Shell rumoured to be ‘keen’ on UK offshore wind

Oil giant Shell are rumoured to be keen on entering the UK offshore wind market, according the the firm’s new energy president.

Mark Gainsborough, executive vice president of Shell New Energies, told Reuters during an interview last week that his firm intends to buy up UK seabed leases or buy up stakes in existing projects.

Shell recently bought a majority stake in a floating wind project planned for 2020

Originally investing 33% in the ‘TetraSpar’ floating foundation demonstrator turbine last year, Shell will now own 66% of the project.

Shell also pledged up to £1.4billion in new renewable energies last year.

Mr Gainsborough told Reuters: “We absolutely would like to get a position in the UK offshore (wind) market.

“To make sure we stay relevant in the energy transition, we need to look at how we can bring lower-carbon solutions.”

He added that Brexit was unlikely to “dampen” his firm’s intention to move into the UK offshore wind marketplace.

Mr Gainsborough said: “The thing that is more important is there continue to be supportive government policies.”

In December, Shell and renewables developer EDP Renewables joined forces to compete for offshore wind projects as Mayflower Wind Energy.

A 50/50 joint venture, the deal will see Mayflower compete in upcoming offshore wind auctions.


Autonomous management system will ‘transform’ UK grid

An autonomous power management system designed to maximise network capacity without the need for centralised manual control is set to be trailed on the UK electricity grid for the first time.

Called the Faraday Grid the new technology is composed of individual units called exchangers that have been designed as “plug and play” replacements for existing transformer infrastructure.

The exchangers are a new form of smart technology and can communicate with each other, automatically regulating energy flow across the grid to ensure maximum capacity and minimal energy loss.

UK Power Networks has agreed with Faraday Grid to install 10, 500KV Faraday Exchanger units across the country as a proof-of-concept.

Faraday Grid founder and chief technical officer Matthew Williams told New Civil Engineer: “The exchangers are able to control voltage, remove harmonics, control power factors and balance the grid, all within a single device.

“The Faraday Grid uses autonomous decentralised control architecture, essentially the same principle that the internet works on in that you don’t have a centralised controller.

“Every exchanger is its own boss and does what it needs to do, it does not need the context of the whole system, but each exchanger is looking to achieve a common goal and will work together, it makes the system scaleable and highly adaptable.”

UK Power Networks head of innovation Ian Cameron added: “We have recognised that Faraday’s technology has the potential to be transformational for distribution networks and the wider energy system. The technology is aligned to our ambition to become an energy platform business. We are delighted to be the company’s lead UK partner for testing and demonstrating its impacts in a distribution network.”

Some of the new units will be trialled on the London network in early 2019.

Faraday Grid has previously received £1M in funding from the UK governments Innovation agency, Innovate UK.


UK Export Finance helps Siemens deliver energy security for Iraq

UK Export Finance (UKEF) supports a €30.2 million contract for the initial refurbishment of the Al Mussaib power station, ensuring secure power supply in Southern Iraq.

UKEF will support a €30.2 million contract for the refurbishment of Al Mussaib power station in southern Iraq, the UK government announced today (21 February). The support will enable the rehabilitation of a 320 megawatt (MW) turbine, that will help improve the overall efficiency and output at the power station.

Al Mussaib power station, located close to Baghdad, is one of the main providers of electricity for the city. Increasing its output will help secure the supply of basic electricity to Baghdad residents.

Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Fairhead said:

I am delighted that UK Export Finance is supporting the first phase of the refurbishment, which will have such a significant impact on the supply and security of electricity in southern Iraq.

The demand for UK expertise on complex projects like this highlights the UK’s leadership in this sector and I am delighted that UK Export Finance is supporting projects that will have such a direct impact on improving the country’s infrastructure and the lives of the Iraqi people. I encourage likeminded businesses to get in touch with UKEF to learn more about the kind of financial support we can provide.

This announcement follows the agreement between the governments of the UK and Iraq signed in March 2017, which re-affirmed the UK’s commitment to Iraq’s continued economic development.

Darren Davidson, Managing Director – Power Generation Services, Power & Gas, Siemens UK said:

The refurbishment of the Al Mussaib power plant will be hugely important both for the citizens of Baghdad and for our international business. UKEF’s support demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to improving Iraq’s infrastructure and the UK’s energy sector.


UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency and a government department, working alongside the Department for International Trade as an integral part of its strategy and operations.

Our mission is to ensure that no viable UK export should fail for want of finance or insurance from the private market. We provide finance and insurance to help exporters win, fulfil and ensure they get paid for export contracts.

Sectors in which UKEF has supported exports include: aerospace, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications and transport.

UKEF has a national regional network of 24 export finance managerssupporting export businesses.

Our range of products includes:

  • Bond insurance policy
  • Bond support scheme
  • Buyer & supplier credit financing facility
  • Direct lending facility
  • Export insurance policy
  • Export refinancing facility
  • Export working capital scheme
  • Letter of credit guarantee scheme

UK Government Withholds ‘Brexit Energy Price Hike’ Information From Welsh Ministers

The UK Government has refused to share its assessment of the impact of Brexit on energy prices, the Welsh Government has revealed.

Questioned about fuel poverty by Labour’s Joyce Watson at the Senedd on Tuesday (19 Feb), energy minister Lesley Griffiths said the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has assessed the likely scale of price increases after Brexit – but has not shared that information with Wales.

Mrs Watson, who represents the Mid and West Wale region, went on to warn that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would hit Wales’ energy sector, centred at Milford Haven. She also asked the minister to lobby the UK government on the issue of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which unfairly penalise off-grid gas properties in rural areas, she said. The minister said she would raise Mrs Watson’s concerns at the next intergovernmental meeting.

Below is a transcript of the exchange.

Joyce Watson AM:

“Thank you, Minister, for your statement today – and it is clear that the numbers of people living in fuel poverty remain stubbornly high. It’s also distressing that we see this alongside a rise in food banks, a rise in homelessness, and it’s simply a symptom of the last decade of austerity.

“My fear is that Brexit will make things much, much worse. As things stand, around 5 per cent of UK electricity and up to 12 per cent of our gas is imported from the EU, so any import tariffs or barriers would push up costs, and customers would, as always, pick up that bill.

“The trade association for the British energy industry, Energy UK, has warned that household bills are likely to rise as a result of uncertainty over whether Britain will remain in the EU emissions trading system, and there are other pressing uncertainties too. For example, the four power cables that connect Britain to the continent are scheduled to be joined by eight more in the near future. Will that project fall through, and if it does, what cost will that be to the consumer?

“As Lord Teverson, chair of the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee said, after Brexit: ‘There will be a divergence and we will not be integrated. What that means is energy trading becomes less efficient and retail prices will go up’.

“We’ve seen again today what was once glibly dismissed as ‘project fear’ being realised throughout the UK car industry and the devastating impact that’s had on those communities, but what’s the cost of Brexit to Wales’s booming energy sector, particularly the key operators at Milford Haven?

“On a final point, you talked about energy performance certificates, or EPCs, in relation to the Welsh housing conditions survey. Many of my constituents are off-grid and they use solid fuel or liquid gas, and that, of course, is much more expensive. But EPC is based on running costs, and as such is not a reliable measure of energy efficiency for those particular areas. I appreciate the EPC structure is a matter for the UK Government, but could I ask you to take up that issue with your counterpart in Westminster and to look at what the Welsh Government can do to redress what is a fundamental unfairness?”

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs:

“Thank you, Joyce Watson, for those questions and observations. I think you’re quite right: a decade of austerity of course has an impact on the number of people living in fuel poverty here in Wales.

“You talk about Brexit, and I am concerned, particularly about the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on energy prices in particular, again in the context of other economic factors that also could come into play if we have a ‘no deal’ scenario. So, we’ve just started having— you’ll be aware of the quadrilaterals I have at an agricultural level with Michael Gove – so, we’ve just started the same engagement with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I and Ken Skates have been trying to get it up and running for a couple of years. We’ve just had the first meeting. That was chaired by Claire Perry, and I think it was really important that we highlighted our concerns, particularly around a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The UK Government informed us that they have done some assessment around the likely scale of price increases. They haven’t shared that information with us. We need to have sight of that detail so that we can work out any potential impacts on the people of Wales, and also businesses. I think it’s absolutely urgently needed if we are to understand and plan for any potential impacts on fuel poverty levels here in Wales as we come out of the European Union. I think there’s also a need to consider energy prices in the context of cumulative impacts, and consider the interrelationships between energy prices and the other economic impacts we could have post Brexit.

