EXPRESS #3 - August 7, 2018
The current UK government has an interesting energy policy, which is quite different from that of many other EU countries. It is on the way phasing out coal power, backs new nuclear power and shale gas production (the first shale gas well is being drilled by Cuadrilla after a long fight) and it also supports offshore wind. But it doesn’t seem to have much liking for either solar power (which is stagnating for lack of support) or onshore wind.
(Yes, it is government that largely drives energy investment decisions in the UK – as in many other countries. The “market” can only follow what the government decides.)
However, the UK government’s continued support for offshore wind – in which the country is a world leader – had been in doubt recently. The wind sector had started to become nervous about the government’s intentions. It has now been reassured: in July, Energy Minister Claire Perry announced that “every two years, the UK will back ‘less established technologies’ – a category offshore wind has dominated in previous rounds – broke the silence with a schedule the government reckons will underpin up to 2GW of offshore wind annually in the 2020s.”
The industry has reacted ecstatically, reports Recharge News. “Industry body RenewableUK said the timetable laid out by Perry puts offshore wind on course to almost double over the next decade. With 14GW either operating, under construction or under contract, the new schedule could deliver a further 16GW, RenewableUK reckons.”
The body’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “Today’s announcement confirming the budget and timing of new auctions, sets us on the path do deliver the tens of billions of pounds of investment that will be needed to meet our ambition of at least 30GW by 2030. This is good news for domestic supply chain which can look forward to a pipeline of new offshore wind projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.”
Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive at Scottish Renewables, said: “Today’s confirmation that next year’s auction will take place in May, and the schedule laid out for future rounds, provides much-needed clarity to Scotland’s renewables industry. Developers and supply chain companies across Scotland can now plan for projects over the next decade with more certainty.”
“The CfD framework has already helped cut the cost of offshore wind by 50% compared to the previous auction round, and these new auctions will be open to a wide variety of less-established technologies at different stages of maturity.”
The website Carbon Brief recently published an extensive an overview of the development the UK energy mix since 1970, which shows “mixed progress for UK renewables”.
Here is the key tell-all chart:
In other UK energy news, a report by a group of MPs and peers has said that the rollout of smart meters in the UK will save UK households only £11 a year. They also said the rollout of smart meters risked going over budget, was past its deadline and must be reviewed immediately, reports The Guardian.
The £11bn scheme to put 53m devices in 30m homes and small businesses by 2020 has been “plagued by repeated delays and cost increases”, the head of the British Infrastructure Group of Parliamentarians (BIG) said.
According to the Guardian, “the group also said high numbers of the devices had gone ‘dumb’ after installation because of problems caused by switching provider or mobile data coverage.”
“The public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, is already investigating the project, which is led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), for a third time.
In a report backed by 93 MPs, the BIG said suppliers were almost certain to miss the 2020 rollout deadline and that its benefits were ‘likely to be slashed even further’.”