Five faults of the market approach to energy

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) have produced an excellent analysis of the failings of our so called energy market.

They identify five different faults of the neoliberal approach to energy, which illustrate the problems and alternatives we face.

Fault 1: Risks and costs of competition

We were told that the only way to ensure consumer satisfaction is to maximise competition between different energy providers. But this ignores the risks and costs that come with competition, including exploitation of supply chains and price obfuscation tactics. It also exaggerates the benefits – energy prices are high and consumer satisfaction is at rock bottom. We should abandon competition and seek cooperative ways to achieve quality energy services.

Fault 2: Failure to invest and innovate

Our privatised energy sector is failing to put money into either vital new infrastructure or research and development for new energy technologies. The theory predicted that private companies would be efficient and innovative, but didn’t foresee that those companies might prefer to inflate executive pay packages and investors’ asset values. We should reimagine the role of strategic public investment in energy that has been so successful in the past.

Fault 3: Inaction on climate change

We care about our environment, and we know that our energy system is gradually contributing to its decay. But the main way we engage with these issues is by passively paying the green levies that form a part of our monthly energy bills. This system creates a disjoint between the citizens who pay for an energy transition and the benefits that it brings. We should take inspiration from examples of direct involvement of citizens in empowering energy democracies.

Fault 4: Instability of centralised energy

Power in the UK is generated in a small number of very large plants. This unfairly advantages fossil fuel energy sources and discriminates against renewables. It also makes us far more vulnerable to shocks. With all of our eggs in a small number of baskets climate impacts are more likely to be disruptive and there are unavoidable risks to imported fossil fuel supplies. Decentralising our system would make it cleaner and more stable.

Fault 5: Social injustice treated not cured

At the moment we allow our energy system to produce tragic consequences – fuel poverty and winter deaths – and merely attempt to mitigate the impacts after the event. We rely on energy company obligations and piecemeal government payments to limit the damage to society. The statistics show we’re not doing a great job. By focusing on prevention rather than treatment we could design out social injustices in our energy system and secure the right of each citizen to sufficient energy.

As a consequence of these faults gas and electricity prices in the UK have risen faster than the Euro area as this chart shows.

 

New blows to Scottish renewables

Further blows to Scottish renewables as offshore wind projects are going nowhere and community energy is likely to be hit by lower feed-in tariffs.

The Sunday Herald reports that investment poured into the development of three proposed Scottish offshore wind farms is at risk because of continuing delays in securing vital government subsidies. Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said that there was disappointment within the industry that only two of the five offshore wind farm projects have been able to secure contracts to allow them to go to construction. She said:
“Clearly there is frustration for the remaining projects. Well over a year after being granted planning they are still are waiting for their opportunity to compete for contracts through allocation rounds for which no firm dates have been set. It is now imperative that the UK Government commit as soon as possible to a detailed timescale for the next round, and let developers know how much money will be available in it.”

It remains to be seen what impact UK government policy will have on innovative projects such as Hywind, planned to be the world’s largest floating offshore windfarm. An application for a marine licence for the Hywind development off the north east coast has been approved by the Scottish Government. Statoil will develop a pilot park of five floating turbines located some 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead, north of Aberdeen, with a generating capacity of 135GWh each year. It is expected the Hywind Scotland development could power nearly 20,000 homes.

The Sunday Herald also reports that electricity generation subsidies paid to small to medium sized green energy schemes will fall an overall 64% when they are introduced next week. This means that many small-scale wind developments in the planning pipeline will no longer be viable, with community schemes hardest hit. The same applies to solar. Before the changes, the tariffs paid for roof-top solar installations would pay for themselves in eight to 10 years, but under the new tariff it would take around 14 years.

This is all the more disappointing as the year ended strongly for renewables. Several new records were set as the transition from dirty to clean energy continued. Grant Wilson helpfully sets out the notable outcomes.

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The same is true for investment. The UK was “by far” the strongest clean energy investment market in Europe in 2015, with investment up 24% to $23.4 billion. Ironically, much of the surge was driven by offshore wind arrays in the North Sea such as the 580MW Race Bank and 336MW Galloper, with estimated costs of $2.9 billion and $2.3 billion respectively.