“In relation to your question around EPCs, I’ll be certainly very happy to take that forward with Claire Perry—if not at the next BEIS quadrilateral, I’ll be very happy to write to her.”

The principal Energy Efficiency Rating on an EPC is based on running costs. The lower the energy cost, the higher the ‘energy efficiency’ rating. All energies used to heat homes in off-gas grid areas – heating oil, electricity, solid fuel and LPG – are typically more expensive than natural gas meaning that any building’s EPC will automatically score a lower score than if the same property was in an urban area on natural gas.


EU Commission investigates UK’s Capacity Market scheme

It follows the EU Court’s landmark ruling which led to the suspension of the scheme last November


TOP NEWS: SSE To Raise Energy Tariffs To Match UK Ofgem Price Cap

LONDON (Alliance News) – Energy company SSE PLC said on Thursday its Energy Services division will increase prices in line the rise in UK regulator Ofgem’s price cap with effect on April 1.

Customers on the dual-fuel Standard Variable tariff will see prices rise by GBP117 per annum, giving a new typical annual bill of GBP1,254. Customers on the Energy assist tariff will have their prices aligned with those on the standard variable tariff, meaning an annual bill of GBP1,254.

Customers on the Pay As You Go tariff will see prices increase by GBP106 per annum, resulting in an average annual bill of GBP1,242.

Ofgem announced on February 7 that it would increase the price cap for default and standard variable gas and electricity tariffs by GBP117 to GBP1,254 a year from April 1 due to hikes in wholesale costs paid by utilities such as SSE.

The watchdog said previously that those affected would still pay a “fair price” for their energy as the increase reflects a genuine rise in underlying wholesale costs, rather than provider profiteering.

SSE follows Centrica PLC unit British Gas, E.ON, EDF and Npower, all of whom said last week they would be raising their prices to match the cap.

“We regret having to raise prices but with wholesale costs having steadily increased, as shown by Ofgem’s calculations, we need to pass these on in our prices. However, we don’t want our customers worrying about their energy bills and there is a lot of support available, including financial rebates for vulnerable customers, energy efficiency advice and access to money saving tariffs and bundles,” said Chief Operating Officer Tony Keeling.

Shares in SSE were down 0.8% at 1,186.00 pence on Thursday.

By Dayo Laniyan;


Energy provider Solarplicity banned from taking on new customers

Energy provider Solarplicity has been banned from taking on new customers due to its poor switching process and customer service.

Regulator Ofgem has imposed a three-month ban on the company, which will only be lifted if the firm “significantly improves”.

The watchdog said Solarplicity’s customer service “has been poor for a number of months”.

Between March and September last year there was an unacceptably high proportion of calls abandoned and unacceptably long call waiting times, Ofgem said.

Although call handling has improved, the regulator said it “has not seen the required improvements elsewhere”.

Measures Ofgem has recommended include ensuring customer contact channels are improved, managed and maintained, with queries and issues being resolved in a timely manner, and making sure the switching process goes smoothly, with switches completed within the required timescales.

Mary Starks, executive director of consumers and markets at Ofgem, said: “We have taken action against Solarplicity to protect its customers from experiencing further detriment.

“Solarplicity must get its house in order and provide a level of service that its customers expect. If not, Ofgem will take the necessary steps to ensure customers are further protected and will take the relevant action needed to do this, which may result in its licence being revoked.”

On Friday, Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “Solarplicity finished rock bottom in our annual energy satisfaction survey, with scores of customers complaining about appalling customer service over the phone and online – so it’s right that the regulator is stepping in.

“As millions of energy customers brace themselves for yet another eye-watering set of price hikes, this should also serve as a warning to all firms letting their customers down with shoddy service, billing and payment problems or poor complaints handling that they need to up their game.”

A Solarplicity spokesperson said: “We are committed to meeting the expectations of every single Solarplicity customer, but Ofgem’s decision, which was made on old historical data, disregards the vast improvements that we have made to our customer service.

