Autumn Budget light on energy

During the Chancellor’s hour-long speech the overall focus was on tax and spending, with little said about climate change. What energy-related announcements were made?

 

Climate Change Levy

CCL is a tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users within the UK. Businesses participating in Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) can avoid up to 90% of this levy by investing in agreed energy efficiency and emissions reduction measures.

This latest Budget announced upcoming changes to CCL rates. The Government’s ongoing efforts to rebalance the main rates paid for corporate gas and electricity use will see the two prices brought more in line with each other.

The electricity rate will be lowered in 2020-21 and 2021-22, whilst the gas rate will be increased in 2020-21 and 2021-22 so that it reaches 60% of the electricity main rate by 2021-22. Other fuels, such as coal, will continue to be aligned with the gas rate.

 

The impact to your energy bills

The increase in revenue for the Treasury will come as a direct result of higher energy bills for businesses. An increase in the CCL for 2019 was already expected as a result of the closure of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

 

Carbon Price

Carbon Price Support (CPS) is applied to the power sector in the UK, with the exclusion of Northern Ireland, and has been a key driver in the reduction of coal usage in the UK fuel mix.

The Government has decided to maintain the UK’s carbon tax at £18 per tonne of CO2, until April 2021. However, the budget provides plans for the Government to reduce the CPS from 2021-22 if the total carbon price remains elevated.

In addition to this, the Government has published plans for the implementation of a UK carbon tax in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Under a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the UK would be excluded from participating in the scheme. This would mean current participants in the EU ETS who are UK operators of installations will no longer take part in the system.

In this instance, the Government will initially meet its existing carbon pricing commitments through the tax system. A carbon price would be applied across the UK, with the inclusion of Northern Ireland, starting at £16 per tonne of CO2, marginally less than the current EU ETS price, maintaining the level of carbon pricing across the UK economy post-Brexit. The tax would be applied to the industrial installations and power plants currently participating in the EU ETS from 1 April 2019.

 

A freeze on fuel duty

Already announced ahead of the Budget, the Government has promised that fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row. This will see the tax on fuel, currently 57.95p per litre of petrol, diesel, biodiesel, and bioethanol, remain fixed over the winter period.

 

Enhanced Capital Allowances

The Budget also included changes to Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs), which are designed to encourage UK businesses to invest in high-performance energy efficiency equipment. The Government plans to end ECAs and First Year Tax Credits for technologies on the Energy Technology List and Water Technology List, from April 2020. The Government believe these ECAs add unnecessary complexity to the tax system and that there are more effective ways to support energy efficiency.

There is no new funding in place yet, but savings will be reinvested in an Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, to support significant energy users to cut their energy bills and help transition UK industry to a low carbon future.

The Government will extend ECAs for companies investing in electric vehicle charge points to 31 March 2023. This is part of the Government’s ambition for the UK to become a world-leader in the ultra-low emission vehicle market.

 

What about renewable energy?

Despite the recent landmark ‘1.5C report’ from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Budget was very light on details concerning climate change and the environment. There were no announcements within the Budget to encourage new investment in renewable energy in the UK, despite industry calls to support new onshore wind and solar.

Leading renewable developers have previously urged the Government to clear a path for subsidy-free onshore wind farms, allowing developers to compete for clean energy contracts. Cost projections, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), show that onshore wind is currently the cheapest power source available.

 

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The future of the carbon market beyond Brexit

EU carbon allowances are bought and sold as part of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Currently the UK is part of the EU ETS, but continued participation is contingent on a deal with the European Union.

 

What are carbon allowances?

EU carbon allowances, or European Allowances (EUAs) serve as the unit of compliance under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). EUAs are auctioned for use by energy-intensive industries that fall under the scheme, namely power generators, oil refiners, and steel companies, entitling them to emit one tonne of CO2.

