Octopus Energy reveals plans to expand into green hydrogen

The Octopus Energy Group is set to expand into the green hydrogen sector, touting the benefits of the technology for “parts of the economy electrification can’t reach”.

It is planning to bring to market a locally distributed ‘green hydrogen as a service’ proposition as part of a new division of the company, Octopus Hydrogen.

Set to launch in Autumn 2021, the green hydrogen is designed to serve sectors such as heavy goods transportation, energy storage, industrial applications and aviation.

The move follows Octopus Energy Group acquiring Octopus Renewables, bringing a portfolio of more than 300 clean energy assets with a combined capacity of 2,800MW across six countries together with the company’s supply business which currently serves two million domestic customers.

Its Kraken platform is now used by 2.2 million customers in the UK alone, with the software used by energy companies including E.On and Good Energy in the UK, and companies like Origin Energy and Hanwha Corporation in Australia.

Together, its large renewables portfolio and Kraken platform means the Octopus Energy Group is “uniquely positioned to drive down costs and help customers drive the transition to a competitive and 100% green economy”, the company told Current± in a statement.

Green hydrogen picks up pace in the UK

Green hydrogen is increasingly drawing focus from both the government and companies looking to invest in a solution for decarbonising challenging sectors. In March, the UK government announced a £171 million Industrial Decarbonisation Fund for green tech projects focused on hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS), which built on the National Infrastructure Strategy announced in November 2020.

Among the nine projects set to be funded by the scheme are Zero Carbon Humber – which will include one of the world’s first at-scale low carbon hydrogen production plants, as well as CO2 and hydrogen pipelines – and the South Wales Industrial Cluster – which will see solar giant Lightsoure bp develop solar powered green hydrogen for direct use in the steel manufacturing on site.

Other energy suppliers are also becoming increasingly interested in the sector, with ScottishPower submitting a planning application for up to 40MW of solar along with up to 50MW of battery storage and a 20MW electrolyser as part of its Green Hydrogen for Scotland project this April. Hydrogen companies are also expanding their operations, with Logan Energy announcing former SSE CEO Ian Marchant is to become chair of the board this week.

In a report produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency in March, it suggested that if global warming is to be curbed, green hydrogen must take over from fossil fuels in a number of sectors. It expects 30% of electricity to be dedicated to green hydrogen and the fuel’s derivatives such as ammonia and methanol by 2050. In order to reach this point, the green hydrogen sector needs to scale up massively, with almost 5,000GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity needed, up from just 0.3GW today.


Electricity Retail Market-wide Half-hourly Settlement: Decision and Full Business Case

In August 2018 we set out our expectation that we would need to introduce half-hourly settlement (HHS) on a market-wide basis in order to realise the full benefits of settlement reform. Our Outline Business Case document suggested that – due to the magnitude of the potential net benefits – our decision should centre on determining when and how, rather than whether, market-wide settlement reform should be introduced.

After carrying out a Request for Information (RFI), on 30 April 2020 we published (initially for information) a consultation on issues relating to the introduction of market-wide half-hourly settlement (MHHS) across the electricity retail market. On 17 June 2020 we opened the consultation period. Accompanying the consultation document was a draft impact assessment (IA) on the introduction of MHHS and a paper on the potential consumer impact of MHHS. The consultation closed on 14 September 2020. After the consultation closed we considered the responses carefully and continued to engage with a wide range of stakeholders as we refined our proposals.

We are now publishing our decision to proceed with MHHS based on the Design Working Group’s Target Operating Model (the DWG’s TOM), for import-and export-related Meter Point Administration Numbers (MPANs), with a transition period of 4 years and 6 months completing in October 2025. MHHS will place the right incentives on retailers to develop and offer new tariffs and innovations that encourage and enable more flexible use of energy, such as time of use tariffs, automation, vehicle to grid solutions and battery storage. We estimate that our chosen option for MHHS will deliver net benefits to GB energy consumers in the range of £1,559m-£4,509m over the period 2021-2045. We have published the following:

  • our Decision Document, which sets out all the decisions that we have taken and the reasons for them,
  • our Full Business Case (FBC), which includes an assessment of the economic case for implementing MHHS and provides updates on how MHHS will be implemented,
  • our Final Impact Assessment (IA), which sets out our analysis of the costs and benefits of MHHS, and
  • a short addendum to our Data Protection Impact Assessment, to reflect the new data access policy decisions set out in the Decision Document.

We would like to thank all stakeholders for your input so far. We look forward to your continued engagement during the implementation phase of settlement reform.


