This week a report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) said they think the “capacity gap”, the difference between the demand for electricity and the likely supply, could be a massive 55% in 2025 as old coal and nuclear plants exit the system. This 55% figure is overblown. It arises from very pessimistic assumptions about the amount of capacity that can be provided by renewable’s and a forecast of much higher energy demand in a decade’s time. In fact National Grid reckons that in most scenarios electricity demand in 2025 will be about the same as it is today (although after that date increasing use of electricity for heating and transport means it will start to take off). And though the Government has scaled back subsidies for onshore wind and solar, they are still hoping to increase the supply of offshore wind in the next 10 years. Meanwhile advances in wind technologies mean that more onshore wind is able to generate more of the time. But elsewhere the IME report gets it right. At the moment there’s a lot more certainty about the power stations coming offline in the next 10 years than about the capacity coming up to replace it. The Government has made a historic commitment to phase out the use of coal for power generation, as recommended by IPPR last year. This is a hugely positive step, since coal is the most polluting form of large-scale electricity generation and also releases harmful particulates – the last thing we need while fighting to keep the UK’s air pollution within the EU’s legal limits. But what is needed to follow on from that is a much clearer plan for incentivising the next wave of clean generating capacity that the country needs. This must include the digital technology that will maximise the efficiency of the system and keep costs low for households and businesses.
Huffington Post 28th Jan 2016 read more »
Energy giant SSE is considering shutting its Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired power plant early, threatening to blow a hole in the Government’s plans to keep the lights on, the Telegraph has learnt. The 2GW power plant in Cheshire produces enough electricity to power two million homes and in 2014 secured a subsidy contract with the Government to guarantee three of the plant’s four units would be available to generate in 2018-19. But SSE is now understood to be considering pulling out of the contract and shutting the plant sooner, because the subsidies through the ‘capacity market’ scheme may not be enough to outweigh losses the plant is incurring.
Telegraph 28th Jan 2016 read more »
Wind farms were paid more than double the market price to stop generating electricity this week, despite the country facing an increased risk of blackouts this winter. Strong wind conditions in the early hours of Monday and Tuesday morning threatened to overwhelm the grid with more subsidised power than needed, forcing National Grid to offer lucrative payouts of between £58 and £115 per MWh to turn the turbines off. The payouts stand well above the current market rate of around £45/MWh to compensate wind farms for the subsidies they might otherwise have earned.
Telegraph 26th Jan 2016 read more »