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As the nation enters the first phase of returning to work, two landmark projects - Hinkley Point C and Thames Tideway - have brought staff back to sites with guidance on how to operate under social distancing rules.
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The Covid-19 outbreak offers a unique opportunity for the sector to reappraise supply chain robustness, address the resilience of excessively leveraged balance sheets and prompt a discussion around the true value of essential workers, says Arenko’s James Mills
Opinion
We introduce a new series celebrating the tireless work carried out across the utilities sector to ensure the lights stay on and the water and gas keeps flowing during lockdown. As well as highlighting individuals and teams going above and beyond their day-to-day roles we will be examining how companies are adapting to new responsibilities and taking the initiative to extend support – both operational and financial - where it is needed most.
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Even before the coronavirus, understanding which of their customers would come under the broad umbrella of “vulnerable” was a key challenge for utilities companies. Here data specialist Mike Fox looks at ways companies can use their own data to search out difficult-to-identify vulnerabilities.
Opinion

Latest in Company strategy

Moves towards automatically switching disengaged energy customers to cheaper deals represent an "almost ideological shift” in the government’s attitude, an industry expert has said. Speaking to Utility Week Adam Bell, head of policy at management consultancy Stonehaven and former head of energy strategy at BEIS, said the government’s approach was both radical and conservative.
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A coalition of prominent companies, including Scottish Power and Severn Trent, have committed to buy 70,000 British-made electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 at the latest, providing government and Ofgem commit to specific actions on transport decarbonisation.
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A ban on gas boilers is neither a “necessary or even desirable” policy and government should instead introduce a subsidy for heat pumps, an energy retailer has suggested. Clementine Cowton, Octopus Energy’s director of external affairs, was speaking following national media reports that the government was considering pushing back the ban on new gas boilers.
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Hydrogen will be blended onto a public gas network for the first time in the next phase of the green £22.5 million HyDeploy project. Part of Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC), HyDeploy is being delivered by a consortium including Northern Gas Networks, Cadent, Progressive Energy, Keele University, HSE – Science Division and ITM Power.
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Energy suppliers representing 90 per cent of domestic customers have signed up to fresh commitments to support those worried about paying bills this winter. Energy UK deputy chief executive Audrey Gallacher looks at what else the sector is doing to help struggling billpayers.
Opinion
Eon UK chief executive Michael Lewis has urged the government to bring forward the ban on gas boiler sales to 2030 as “the best way to give industry the signal to start investing today”. Conversely, he said rumours of the ban being extended beyond a previously mooted date of 2035 would “simply delay the benefits of the transition to net zero”.
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Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has begun testing how existing networks cope under 100 per cent hydrogen as part of the H21 project. MicroGrid is a gas distribution test grid which NGN claims is the first of its kind. It has been purpose-built by DNV and located at the latter’s test and research facility at Spadeadam, Cumbria.
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EDF has launched a commercial vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging service with Nissan, allowing businesses to sell excess energy back to the grid. Launched through the EDF’s subsidiary Dreev - a joint venture with US-based green energy technology company Nuvve - the offer is available to fleet owners of the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200.
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Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley has issued a warning to customers to prepare for likely major increases to the price cap as a result of rising wholesale costs. Writing ahead of the announcement Brearley warned consumers that while nothing has yet been finalised the cap could rise by as much as £150.
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In Utility Week's latest round-up of sector appointments, energy technology platform Kaluza has appointed a new chief executive as it targets further international expansion, while the Energy Networks Association and Northern Powergrid have both appointed new directors.
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SSE Renewables and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy have announced plans to produce green hydrogen through electrolysis using energy from two onshore windfarms. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding in a partnership which aims to “encompass the full green hydrogen value chain” including construction, management, end user requirements, operation and maintenance. 
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SGN has revealed plans to form a 50:50 joint venture with Vital Energi to build and operate low and zero-carbon heat networks around the UK. The networks will supply new and existing residential, commercial and industrial sites, including redundant sites owned by SGN and developments planned by its property arm, SGN place.
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