UK wind power hits 20 GW milestone

Walney Extension

The United Kingdom has his a historic wind energy milestone, reaching a total installed capacity of 20 gigawatts. The opening of the Walney Extension off the coast of Cumbria earlier this month tipped the total over the 20 GW mark.

  • Wind power is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK, with the total capacity now standing at 20,128 MW – or just over 2 GW
  • The country’s first commercial onshore windfarm went operational in 1991 in Delabole, Cornwall
  • The first commercial offshore windfarm started generating in 2000, off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland
  • Total capacity was just 1GW in 2005 and 5GW in 2010, before rapidly expanding to 10GW in 2013

According to the trade body RenewableUK, wind power has enough capacity to meet the needs of 14 million homes.

“Phenomenal growth”

Commenting on the announcement, RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said:

“It took 19 years to install the first 5GW of wind energy in the UK and we’ve now installed the same amount in under two years. That phenomenal growth shows just how quickly the UK is moving to a smart, low carbon power system and wind energy is at the heart of that.”

“Over half of the UK’s wind energy capacity is onshore, which is the cheapest option for new power. However, Government policy preventing onshore wind from competing for new power contracts means that consumers will miss out on low-cost power that will keep bills down.”

“It was the opening of the world’s largest offshore wind farm that has took us over the 20GW mark. We’re confident that offshore wind alone can reach at least 30GW by 2030 to become the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system.”

Experts predict that total offshore wind power alone could hit the 30 GW mark by 2030.

 

Image source: Ørsted

World’s most powerful offshore wind farm officially opens off Aberdeen coast

EOWDC

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was officially opened this week by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The 11 turbine system was developed by the Swedish company Vattenfall, and is said to be the most powerful in the world.

Scotland is already home to several onshore and offshore windfarms, and despite its relatively small size the country is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy.

The new development has a total generating capacity of 93.2 MW – enough to supply around 70% of the domestic energy demand in nearby Aberdeen, or the equivalent of 80,000 homes.

The project was briefly in the international spotlight back in 2015 when Donald Trump, then a US presidential candidate, attempted to block planning permission for the site claiming it would spoil the view from his Aberdeenshire golf course.

“Groundbreaking Project”

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by over 100 business leaders and dignitaries for the opening ceremony, held on board a NorthLink Ferry in the North Sea.

EOWDC
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Vatennfall CEO & President Magnus Hall for the opening ceremony.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am proud that as part of this groundbreaking project, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines are now up and running in Scotland.”

“The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will maintain Scotland’s reputation for innovation in low-carbon and renewable energy development and deployment.”

“A single rotation of one of these 8.8mw turbines will generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours, which truly shows the potential of this technology to strengthen Scotland’s renewable energy-generating capacity in the future.”

The site began producing power in July, ahead of the official opening in September.

Scottish tidal power plant smashes renewable energy records

SR 2000

A tidal energy turbine off the coast of Orkney is generating more power than the rest of Scotland’s wave & tidal sector combined!

The Scotrenewables SR2000 was installed in 2017 in the sea near the small island of Eday. Its 2MW turbine has so far produced around three gigawatt-hours of electricity. It has produced more power in a 12 month period than every other wave & tidal project in Scotland put together.

Andrew Scott, CEO of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, described it as a “phenomenal result”.

Innovative approach

Unlike older tidal power plants – which look a little like wind turbines attached to the seabed – the SR2000 floats on the surface like a boat, with turbines hanging underneath it. This makes it easier to repair & maintain, as the parts are more easily accessible.

SR 2000
2 large turbines hang down underneath the boat-like structure. Image from Scotrenewables.

Mr Scott said: “We’ve taken a very novel approach and we believe we’ve got a very disruptive technology in that space.”

The Orkney islands are home to just over 20,000 people, and the SR2000 can provide around 7% of their electricity needs on a typical day – but has been known to provide over a quarter of demand on a good day.

The owners of the project say the technology is still in its infancy, but estimate that one day projects like this could supply up to 20% of the UK’s power needs.

Renewable energy leader

Scotland is one of the biggest users of renewable energy in Europe. New figures have placed them fourth in the EU, with 54% of its electricity coming from renewable sources.

There have never been more suppliers to choose from, says Ofgem

switching energy supplier

There are now 72 active energy suppliers in the UK market, according to a new set of facts & figures released by the energy regulator Ofgem – with small & medium companies making up around one fifth of the market.

  • Ofgem estimates a saving of £375 by switching away from one of the ‘big 6’ suppliers
  • Gas prices are lower in the UK compared to the average European country
  • UK electricity prices are around average
  • 2.1 million electricity customers switched suppliers during the first half of 2018

In 2014, new regulations made it easier for smaller ‘independent’ energy companies to enter the market, providing some much-needed competition for the so-called ‘big 6’ who up until then had dominated the industry. Eversmart Energy launched in 2016 with an aim to educate energy customers who were paying too much, and moving them onto cheaper tariffs.

