Public Sector Energy Editorial 17 November 2015

An analysis of the local authority energy market and the latest developments around the UK.


Policy & Strategy

Ahead of the Paris summit, there are more articles about actual climate change. Whilst we are all reading about and involved in the green agenda on a day-to-day basis, most of the press reports are about renewable energy, policy or whatever. Very few are about actual climate change and the science behind it.

But heading for an intergovernmental conference to discuss climate change, the focus is on that. Here the Guardian claims that the collapse of a Greenland glacier could raise sea level by a massive half a metre:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/12/collapsing-greenland-glacier-could-raise-sea-levels-by-half-a-metre-say-scientists?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

And the report referred to last week that the world has already passed the 1 degree position in global warming, which apparently puts us into uncharted territory:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/09/worlds-climate-about-to-enter-uncharted-territory-as-it-passes-1c-of-warming?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

Turning to the Summit itself, lessons have been learnt from past events. For instance, if all of the parties do not turn up. Previous deals have been done in the absence of the US or China and are never going to solve the problem. Another issue is when the discussions result in only feeble pledges, rather than legally binding targets. Again, not good.

This time, the European Union has told the United States that the results of the summit must be legally binding, as reported in the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/12/paris-climate-deal-must-be-legally-binding-eu-tells-john-kerry?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

Climate change often provokes hyperbole, particularly with the potential devastation that might ensue. Anyone who has read the book ‘Six Degrees’ by Mark Lynas will know what I am talking about. Energy Post last week ran a piece along similar lines – the Paris conference is really about world peace, not just climate change, because the shortages of water and other problems will provoke wars and conflict across the world.

So Michael T Clare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of ‘The Race for What’s Left’, equates this summit to the Paris peace summit of 1919, only here the wars have not yet begun:

http://www.energypost.eu/paris-will-peace-conference-wars-begin/

And on the position of the UK Government at the talks, George Osborne’s policies of cutting support for renewables and increasing support for fossil fuels are very badly timed. This is because the international focus is on the leading countries and so the UK cannot escape criticism for its current policy stance.

There is a new report that will embarrass the Government in this regard. It focuses on support for fossil fuels and as the Guardian notes:

“The report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Oil Change International found that as a whole, G20 nations are responsible for $452bn (£297bn) a year in subsidies for fossil fuel production. The G20, which meets on Sunday in Turkey, pledged in 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

Even worse, the UK stands out as a country that has dramatically increased its support over the past year:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/12/uk-breaks-pledge-to-become-only-g7-country-increase-fossil-fuel-subsidies?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

And here is the report:

http://www.odi.org/publications/10058-production-subsidies-oil-gas-coal-fossil-fuels-g20-broken-promises?utm_source=Regen+SW+mailing+list&utm_campaign=b2be2c263f-Regen+SW+communities’+newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_167ec2b241-b2be2c263f-79069733

This is against a background of the rest of the world investing more heavily in renewable energy. This is prevalent from the fact that most of the world’s new energy plants are in fact renewable energy based:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/10/renewable-energy-made-up-half-of-worlds-new-power-plants-in-2014-iea?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&utm_source=Regen+SW+mailing+list&utm_campaign=b2be2c263f-Regen+SW+communities’+newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_167ec2b241-b2be2c263f-79069733

Looking at that domestic policy stance more closely, Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change appeared before the Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee last week, as reported by Jamie Hailstone in this week’s news. She has insisted that she still has the confidence of the renewable energy sector, despite all the Government’s negative policy changes.

Her position before the Committee was not helped by the fact that the Ecologist magazine had published leaked documents from DECC indicating that it knew the UK will not currently meet its 2020 targets on renewable energy. She had asserted the contrary position, but has now had to accept that the Government is not going to meet its targets and does not have the right policies in place to ensure that it does.

Solar Power Portal reports on this story:

http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/rudd_i_have_the_confidence_of_the_renewables_sector_2472

Solar PV

Jamie Hailstone reports in this week’s news about the visit of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, and the trade deals that were done during the visit. One of those deals was by Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd and was for £2bn to provide solar PV installations in India over the next five years. This will bode well for the UK solar PV industry.

Meanwhile, Amber Rudd has asserted that the solar PV sector will not lose skills, despite the massive reductions in FITs and the removal of ROCs, which will see over 25,000 jobs lost in the UK:

http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/rudd_dismisses_subsidy_cuts_threat_to_solar_skills_as_decc_prepares_to_1404

Turning to the domestic scale, one of the ways to make solar PV more attractive on a domestic scale is to enable it to become desired. One way to do this is for solar PV to raise the value of a house being sold. Jamie Hailstone reports on this in the news this week.

He mentions the Barclays Digital Homes report, which found that a quarter of homeowners would find it more appealing if a home was equipped with solar.

This is not just the case in the UK. The Smart Grid site in the US also looks at this point:

http://www.smartgridnews.com/story/pv-premium-more-reason-consumers-will-go-solar/2015-11-12

It concludes that a solar PV installation on the roof does increase the value of a property for sale.

