National Grid increases UK winter margin forecast

electricity_pylon_italyThe system operator for electricity in the UK has revised upwards its capacity margin for this coming winter. Published in National Grid’s Winter Outlook report the operator predicted a power margin at 6.6%, which is 1.1% higher than earlier forecasts. The improvement in the supply margin has taken into account additional generation capacity at Eggborough power station and an extension to an outage on the East West Interconnector (EWIC) with the Republic of Ireland which will decrease exports from the UK during winter months. Eggborough power station announced that it would run its unit 4 in the wholesale market this winter, alongside two other units that will provide supplemental balancing reserve services throughout the season. The unit at Eggborough represents an additional 430MW of capacity available to the market, with the outage at the EWIC is predicted to also decrease exports to Ireland by 250MW.

National Grid have forecasted that normalised demand is set to peak in mid-December at 52.0GW; whilst the week commencing 9 January is set to have the lowest level of operational surplus as a result of high expected demand and planned outages. Despite this, National Grid expects there to be sufficient generation and interconnector imports available to meet demand throughout the winter.

Gas demand for this winter is expected to fall year on year, with reduced exports to Ireland and continental Europe the main reason. National Grid predict gas demand for electricity generation to be higher than winter 2015 as forward prices indicate that gas will be cheaper than coal for power generation.

Source: National Grid

Fracking given go-ahead by government in Lancashire

fracking_sunsetIn a landmark ruling by the British government for the shale gas industry, horizontal fracking has been given the go ahead. The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid approved plans for fracking at Caudrilla’s Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in Lancashire, outraging environmentalists and local campaign groups who reacted angrily to the news, claiming it was a denial of local democracy.

A second site at Roseacre wood has not yet been given the green light to extract gas due to concerns over the impact on the area.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) had refused permission to extract shale gas at both sites last year on grounds of noise and traffic impact, however Caudrilla appealed, with its chief executive Francis Egan saying: “We have been through an exhaustive environmental impact assessment on this. We have assessed everything; noise, traffic, water, emissions, etc. The Environmental Agency is entirely comfortable with it.”

Mr Javid said the shale gas industry would help to support thousands of jobs and reduce the UK’s reliance on energy imports, stating: “When it comes to the financial benefits of shale, our plans mean local communities benefit first.”

However, responding to the ruling, Councillor Judith Blake from the Local Government Association said the decision should be up to local communities to decide whether or not fracking operations in their area should take place, stating residents’ safety concerns need to be “adequately addressed”.

Furthermore, Friends of the Earth campaigner Pollyanna Steiner said: “Fracking goes against everything we need to do to tackle climate change. The government must end its fixation with dirty fossil fuels and focus instead on harnessing the UK’s huge renewable energy resource. “

Adding to the opposition, Pam Foster, co-founder of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, said: “This is a total denial of democracy. Our parish council, our borough council, our county council all threw out this application. We have pursued every democratic channel we can do, there’s nothing left for us. We’re pretty disgusted and very upset.”

She said the campaigners would continue to fight against fracking “peacefully and legally”.

In contrast to the wave of opposition, Lee Petts from Lancashire for Shale said the decision was “excellent news for Lancashire’s businesses and our future prosperity. We believe the decision means that Lancashire is now back on track for the future investment and employment opportunities that would flow from a successful shale gas industry un the county.”

All fracking was banned in the UK in 2011 after it caused earthquakes near Blackpool, however the ban was lifted in 2012. Caudrilla wants to carry out unconventional fracking – that means drilling wells vertically and horizontally, something that has never been done before in mainland Britain.

Using latest technology, the company says huge amounts of gas could be extracted with relatively little impact above ground. Caudrilla expect to begin extracting gas by the end of 2017, however anti-fracking campaigners could delay or even stop that happening by requesting a judicial review, needing to prove the decision to approve fracking was arrived at in an unlawful manner and that it’s a costly process.

Source: BBC

Renewables Obligation for 2017-18 set by Government

wind_turbine_field_5The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has confirmed the Renewables Obligation (RO) levels for the 2017-18 compliance period. As part of the Renewables Obligation Order (ROO), the secretary of state must publish the number of renewables obligation certificates (ROCs) that electricity generators are required to produce during an obligation period. The policy paper that was issued on 1 October stated that the overall size of the obligation would be set at 108.2 million ROCs in the UK. This means that the Renewables Obligation, the number of ROCs that electricity suppliers are required to produce during the 2017/18 obligation period, will be 0.409 ROCs per MWh in England, Wales and Scotland, and 0.167 ROCs per MWh in Northern Ireland.

However the government further detailed that it would soon outline how the obligation level will be impacted by the planned exemption for energy intensive industries up to 85% of the indirect costs of the RO. The government begun a consultation on exemption from RO for energy intensive industries (EIIs) in April 2016 whereby plans to introduce savings for EIIs via lower RO rates passed through by their supplier. Further details will be key for these businesses ahead of the proposed change in policy from April 2017.

Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy