Tuesday
May082018

Are cracks appearing in our generation capability?

News that cracks have been found in the graphite core of Huntersdon B nuclear reactor in Ayrshire is bad news for EDF who will lose a possible £ 120 m of revenue while checks are carried out. They will also be hoping that  Hinckley Point B gets a clean bill of health when checks currently underway are completed, particularly as EDF are now ramping up construction of Hinckley C.

These cracks are expected over time and were found as part of routine inspections so there are no immediate safety concerns but, leaving aside the financial worries for EDF, what are the implications for the UK? 

Well nuclear provides only 20% of our generation capacity at the moment and that will continue to diminish, but we are not ready to take up the slack yet in our generation mix as coal is also being phased out to meet carbon emission targets. 

It may mean that we have to increase and therefore incentivise more rapid renewables growth and we all know where the funding for that will fall.

The bank holiday will have helped boost solar generation but probably at the expense of wind as a huge high sat over the country. 

It is a complex generation web and we will need to fill all these cracks one way or another.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Does every cloudless day have a silver lining?

Well yes if you are an energy provider, not so if you have an eye for all our futures on this planet.

Why? Because global demand for air conditoning and refridgeration is set to overtake that for heating driven by rising middle class demand from China and India. See The Guardian - Adam Vaughan - Energy Correspondent Even in the UK, domestic air conditioning is predicted to expland rapidly.

So with temperatures set to hit 26 deg C this week against a seasonal average of 15 deg C and we all enjoy a respite from winter heating bills, air conditioning units will be taking up the emissions slack. 

 

Friday
Apr062018

Electricity - How clean is my valley? 

Figures from DEIS the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed that during 2017 low carbon sources of electricity generation  accounted for 50.4% of the U.K. total.   

Low carbon does include nuclear but before we shrug off the headline 50.4% , the two sources that the public might generally associate with "low carbon" i.e. wind and solar, actually overtook nuclear in the last quarter of 2017 to become our second biggest source of electricity generation after gas.

So we are getting greener but our dependence still on imported gas in a fragile political environment means that efforts to diversify our reliance on traditional sources continues.

Cuadrilla announcied this week that they have completed the first horizontal shaft and could start fracking in Lancashire this summer.

And depending on your standpoint there, you may well feel that our valley is not that green after all. 

 

Wednesday
Mar282018

Will electric vehicles create a hole in our generation capacity?

National Grid have confirmed that it can cope with a surge in electric vehicle adoption even if the target date to get rid of all combustion engines is brought forward ten years to 2030. A recent survey however has suggested that it will take 14 years and some £9 billion to bring our roads up to standard. 

Interestingly central government spends 40 times more on maintaining trunk roads compared with that spent by local authorities on minor roads.

So doing the maths, 2018 + 14 = 2032.  In other words the suspension of the new electric vehicles will still have to suffer for at least two years.

Nice to know that the Grid will still be able to power them into the holes though.   

Monday
Mar052018

Ofgem to halt historical billing - almost

From May this year energy companies will only be able to bill domestic customers up to 12 months in arrears. In November this will be extended to small businesses.  

It is unclear if this will mean that any revised billing dating back over 12 months will be entertained, such as correcting overbilling for example?  It would be a convenient hedge for suppliers to hide behind, but then there will always be conspiracy theorists, cynics even energy consultants who will try to find the downside of any "good" news. 

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