The EU ETS works on the ‘cap and trade’ principle. A limit has been set on the amount of EUAs made available, capping the total amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by installations that fall under the system. As the cap decreases with time, total emissions fall.

These emission allowances work as tradeable goods, allowing companies to receive or buy them. After each year a company must use enough allowances to cover all its emissions, otherwise they will be heavily fined. Spare allowances can be saved to cover future needs or sold onto other companies that are short of allowances.

 

Overcoming the oversupply

The 2008 global financial crisis and the recession that followed saw a large oversupply of carbon allowances build up, which in turn saw prices reach all-time lows for an extended period. At the end of 2016 the EU ETS had an oversupply of 1.7bn tonnes worth of EUAs, which significantly weakened the incentive to reduce emissions.

In response, the European Commission has introduced a long-term solution known as the Market Stability Reserve (MSR), which will begin operations in January 2019. The purpose of the MSR will be to address the current surplus of allowances and to improve the system’s resilience to major impacts by adjusting the supply of allowances to be auctioned.

This will see 900 million allowances, which were back-loaded between 2014 and 2016, transferred to the Reserve, rather than be auctioned in 2019-2020. After this, unallocated allowances will also be transferred to the Reserve.

To improve regulation, the Commission will publish the total number of allowances in circulation by 15 May each year. They will then examine whether more allowances should be placed into the Reserve or released.

 

 How will Brexit affect these plans?

With Brexit looming, there’s uncertainty as to whether these changes will affect the UK. Under current plans the UK will remain a member of the EU ETS until at least 2020, almost a full year after its scheduled departure from the EU in March 2019.

Experts have warned that exiting the scheme before 2020, in the middle of an ETS trading phase, would cause disruption for both UK businesses and EU firms. However, staying within the scheme is contingent on a deal with the EU, something which the Energy and Climate Change Minister, Claire Perry, has acknowledged is yet to be formally agreed with EU policymakers.

 

What if there’s no deal?

Under a ‘no deal’ scenario, the UK would be excluded from participating in the scheme. This would mean current participants in the EU ETS who are UK operators of installations will no longer take part in the system. The UK government plans to remove the requirements relating to the surrender of emissions allowances as, post-Brexit, the European Commission will invalidate any allowances issued by the UK in 2019, such that they would have no value on the carbon market.

In this instance, the UK government will initially meet its existing carbon pricing commitments through the tax system, taking effect in 2019. A carbon price would be applied across the UK, with the inclusion of Northern Ireland.

 

Stay informed with EIC

Further details on how the Government intends to apply this carbon price will be covered in next week’s Budget. For the most timely updates you can find us on Twitter. Follow @EICinsights today.

The role of renewables this winter

The increase in wind and solar capacity in recent years has contributed to the overall reduction in demand. Higher volumes of on-site renewable capacity allow more generation to be provided off-grid, as homes and businesses generate their own electricity supply during windy or sunny spells.

This reduces demand on the national transmission system. The high levels of solar availability during the summer season were a particularly strong influence on demand levels this year, as on-site solar panels increased embedded generation, reducing demand requirements for the transmission network.

During stormy weather conditions, installed wind capacity can now provide around 12GW of electricity to the grid. Average wind generation in the UK last month was 5.3GW a day; over 50% higher than in September 2017.

 

average wind

 

What happens when there’s no wind?

While high winds can reduce power demand, one of the biggest dangers to the National Grid electricity network is a high-demand scenario at a time when wind output is very low. Lighting has a bigger impact on electricity demand than heating, as the majority of home heating is gas-fired.

However, during severe cold periods, electricity demand does spike as additional electric heating is needed to cope with the very low temperatures. This scenario occurred during March as a result of the Beast from the East, when peak demand jumped around 10% as temperatures dropped. The cold snap also brought very high winds to the UK. Wind output at the time topped 10GW, which provided high levels of low-cost electricity to the grid. However, this renewable supply may not be available during another cold spell.

