Solar

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The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has unveiled a “green recovery pathway” for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, whilst creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Meanwhile, politicians and business leaders from the North West, along with SPEN, Cadent and Electricity North West, have launched an “energy masterplan”.
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The Balancing Mechanism – the flexibility market used by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) to correct imbalances between supply and demand - saw a large influx of smaller participants over 2020, both in terms of the number and capacity of active units, analysis from Cornwall Insight has revealed. The greatest growth came from aggregated units, which more than doubled in number from 20 to 45 as their combined active capacity rose by more than 87 per cent to around 1.7GW.
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A High Court judge has overturned the decision last year by then business and energy secretary, Alok Sharma, to award a development consent order for the 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm being developed by Vattenfall. The judge said the secretary of state had acted unlawfully by failing to provide adequate justification for declining to consider the cumulative impacts of the onshore infrastructure for Norfolk Vanguard and its 1.8GW sister project, Norfolk Boreas, when granting planning permission for the former.
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Latest in Solar

Building out the current pipeline of 14GW of new combined-cycle gas turbines risks stranding £9 billion of assets, Carbon Tracker has claimed in a new report. The climate change think tank said the 15GW of coal and nuclear plants that are due to close by 2025 could already be replaced more cheaply with a portfolio of clean energy technologies and the savings are set to grow substantially over the coming years as costs continue to fall.
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Net zero is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the energy system. This high-level report, in association with Microsoft and Accenture, explores how digital technology and partnership working can help the sector accelerate and scale up to deliver the transition affordably.
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Renewable developer Anesco has agreed to build a 200MW subsidy-free solar portfolio for investment firm Gresham House, with the “shovel-ready” sites ranging in size from 20MW to 50MW. Engineering, procurement and construction will all be handled by Anesco, which will also provide long-term operations and maintenance for the solar farms once they are powered up. Utility Week speaks to Anesco chief executive Mark Futyan.
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Low-carbon generation fell year on year in the last quarter, on the back of widespread nuclear outages and a “relatively small” increase in renewable output, according to new government statistics.
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Gridserve has opened the first of 100 “electric forecourts” the company plans to build over next five years at Braintree in Essex. The station has the capacity to charge 36 electric vehicles at the same time at rates of up to 350kW.
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The introduction of a three-pot structure for future Contracts for Difference auctions means they are effectively “no longer technologically neutral”, an analyst has told Utility Week. James Brabben, wholesale manager for Cornwall Insight, said the decision is nevertheless the right one given the government’s commitment to build 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.
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A deal has been agreed to build the largest community-owned solar park in the UK, which will generate 18GWh of electricity per year. Renewable investment company Low Carbon has struck an agreement with Oxfordshire-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub for the rights to its 19MW Arncott Solar Park.
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The government has confirmed key details of the fourth Contracts for Difference auction, 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 “increasing the competitiveness of UK manufacturers”.
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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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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
Challenger energy retailer Social Energy has begun its global expansion, launching to customers in Australia. The company, which began supplying UK customers last year, says it is offering customers in the Southern Hemisphere a green energy package and an exclusive Duracell home solar battery system.
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Centrica has completed a £16.7 million three-year energy market trial in Cornwall that saw local and national network operators simultaneously buy flexibility for the first time. Participants in the trial, which included 200 homes and businesses, successfully traded 310MWh of flexibility over its course.
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