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Tag Archives: government policy

Whatever happened to wave power?

By Dave Elliott

‘The average rated capacity of wave energy devices over the past three years (2015-2017) was 70% lower than (in) the period between 2000 and 2014. In contrast tidal stream saw a 124% increase in the average rated capacity during the same period’. So says a report from Imperial College London and Strathclyde University, looking at what went wrong with the UK wave energy programme.

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Energy transitions in the UK

By Dave Elliott

The UK energy transition is progressing quite well on the electricity side, despite on-shore wind being constrained, but less progress has been made on green heat. A new Energy Research Partnership report on decarbonising heat, Transition to low-carbon heat’, looks at the technical, social, financial and governance aspects and highlights the key actions that need to be taken now and in the next few years. ERP says that ‘supplying natural gas or oil directly into homes will need to be replaced by a decarbonised gas or by electric heating or heat network. But it is not a simple choice: each option has challenges that could limit their deployment. A combination of options is likely to be required; no one option may not dominate, as natural gas currently does. Demand reduction will be an essential part of a cost-effective transition’.

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The Helm energy cost review

By Dave Elliott

In his wide-ranging review of energy costs for the UK government, Dieter Helm says ‘the cost of energy is too high, and higher than necessary to meet the Climate Change Act (CCA) target and the carbon budgets. Households and businesses have not fully benefited from the falling costs of gas and coal, the rapidly falling costs of renewables, or from the efficiency gains to network and supply costs which come from smart technologies. Prices should be falling, and they should go on falling into the medium and longer terms’.  And he sets out his ideas for enabling that to happen.                   (more…)

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The UK’s new Clean Growth Strategy

By Dave Elliott

Given the uncertainties about Brexit – when where, how, why and even if – there had been a striking lack of government policy activity in the energy field over the last few months. Many key issues seemed to be pushed into the future while we waited for the much delayed new Carbon plan and the Helm Price review. But the government has now finally come up with its new Clean Growth Strategy, as well as a (re) commitment (announced at the Tory party Conference) to a temporary energy price cap, though that may not start up until next year. (more…)

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Offshore wind breaks through

By Dave Elliott

It’s unusual but things do occasionally change in the UK. We had been quietly awaiting the government’s much delayed Carbon Plan but then came an unexpected shock, a dramatic fall in offshore wind prices emerging from the new round of the Contract for Difference (CfD) auction process. Hornsea Project 1, now being built, had got a CfD strike price of £140/MWh in the first full CfD round in 2014. But in this second one, Dong’s huge 1.3 MW Hornsea Project 2 won a contract at £57.5/MWh for a 2021/22 start up – 60% less. So did another offshore large wind project, in Scotland, for a 2022/23 start up, while a third one got through at £74.5/MWh. That’s still way below the index-linked £92.5/MWh allocated to the Hinkley nuclear project, which won’t start up until years after these projects, if it ever does.

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UK – not a lost cause

By Dave Elliott

Some see the current UK government’s energy policy as doomed – trapped in a commitment to old technology like nuclear power, leavened only by continued support for offshore wind. For example, the FT ran this analysis: ‘Nobody outside the industry now thinks the future of electricity generation is nuclear fission. The cost of building the plants to comply with safety and antiterrorism standards is rising all the time, fears of a runaway price for oil and gas now look silly, while advances in wind and solar technology are destroying those projections of ever-dearer energy … The UK’s energy market is in an unholy mess, with attention distracted by the vacuous debate about switching electricity suppliers. The real costs lie with the “green initiatives” at the other end of the wires. Scrapping Hinkley Point would not solve all of them, but it would be a start. Perhaps best to wait until after June 8 for another U-turn from Mrs May, though.’  FT 26th May

Well, the June election came and went and that didn’t really resolve much in the energy sector or, arguably, elsewhere. However, while Labour may not have won enough seats to overturn the Conservatives, it did very well, and it is likely to play a significant role in the future, given the hung parliament. What might it do?

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Election promises on energy

By Dave Elliott

In the UK general election run up, with consumer power costs rising provocatively, there had been talk of a cap on energy prices and, in its election manifesto, although specifics were absent, the Conservative party certainly focused on economics. It said Our ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses’ and it would aim for ‘competitive and affordable energy costs following a new independent review into the cost of energy’. (more…)

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UK Industrial Strategy – the energy dimension

By Dave Elliott

The government’s new long-term Industrial Strategy’ green paper is about growth, exports, competition and the development of new technology, to be achieved by upgrading skills and infrastructure, improving supply chains and increasing investment in research and innovation – with £4.7 bn by 2020-21 in R&D funding. The new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund could support smart and clean energy technologies, such as storage and demand-response grid technologies. Nuclear also gets a mention – SMRs and even fusion. That’s along with robotics/artificial intelligence, biotech, digital technologies and 5G mobile networks and the like.

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Capacity market mess

By Dave Elliott

The UK’s new Capacity Market auction process aims to ensure that there is enough capacity to meet demand by contracting with suppliers to be available when needed. However, it has failed to deliver any new gas projects, as well as failing to back much in the way of demand-side balancing – just 456MW. As with the first round, which gave contracts for 2018-19, it’s ended up mainly just backing old gas, coal and nuclear plants – with £1bn in contracts for 46GW overall for 2019-20. Most only get 1 year contracts, but the 650MW of new small diesel sets have 15 year contracts, and in all £155m. The 220MW of existing diesel get £93m. So much for clean energy!

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After Hinkley

By Dave Elliott

Battles continue over the economic viability of the proposed £18bn Hinkley nuclear project, with EDF still saying it can go ahead, despite the resignation of two key senior executives, opposition from the French trade unions and even doubts now emerging from the French Government. Energy minister Ségolène Royal said: ‘This project must offer further proof that it is well-founded and offer a guarantee that the investment in this project will not dry up investments that must be made in renewable energies.’  It is interesting then that EDF’s recent R&D Paper ‘Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES’, by Alain Burtin and Vera Silva, looks at an EU future dominated by renewables, with nuclear only playing a moderate role, 90GW total.

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