The Energy Transition | Energy White Paper delayed, the world’s largest offshore windfarm and warnings from the National Grid ESO

Written on 4 Dec 2020

This week's Energy Transition highlights include National Grid ESO's warnings of tight margins, BEIS's promise to deliver the Energy White Paper by the end of the year and the world's largest offshore windfarm financial close.

BEIS promises Energy White Paper by the end of 2020 as the autumn deadline is missed

The deadline for the release of the Energy White Paper has been extended once again, as the UK government promises it will be published by the end of the year.

Originally due in the summer of 2019, the White Paper has now been delayed a total of four times by the Energy Secretary and Minister for Business, Energy and Clean growth. The highly anticipated White Paper is expected to build upon and provide further details on the Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution and the Chancellor's most recent spending review.

'Urgent investment' needed in the North Sea energy sector

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult have published a report titled "Reimagining a Net Zero North Sea" which sets out how a £416bn investment in the North Sea across the next 30 years could support the transition to net zero, deliver up to 230,000 jobs and contribute £125bn to the UK economy.

Investment in technology such as clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and floating offshore wind, could boost current returns on investment in the North Sea by 200%. The Report focuses on three core areas of opportunity for the UK:

  1. Moving from being a buyer of energy to a supplier.
  2. Becoming a world leader in the development and export of net zero energy technologies.
  3. Retaining a competitive position in energy skills, capability and jobs.

The report outlines how a lack of early investment, by contrast, would result in job losses and seriously undermine the UK's competitiveness in the emerging net zero energy arena. The UK could also run the risk of failing to meet the 2050 net zero target.

Ambitious flexibility and hydrogen projects awarded £58m by Ofgem

Five projects supporting the transition towards net zero have been awarded a combined total of £58m cash investment, under the 2020 Network Innovation Competition. Three projects – project Constellation (UKPN), project QUEST (Electricity North West) and project RICA (National Gird Electricity Transmissions) – are designed to support flexibility in the electricity grid. Two projects, H100 Fife and HyNTS FutureGrid Project, are focussed on the development of hydrogen generation and test facilities.

Project H100 Fife will invest £18m in the world's first trial of a green hydrogen network across 300 houses in Fife, which will use hydrogen for cooking and heating in the home. Project Constellation, awarded £14.38m, will invest the funding in the development of new platforms to digitally manage electricity substations dealing with low carbon power generation and demand surges. The Chief executive of Ofgem, Jonathan Brearley, said the ambitious competition "shows the energy industry getting behind the challenge of net zero".

Arenko celebrates seven continuous weeks of delivering Dynamic Containment

Arenko has successfully won the daily auction of the National Grid (ESO) Dynamic Containment service every day for the last seven weeks. Launched in October 2020, Dynamic Containment is a post-fault frequency response service which keeps the national grid at a frequency of 50Hz and, as a consequence, is facilitating the grids' transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy. Chief Technology Officer at Arneko, Roger Hollies, praised the service as a 'huge value to the ESO'.

The daily auction price has settled at £17/MW/h, representing a net income of £150k per MW a year for winners of the tender. Arenko, the battery software and controls platform company, has provided the service without any unavailability or underperformance penalties, indicating that the service is set to bring the company a highly attractive return.

National Grid ESO warns of tight margins as power price set to surge beyond £300/MWh

Low winds and falling temperatures caused power prices to spike on the evening of the 26 November, as National Grid ESO warned of tight margins. The average wind generation on the 25 November was around 5GW, which is lower than the 7GW average for this time of the year. This combined with an increase in energy demand as the weather gets colder leading to power prices to shoot up during the evening peak of demand on the 26 November, reaching a high of over £313/MWh around 7pm.

As a result of the events on the evening of the 26 November, National Grid ESO warned of the tight capacity margins due to variable renewable generation and falling temperatures. The National Grid has offered similar warning on a number of occasions, including October, where similar situations also stretched the grid.

Sustainability leaders craft 10-point plan to revamp corporate purpose

A new report has been published from the University of Cambridge's Institute for Sustainable Leadership, capturing ideas on embedding purpose across a business. The institute captured learnings from leaders within four large multinational companies; DSM, Ingka Group (IKEA), Interface and Unilever, to produce this report.

The report outlines 10 core principles that can act as ingredients for integration of strategy, sustainability and purpose. The recommendations reflect the current situation as companies emerging from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic face numerous systemic challenges. These include the climate crisis and growing inequality. However, the report concludes that these challenges provide an opportunity for corporate strategies to be aligned with a long-term transition to a sustainable economy.

The 10 recommendations are:

  1. Take an 'outside-in' view that engages external stakeholders
  2. Take an 'inside-out' view that engages employees
  3. Engage the Board to align purpose and strategy and broaden ownership
  4. Integrate the purpose into strategies and objective-setting
  5. Align rewards and incentives
  6. Integrate the purpose into core business practices
  7. Build the capacity and capability of employees
  8. Select and build external partnerships and advocacy
  9. Integrate the purpose into metrics and external disclosure
  10. Integrate the purpose into corporate positioning and communications strategy.

Renewable or 'low-carbon'? EU countries face off over hydrogen

Ambassadors from the EU's 27 member states met on 27th November to discuss plans to create a hydrogen market in Europe at the European Hydrogen Forum. The European Commission sees hydrogen as "a vital missing piece of the puzzle" to achieve deeper decarbonisation in industries like steelmaking and chemicals, which cannot be fully electrified.

The EU's energy commissioner stated on 26 November 2020 that Europe wants to install the euro as the reference currency for trading hydrogen, but a global market with harmonised standards needs to be put in place first in order to meet demand.

In July, the European Commission presented a hydrogen strategy, putting the emphasis on "renewable hydrogen" produced from wind and solar energy, and aiming to ramp up Europe's electrolyser capacity to produce up to 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, created as part of the hydrogen strategy, have reported that one of their key aims is to create a clean hydrogen market that contributes to growth and jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

World's largest offshore windfarm reaches £6bn financial close

SSE Renewables and Equinor, the two firms behind the Dogger Bank windfarm, confirmed that they have reached financial close on the first two phases of what will be the world's biggest offshore wind farm.

The two companies are proceeding with the first two phases of Dogger Bank, a ground-breaking project off the north east coast of England. Total investment in the first two phases of the project will be around £6 billion. The third phase, Dogger Bank C, is being developed on a different timescale with financial close to follow at a later stage.

When fully operational, the windfarm, with a capacity of 3.6GW, will provide enough clean electricity to power more than 4.5 million UK homes. The project is expected to trigger capital investments of around £9 billion in total. Dogger Bank has secured 15-year contracts with the Low Carbon Contracts Company through the UK Government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) auction. This was achieved in September 2019, when the auction delivered record low-strike prices. As such, Dogger Bank A has a strike price of £39.65/MWh, while phases B and C have secured a strike rate of £41.61/MWh.