National Grid’s Winter Outlook report forecasts an electricity margin this winter of 7GW, while also expecting 7GW of wind output during the peak winter. Find out more here.

 

How could this impact energy bills?

Supply margins would be placed under significantly more stress during a similar cold snap this winter, if wind output was low or non-existent. This would require another 10GW of supply being provided by gas and coal plant or imports. Such a scenario is likely to require significant price rises in the Within-day and Day-ahead markets.

 

Renewable energy solutions with EIC

If you’re interested in generating energy from your own renewables sources we can support your business to implement solar at your site.

A cost-effective and sustainable energy source, generating power from solar panels will cut your emissions, help the environment, and can be linked with a battery storage solution to maximise ROI. With our support you can install a battery solution as part of your wider energy strategy. Batteries can work in tandem with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind and can help you generate additional revenue via potentially lucrative demand side response (DSR) schemes.

To find out more, call us on 01527 511 757 or email info@eic.co.uk.

Control the clock change in an instant

The seasonal trend towards higher demand during the colder, darker winter months will accelerate as a result of the clock change. This will place pressure on power margins and could lead to spikes in electricity prices, should supplies struggle to meet the higher demand.

 

Energy demand will jump but the downward trend continues

Current forecasts indicate the peak demand for the week following the clock change will be 9% higher than the previous week. Consumption is set to increase by nearly 4GW to more than 45GW overall as an earlier sunset (around 4:30pm) increases lighting requirements during the traditionally higher post-work demand period. If so, this would be the highest percentage change on record, with the 3.8GW rise nearly three times larger than the demand bump seen in 2015 or 2014.

However, the ongoing trend in reduced energy consumption has continued, meaning that demand is rising from a far lower base. Expected demand before this month’s clock change is 6GW lower than the most recent peak in 2015.

Furthermore, the expected post-clock change peak is the lowest on record.

 

Weekday Peak Demand for October

Demand – Week before Clock Change (GW) Demand – Week After Clock Change (GW) Difference (GW) Increase (%)

2018*

41.4 45.2 3.8 9%

2017

42.8

46.4

3.6

8%

2016

44.3

46.9

2.6

6%

2015

47.4

48.7

1.3

3%

2014 45.9 47.2 1.3

3%

2013 46.3 48.2 1.9

4%

*Forecasted figures

 

Improvements in energy efficiency have been reducing electricity use for the last 10 years. A large part of the reduction in peak demand has been the use of new smart technology, resulting in more efficient appliances that are able to do more with less. A switch away from incandescent light bulbs is also a contributing factor, particularly during the winter months, when lighting demand plays a far increased role in consumption.

 

weekly power demand

 

Aside from a well-documented cold snap in February and March (remember the Beast from the East?) peak demand during 2018 has been largely below that of previous years, continuing a consistent year-on-year reduction in consumption overall.

 

React to changes in real-time with smart building controls

How can you ensure time-consuming but critical processes affected by the clock change are carried out efficiently?

IoT controls can help you alter site settings remotely, so you’re in full control when the clocks change. There’s no need to make arduous manual changes – with IoT, you can make the necessary changes at the touch of a button.

With our Building Energy Management solution, we’re introducing the next generation of smart building controls. Our innovative solution brings together the required technologies to integrate all your critical energy systems. This enables your business to access real-time insights on key energy and building systems via single, remotely-managed platform.

To find out more about our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management controls call us on 01527 511 757 or download our brochure.

 

Positive Winter Outlook from National Grid

National grid has published its yearly Winter Outlook report for the 2018/19 season. The report forecasts an electricity margin of 7.1GW, which is 0.9GW more than last year.

Transmission system demand is predicted to peak at 48.2GW, 2.5GW less than last winter, during the week commencing 10 December 2018. This includes the sum of national demand (48.85GW), alongside the demand from power stations (600MW) and the base case interconnector export value (750MW).