So, 2015 was a good year for renewables in terms of output and investment. 2016 doesn’t look nearly so promising.

Why CETA has implications for Scottish Water

The CETA trade agreement could lock in water privatisation in England and have implications for Scottish Water.

The Council of Canadians has warned that if the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) were ratified, it would pose a serious obstacle to the remunicipalisation of privatised water services in England. That's because the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan owns 27 per cent of Northumbrian Water Group Plc, which sells its water services to about 4.4 million 'customers' in England, and the Canada Pension Plan owns one-third of Anglian Water Services, which sells water services to approximately six million people in England.

The pension funds could use the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in CETA to sue for future profits should the water utilities be brought back into public hands by a future government.

There is a certain irony here as Scottish Water International has recently won a second contract to advise the Canadian city of Calgary on its water supply. We export public service water expertise to Canada, they export privatisation back!

The Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee is currently holding an inquiry into CETA and the EU Commission will be giving evidence to the committee on 4 February. While Scottish Water is a public service, many of its services are delivered by the private sector. As Utilities Scotland previously highlighted, almost all the capital programme is delivered by contractors and a number of wastewater plants are run by contractors under PFI schemes.

In addition, the Scottish Government recently handed a contract for public sector water and wastewater services to Anglian Water – who are part owned by Canadian pension funds. This opens the possibility of a future Scottish Government being sued under the ISDS process if they sought to bring all of Scottish Water back into public ownership.

This isn't a theoretical risk. In 1999, Azurix, a subsidiary of Enron Corporation, sued the Argentinian government after water supply failures led to a consumer boycott . A 2007 ICSID [International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes] tribunal found in favour of the company and ordered the government of Argentina to pay $165 million in compensation. In 2010 the ICSID again ruled in favour of a water company, in a dispute involving the French transnational Suez. This time it was the Argentine government that rescinded the contract, because of concerns over water quality, lack of wastewater treatment, and mounting tariffs.

If TTIP was agreed we would have a whole new batch of problems with US firms getting in on the act. The Flint River crisis highlights the risks of privatised water supply. The decision to switch the Michigan city’s drinking water source to the Flint River was aimed at saving $5m, but almost two years later the cost to treat the water supply carries a tag of $45m together with concerns over lead poisoning and contamination. President Obama cited Flint’s water crisis as an example of why the government’s role in public safety is so crucial, He said; “It is a reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services that we provide to our people and that we, together, provide as a government to assure the health and safety of the American public is preserved”.

As Food & Water Europe has highlighted; “TTIP, CETA and TISA all pose major threats to many of the victories that civil society has achieved over the decades to make the human right to water a reality and to promote and recover public control over water management. …[Trade agreements] can make privatisation processes iron-clad. Investment protection mechanisms would allow corporations to challenge processes of water remunicipalisation, the powerful wave of local governments taking back public control over water, like in Paris and Berlin.”

Much of the focus in campaigns against TTIP and CETA have been on the NHS. Let's not forget that our public water supply is equally at risk.

 

Time to get serious about energy prices

Every seven minutes in the UK an older person dies of cold.

As Geoffrey Lean recently put it in the Independent; “people will die of cold in their own homes – in this, the world’s fifth-largest economy – because they cannot afford to pay the high prices charged by energy companies.”

He was highlighting the disconnect between the falling price of wholesale gas and the much smaller fall in household energy prices. If this were a competitive market, which reflected the 45% fall in wholesale prices seen over the last two years, the average dual-fuel consumer in Britain would be paying £850 or so a year, rather than the £1,100 charged to most customers on standard tariffs.  Analysts at ICIS expect that wholesale gas prices will continue to fall in 2016.

The Prime Minister meekly said that bills were “not falling as fast as I would like”. The Energy Secretary has written a stiff letter to the energy companies and Ofgem has wrung its hands as usual. Dermot Nolan, the watchdog’s chief executive said; “we really should be seeing bigger retail cuts. Bills should be cut by around £300 for the majority of people”.

And his solution? People should switch. Unsurprisingly, this was also the energy industry’s response on the BBC. The spokesperson there went as far as blaming consumers for not switching.

The much-vaunted Competition and Market Authority’s investigation into the energy market has been delayed for a second time, with provisional remedies now due in March and the final report in June. This follows the six month delay announced last September.

Maybe they are checking their sums after SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies publicly accused them of getting their sums wrong last summer when it said the big six suppliers were overcharging customers by £1.7bn a year.

Which? and Citizens Advice have been more robust: “The industry as a whole urgently needs to step up to the plate – suppliers need to play fair with customers and start passing on the major savings they have been making from cheap wholesale costs.”

The problem is not limited to the Big6. A personal disappointment to me was that Co-operative Energy has attracted the most customer complaints ever recorded by Citizens Advice in its quarterly ranking of the best and worst suppliers. The company received 1,584 complaints per 100,000 customers – 40 times more than the best performer, SSE.

Sadly, this came as no surprise to me. After very poor customer service I reluctantly switched from the Co-op. The final meter reading was then hugely overestimated and they took more than £2,500 too much from my account through Direct Debit. It has taken months to resolve and so it is easy to see why people are reluctant to switch. In fact seven out of ten consumers don’t regularly switch and would rather have a model that offers them an honest tariff, as Patrick Collinson argues in today’s Guardian.

With fuel poverty in Scotland increasing rapidly the independent experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) have confirmed that the final fuel poverty budget for 2015/16 was £119 million. This is due to fall by £15 million in 2016/17 under the draft Scottish Government budget – a cut of 13%.

This is the year that fuel poverty is supposed to be eradicated by law. Scottish Labour’s policy response is what they describe as a; “ground-breaking Scottish Warm Homes Act. This will deliver important changes in planning and building regulations to further help Scotland tackle fuel poverty. We will also adopt energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Project and we will look at ways to better support the most vulnerable insulate their homes.”

While this may address energy efficiency, I would point to another solution to rising prices – municipal ownership. Municipal engagement in energy supply could also unlock the potential of local generation and generate a much needed new source of income for local authorities. Last year, IPPR published City energy, a study of this emerging new trend. It showed that many councils are already starting to play a substantive and innovative role in Britain’s energy market – tackling fuel poverty, investing in local clean energy and benefitting the local economy.

The energy market has failed. Municipal energy as well as action on energy efficiency is the way ahead for all consumers, but most of all for those dying from fuel poverty.

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2016 could be challenging for renewables

Renewable energy in Scotland starts 2016 with some positive numbers, but how green will this year be for the sector?

The latest Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics showed almost half (49.7%) of Scotland’s electricity demand came from renewable sources and Scotland exported 23.7% of what it generated. This means renewables provided 38% of electricity generated – above both nuclear, at 33%, and fossil fuels, at 28%. Scotland has a target of generating 50% of its energy from green sources by 2015.

The sector also made a significant contribution towards tackling climate change. Renewable energy projects including wind farms, hydro power and solar prevented more than one million tonnes of CO2 per month from entering the atmosphere. The reduction is the highest ever recorded in Scotland, and up 119% on 2010. The figure is equivalent to more CO2 than is emitted from every single car, bus and train journey taken over the course of a year in Scotland.

Despite these numbers, wind generator’s are concerned that the UK government tariff review for small scale energy generators could restrict the building of new wind turbines. Scottish Renewables says that, although the new reduced rates for small wind turbines are not too bad, a new quarterly deployment cap hidden away in the 115-page document could lead to the “ridiculous” situation that, dependent on the size of the turbine, just one turbine a month could be built. They said: “While the UK government listened to the industry in relation to FiT rate cuts for solar, the devil is very much in the detail for onshore wind.

A big concern is the impact of the subsidy cuts on community energy schemes. Lesley Riddoch argues in The Scotsman that the latest round of UK government cuts will devastate the community energy sector. She claims the loss of tax relief on investments in community renewables is the last in a series of blows by Westminster that virtually ends new community wind, solar, hydro or biomass projects in Scotland.

The Scottish Government, usually a big supporter of renewables is scrapping the Renewable Energy Generation Relief Scheme (regrs), which currently offers qualifying companies rates rebates of up to 100%. It cost £7.3million last year, more than double the £3.5 million paid out in 2011 at the end of the scheme’s first twelve months.