Since then, record numbers of people have switched suppliers, thanks largely to the internet and greater choice for consumers.

You can see the full set of findings below. Click or tap on the image to view the full-size version.

Ofgem infographic

Infographic by Ofgem

Over 5,000 churches make the switch to renewable energy

churches switching to renewable energy

Thousands of churches around the UK have agreed to switch to 100% renewable electricity in an effort to fight climate change.

The Church of England have lead the effort, with thousands of Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and other places of worship making the switch. Fifteen of the country’s most famous Anglican cathedrals are also on board – including Liverpool, Coventry, Salisbury, Southwark, St Albans and York Minster.

With such a large network of buildings taking part, it has been estimated that the move will divert £5 million away from fossil fuel companies to clean energy providers.

‘One of the great moral challenges of our time’

Church leaders have described climate change as “one of the great moral challenges of our time”, with the Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam – the church’s lead bishop on the environment – calling it “an enormous injustice” which “hurts the poor first and worst”.

Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of Christian Aid, said the Church of England will be selling all of its shares in fossil fuel companies who are not on track to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement.

“Churches are part of a global network and so are often very aware of the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering from droughts, floods and extreme weather around the world,” he said.

He urged the government to set a target to cut UK emissions to zero by 2050 to ensure Britain “remains a green and pleasant land at home and a climate leader abroad”.

Image Source

‘Flexible charging’ could make it cheaper to run an electric car

flexible grid

New proposals by Ofgem could cut the cost of running an electric car and allow 60% more vehicles to be charged at once.

The energy regulator Ofgem has put forward a set of proposals that would encourage EV owners to charge their cars outside of peak periods – when demand is lower or when renewable energy is more readily available.

Flexible energy tariffs are already available for domestic electricity customers, where electricity is cheaper at certain times of day. A similar scheme for electric cars could increase capacity by at least 60% without having to build new power stations, says Ofgem. Instead, vehicle owners could take advantage of abundant renewable energy when it’s windy or sunny.

Preparing for the smart grid

electric vehicle
New petrol & diesel vehicles will be phased out and replaced by electric by 2040. Image source.

In the future, electric cars could collectively be used to store excess renewable energy when supply out-strips demand, selling the power back to the grid when needed. Doing so could reduce costs not just for vehicle owners, but electricity customers in general.

“The way we generate, transport and use electricity – and power our cars – is undergoing a radical transformation in Great Britain” says Jonathan Brearley, executive director of systems and networks at Ofgem. “Ofgem will ensure that the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers.”

The National Grid is preparing for a phase of rapid change, as electric vehicles are set to replace petrol & diesel cars by 2040.

Vehicle owners would need a smart meter as well as a smart charger to take advantage of cheaper off-peak energy. For now, the flexible charging system is still in the planning & consultation stage.

Record numbers of people are switching to smaller suppliers

switching energy suppliers

Almost half a million people switched electricity suppliers last month, with record numbers making the move away from a large supplier to a smaller independent company.

According to new figures released by Energy UK last week, 222,036 customers switched to a ‘mid-tier’ energy provider during the month of June – the highest number ever.

Breaking records

The number of switchers is up 19% compared to the same month in 2017. So far this year 2.7 million people have switched suppliers, compared to 2.6 million by the same point last year.

A record-breaking 5.5 million electricity customers have made the switch so far in 2018.

Confidence to switch

Research suggests that consumers are feeling more confident than ever when it comes to switching energy suppliers, with 9 out of 10 saying that they are happy with the process according to research from the Energy Switch Guarantee.

price comparison
Greater choice and the rise of price comparison websites have helped boost the number of people switching.

Eversmart have been encouraging consumers for years to walk away from the ‘Big 6’ suppliers and explore the cheaper alternatives out there.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, seems to agree. He said:

“The record numbers switching to small and mid-tier suppliers show that more and more customers are taking advantage of the ever-growing competition and choice out there.”

“It only takes a few minutes to either check with your own supplier or to look at what’s on offer from nearly 70 competing suppliers in the market. With the Energy Switch Guarantee in place consumers should feel even more confident that switching will be simple, speedy and safe.”

Save up to £400 per year

Eversmart Energy entered the market in 2016 after new Ofgem regulations made it easier for smaller companies to compete with the Big 6.

A typical dual-fuel household can save up to £400 when they switch to us. You can get a quick energy quote here.

