Low-carbon generation

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Emissions reductions targets for both Scotland and the UK will not be met unless the government intervenes to reform Ofgem’s network charging regime, a renewable energy developer has warned. RES said Ofgem’s transmission network charging methodology was one of the “defining reasons” for not proceeding with two recent projects in Scotland.
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Payments made to generators to manage constraints on the transmission network are forecast to rise to between £1 billion and £2.5 billion per year by the mid-2020s, according to National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO). The ESO said the costs, which currently amount to around £0.5 billion per year, are then expected fall back down to similar levels by the end of the decade as major new transmission projects come online.
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Two Tory former energy secretaries have backed calls for offshore windfarm operators to pay compensation to communities scarred by the new transmission infrastructure required to deliver their projects.
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A webinar to explore priorities for digital innovation in the utilities sector as the race for net zero picks up pace. Join for research insights and expert industry views.
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As the UK ramps up its efforts to achieve its decarbonisation aims, the energy and utilities sector is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Carl Haigney, global vice president and head of retail utilities subsector at Capgemini, outlines several challenges both the sector and the government must overcome in order to set the nation on the right track towards decarbonisation. For Haigney, cutting red tape and providing the right incentives will be key.
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Latest in Low-carbon generation

EDF has raised its price projection for Hinkley Point C by another £3 billion and delayed the start date for generation at the nuclear power station in Somerset by another year. It now expects the 3.2GW plant to cost between £25 billion and £26 billion to build and the first reactor to being generating power in June 2027, assuming there are no new waves of the coronavirus pandemic or additional effects from the war in Ukraine.
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A snap review should be carried out into whether the lives of the UK’s operating nuclear power stations can be extended, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has urged. The review is one of the key recommendations in a new report on the future of the UK’s advanced gas-cooled reactor fleet published on Friday (19 May).
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The government has pushed back the deadline for a decision by six weeks on whether to grant permission for EDF-backed plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell. Paul Scully, a junior minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced the delay in a written statement to the House of Commons on Thursday (12 May).
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The government has announced it will start selecting the new wave of nuclear projects it will support next year, whilst opening bidding for its £120 million fund to kickstart the programme. The Future Nuclear Enabling Fund was launched by business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Thursday (12 May) on a visit to the Wylfa nuclear plant in Anglesey.
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Property developer and investor Bruntwood has purchased a 42.4% stake in a consumer-owned wind project being developed by Ripple Energy. The Kirk Kill wind farm in Ayrshire in Scotland will consist of eight turbines with a combined capacity of 18.MW. Bruntwood will use the power from its share to supply its portfolio of commercial properties in and around Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cambridge.
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Octopus Energy Group has given financial backing to a project to import solar and wind power from Morocco via the world’s longest subsea interconnectors. Developer Xlinks is planning to build 7GW of solar farms, 3.5GW of wind farm and 5GW/20GWh of battery storage in a patch of desert in the south of Morocco, and import the power generated back to the UK through two 1.8GW interconnectors.
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The gas crisis that began in autumn last year and deepened with Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has “fundamentally changed” the economics of energy, according to Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley. Speaking at a conference on Wednesday (11 May), Brearley said the massive increase in gas prices since then has brought an end to the old idea of an energy trilemma, whereby the objectives of decarbonisation, affordability and security of supply are in tension with each other.
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The government has confirmed that the retail price cap will be extended beyond 2023 in the first energy bill for nearly a decade, which also contains emergency powers to ensure resilience and continuity of fuel supplies. The Energy Security Bill, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech in Tuesday (10 May), will contain powers to enable the extension of the price cap , which the government described as the "best safety net for millions".
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A new regulatory framework is required to help finance the upfront grid investment seen as key for cost effective delivery of net zero, while protecting consumers, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has argued. Responding to the Welsh Affairs Committee’s ongoing inquiry into grid capacity in Wales, the ESO said this would help to solve a “chicken and egg” concerning investment in new generation and transmission capacity.
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More than 50GW of demand-side flexibility from energy storage, electrolysers and interconnectors will needed by 2030 to soak up surplus renewable and nuclear power, LCP has forecast. The figure was derived from modelling of the government’s energy security strategy, which contained new targets for 24GW of new nuclear and 50GW of offshore wind generation by the end of the current decade.
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Maria Connolly, head of clean energy at law firm TLT, gives her thoughts on the government’s new energy security strategy released in response in response to soaring energy prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She says although the strategy provides some important signals to industry, there are still significant uncertainties, particularly when it comes to technologies like onshore wind, solar and hydrogen.
Opinion
A poll of investors has identified a lack of liquidity and insufficient regulation as the chief blockers to backing renewable energy projects. High costs was also a chief concern for the 100 professional investors polled, who between them manage £118 billion in assets.
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