The Winter Outlook expects this season to operate differently to last year. Over the last two winters, gas was the cheaper fuel type for electricity generation. However, as global gas prices have risen, it’s more likely that coal will replace gas generation to some degree over the season.

 

Interconnectors

In 2014, the interconnectors were not eligible to participate in the Capacity Market’s (CM) T-4 auction. As a result, they hold no CM obligations for winter 2018/19, including interconnector capacity, as some contracts were secured by interconnectors in the Early Auction.

The Winter Outlook expects an average import flow of 2,130MW, out of a total 3,000MW (2,000MW from the French IFA interconnector and 1,000MW from the Netherlands BritNed interconnector), and an export flow to Ireland of 750MW.

National Grid anticipates that forward prices in Continental European markets will be lower than in Britain. As a result, we will likely see a net flow of power from the Continent to the UK during peak power demand periods. However, outages within the Belgium nuclear fleet, which have extended to November and beyond, could result in increases to Continental prices, causing uncertainty on interconnector flow direction.

Nemo Link, a new interconnector, is under construction and may come into commercial service at the end of January 2019. Once commissioned, it will provide a 1GW capability between Belgium and the UK.

 

Gas

The gas demand forecast for winter 2018/19 is 46.6 billion cubic meters (bcm), lower than the winter 2017/18 outturn. Peak demand for the coldest weather conditions (or a 1-in-20 winter, meaning exceptional demand on a winter day which statistically occurs once every 20 years) is forecast at 483mcm/day, with a margin of available supply of 92 million cubic meters (mcm).

The report estimates that for an average cold day this winter, the demand forecast is expected to be 407mcm/day. The non-storage supply forecast is 360mcm/day, to which 92mcm of storage can be added, providing National Grid a cold day supply forecast in excess of the forecast demand.

Average gas exports through the IUK to Continental Europe are expected to be lower than winter 2017/18 due to the expiry of long-term contracts. As a result, National Grid predicts that deliveries through from the Balgzand Bacton Line (BBL) may be price-sensitive through the season.

Following a decision by the Dutch government to cut Groningen production, output from the site will be reduced from 21bcm/year in winter 2017/18 to 12bcm/year by winter 2022/23. Production from Groningen this year will not be dictated by a cap, but instead will be weather dependent, producing no more than necessary to meet security of supply.

 

Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

During seven of the last eight months, supply of LNG to the network has been lower than in the same period in the previous year. Demand for LNG is comparatively high in Asian markets, especially in China where gas is expected to continue to grow, as it replaces coal in the Chinese heating sector. High demand, and the associated high prices have drawn LNG away from European markets.

The Winter Outlook does not expect LNG supply to the country to be high on many days this winter. However, if demand and prices rise substantially within the UK, LNG imports will increase, just as they did at the end of February 2018.

 

Stay informed with EIC

Our Market Intelligence team keep a close eye on the energy markets and industry updates, keeping our clients informed at a frequency to suit them.

Visit our website to find out more about EIC Market Intelligence.

Triads – how low can they go?

The Triad season started on 1 November and is one of the most important areas of demand management for energy users. Triads are used by National Grid to calculate transmission charges as part of the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) scheme.

What are Triads?

Triads are the three half-hour periods with the highest demand between 1 November and the end of February, identified by National Grid. However, each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days, meaning consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

 

Why should you avoid them?

The knowledge of when Triads will occur enables many companies to manage their demand consumption. If your electricity contract allows for it, reducing your usage during an expected Triad period will result in reduced transmission charges and lower bills.

 

How low can they go?

The 2017/18 season saw the lowest level of Triad demand since records began in the early 1990s.

The maximum Triad level dropped to a record 48GW last year, having fallen more than 10GW in just eight years.

 

How low can Triads go

 

Overall energy consumption has been trending lower for the last decade, and one of the interesting outcomes from this Triad season will be whether a new record low can be achieved.

