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Utility Week’s policy correspondent David Blackman discusses the implications on the utilities sector of Boris Johnson’s plan for a “green industrial revolution”. He assesses the winners and losers from the speech, as well as the areas where question marks remain.
Analysis
Yorkshire Water has accused Ofwat of resorting to "populist" tactics, with an "unrestrained attack" on foreign investors in the sector. The company warned that the regulator risks undermining trust in the system and driving away investors. The accusations are included in the latest submission to the PR19 appeals.
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The government has confirmed key details of the fourth Contracts for Difference auctions, to open in late 2021. The auction’s capacity will increase from 5.8GW in 2019 to 12GW, with offshore wind moved to its own pot. Floating offshore wind projects will be able to bid for contracts for the first time, while onshore wind and solar will be allowed to compete once again. The government has also launched a consultation on a Supply Chain Plan, aimed at identifying “increasing the competitiveness of UK manufacturers”.
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In our latest industry appointment round-up Bulb poaches another EasyJet executive to bolster its senior team, while Octopus Energy has appointed a chief executive to launch its German division. Meanwhile, the Offshore Wind Industry Council has announced the appointment of a new co-chair.
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The government’s new targets around the decarbonisation of heat have been welcomed by industry figures, who said ministers should avoid taking a strategy of “wait and see”. Speaking to Utility week, they said the broad ambitions listed in its 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution must now backed up with the right policies, regulations and funding.
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The Welsh Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into how the UK Government can best support the development of the principality’s renewable energy resources.
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An initiative has been launched to deliver hourly certificates to verify exactly where consumers’ energy comes from, helping them to understand their carbon emissions in real time. EnergyTag is made up of more than 60 companies including Ovo Energy, Microsoft and Google. Its council and advisory board are working together to define a set of guidelines that will form the basis of a market for energy certificates with a timestamp of one hour or less.
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EDF is seeking commercial partners to help develop two projects aimed at demonstrating the potential to use waste heat from nuclear generation to improve the efficiency of hydrogen production and the direct capture of carbon dioxide from atmosphere.  It hopes the pilots will prove the case for the construction of permanent large-scale facilities connected to its proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk, which would together form a new low-carbon energy hub.
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Ofwat has named Nesta as the lead organisation to deliver the water sector's innovation fund and competition. The foundation will be supported by Arup and Isle Utilities.
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In our latest review of sector coverage across the national newspapers, concern is expressed about whether homegrown supply chains will lose out in the UK’s spending boom in offshore wind. Details of Boris Johnson’s 10-point green plan are also explored, including regional disparities in the installation of electric car chargepoints. Meanwhile, a plan to export Scottish water to England to deal with shortages has been blocked by ministers north of the border.
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National Grid Electricity System Operator has written to Ofgem to agree to its instruction to create a new plan and workgroup for implementing the Trans European Replacement Reserves Exchange in Great Britain. TERRE was originally due to go live by 15 January 2020 but the regulator has granted the ESO multiple derogations from the requirement, mostly recently until 1 January 2021 due to uncertainty over its ability to the access the Libra platform that underpins the new market.
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Eight energy networks have joined forces to ask the innovation community for their help in shaping the future. The aim is to avoid multiple approaches and provide a single platform for innovators to feed into business plans.
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EDF has announced it will stop generating power at its Hinkley Point B nuclear plant in Somerset and begin decommissioning the facility by 15 July 2022 – eight months earlier than was previously expected. The company attributed the advanced closure to deterioration in the graphite blocks that make up the cores of its two advanced gas-cooled reactors.
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