The Energy Transition | Green Hydrogen, TERRE Implementation, Electric Vehicles

Written on 22 Jan 2021

This week we look at the customer benefits of Octopus Energy's new Fan Club product, the largest green hydrogen production site in France, the latest developments in electric vehicle sector, and more.

Total and Engie partner on France's largest green hydrogen production site

Energy majors Total and Engie have signed a cooperation agreement to design, develop, build and operate France's largest renewable hydrogen production site, known as the Masshylia project. . The project will consist of a 40 MW electrolyser, which will produce five tonnes of green hydrogen every day once it is online.

The project will be located at the heart of Total's La Mède biorefinery on France's southern coast and will be powered by solar farms with a total capacity of more than 100MW. Hydrogen produced by the facility will be used to meet the needs of the biofuel production process. Total estimates that the transition to green hydrogen from fossil fuels at the facility will save 15,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The site will also host large-scale hydrogen storage infrastructure in order to compensate for the intermittent nature of generation from solar PV systems..

Subject to planning permissions and advanced engineering studies, Total and Engie are aiming to begin construction in 2022, enabling generation to begin in 2024. The project has already applied for subsidies from French and European authorities.

Delayed TERRE implementation course to be further developed in early 2021

National Grid Electricity System Operator (NG ESO) has published an open letter providing an update on its plans for implementing the Trans European Replacement Reserves Exchange (TERRE) within Great Britain. The letter was released after the conclusion of the GB TERRE Implementation Group meetings at the end of 2020. It also follows a number of extensions to the go-live date for the introduction of a new system which resulted from difficulties implementing the new systems and delays relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The letter states that the TERRE implementation group has developed draft implementation plans for the following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1a: GB operates a TERRE-like mechanism in standalone mode. With no cross-border trading component, there would be no need for revised interconnector agreements.
  • Scenario 1b: access to European replacement reserves via bilateral agreements. Existing interconnector agreements would need to be revised and a new agreement with French transmission system operator RTE would be required.
  • Scenario 2: A free trade agreement between the UK and European Commission on balancing market arrangements, including access to TERRE and the Manually Activated Reserves Initiative.

NG ESO notes that the post-Brexit trade and co-operation agreement agreed between the UK and the EU indicates that Scenario 1 is the most likely outcome, meaning that there would be no access for GB to the TERRE platform. All scenarios involve waiting for legal clarity before proceeding which indicates that there will be further delays to the process. The letter confirmed that the Implementation Group will work to recommend an optimal course of action during early 2021.

Nottingham to participate in development of EV, solar and battery storage energy management system

Nottingham County Council (NCC) has announced its participation in the CleanMobilEnergy project which aims to develop a smart energy management system that maximises the use of locally generated renewable energy and cuts the cost of electric vehicle (EV) charging. NCC will receive funding to deliver a City Pilot demonstrator as part of the project and will install ‘vehicle to grid’ (V2G) commercial EV charging at Eastcroft Depot. The project will include an Internet of Things platform (provided by OpenRemote) which will help to control and manage the components of the project, which include a 378kW/676kw lithium Ion battery, solar panels and  a fleet of 40 EVs compatible with V2G charging. One example of the systems operational attributes is the ability to schedule the fleet of EVs to start charging at times of surplus renewable energy or low electricity tariffs.

The smart energy management system can be accessed through a mobile app which sends notifications to alert energy managers of any unusual performance and provides the option of 'on the go' responses to optimise performance.

The Open Networks Project launches 2021 Work Plan consultation

The Open Networks Project (ONP), a project launched by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), was established in an effort to support the transition to a net zero emissions smart grid. Now in its fifth year, the ONP has launched its 2021 Work Plan and consultation which outlines the "ambitious direction" the Project will take this year. David Smith, Chief Executive of the ENA, has said that "2021 will be a year of action".

The focus and priorities set out in the plan follow the work stream structure used by the ONP in 2020 which includes developments in: flexibility services; whole electricity system planning; customer information provision and connections; and communications and stakeholder engagement. The consultation on the workplan starts on 18 January, offering industry stakeholders the opportunity to find out more about the proposals and provide feedback. The public consultation will last 6 weeks until 1 March 2021.

Octopus Energy launches Fan Club

Octopus Energy has launched the Octopus Fan Club, which is the "UK's first energy tariff to give customers the benefits of local renewable energy production in real-time". The club is available to customers in Market Weighton and Caerphilly for £1 a week and provides access to 100% renewable energy generated from local turbines in the area. It is expected that 800 homes will be powered through the scheme.

Customers not only benefit from green energy - they also gain 20% off their unit rates, which increases up to 50% when the turbines are working well in windy conditions (8m/s in Market Weighton and 10.8m/s in Caerphilly). Zoisa Walton, Director at Octopus, praised the scheme as "unlocking exciting opportunities for the cheapest electrons to be the greenest".

PM pressed to further extend Green Homes Grant scheme

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been called upon to further extend the Green Homes Grant scheme amid claims that delays in issuing the scheme’s vouchers are causing energy efficiency installers to make redundancies.

At a meeting on 13 January of the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, chair of the environment audit committee Philip Dunne stated that the scheme "is having precisely the opposite effect to what was intended." Dunne urged the PM to use the upcoming Budget to address the problems with the scheme and to extend it beyond its current March 2022 deadline, which is already the result of an initial 12 month extension.

In response to Dunne's concerns about the scheme, Johnson said the government will “do its best”.

Substantial boosts in EV sector

Significant EV announcements this week include the following:

  • Aggregator Flexitricity has partnered with EV charging firm ev.energy to register the first domestic EV aggregated unit in the Balancing Mechanism (BM). Flexitricity will use ev.energy's smart charging platform, which has over 10,000 EVs connected to it, to trade flexibility in the BM as a Virtual Lead Party.
  • Battery developer StoreDot has manufactured the first battery for EVs that can be charged in five minutes. Lithium-ion sample batteries were produced by the company with its strategic partner in China, Eve Energy.
  • Energy supplier Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has published two reports alongside energy experts Regen forecasting the journey to meet the UK and Scottish government’s respective 2050 and 2045 net zero targets. The reports predict that the number of EVs in the north of Scotland and central southern England will increase from around 30,000 currently to over five million by 2050.