Scottish Government policy was also criticised at Holyrood’s economy committee, which is conducting an investigation into the renewables industry in Scotland. Economist Tony MacKay told MSPs that the collapse of flagship marine energy companies Aquamarine and Pelamis shows that £35m of public money could have been “better used”. He also said that subsidies have been “far too high”, with profit rates for wind farms in Scotland of about 22%.

It is certainly true that some companies are making money. ScottishPower (Iberdrola) doubled the profits in its UK wind power business in the first nine months of its financial year. Earnings leapt to €301m (£221m) in the first nine months of 2015, from €150m in the same period of last year. The doubling of earnings in the UK renewables business was driven by better wind conditions and additions to the wind farm portfolio. The euro-denominated earnings figure was also boosted by sterling’s appreciation against the single currency.

Overall, renewables again made a positive contribution to energy generation in Scotland and in tackling climate change. However, changes in government policy, UK and Scotland, could make 2016 a much a more difficult year for the sector.

Geordies watch out – UCG heading south

Good news today for campaigners against unconventional gas with the announcement that Cluff Natural Resources has shelved plans to create the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Kincardine in Fife.

The company, which holds nine UCG licences across Scotland, England and Wales, made some pretty ambitious claims that the £250 million scheme could generate £603m for the economy and create 1,000 jobs.

It blamed the Scottish Government moratorium on the technology for the decision that came about as a result of campaign pressure, including an 8,000 signature petition. The company now plans to concentrate its effort in North-East England – so the Geordies has better watch out as they are to be test bed for this unproven technology.

The company may also have recognised that government policy was unlikely to change soon after a confidential draft report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said the process could cause pollution, earthquakes, underground explosions and “uncontrollable” fires. The report admitted that it doesn’t know what level of protection its safety regulation can provide against the hazards of ‘underground coal gasification’ (UCG). The risks were “sometimes unknowable”.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This news represents a massive victory for all those who have campaigned long and hard to halt Cluff’s daft coal-burning plans. The science is clear – to protect our climate the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned.”

How billpayers are subsidising the dirtiest energy

 

The UK government has not only abandoned any pretence of a low carbon energy policy, but if anything they are going into reverse.

The latest IPPR publication highlights the government’s mad maths. Last year the government introduced a new energy policy which has awarded £109 million in subsidies, paid out of consumers’ energy bills, to new diesel generators, which are the dirtiest form of energy generation available, worse even than coal. That subsidy will increase in a second auction to be held in early December, by up to £434 million. At the same time, the government is slashing subsidies for green energy: solar subsidies, for instance, are set to be reduced by 87 per cent.

Solar subsidy cuts are likely to cost thousands of jobs. The Solar Trade Association surveyed more than 200 solar firms – estimated to be fewer than 10% of the total. It said if its findings were reflected across the industry, some 6,500 jobs may already have been lost and a a further 18,500 could be at risk. The TUC provided an earlier warning on job losses.

Solar-ind-jobs-at-risk

The government will claim the opposite is true with the announcement of a fixed end to coal-fired power generation in 2025. However, these stations have been failing and most are due to close before 2025 in any case. The shift to gas still needs Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS), but of course the government has abandoned that as well. Countries like Canada are taking over our lead.

Paul Elkins attempts to explain the government’s roller coaster policy on renewables, he said: “The only explanation I can come up with is that it has very little commitment to the UK’s carbon targets and an ideological hatred of renewables – ironic, given that polls show renewables to be the favourite energy source of the people the government is supposed to represent.”

ScottishPower CEO Neil Clitheroe has also pointed to the need for a consistent long term policy, otherwise investment will go elsewhere. He highlighted the opportunities for renewable investment in Mexico. EY Analysts at the same conference said:“Future renewables investment is likely to be constrained by recent changes to the support regime for low-carbon technologies, the potential lack of budget for further CfD allocations to 2020 and the lack of visibility on the level of funding beyond 2020,”

All of this simply confirms that the UK Government’s energy policy is at best inconsistent and short term – chaotic would be closer to the truth.

UK Government abandons CCS

Hidden away in today's Autumn Statement – the Chancellor has decided to abandon government support for Carbon Capture and Storage.

That probably means the Peterhead project is dead. Government has messed about with this project for years and is now killing it. Removing any chance of the UK developing this vital technology.

