Loose gas creating tight margins in the power market

Gas has led the way, particularly in the balance of winter contracts. These falls have come partly due to the very high levels of storage but also because of all the spare capacity that could be called upon if required. As a result, power prices have fallen due to the lower fuel cost.

LNG has been the main game changer with the deluge of tankers flooding in to Europe over the last year. Increased export capacity in the US and Russia has led to the increase in extra imports to Europe. It is also a symptom of the global oversupply in the worldwide market place. The liquid commodity markets and high import capacity make the UK an ideal location to offload any excess supply. LNG terminals are currently operating at 75% of their capacity, with all the extra gas being sold into the NBP pushing prices lower.

 

LNG imports graph

LNG imports graph

European imports have been virtually non-existent throughout the winter but more gas could be attracted through these pipes. There is a potential capacity of 94 MCM/d to come over the BBL and the Interconnector. To start attracting this gas the premium over TTF would firstly have to rise above the NBP entry charge of 1.56p/th and then cover the cost of using the pipelines. This means that if prices increase their premium over the continent to more than 2p/th additional gas will start coming to Britain.

 

IUK flows with Belgium
IUK flows with Belgium

 

Given the competition between supply sources, storage just cannot make it onto the grid, even on higher demand days, and this capacity overhang is weighing on prices.

 

Gas spare capacity graph

Gas spare capacity graph

However, the falls in prices for power have been less substantial and purely driven by the falling cost of fuel. Fundamentally the UK grid is seeing some of its tightest conditions in years. With nearly 3GW of coal capacity having retired in the last 12 months. The remaining coal units are now running as baseload and all flexibility is coming from gas. There remains spare capacity but this is the least efficient or most costly plant.

On windless, cold days we are seeing some stress on the system. Currently Monday, 18 November, has a negative margin with 300MW still required to meet anticipated demand. This has pushed power prices to their highest since February at £54.50MWh.

 

Power capacity graph
Power capacity graph

 

On Wednesday evening we saw the highest demand of the winter so far, of 45.2 GW. The above chart shows where generation was coming from at the peak on the left, with remaining output available for Monday on the right. While this shows the potential generation that could come on at the current price levels, it isn’t expected to on Monday, hence the negative margin.

So far Monday’s price reaction has been relatively muted, but it has occurred at a time when the gas systems oversupply is weighing heavily on the whole energy market. If it was happening amidst different market conditions the price outlook would be very different.

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Consultation to improve MEES

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a consultation to seek views on proposed targets for the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES). Currently MEES make it unlawful to grant new leases to properties with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of F and G.

The Government’s options

The Government has identified two potential trajectories for strengthening the PRS (Private Rented Sector) Regulations. These aim to unlock the economic opportunities of low carbon growth, and deliver important energy and carbon savings:

  • The Government’s preferred route is that all non-domestic privately rented buildings achieve a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard of a B rating, by 1 April 2030. This is provided the measure (or package of measures) required to reach an EPC ‘B’ proves cost effective.
  • The alternative option is that all non-domestic privately rented buildings reach a ‘C’ rating by 1 April 2030, if cost effective.

In both cases, the Government recognises that not all buildings will be able to reach the required minimum standard. In this instance the Government proposes that landlords can continue to lease their building (from 2030) providing they can prove that the building has reached the highest EPC band that a cost-effective package of measures can deliver.

The impacts

BEIS estimates that using the ‘B’ rating EPC route, an investment of approximately £5 billion up to 2030 is required. The estimated average payback time would be 4-5 years. Their modelling suggests this will translate to £1 billion in bill savings for business in 2030. This would deliver an overall value of £6.1 billion to the UK economy. The annual benefit to businesses by using this option is projected to be approximately double that of the ‘C’ rating EPC.

Regardless of the option chosen, BEIS proposes that existing exemptions will continue to apply. This means that landlords will be required to carry out upgrades that are cost-effective, with an expected payback on energy savings of seven years or less. If the work cannot meet this criteria then landlords are able to register an exemption, valid for five years.

The proposed timescale

The Government has asked whether a single implementation date of 2030 is appropriate for landlords to meet the determined rating. As an alternative it has been suggested that incremental targets leading up to 2030 could be introduced. This would encourage landlords to improve the EPC rating of their buildings over time.

The consultation is expected to close on 7 January 2020.

Stay informed with EIC insights

Our Market Intelligence team keep a close eye on the energy markets and industry updates. For the timeliest updates you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn. To find out more about our Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) solutions click here.

How the clock change impacts UK energy demand

The clocks are scheduled to go back one hour this Sunday 27th October. The change will cause an obvious shift in usage of the electricity system as evenings draw in earlier in the day.

It also accelerates the seasonal trend towards higher demand during the colder, darker winter months, placing increased pressure on power margins. This can lead to spikes in electricity prices, should supplies struggle to meet the higher demand.

 

Jump in demand decreases as overall downward trend continues

As forecasts currently stand, the average peak demand for the week following the clock change will be 4.4% higher than the week before. Consumption is expected to rise by almost 2GW as lighting usage increases during the traditionally higher post-work demand period.

