The former boss of one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers has warned that the safety buffer separating Britain from power cuts will be uncomfortably slim for up to four years. Experts had already warned this winter that Britain was at its highest risk of blackouts in more than a decade before the announcement of a succession of closures of coal-fired power stations. Paul Massara, a former chief executive of npower, warned yesterday that the tight supply would last for up to four winters, in contrast with rosier forecasts from the regulator that the safety buffer between capacity and peak electricity demand would begin to improve from 2017 onwards. The Longannet coal plant in Scotland and Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire ceased operations last week. Low electricity prices and the shift to cleaner sources of power have challenged the economics of coal generation, which last year represented a quarter of electricity generated in Britain.
Times 31st March 2016 read more »
The government will be forced to come up with another mechanism to get new gas power stations built as the capacity market “isn’t working,” the former chief executive of RWE Npower has said.
Utility Week 30th March 2016 read more »
A £2.8bn government scheme funded by energy bill payers which aims to keep the lights on in Britain has been condemned as wasteful, expensive and “unfit for purpose” in a damning report. The claims from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) comes on the day that one of the UK’s biggest coal-fired power stations, Ferrybridge, formally closes, with several others threatening to follow. There was also a new warning from a leading academic and adviser to energy regulator Ofgem that Britain’s electricity supply is facing “crunch time” this coming winter. Under the Capacity Market scheme, more than £370m alone has been paid to coal plants that are simultaneously being hit by a higher carbon price floor, ensuring “consumers are hit by a double whammy, paying for two subsidies,” warns the IPPR. “The government rightly wants to secure the country’s power supply. But its primary mechanism for doing so is failing to meet any of the government’s own objectives. It is absurd that consumers are paying for subsidies to the most polluting forms of generation such as diesel and coal while in a separate policy also paying to discourage them,” said Byron Orme, IPPR research fellow and author of the report. Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said the ministers needed a rethink. “The UK government has taken the right approach by announcing a coal phase-out, but they forgot about the other half of the job. What Britain badly needs are clear, robust policies to drive more investment in clean energy and power-saving technologies. “What we have instead is a random collection of pet projects, like the Hinkley nuclear reactor and fracking, that are going nowhere, with highly polluting diesel farms thrown in to plug the gap.”
Guardian 31st March 2016 read more »
Fiddler’s Ferry coal plant, which was earmarked for closure, has had an unexpected reprieve after securing a new contract to provide “ancillary services” to the National Grid. The plant in Widnes, Cheshire, which is owned by energy firm SSE, will now remain open until March 2017, safeguarding 213 jobs. The one-year contract will use just one of the four available units at the power station but two further units will now be entered into market auctions, SSE said.
Telegraph 30th March 2016 read more »
UK prepares to lose 8GW of generating capacity by end of the month as coal plants shut down, prompting experts to bemoan a ‘lack of long-term strategy’ and tight margins ahead. Tomorrow two more of the country’s remaining coal-fired power stations, Eggborough in Yorkshire and Fiddlers Ferry plant in Cheshire, will close their doors.
Business Green 30th March 2016 read more »