 

HM Government Statement to Markets Regarding Carbon Capture and Storage Competition

25 November 2015

Today, following the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, HM Government confirms that the £1 billion ring-fenced capital budget for the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Competition is no longer available.

This decision means that the CCS Competition cannot proceed on its current basis. We will engage closely with the bidders on the implications of this decision for them”

 

In addition the Department of Energy and Climate Change faces a 22% cut in its budget. The Treasury will also remove tax reliefs for all energy generation projects by excluding them from the venture capital schemes, to “ensure that they remain well targeted at higher risk companies”.

The Autumn Statement appears to signal that the UK government is abandoning any significant support for energy sector.

Update.

The CCSA explain why this is such a bad decision not least because CCS could create 15,000-30,000 jobs in the UK by 2030, delivering a market worth up to £35 billion. 160,000 direct jobs in energy intensive industries would be safeguarded. And finally – and this is perhaps the one argument which should make the Government sit up and listen – CCS could shave £82 off the cost of the average household energy bill per year by 2030.

 

Eliminating fuel poverty by Nov 2016? I think not.

Given the short term thinking that bedevils much political thinking, we can be forgiven for looking cynically at government targets that stretch long ahead of the political cycle. However, sometimes they catch up with governments. One such legislative target is the eradication of fuel poverty in Scotland by November 2016.

This target is given some focus for me today, as I am chairing a session at the annual conference of the fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland. UNISON Scotland is affiliated to this campaigning charity that also delivers a wide range of practical actions to help alleviate fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty is defined as a household having to spend 10% or more of its income on energy to maintain a warm home. When I first got involved it was almost exclusively an issue for the elderly – no longer.

A recent report by Citizen's Advice Scotland told the story of a father of a two-week old baby who was left without any money for gas and electricity, after being told he had to wait two weeks for a Universal Credit payment. Another case in the east of Scotland involved a couple with a nine-month-old baby girl being left without any money for food or gas and electricity. Their benefit was stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions after it claimed a sick note had not been received – even though it had been sent the previous week.

According to CAS, the number of Scots in 'fuel poverty' has soared by 130% in the past five years, with shocking cases of struggling households being left for months without any means of heating or cooking. They dealt with 28,000 cases involving energy issues in 2014-15 – an increase of a third from the previous year and up 130% since 2011.

Energy Action Scotland's Director Norrie Kerr, has also said that they see a lot of younger people in fuel poverty who are on the minimum wage or less than the minimum wage, who are really struggling just to make ends meet: “It is not just about pensioners any more, it is about in-work poverty. When you are being squeezed like that there is the very real dilemma for people between heating and eating. In some cases foodbanks are being asked for food parcels that don’t require people to heat anything, because they are frightened to put on the cooker to boil a pan of pasta or heat a tin of beans.”

So, are we going to meet the legislative requirement to eliminate fuel poverty by November 2016? Based on what we heard at today's conference, almost certainly not. Are we making sufficient effort to try and reach this target? Again probably not.

One particular disappointment is the Scottish Government's decision to postpone a consultation on energy efficiency measures in private sector housing. This is the fastest growing housing sector and landlords need help and support, and tenants need protection against unjustified rent increases. CAS covered this issue well in their report 'Coming in from the Cold'.

Funds have been made available for fuel poverty, but it simply isn't enough. We heard about a some measures and more task groups and reviews. As with other policy areas we are very good in Scotland at analysing the problem – less good at making difficult decisions to solve them. Equally the UK government programmes are also inadequate, but as some are to be devolved, we have an opportunity to bring programmes together and do some things differently.

Energy efficiency is only one aspect of the measures needed to tackle fuel poverty. The other two are the price of energy and income support. Action on prices have been limited with the cost going up by 180% between 2002 and 2013. If prices had gone up with inflation fuel poverty in Scotland would be below 11% of households, instead of 39%. It has only been helped very recently by the drop in wholesale prices – rather than government action over the failed energy market.

Government's put great emphasis on switching supplier and there has been some increased take up recently. However, it is far from a smooth process. I recently switched supplier and was presented with an absurd estimated opening gas reading that was almost double my last bill. As a consequence I was presented with a bill for £3,600!

