 only suggesting a small fall in Triad rates to about £45/kW, “there is still a lot of value to be gained by taking part in Triad management.”

    Last month the latest Triad periods were confirmed as Monday 18 November, 17:00-17:30; Monday 2 December, 17:00-17:30 and Tuesday 17 December, 16:30-17:00.

    Other changes proposed under Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review (TCR) remain unchanged.

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  • Ed Miliband named as new shadow Energy Secretary

    Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has returned to frontline politics after being named as the new shadow Energy Secretary.

    Miliband, whose served as Energy Secretary in the Labour government between 2008-10, is seen as a vocal supporter of the renewables sector and played a key role in the development of the Climate Change Act. The Feed-in Tariff support scheme was also introduced during his time in Government.

    In a statement, Miliband said although the current focus was inevitably on Covid-19 "we must also return to climate change as the unavoidable long-term issue of our time.”

    Meanwhile energy industry leaders have urged the Government not to lose sight of its net zero ambition in the wake of the postponement of the COP 26 climate summit.

    Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive at the Renewable Energy Association, also said the temporary reduction in global emissions like because of the current crisis may buy some time, but “this cannot mean that the UK has a year’s grace period before taking action.”

    “Climate change is a public health issue, just like COVID-19 and must be viewed with the same level of urgency in the longer term.”

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  • Another two coal plants close down

    Just four coal-fired plants now remain in operation in the UK after two more shut after decades of generation.

    SSE’s Fiddler’s Ferry power station in Warrington and RWE’s Aberthaw plant in Wales closed on the same day. They both opened in the early 1970s.

    SSE’s Stephen Wheeler said the Fiddler’s Ferry closure was a landmark moment for the company and the wider energy industry, as the UK moves towards a net zero carbon future.

    “It’s made a huge contribution to the local area, but it’s the right thing to do as the UK continues to move to cleaner ways of producing energy and take action on climate change,” he said.

    All of the UK’s coal-fired power plants will need to shut by 2025 under a government directive with plans to bring that deadline forward by a year.

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  • Renewables ‘must be priority’ in economic stimulus

    Governments have been urged to prioritise spending on renewables as new figures show they accounted for three-quarters of electricity generation capacity built in 2019, according to new figures.

    The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said solar, wind and other green technologies now generate more than one-third of the world’s power.

    However, Francesco La Camera, director general of Irena, said although the trend is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation.”

    “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies.”

    La Camera said the huge spending planned by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic must support green initiatives rather than fossil fuels.

    “In responding to today’s crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions,” he said.

    “Yet distinctions between short-, medium- and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences.”

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