Government launches ‘Road to Zero’ strategy to reduce vehicle emissions

hybrid car

The government has laid out plans for ‘at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030’, as part of its new ‘Road to Zero’ strategy announced yesterday.

The strategy explains how the government intends to meet its ultimate goal of banning new petrol & diesel vehicles by 2040. Low emission diesel and hybrid vehicles will play a role in the eventual shift over to fully-electric cars. The government wants the UK to be ‘the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle’.

More charging points

The government wants to see charging points built into all new street lights, new homes and other buildings such as offices. £400 million will be poured into expanding the existing charging infrastructure, putting more charging points in public spaces and service stations.

The strategy also mentions a £40 million fund for developing new charging technologies.

charging points
The government wants to see a massive expansion of the public charging network. Image source.

Financial incentives

The plan admits that electric and low-emission vehicles are still relatively expensive, and outlines a number of financial incentives for people to take up green vehicles – including the extension of the plug-in car grant, possibly as far as 2020.

There will also be a £500 incentive for EV owners to install a charging point in their own home, with similar grants for workplaces.

Hybrid cars will not be banned

BMW i8
Hybrid cars such as the BMW i8 (pictured) will not be banned after 2040

In a move that has been praised by the motor industry, hybrid cars will not be banned after 2040.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, told the Press Association the government was “starting to listen to the automotive industry’s concerns”.

“The fear was that the government would force the uptake of full electric vehicles – something that the car-buying public have yet to show an interest in… Instead, this news gives the freedom for a more phased uptake of technologies, including part-electric hybrids, as well as the option for alternative power sources to emerge, such as hydrogen.”

Working with the energy industry

The ‘Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce’ will be created to get the energy and automotive industries talking to each other to plan for huge increase in demand for electricity and infrastructure.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The coming decades are going to be transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel. We expect to see more change in the transport sector over the next 10 years than we have in the previous century.”

“The Road to Zero Strategy sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution – ensuring that the UK has cleaner air, a better environment and a stronger economy.”

UK renewable energy generation breaks records (again)!

renewable energy UK

Of all the electricity used in the first quarter of 2018, over 30% came from renewable sources – according to new figures from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released last week.

Renewables were up by 3.1% compared to the same period last year, despite the higher demand for energy caused by the ‘beast from the east’ cold snap. Stronger winds and greater installed capacity (41.9GW at the end of 2018) are both thought to be the main factors behind the record-breaking stats.

Record-breaking figures

  • 30.1% of all electricity used came from renewable sources during January to March 2018
  • The figure was 27% during the same period last year
  • Wind generation was up by one third compared to last year
  • Wind accounted for almost one fifth of total generation, at 19.11%
  • For comparison, gas power was 39.9%, nuclear was 17.9% and coal was 9.4%

Back in May we reported that wind power out-performed nuclear for the first time ever.

More action needed

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK, welcomed the positive news but warned that much more needed to be done:

“The landmark report from the government’s official advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, warns that we need to do more to reach our clean energy targets, and it recommends deploying more onshore wind because it’s the cheapest source of energy… We hope Ministers will listen to their own experts and take swift action to lift the block on future onshore projects.”

Here comments refer to the government’s cuts to onshore wind funding in recent years.

BP is buying the UK’s biggest car charging company Chargemaster

BP Chargemaster

Oil giant BP announced today that it’s in the process of buying Chargemaster, who operate the country’s largest EV charging network with over 6,500 public charging points around the UK.

The sale will cost BP £130 million.

BP say that the move is an “important step in scaling up and deploying a fast and ultra-fast charging network on BP’s UK forecourts.” BP, who run around 1,200 petrol stations, are anticipating a rapid shift from petrol to electric cars over the coming years. They estimate that by 2040 there will be around 12 million electric vehicles on British roads.

Last year, rivals Shell purchased Dutch charging company NewMotion for an undisclosed amount.

About Chargemaster

  • Founded in 2008
  • Operates POLAR, the UK’s largest EV charging network
  • Is also a leading supplier of charging infrastructure
  • Operates over 6,500 public charging points
  • Will be re-branded as “BP Chargemaster” once the sale is complete

 

BP Chargemaster
The charging points will be re-branded after the sale

2040 Deadline

Chief executive of BP Downstream Tufan Erginbilgic said: “At BP we believe that fast and convenient charging is critical to support the successful adoption of electric vehicles. Combining BP’s and Chargemaster’s complementary expertise, experience and assets is an important step towards offering fast and ultra-fast charging at BP sites across the UK and to BP becoming the leading provider of energy to low carbon vehicles, on the road or at home.”

The UK government are pushing ahead with plans to ban the sale of new petrol & diesel cars by 2040, with a target of three-fifths of new cars being electric by 2030.