On income support, the U.K. Government's slashing of social security is having a devastating impact on low income families in and out of work. We should also not forget the cut in real wages over a decade or more. This is something the Scottish Government could do more on, including the living wage for care workers. As Jackie Baillie reminded us today, the £1300 cut in Tax Credits is the equivalent of the average annual fuel bill.

If the same number of people suffering from fuel poverty had an illness or disease we would be crying out for the government to take action by pouring resources into the NHS. It's time to treat fuel poverty with the priority it deserves.

Delivering on Scotland’s energy security

The Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee has published its report on energy security: 'Plugged-in Switched-on Charged-up: Ensuring Scotland’s Energy Security'.

Those looking for a blueprint for energy security will be disappointed, in fact there was some debate over what energy security even means. However, the Committee hopes, it will contribute to a debate on the future of something we tend to take for granted, but which powers our everyday plugged-in, switched-on, charged-up lives.

The focus of the report is on electricity supply. The reports asks: “Does Scotland need more generation or better interconnection? The Scottish Government appears to favour the former approach, National Grid the latter. Greater clarity is needed if we are to avoid policy deadlock.”

The Scottish Government's concerns are that UK capacity margins have declined from 15% in 2009 to as low as 2% in 2016. They cited the views of Sir John Arnott and Dieter Helm, who argued that it should be between 10 and 20%. Whether for Scotland or on a GB basis. They also argued that narrowing of the gap between supply and demand was likely to have a negative impact on consumers because as the capacity margin falls, prices inevitably go up.

Some may give a wry smile to these concerns, given that despite the Scottish Government claiming to be in favour of a balanced energy policy, their actions have been the opposite. In particular, the non-replacement of thermal, in the view of Professor Haszeldine, would mean Scotland becoming “more and more like Northern Ireland” – with no thermal generation of its own and reliant on Scotland and in Scotland’s case, for “large parts of the year”, on England. Transmission charges certainly are a disincentive to invest in Scotland, but so has Scottish Government energy policy.

The policy target of 100% from renewables is unlikely to be achieved anyway. Scottish Renewables has recently said the Scottish government's goal would not be achieved by the 2020 deadline without further investment from Westminster. Predictably, this resulted in more ranting from Scottish Ministers at Westminster.

A report from the respected Institute of Civil Engineers next month will say: “Scotland will transition from being a net exporter to being a net importer of electricity if the closures of Longannet, Hunterston and Torness are not replaced by new development.”

The Committee wants the Scottish Government (along with Ofgem) to look more closely at “demand-side response” and to produce a demand reduction strategy, either as part of a wider document such as the Electricity Generation Policy Statement or a strategy in its own right. They linked to this is district heating, and while the minister is keen to develop this, he doesn't appear to have a plan.

On consumer responses the report highlights the evidence of the CMA who found those customers generally engaging least with the energy market – by not switching supplier for example – and therefore “leaving most money on the table” were people on low incomes, of a poor educational background, with disabilities, or otherwise disadvantaged. Mindful of the November 2016 deadline for the Scottish Government's target to eradicate fuel poverty, the report asks the Scottish and UK Governments what can be done to address this inequity in the system.

Branding the committee report as “very poor”, Inverness-based economist Tony Mackay said that the committee’s choice of witnesses who provided oral evidence were “almost entirely” drawn from pro-wind farm bodies. Oral evidence was indeed narrowly drawn, but this is perhaps a little harsh. Mackay also says that forthcoming closure of Scotland’s two nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Torness are dealt with “very poorly” in the report. That is certainly true.

Back in the real world capacity shortages have hit home for real. For the first time a new tool to balance the energy system, Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR), was used to help manage the peak demand time between 5pm and 6pm. This involved a small number of contracted large businesses being asked, under a commercial arrangement, to cut their electricity use.

The power shortage was caused by a number of factors including unexpected maintenance issues at ageing coal-power stations, which led to temporary shut downs at several power plants; low wind speeds, meaning wind farms were only able to produce 1 per cent of the UK’s required electricity, and no solar input, because the requirement happened when it was dark. All highlight the risk of relying on intermittent generation.

The ICE report next month will call for a national debate on how we, as a country, deal with changes to electricity generation to ensure that we have a resilient supply with sufficient capacity for the long term. Amen to that!

 

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