Wind Power

Last week I reported on erroneous claims by those opposed to renewable energy that the UK’s electricity generation and distribution problems were caused by renewables. The green industry and press has come out strongly against this.

Here, the Guardian puts the record straight:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/12/wind-is-not-driving-the-uk-towards-power-blackouts?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

Green Deal & ECO

Next Energy News report that the Green Deal replacement scheme will be set to be introduced early next year:

http://www.nextenergynews.co.uk/news/energy-saving/green-deal-replacement-set-for-early-next-year

Heat Networks

The Switch 2 website reports on the development of a new Heat Trust, which is a collaboration between the industry, consumer groups and the Government to bring about protection for thousands of customers.

Its website contains a slide show explaining the reasoning behind this development and what the new Trust will do. As an industry that is too new for official regulation by OFGEM, this is an attempt at a voluntary scheme that will provide equivalent rights. Later on, as district heating schemes proliferate, then formal regulation will inevitably follow.

There are also some guides to the new Trust. Featured below are the main two:

A Heat Supply You Can Trust:

http://content.switch2.co.uk/hubfs/Docs/NewLogo2015/Q3/A_heat_supply_you_can_trust_v2.pdf?t=1447323552745&__hstc=163403491.e9fbe249015923a3866508d2ee8ddae9.1421659045649.1444647085034.1447663609557.7&__hssc=163403491.2.1447663609557&__hsfp=408093392

Your Ultimate Guide to Community Heating:

http://content.energswitch2.com/hubfs/Docs/NewLogo2015/Q1/Your_ultimate_guide_to_community_heating_NewLogo.pdf?t=1447323552745&__hstc=222151495.a0ae6a03147eb9e3d7afafa3ab13cf29.1447663398075.1447663398075.1447663398075.1&__hssc=222151495.6.1447663398075&__hsfp=408093392

Finance & Legal

An interesting story this week from the Guardian on the legal side, where it is reported that it is easier to bring an environmental challenge against the Government in China than it is in the UK.

This is because of the punitive costs system when cases are lost. The point is made by James Thornton, chief executive of NGO ClientEarth, ahead of him delivering the annual Garner lecture to a host of environmental leaders:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/11/legal-battles-to-protect-the-environment-easier-to-fight-in-china-than-the-uk?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Green+Light+main+131115&utm_term=137329&subid=1696087&CMP=EMCENVEML1631

Electric Vehicles & Transport

There has been a lot of focus recently on the cars that generate no emissions and the batteries that provide the power to them. Here Green Car Reports focuses on the actual charging cycle. Nissan is working on induction charging for its vehicles, which would mean no necessity to connect the charger cable to the car, as is presently the case:

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1100946_electric-cars-sans-cords-nissan-readying-higher-power-inductive-charging

Last week I reported that Pod Point was trying to raise money to fund its expansion of its charging point empire in the UK. It has now revealed that it raised more than £1/2m in just five days.

Flooding

The weather has been particularly bad recently, with far higher levels of rainfall than would be normal for November, due to the influence of storm Abigail and the remnants of the hurricanes from the other side of the Atlantic.

This has meant that flooding is a real danger at present. The Government has issued various warnings and, in this News Report, urges people to be prepared:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/people-urged-to-be-prepared-for-flooding

Energy Storage

The Renewable Energy Association has been preparing an overview report on energy storage technologies in the UK, which will be released on the 18th of November.

Specifically, the report summarises the technologies, existing projects in the UK and those in development, in addition to international policies. The report concludes with high-level recommendations for policy makers that would increase the speed of market development in the UK.

We will read it with interest.

Grid

The story about last week’s problems with energy generation and distribution are mentioned above with a link to the article in the Guardian. Here the Telegraph reports on the same issues:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11975069/Power-plant-breakdowns-force-National-Grid-to-issue-alert.html?utm_source=REA+Members+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=8813da84e6-151112_REA_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5d7ecbe99-8813da84e6-250326797&ct=t(151112_REA_Newsletter)&mc_cid=8813da84e6&mc_eid=b07cc4415d

Community Energy

Boris Johnson has become embroiled in the row over the removal of tax incentives for community energy schemes. As Solar Power Portal reports, he has criticised his own party for its proposal to remove tax-free status from such projects:

http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/boris_johnson_wades_into_community_energy_tax_relief_row_2346

The Guardian also took up this story:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/11/boris-johnson-treasury-is-endangering-community-renewables?&utm_source=currently&utm_medium=browser-extension&utm_

And as Jamie Hailstone reports in this week’s news, there is now a dash to get projects completed before the deadline of 30 November 2015.

And finally …..

Last week, 24 tonnes of lard were deposited on M11, which closed the road for 24 hours. Here, Highways England reveals the strangest items ever spilled on its roads: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-ten-strangest-spills-to-delay-motorway-journeys

Stephen Cirell