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Vattenfall gets green light for 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm

BEIS gives nod to huge 1.8GW wind farm proposed by Swedish energy company, as it delays approval for Ørsted’s Hornsea Three project for the fourth time

Vattenfall has been given the all clear to build the mammoth 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm off the east coast of England.

Planning consent was granted earlier this week by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, following a decision in June to postpone the decision by a month.

The Swedish energy giant intends to install between 90 and 180 turbines across an area of just under 600 square kilometres located 47 kilometres from the Norfolk coast. The project is expected to generate enough power for roughly 1.95 million homes.

Gunnar Groebler, senior vice-president for Vattenfall’s wind business, said the firm was delighted to clinch planning consent for the development, which is scheduled to come online in the mid-2020s.

“This decision justifies the confidence that we have in the offshore wind sector in Britain, and we’re looking forward to developing the project and benefiting the local community,” he said.

“Decarbonising our economies starts with one of the most essential resources – electricity,” he added. “Today’s news sends a strong signal that the UK is serious about its climate ambitions and is open for business to power a green economic recovery.” 

Vattenfall had previously questioned the government’s plans for the offshore wind sector after suffering a second round of delays to the Norfolk Vanguard project last month.

Norfolk Vanguard’s sister project, the proposed 1.8GW Norfolk Boreas farm, has also been stung by significant delays to the government consenting procedure. In May, the Department for Business, Energy, and Idustrial Strategy (BEIS) extended the examination period by five months to October, citing the cancellation of hearings due to the coronavirus.

Danielle Lane, country manager and head of offshore wind for Vattenfall in the UK, urged the government to speed up its approvals process. “It’s now vital that other shovel-ready renewable and low-carbon projects are also given the go-ahead as soon as possible,” she said. “Delays of even just a month or so can set back big infrastructure developments by years in some cases. The UK has to go much further, much faster, if it’s going to reach its net zero targets.”

Lane stressed that the offshore wind projects promised to deliver a significant boost to the local economy. “Today is also great news for people living locally, who we’ve been working with over the last four years to develop this project,” she said. “They can look forward to a multi-billion pound economic boost, bringing with it hundreds of new long-term jobs, driving forward a green revolution and helping to level up UK opportunities.”

The developer expects Norfolk Vanguard to generate more than 400 jobs in the onshore construction phase and a further 150 jobs once operational, once combined with Norfolk Boreas’ workforce.

Hugh McNeal, chief executive at trade body RenewableUK, commended government’s decision to approve Norfolk Vanguard and urged it to reach a similar conclusion for Ørsted’s 2.4GW Hornsea Three project, which was subjected to further planning delays this week.

“Investments in major clean energy projects like these are great examples of how we can get the economy moving again, and the Secretary of State’s announcement will boost our ability to meet the government’s 2030 target of 40GW of offshore wind,” McNeal said. “The landmark decision on Norfolk Vanguard means the UK is taking a significant step closer towards our net zero emissions target, and confirmation of a positive decision on Hornsea Three will get us there even faster.”

In a blow for the Danish energy developer, BEIS extended the deadline for its decision on the 300-turbine Hornsea Three project to 31 December 2020 for the fourth time on Tuesday.

Sharma confirmed, however, that he was “minded to approve” the project, subject to further information being submitted by the Danish energy company by the end of September. The new decision date, BEIS said, would allow time for further consultations with interested parties after the new information was provided.

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BP and Shell Write-Off Billions in Assets, Citing Covid-19 and Climate Change

The moves were seen as a possible turning point as plummeting demand makes big oil companies admit they’re not worth what they used to be.

Two of the world’s largest energy companies have sent their strongest signals yet that the coronavirus pandemic may accelerate a global transition away from oil, and that billions of dollars invested in fossil fuel assets could go to waste.

This week, Royal Dutch Shell said it would slash the value of its oil and gas assets by up to $22  billion amid a crash in oil prices. The announcement came two weeks after a similar declaration by BP, saying it would reduce the value of its assets by up to $17.5 billion. Both companies said the accounting moves were a response not only to the coronavirus-driven recession, but also to global efforts to tackle climate change.

Some analysts say the global oil and gas industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation and is finally being forced to reckon with a future of dwindling demand for its products.

“I think we may look back on this as the turning point, the moment the industry finally started to say that real assets with real dollar figures associated with them are likely to be ‘stranded'”—or left undeveloped—”in a decarbonizing world,” said Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres, a sustainable business advocacy group that has represented major investors in their engagement with oil companies. “This is a huge turnaround from the industry’s previous stance, which had been that no existing assets were likely to be stranded, that there may be risks in the future, but not in the here and now. That acknowledgment, that the risk is real and it’s here in the present, is a really big deal.”