Ecotricity turnover exceeds £222 million thanks to ‘deep green’ business customers

It passed by as quietly as an electric car — so much so we almost missed it — and neither did green energy pioneer Ecotricity make a noise about its ongoing growth during its last financial year either.

Surprising, possibly, given that the Stroud-headquartered green energy pioneer and owner of the UK’s first electric car charging network is not known to be shy of the spotlight.

Ecotricity’s turnover grew by 15 per cent to £222.3 million, with its annual report stating this was due in no small part to its customer retention but also a growth in business customers.

‘2020 has been a year of significant growth in turnover for the renewable energy company. During 2020 turnover grew by 15 per cent to £222,312,555 (2019: £193,339,518),’ said Asif Rehmanwala, Ecotricity’s chief executive officer and the man who signed its annual report for the year ending 30 April 2020.

All of which marked another consecutive year of turnover growth for the business, which this year is also a sponsor of the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards – lending its weight to the Green Business of the Year category.

‘In aggregate business and domestic numbers remained steady year-on-year (2019: grew 1.4 per cent). Maintaining customer numbers has been a success in an extremely price competitive market.

‘This has been achieved by the supply business remaining true to its values as a ‘deep green’ energy supplier rather than competing on price.’

In fact, business customer supplies (gas and electric combined) grew year on year by 31 per cent to 868 GWh.

‘This growth was primarily due to increased sales focus on higher consumption business customers.

‘Business customer numbers grew by 48 per cent (2019: 19 per cent increase) in the year.’

The number of domestic customers remained static.

Gross profits decreased by 19.7 per cent to £28.8 million (2019: £35.9m).

The Five Valleys’ firm put this down to the change in customer mix and an ‘increase in costs associated with ensuring that the company’s customers are provided with deep green energy’.

Pre-tax losses were £6.6m, although it declared its financial position ‘remains strong’ with net assets at £14.8m and that 2020 showed a ‘good underlying trading performance’.

‘Despite a drop in gross and net profits margins, it has built a good platform against which to pursue further cost control, standing the company in a strong position for the year to come.’

The report also looked beyond the period to the end of April last year into the first half of the current financial year, stating its priority had been the safety and welfare of its staff and customers.

Despite which, ‘the company’s operating business has deteriorated only ‘slightly’ due to the covid-19 pandemic.



Government reveals true scale of Green Homes Grant farce

ARLA Propertymark says there should be a long term appropriately funded strategy to help the private rental sector and home owners improve energy efficiency and combat climate change.

Its call follows the government revealing figures relating to its ill-fated Green Homes Grant programme which was scrapped recently, a year earlier than expected.

Data released by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy shows that despite receiving over 100,000 applications – many from landlords seeking to improve their properties – only a small number of pay-outs were actually made. Since its launch in September 2020, the scheme saw 113,700 applications, with 10,300 measures installed but only 6,700 homes receiving the money from the scheme.

The target for this period had been 600,000 homes to have had measures installed.

ARLA says the data shows that while there is an appetite to make these improvements, this needs to be backed up by sufficient funding and a well-thought-out strategy.

“Without providing landlords and homeowners with incentives and access to sustained funding, it is unlikely that energy efficiency targets for the private rented sector and a reduction in emissions will be met” warns ARLA policy and campaigns manager Timothy Douglas.

“We are hopeful for a new solution to be on the horizon and would encourage cross-departmental working to analyse the scheme’s shortcomings and introduce something more fit for purpose.”

Earlier this month the government announced that £300m previously allocated for the Green Homes Grant would instead go into a programme administered by local authorities, targeted at lower income households.

There was no suggestion this would include any private rental sector properties.

After the GHG scheme was scrapped at short notice the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee chair Philip Dunne MP – a Conservative – said: “We have been clear all along:the Green Homes Grant was a good initiative but was poorly implemented.

“This government has shown its willingness to be an environmental world leader, but I fear its green credentials risk being undermined by poor policy decisions.

“Actions speak louder than words, and simply abandoning a critically important decarbonisation scheme when cracks appeared sets a poor example in the year we aim to show climate leadership.

“Cutting emissions starts at home. The homes we live in contribute a huge amount of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, so undertaking effective retrofits and stemming those emissions is key to reaching net zero by 2050.

“Businesses need to get behind low-carbon housing and have the confidence to upskill employees. Householders need to get behind low-carbon housing and understand how energy efficiency can be enhanced and heating costs cut.