 

Efficiency is key

A large part of the reduction in peak demand has been due to major developments in energy efficiency. The use of new technology and appliances, as well as a switch from incandescent lighting, are all contributing to lower energy consumption.

The act of Triad avoidance has developed to the extent that it’s influencing when Triads occur, as more and more businesses across the UK look to demand side management as a means to cut their costs. National Grid highlighted last year that businesses reacting to warning signals – such as our Triad Alerts – had the potential to cut the country’s peak demand by as much as 2GW. This then makes it more difficult to predict Triads, as peaks for the winter get lower and flatter with each passing year, forcing us to adapt our model to ensure continued success.

 

Our successful track record

Forecasting Triads is dependent on a wide range of different factors. Our Triad Alert service monitors different influencers to predict the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and automatically sends that information promptly to our clients. These businesses can then take informed action to avoid high energy usage during these more costly half-hour periods, while minimising disruption to their everyday activity. Our daily report can help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days, alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Of course, calling an alert every weekday would generate a 100% success rate, but we recognise the negative impact this would have on businesses. Organisations could incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for four months ‘just in case’, so we aim to provide as few alerts as possible.

In the previous Triad season we only called 9 Red Alerts and successfully predicted all three Triads with fewer alerts than any other tracked TPI or supplier. In fact, the total number of alerts called by Utilitywise has fallen 36% in the last three years. We successfully predicted all three half hour periods with our lowest ever number of alerts. Our in-house model is based on a traffic light system, with Red Alerts indicating we believe a Triad is highly likely and our clients should take immediate action.

For those that took action last year, based on our advice, demand was cut by an average of 14% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption. This resulted in significant average cost savings of over £30,000, and in some cases, rewards closer to £700,000 were observed.

 

Intelligent buildings, smarter business

By forecasting when Triads will occur, we empower our clients to take control of their consumption to reduce their energy use and lower their bills. Businesses can react to our Alerts simply by cutting demand during suspected Triad times or by load-shifting.

Load-shifting involves moving the most energy-intensive tasks of the day to a time when it’s less likely that a Triad will occur, for example early in the morning. This enables you to avoid Triads without reducing your overall daily energy use. Building controls make this easier. With our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management solution, we’re introducing the next generation of smart building controls. Our innovative solution brings together the required technologies to integrate your critical energy systems with a single, remotely-managed platform. This means you can manage your buildings in real-time.

Fracking in UK just weeks away

The energy firm received Government consent for the fracking of two wells in July and are expected to start drilling early October.

The fracking process

The process of hydraulic fracturing involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into rock formations to release gas and oil in horizontal wells, rather than the standard vertical. The process has faced intense opposition, with environmental protestors established at the firm’s Lancashire site for more than 600 days. A trespassing ban is in place at the site until June 2020.

 

A lengthy battle

Cuadrilla’s first tests in extracting shale gas in the north of England took place in 2011, but was halted after earth tremors were cited. This led to a seven-year political and legal battle to get the UK shale gas industry off the ground. Protestors have rallied against the possibility of environmental damage, pollution and earthquakes. Meanwhile, advocates argue the country is ignoring a domestic energy supply that could significantly reduce Britain’s reliance on gas imports from overseas. Oil and gas production from the North Sea has been declining and shale gas is seen as a potential means for reversing the slide in domestic supply.

 

Government support

The Conservative Government has largely supported the development of a shale gas industry but representatives of the oil and gas industry have complained of the slow process to gain approval for drilling. UK Onshore Oil and Gas Group, said it takes up to 50 weeks to get approval for a new well, up from an average of 12 weeks before the practice was banned.

Cuadrilla Chief Executive, Francis Egan, proclaimed his delight at the company being granted permission to drill two wells. “The UK would be crazy not to try and develop this resource,” he said. “Following hydraulic fracturing of these wells, Cuadrilla will run an initial flow test of the gas produced for approximately six months,” Egan explained.