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Almost 40% of households report increase in utility bills since Covid-19 began

Almost 60% of Britons say the overall cost of life has increased during the pandemic, according to a new survey

Almost 39% of people globally say their utility bills, including water, electricity, heating, air conditioning, phone, internet and TV services, have increased since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

This is just one of the findings of the latest global Ipsos survey, which shows a majority of people in 26 countries say the costs of food, goods and services have increased since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Almost 60% of the respondents in the UK believe the overall cost of living has increased during the pandemic.

By region, 75% of people in Latin America were most likely to say costs have risen, followed by 72% of those in the Middle East and Africa – more than a third also said transportation and fuel costs had decreased, as a possible consequence of less travel and lockdown restrictions.

Around 56% of people in Turkey said costs have risen, followed by 52% of Malaysians, 51% of Britons and 50% of Canadians.

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Swansea tidal lagoon backers call for Boris Johnson to greenlight project

The chief executive of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon has called for Boris Johnson to give the go ahead to the renewable energy project, saying that the UK will need to use “every green project we can” if it is to decarbonise its energy system.

Currently, the project is waiting for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to approve a decommissioning plan which would allow work to begin on site.

However, if the plan is not signed off in the next eight days, the planning consent for the £1.3bn project will be lost. 

Speaking to City A.M., Mark Shorrock said that the development needed someone in Whitehall to push it over the line.

“We need the Prime Minister to say to Whitehall, ‘I want to do this project – take that decommissioning plan out of the drawer”.

Johnson has previously spoken out in support of the Swansea lagoon, which would power 155,000 homes at least, when he was running to be the leader of the Conservative party.

 “He’s said he wants to see Swansea get going. He has said Britain’s recovery is all about jobs, apprenticeships and long term investment and we have this wonderful project that’s on the cusp of being able to break ground at the end of the week with our global alliance partners”, Shorrock told the BBC.

“We can turn the tide on economic downturn with tidal. We hope the Prime Minister can get behind us.”

Over the weekend the Daily Mail reported that a group of 25 backbench Tory MPs were lobbying business secretary Alok Sharma to push the plan through.

Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who is one of the group’s leaders, said that the lagoon was the type of “shovel ready” project the government should be embracing to create jobs after the coronavirus pandemic.

Shorrock told City A.M. that the project presented the government with a chance to develop a world-leading industry in the UK with developments all around the country, thus pushing its levelling-up agenda.

Back in 2017, a review of the project by former energy minister Charles Hendry concluded that moving ahead with the pilot project was a “no regrets policy”.

The Swansea project will support 2,200 jobs, but expansion to a second project at Cardiff would mean a further 11,000 jobs. 

Looking further ahead, a fleet of four Welsh tidal lagoons would lead to 33,500 positions being created and six tidal lagoons across the UK would mean employment for 71,000.

The initial project will require a subsidy of £18m from the government, but the subsequent lagoons would pay for themselves, Shorrock said.

“The national significance is enormous if we get Swansea away. Then we can do it at Cardiff and Colwyn Bay, but not with any subsidy. That’s already £13.7 billion into the UK economy”, he added.

Furthermore, the cost of the energy the lagoons would provide has now been lowered to the point where it is now cheaper than nuclear.

In addition, he said, working with supply chains across the UK would mean that 84p out of every £1 spent on the billion-pound project would be spent in this country.

Shorrock said that he already had a team working on two tidal lagoon projects in France, demonstrating the export value of the proposition.

If it is given the go-ahead, the lagoon will be built by a consortium of some of the UK’s biggest construction companies, including Costain, Atkins, GE and Keltbray.

According to Shorrock, BEIS officials had already approved the decommissioning plan back in March, but the firm is still awaiting proper sign-off. 

A government spokesman said: “Any proposed project like the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon must provide value for money for the consumer, which we have been clear about since this project was first proposed. Following extensive analysis, the project did not meet this criteria.”

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Council-backed energy firm working with outsourced telesales centres in South Africa

A COUNCIL-BACKED energy company has confirmed it works with six outsourced telesales contact centres in South Africa that have 90 staff allocated to its campaigns.

But Scottish firm Together Energy says it only has one of its own members of staff based in South Africa, with the other 129 located in Clydebank.

Warrington Borough Council is putting £18 million into the company, as well as providing a £4 million loan to it.

Together Energy finished bottom of the Which? energy provider table and has received many complaints from users.

It said it is looking to recruit around 25 members of staff in Warrington and that it recently attended a careers fair in the town to help achieve this aim.

But concerns have been raised from customers following adverts online for vacancies in a South Africa call centre for work on a Together Energy campaign.