“Above all, the government must get behind low-carbon housing and comprehend the complexity of decarbonising our housing stock, committing to initiatives essential to make net zero Britain a reality.”


National Grid launches smart lightbulb that glows green when powered by renewable energy

The Green Light Signal, which costs around £25, emits a green light when the carbon intensity of the UK’s grid is very low, such as on windy or sunny days

National Grid has launched a smart lightbulb that glows green when the electricity grid is being powered by renewable energy, as part of a new campaign to highlight the UK’s transition to low-carbon power.

The Green Light Signal, which costs around £25, emits a green light when the carbon intensity of the UK’s grid is very low, such as on windy or sunny days when high levels of renewable power are generated.

People can use the green light as a “signal” to use power around the home, National Grid’s chief executive John Pettigrew told.

“It’s an opportunity for people to be able to learn to make simple changes in terms of how they behave, and to feel that they are participating in the energy transition,” he said.

“People aren’t going to change when they eat – but they might change when they are going to use the dishwasher, they might change when they use the washing machine or the tumble dryer. So these are small adjustments to the ways that we all behave which can contribute.”

Research by National Grid suggests many people in the UK feel a sense of “hopelessness” about climate change, according to Pettigrew. A poll of just over 2,000 UK adults revealed 42 per cent of people believing that Britain only gets up to 10 per cent of its electricity supplied by zero and low carbon energy sources – the true figure is 55 per cent.

Just over 50 per cent of Brits said they would feel more hopeful about climate change if they understood the steps Britain is taking to cut its emissions.

“What the research shows is that people want to connect with the energy transition, they want to connect with net zero, and they want to be involved,” said Mr Pettigrew. “So what we’re trying to do as an energy company is to give them the opportunity to be involved.”

The bulb will glow green when the carbon intensity of the electricity supplied in the local area is low. It uses a forecasting tool built by National Grid, WWF, University of Oxford, and the European Defence Fund. The bulb is likely to green around 50 per cent of the time based on current levels of renewable power.


Nearly 15GW of battery storage in UK’s project development pipeline

The UK reached a gigawatt of battery storage deployments in the second quarter of 2020 and the industry has 14.9GW in its development pipeline including 1.8GW of ready-to-build projects and 6.9GW with planning approvals in place.

Mollie McCorkindale, an analyst at Solar Media Market Research writes in an exclusive blog for our sister site Solar Power Portal today that although deployment during 2020 was lower than expected due to construction delays, the milestone 1GW mark was surpassed and total capacity is now close to 1.3GW.

The UK market saw a rush of projects built as deployment began in earnest from 2017, kick started by the transmission operator National Grid’s 200MW auction for the enhanced frequency response ancillary service that it introduced in 2016. After a peak in 2018 and a slowdown in 2019 as the market moved increasingly towards merchant revenue business models, the next 12-18 months could see that 1.8GW of ready-to-build projects commissioned.

Mollie’s blog offers a taster of a webinar Solar Media Market Research is hosting on Thursday 22 April 2021 to discuss industry trends in more detail. It is based on findings from our in-house experts’ ‘UK battery storage project database report’ and the webinar will cover aspects of the market such as the growing average size of projects and the rise of projects co-located with renewable generation.


UK to toughen targets on greenhouse gas emissions for next 15 years

Carbon dioxide to be cut by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, the prime minister is to say later this week

The UK is to toughen its targets on greenhouse gas emissions for the next 15 years, the first major developed economy to do so, the Guardian understands.

Following recommendations of the government’s statutory climate advisors, carbon dioxide is to be cut by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, the prime minister will say later this week – an increase from the current target of a 68% reduction by 2030.

The move is intended to help spur further action by other governments, ahead of vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow this November.

At Cop26, nations will be asked to set out national plans for carbon curbs over the next 10 years. Known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, these plans form the bedrock of the Paris agreement, but current plans from most countries are far too weak to fulfil the aims of the treaty.

Joe Biden is expected to set out the US’s NDC later this week, ahead of a virtual climate summit of 40 world leaders he is hosting. China is also expected to submit an NDC in the coming months, and new NDCs for Japan, South Korea and Canada are believed to be imminent.

The UK already had an NDC, stipulating 68% cuts by 2030, but by setting out a further target for 2035 the prime minister will fulfil the legal obligations set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act. Under the act, governments must set five-year carbon budgets stretching beyond the term of the current parliament.

The UK’s sixth carbon budget will run to 2035 and was presented last December by the Committee on Climate Change, the independent advisory committee set up under the act.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy refused to confirm the plans, which the Guardian was informed of by independent sources. A government spokesperson said: “We will set our ambition for Carbon Budget 6 shortly, taking into account the latest advice from the Climate Change Committee.”