“In November, Which? rated us as the fastest energy company to respond to customer calls thanks to substantial additional investment in our staff and IT systems. This investment has also significantly strengthened our account switching service, and the vast majority of our customers are able to switch their accounts well within the 21 day limit.”


Energy price cap one week on: three firms to raise gas and electricity prices

Just one week after an increase to the energy price cap was announced, three major power companies have said they would raise prices for customers. Eon was the first to announce it would up prices to the maximum amount permitted from April, when the level of the price cap on standard and default tariffs changes.

Eon announced its price rise just two working days after energy regulator Ofgem confirmed it was raising the cap. EDF Energy and Npower followed suit within two days. Both will also charge customers who use a medium amount energy £118 more per year than they currently do.

From 1 April, energy companies are permitted to charge customers who use a medium amount of gas and electricity £1,254 per year on average. At the moment, they can charge the same customers up to £1,137 per year. Being on a price-capped tariff doesn’t protect you from price increases. With more companies expected to follow suit and announce price rises, you could save up to £348 per year by switching.

Being on a price-capped tariff doesn’t protect you from price increases. With more companies expected to follow suit and announce price rises, you could save up to £348 per year by switching.

Will my energy supplier raise prices? So far, we know that the following energy firms plan to increase their prices from 1 April. Here we’ve listed those companies, as well as how much they will charge a medium user.

Read more: – Which?


Utilitywise goes into administration

Energy broker Utilitywise has gone into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

The firm, which helps business clients to procure gas and electricity, said it had been unable to raise enough cash to cover its debts.

It also said a plan to sell the business had fallen through.

The collapse of Utilitywise (UTW) comes after a last-ditch rescue bid by the Newcastle-based company’s founder, Geoffrey Thompson.

Last month, it emerged it needed £10m to keep its business afloat, after coming up against “unexpected challenges and legacy issues”.

After failing to clinch the investment from shareholders, the company put itself up for sale at the end of January.

But in a statement on its website on Wednesday, it said the formal sale process for the group announced by the board “did not result in any offers”.

“Consequently, the directors of UTW sought the appointment of administrators.”

The firm has appointed FTI Consulting to handle the administration process and said its energy brokerage business would stop trading immediately.

However, its other subsidiary companies will continue trading while buyers for those parts of the group are sought.

Mr Thompson, who stepped down from the board two years ago, built UTW from a bedroom in South Shields into a multi-million-pound business listed on the AIM stock exchange.

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, the firm had recently warned staff it could not guarantee it could pay them in March.


Scotland to fund UK’s biggest CCS study with six-figure investment

Scotland is to plough a six-figure investment into the UK’s biggest ever carbon capture and storage (CCS) research study.

The Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Scottish Enterprise confirmed last night they will each commit £50,000 in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change.

The £150,000 fund will go towards supporting a research partnership involving several Scottish universities, including Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

The cash injection aims to support the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) knowledge exchange partnership, which brings together academia, industry and government.

Formed in 2005, SCCS assisted in bringing Scottish experts to the EU-funded Acorn Project.

Led by energy consultants Pale Blue Dot Energy, the Acorn project is working to develop the UK’s first operational carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Aberdeenshire.

The Acorn project will now move towards full design studies.

The project received funding from the Scottish Government, UK Government, and the European Union.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said “The Scottish Government has been consistent in our strong commitment to the development and implementation of CCS technologies, as indicated by our providing funding to Pale Blue Dot Energy’s Acorn CCS Project at St Fergus, and to SCCS.

“Our waters in the North Sea also provides access to vast carbon storage resources in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and we believe that coupled with our existing oil and gas capabilities, ready supply chain, and strategically important industrial clusters, Scotland is potentially the best-placed country in Europe to realise CCS on a commercial scale.”

The Acorn project will see existing terminal infrastructure re-purposed to capture around 200,000 tonnes of CO2 per year initially, which will then be transported for storage in depleted North Sea gas fields, using re-conditioned existing pipelines.

Stuart Fancey, SFC director of research and innovation, said: “Scotland is home to the knowledge that the world needs to make carbon capture and storage an everyday reality, reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.

“SCCS brings expertise from our universities and their partners to bear on the challenges of this new technology, a technology that can work with existing oil and gas infrastructure and offer new economic opportunities for Scotland.”