However, the issue has sparked a response from the company.

A spokesman said: “We do not have any sites in South Africa.

“We had a customer service function in South Africa to help us with the Supplier of Last Resort volumes which has now been closed and the function moved back to Clydebank.

“We work with six outsourced telesales contact centres in South Africa who have around 90 staff allocated to campaigns for Together Energy including a small sales verification team.

“These companies also sell for many other UK energy suppliers including most of the ‘big six’ energy companies.

“The adverts are for these companies trying to recruit people to work on our campaign.

“They are not our adverts or our employees.

“Our one full-time employee in South Africa manages these relationships and the necessary compliance for these centres.”

The firm says it is not directly recruiting for any field sales agents in Clydebank or any telesales agents in South Africa.

There was also an advertisement online for a national fields associate role in Clydebank to sell Together Energy products.

The spokesman added: “We also work in the UK with two outsourced field sales companies, who sell our tariffs and again recruit for people to sell Together Energy products.

“They are not employed by us and the job referred to is for one of these companies not us.”

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Eon lost HALF A MILLION customers in 2019 as households continue to switch away from the Big Six energy suppliers

Eon lost 500,000 customers in Britain last year with its profits also taking a bashing thanks to the energy price cap, its results revealed today.

The Big Six supplier, which is German-owned, is likely to have lost customers as a result of more households switching providers than ever before – with many moving away from the largest suppliers. 

The price cap will also have had an effect as suppliers are only allowed to charge a maximum of £1,162 for standard variable tariff customers.

Despite losing customers, Eon said its total earnings before tax and interest increased to £2.9billion in 2019, and it expects earnings to increase again in 2020.

However, it admitted it hadn’t factored in the current downturn in the economy amid coronavirus fears, adding that it has seen customers across Europe consuming less energy as a result of the pandemic. 

Johannes Teyssen, Eon chief executive, said: ‘Industrial and commercial customers are consuming noticeably less energy. 

‘This will have a temporary impact on our network and sales businesses. There may be delays in our ability to deliver energy infrastructure projects.

He added: ‘Energy utilities have a special significance for critical infrastructure in this crisis and thus a special responsibility. 

‘We will do everything in our power to ensure supply security, even in this situation.’

It said the energy sector ‘won’t be as hard hit by other industries’ but will still feel an impact from the pandemic. 

During the coronavirus outbreak, Eon confirmed that it will not disconnect financially vulnerable customers from its network to ensure continued supply. 

It added that its core business saw operating arms post ‘solid earnings’ last year, although customer solutions saw earnings slip by £90.9million due to price caps and the fall in UK accounts. 

Victoria Arrington at Energy Helpline said: ‘The Big Six has been losing customers for some time – so Eon’s loss of 500,000 UK accounts in 2019 is no big surprise. 

‘Established suppliers are facing intense battles in an ever-changing industry for customer loyalty.

‘The marketplace is becoming more and more competitive. Customers are switching at record rates – and it’s unsurprising, since there are so many bargain tariffs appearing all the time. 

‘That said, Eon clearly recognises that customers crave savings, with their best tariff deal is £318 cheaper than their default tariff.

‘With so many cheap tariffs available, it’s clear that complacency can be costly. 

‘Customers who switch supplier could save up to £378 a year on energy, with the average customer saving £280 annually – so it pays to shop around.

‘Eon has made some intriguing moves recently – from putting all of their customers on to renewable energy, to taking on the customer base of npower. 

‘It will continue to be interesting to see what new developments they bring to the industry.’ 

During the coronavirus outbreak, the Government and energy suppliers have teamed up to put emergency measures in place.

This includes ensuring that prepayment and pay as you go customers who cannot leave home can speak to their provider about staying supplied, steps that should benefit over four million households. 

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SSE intends to pay dividend despite COVID-19 disruption

Energy giant SSE has confirmed it remains “confident” about its long-term performance in spite of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ahead of the publication of its full year results, the firm stated that its board intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 80 pence per share for 2019/20, as the pandemic has not yet had a “material impact” on the group’s results.

However, SSE has stressed that the board may reconsider the timing of the dividend payment as the effects of the coronavirus become more apparent.

Gregor Alexander, finance director at SSE, commented: “In common with everyone else, our overriding priority is supporting efforts to contain and delay the spread of Covid-19 – helping communities, customers and colleagues through this exceptionally difficult time.

“Covid-19 is having an exceptional human, social and economic impact and dealing with that must be our overriding priority.

“Nevertheless, as a clean infrastructure company with first class assets and practical solutions to the critical problem of climate change and achievement of net zero emissions, we remain confident about the long-term opportunities for SSE.”