However, Labour accused the government of setting targets without putting in place the policies needed to deliver them. Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, said: “The character of this government on climate change is now clear: targets without delivery. So while any strengthening of our targets is the right thing to do, the government can’t be trusted to match rhetoric with reality. Ministers have failed to bring forward an ambitious green recovery. We need a government that treats the climate emergency as the emergency it is.”

The government has caused consternation among senior climate experts around the world in recent months, through a series of measures that have appeared at odds with its commitments to tackling the climate crisis. Senior ex-diplomats told the Guardian that the decision to slash overseas aid was causing particular concern among developing countries ahead of the Cop26 summit.

Observers are also concerned at actions including the green light for a new coalmine, now subject to a public inquiry; new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea; the UK’s support for making Australia’s climate sceptic former minister Matthias Cormann head of the OECD; the scrapping of the green homes grant, the government’s only “green recovery” measure; airport expansion; and slashing support for electric vehicles.

Chris Venables, of the Green Alliance thinktank, said: “It’s great news that the government will put the 2035 target into law, and including aviation and shipping is genuine global climate leadership. But it’s increasingly jarring for this long-term ambition not be backed up by action in the here and now. The clock is running down to Cop26 in November, and a detailed and fully funded net zero plan is needed well before then.”

Ed Matthew, campaigns director for the climate change think tank E3G said: Setting an ambitious emission reduction target would boost the UK’s diplomatic drive to persuade other countries to set out ambitious targets of their own. That is one of the big tests of UK climate diplomacy ahead of the Cop26 climate summit. The UK now has the opportunity to spark a global green industrial revolution but ultimately its credibility will rest on action. It must now put in place the policies and investment needed to achieve the target. That is the mark of true climate leadership.”


URGENT: Beware of fake phonecalls from our freephone number

It has come to light that someone/company is using our free phone number and saying that they are from Business Utilities UK or British Gas Lite. They are making many calls and hounding people (not on our database) and we are getting the back lash from this. We only ever dial out from 0161 numbers. The 0344-770-2345 number is a free phone number for clients to call in. Please be aware that if the 0344 number does call you – it is not us and we are taking this matter to the police and also the trading standards.



Gazprom and Shell sign 5-year cooperation deal

Russia’s multinational energy corporation Gazprom and a British-Dutch oil and gas holding company Shell have signed an agreement of strategic cooperation for a five-year period, expanding the interaction between the two companies.

The signing ceremony was held via a video link in the presence of Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, and Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell.

Particular attention will be given to such areas as research of energy markets, implementation of projects along the entire value chain, cooperation in digitalization of technologies, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Alexey Miller and Ben van Beurden reviewed the current achievements brought about by the cooperation between Gazprom and Shell. In particular, Sakhalin II was discussed. Last year, a record-high volume of liquefied natural gas – over 11.6 million tons – was produced and shipped to customers under the project.

Special mention was made of the European energy sector decarbonization. It was noted that natural gas, due to its eco-friendliness, can play a significant role in meeting Europe’s climate goals.

“Today, we have made a new step in the development of our cooperation. The very signing of the Agreement proves that our joint work has brought good results and that we establish ambitious goals for both the short term and the long term. Without any doubt, the experience we have accumulated guarantees us new future achievements,” said Alexey Mille


New ratings system for large electrical goods could result in household bills being cut by as much as £100 a year

It is part of a shake-up of the efficiency grading system by the Government for new products such as fridges, washing machines and TVs. It involves new energy labels stuck on the side of ‘white goods’ that must adhere to tougher energy efficiency standards than were previously demanded.

The old labelling system, which ranked goods from a lowly ‘D-‘ to a top rated ‘A+++’, had been criticised for lulling consumers into thinking that products were more efficient than they really were.

The new system now ranks goods as low as ‘G’ but only as high as ‘A’. Many shoppers may be confused at first as the new grading still uses many of the same letters. But the appliances that were previously being sold with ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade could now only be rated a ‘C’ or below.

Dee Fernandes, of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, says: ‘These energy ratings are starkly different from what were being used before.

‘It leaves more room for improvement at the top end of the scale to encourage manufacturers to make more efficient products that will save customers money.

‘The grades are not just for measuring energy efficiency but whether goods offer eco-modes and replacement parts are easy to buy if you want to repair them. Initially you might find that most goods are rarely ranked much above ‘C’.’