Energy and Utilities

The Energy Transition | Green heating fund and new green inertia turbines

Published on 14th Mar 2022

This week, we look at the new £288 million fund for green heating projects, three new green inertia turbines, and more.

Industrial landscape with different energy resources. Sustainable development.

Government opens £288 million fund for green heating projects

The government has today (14 March) opened the Green Heat Network Fund – a £288 million fund to support green heating projects. The fund will accelerate the commercialisation and construction of low-carbon heat network projects, and is open to organisations in the public and private sectors in England.

The Green Heat Network Fund will support heat network projects where a central energy source provides heat to multiple properties and businesses. This cuts carbon emissions by avoiding the need for households and workplaces to rely on individual heating solutions, such as gas boilers, which are more energy-intensive. The independent Committee on Climate Change has estimated that heat networks will need to make up around 18% of UK heat by 2050 if the UK is to meet its carbon targets cost-effectively.

The fund will promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy as central heating sources, and is expected to deliver an estimated 9.7 million tonnes of total carbon savings by 2050.

CEO of the Association for Decentralised Energy Lily Frencham said, "We’re delighted that the government is invigorating the transition to zero-carbon heating across the UK that uses good old-fashioned pipes and water to transport heat from green energy centres to homes and businesses. Heat networks offer the most cost-effective tried and tested way of decarbonising our towns and cities and it is great to see government’s continued support for the sector through the launch of the Green Heat Network Fund."

National Grid ESO launches three 'green' inertia turbines

The National Grid ESO has announced three "trail-blazing" green inertia turbines that will go live by this summer. It is said that they will imitate the effect of a power station without utilising fossil fuels. This is part of a £336 million ESO investment programme intended to measure and generate green inertia. The ESO simply defines inertia as "an object’s tendency to continue in its existing state of rest or motion"; many generators that produce electricity for the grid have spinning parts, and the kinetic energy 'stored' in these spinning parts act as ESO's 'system inertia'. Inertia effectively helps maintain a stable electricity frequency on the grid and this has previously been provided by coal and gas power plants. The ESO believes that producing inertia from carbon free sources will result in "greener system operation and more renewable energy to run", while also making it significantly cheaper for consumers. It is hoped that this will aid zero carbon grid operation by 2025.

The first of the turbines to launch this spring will be located in Killinghome, Lincolnshire and will be followed this summer by two turbines in Grain, Kent, and Lister Drive, Liverpool. Julian Leslie, Head of Networks at National Grid ESO said, "[b]uilding a green system with enough inertia is an engineering challenge for system operators worldwide and we’re the first to be solving it. Plus, we’ve solved it in a way that means it’s significantly cheaper for consumers than before we made the investment, with all the benefits of zero carbon."

Net Zero Technology Centre launches £10 million funding competition

The Net Zero Technology Centre has launched a £10 million open innovation programme. The programme aims to develop and deploy "technologies that will reduce offshore emissions, accelerate clean energy production, and enable delivery of the UK's net zero strategy". There will be two six-week funding competitions, with the first one opening on 16 March and the second one in October. The first competition accounts for £7 million of the total funding pot and allows businesses around the world to apply, with successful projects being awarded a maximum of £1 million each.

Eligible projects will be those that support the net zero transition and there is an obligation that the technology must be trialled and deployed within the UK continental shelf. For the first competition,  seven technology focus areas have been identified: carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); hydrogen and clean fuels; renewables and energy storage; zero emissions power; venting and flaring; integrity management; and late life and decommissioning. The second competition will allocate £3 million of the total funding pot, with technology focus areas in digital and data architecture, smart assets, and field information.

Successful projects will also have the opportunity to benefit from access to data, facilities, and technical expertise from industry. Scottish government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said, “[a]ccelerating efforts to reach net zero is a priority for this Scottish Government, which is providing £90 million funding to the Net Zero Technology Centre through the Aberdeen City Region Deal."

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative members aims for zero methane emissions by 2030

Through the launch of the Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) members pledged to reach near zero methane emissions from their operated oil and gas assets by 2030. The OGCI calls for an "all-in approach that treats energy industry methane emissions as seriously as the industry already treats safety". The pledge is already supported by the CEOs of Aramco, bp, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Shell and TotalEnergies.

The initiative further sets out the following commitments:

  • Venting and flaring. OGCI members pledge to put in place all reasonable means to avoid methane venting and flaring, and to repair detected leaks, while preserving the safety of people and the integrity of operations.
  • Reporting and monitoring. OGCI members aim to (a) report annually and transparently on their methane emissions and (b) as technology evolves, supplement methane emissions estimates with more monitoring and measurement technologies and introduce new solutions to avoid methane emissions.
  • Regulation. OGCI members commit to supporting the implementation of regulation to tackle methane emissions and to encourage governments to include methane emissions reduction targets as part of their climate strategies.

OGCI Chair Bob Dudley said, "We recognise that eliminating methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas industry represents one of the best short-term opportunities for contributing to climate change mitigation and for advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement. The time has come for us to go further, and we believe that the oil and gas industry can and should lead this effort."

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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