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COVID-19 Update

Good Evening,

I am sure you are aware there is currently a heightened awareness of the risks associated with the Coronavirus.


At this moment we are able to maintain full-service continuity, however, should this be affected we are taking actions to ensure we can maintain this throughout any disruptions to business COVID-19 may entail. We do not foresee any lack of ability to continue supplying energy contracts to both suppliers and our customers and would like to reassure you that we have a detailed business continuity plan in place, which includes measures to prepare for disruption to our usual business activity.


Within our office procedures have been actioned to protect and control the possible spread of the virus within our offices. In the event that a member of staff does need to take leave, we will believe we will be able to maintain our steadfast business service whilst protecting all of our employees as necessary.


So, what have we done to protect ourselves from the impact of Covid-19?
• Provided hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray per employee
• postponed any meetings or business gatherings that have been arranged
• Expressed the need for Restricted travel outside of work
• Implemented social rules within the office block
• Currently not allowing any visitors to enter the office
• Generously separated our employee’s workspace
• Our offices are deep cleaned twice daily.
• The opportunity for employees to work from home will be available within the next few days.


We are following and will continue to follow advice and protocols issue by the government, taking the health and safety of our clients and employees very seriously, working extremely hard to minimise disruption to business. We appreciate your understanding during this challenging time.
Should you have any questions we will be happy to hear from you. You can reply to this email or speak to a member of our lovely team by calling 0161 241 9335.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Allen
Director of Business Utilities UK

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Latest quarterly transparency report on NI’s retail energy market published

The Quarterly Transparency Report (QTR) for Q4 2019 is the latest of a series of Utility Regulator reports that provide a range of information about the retail energy market in Northern Ireland.

The QTR presents data collected by the UR as part of the Retail Energy Market Monitoring (REMM) framework. REMM requires network companies and suppliers to submit data on a range of indicators to enhance UR transparency around market behaviours and regulatory compliance.  We use the information outlined in the report to review the progress and impact of supply competition; build knowledge for regulatory decisions; comply with EU Third Package mandatory requirements on market monitoring; allow other interested stakeholders to understand more readily the activity within our energy markets; and to help promote the interests of consumers.

QTR Q4 2019

 The key developments during quarter 4 are as follows:

  • Market activity in the electricity domestic and I&C sectors continues to illustrate a gradual change in the market dynamics. Power NI (the incumbent price controlled electricity supplier) retain their dominant position with 55.7% of connections in the domestic market with continued growth of the competing suppliers.
  • Electricity switching activity in Q4 2019 has increased from the previous quarter. Domestic customers continue to engage in the electricity market with over 37,000 switches completed during Q4 2019, compared to 25,000 the previous quarter. There was notable increase in Budget Energy’s connections for this quarter (>11,000). I&C electricity switching also increased to a switching rate of 5.0% (from 1.6% in the previous quarter), with over 3,700 switches completed. 
  • In the gas sector, I&C switching activity decreased in Greater Belfast with the I&C switching rate decreasing from 1.0% in Q3 2019 to 0.8% in Q4 2019. However, the I&C switching rate for Ten Towns increased from 0.9% to 1.3% for the same period.
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Oil giants come together for Teeside net-zero cluster

A major consortium of companies including BP and Shell will help Teeside become the ‘UK’s first’ net-zero cluster.

Announced today (February 28) in Middlesborough, the group will work to accelerate the the Net Zero Teesside project, previously known as the Clean Gas Project.

BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total are the companies involved, bringing experience of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology. They say they are committed to working closely with the UK government and local stakeholders, including the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

The project aims to decarbonise local industry by building a transportation and storage system to gather industrial CO2, compress it and store it safely in a reservoir under the North Sea. They believe the transportation and storage infrastructure will encourage new investment in the region from industries that wish to store or use CO2.

In addition, a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) facility with carbon capture technology will provide low carbon power as a complement to renewable energy sources and underpin the investment in the infrastructure.

They believe the project, with government support, could be up and running within five years.

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: ‘Net Zero Teesside represents the next step in our ambitions for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to become a pioneer in clean energy, driving almost half a billion pounds into the regional economy and boosting the wider UK by £3.2bn.

‘This world-leading industrial-scale decarbonisation project will safeguard and create 5,500 good quality, well-paid jobs for local people. It will act as a beacon for new technologies and further investment as other companies are attracted to our area, while helping the UK achieve its clean energy potential.’

Net Zero Teesside would be the first major development to be based on the South Tees Development Corporation site. The launch event today comes just days after the Tees Valley Mayor struck a landmark deal to secure the land at the former SSI steelworks site and bring it back into public ownership, ready for future redevelopment.