 

Average Weekday Peak Demand Weekly average before Clock Change (GW) Weekly average after Clock Change (GW) Difference (GW) Increase (%)
October 2019 (Forecast) 38.9 40.6 1.7 4.4%
October 2018 40.0 43.6 3.6 9.0%
October 2017 40.7 43.7 3 7.4%
October 2016 42.2 44.8 2.6 6.2%
October 2015 43.9 45.2 1.3 3.0%
October 2014 43.0 44.0 1 2.3%

 

However, the forecasted rise in average peak demand in 2019 is lower than in recent years. Notably 2018 which saw the highest percentage change, as consumption rose by almost 4GW week-on-week.

Overall peak power demand has been dampened marginally this year, with consumption after the clock change peaking at 40.6GW on average, 3GW lower than last year. This reduction can be attributed partly to half-term school holidays, which fall on the week either side of the clock change depending on school catchments. Higher renewable levels have also contributed to reductions in demand.

The ongoing trend in reduced energy consumption year-on-year continues, meaning that demand is rising from a far lower base. Improvements in energy efficiency have been helping to reduce electricity use over the last ten years. A large part of the reduction in peak demand has been the use of new technology, resulting in smart and more efficient appliances, able to do more with less.

Expected demand before this month’s clock change is 5GW lower than the highest peak in 2015. Furthermore, the forecasted post-clock change peak is the lowest on record.

 

Graph displaying electricity demand during the clock change

The role of renewables

The increase in wind and solar capacity in recent years has contributed to the overall demand reductions. 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. This reduced demand requirements for the transmission network.

Wind power continues to deliver a growing percentage of the UK electricity mix. By the end of September 2019, the UK’s fleet consists of over 10,000 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 21.5GW. Overall wind generation in the UK has so far been 33% higher through 2019 than over the same time period last year.

 

Graph showing monthly wind generation

What happens when there’s no wind?

While high winds have the capability of cutting 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 snaps, electricity demand does spike as additional heating is needed to cope with the very low temperatures. This scenario occurred during the Beast from the East cold snap in February last year. However, robust winds provided high levels of low cost electricity to the grid.

A lack of wind would see supply margins placed under significantly more stress during a similar cold snap this winter. This would require additional supply being provided by gas and coal plant or imports to make up for the increased demand. Such a scenario is likely to require significant price rises in the Within-day and Day-ahead markets.

The National Grid’s Winter Outlook for 2019/20 expects that there will be a sufficient supply margin to accommodate a wide range of security of supply scenarios. However, the organisation’s statistical 1-in-20 peak demand forecast predicts a demand of 499mcm/d, greater than the highest recorded gas demand. This is an unlikely scenario, but demonstrates how a period of high demand and low renewable availability could coincide to increase short-term prices.

An end to the clock change?

There have been proposals dating back to 2015, from members of the European Parliament, to end summer time observance. In September 2018 the European Commission proposed an end to seasonal clock changes, asking that member countries decide by March 2019 which time they would observe year round. The proposal was approved in March 2019, by 23 votes to 11. However, the start date has been postponed until 2021 to allow a smooth transition.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU before the reform becomes effective, meaning that it would be left to the government to make their own decision on observing summer/winter time. If continued, Northern Ireland would have a one-hour time difference for half the year with either the Republic of Ireland or the rest of the UK. The House of Lords launched an inquiry in July 2019 to consider the implications of this, with a call for evidence ongoing.

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Climate Emergencies and Net Zero – what you need to know

Global scientific data supports action

The action follows a highly critical 33 page report publicised in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The report focused on the impact of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Limiting warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C significantly reduces the climate change risks according to Professor Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.

What’s alarming is the scale of the challenge ahead of us to ensure we achieve these targets and do not allow the situation to escalate further.

Five steps to achieving the 1.5°C have been announced:

  1. Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030
  2. Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050
  3. Coal is expected to reduce to close to zero
  4. Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia)
  5. Global net zero emissions by 2050.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement brings together nations towards a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change. It was originally signed by 196 countries back in 2016.

In line with the IPCC report its core aim is to keep the global temperature increase this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In particular, to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.

2019 – a watershed year for climate change?

Together with the impact of Greta Thunberg – the 16 year old Swedish activist – there have been a number of key factors driving the climate change movement this year. At Glastonbury festival in June 2019, 2,000 festival goers joined protestors to stage a procession across the site.

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in late September you may have missed the news that Russia, the world’s fourth largest polluter will finally join the agreement. This announcement was overshadowed by the stirring “You have stolen my dreams” headlines surrounding Greta Thunberg’s appearance. Hailed as “the voice of the planet” she’s already been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite the raised awareness there are real fears that most of the world’s biggest firms are ‘unlikely’ to meet the targets set. Only a fifth of companies remain on track according to fresh analysis by investment data provider Arabesque S-Ray. Of 3,000 listed business only 18% have disclosed their plans.

UK reaction

In reaction to the IPCC report, UN Paris Agreement and other related research findings and movements, the UK public sector is taking positive, proactive steps to mitigate climate change risks.

Councillor Carla Danyer led the charge in Bristol by first declaring a climate emergency and this has sparked a wave of similar responses.

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law. The new target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage. Other countries setting similar targets include Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and France as well as the US state of California.

Many UK councils, NHS Trusts and universities have publically declared their long term targets. Some aiming for speedier action by declaring net zero 2030 targets. These include Ipswich Borough, Vale of Glamorgan and Telford & Wrekin councils.

Unsurprisingly, Bristol University is one of the leading educational facilities leading the way. To date they’ve cut carbon emissions by 27% and are well on their way to achieving their target to become carbon neutral by 2030. The University of Cambridge, along with others, has set a net zero target of 2038 and has announced it is adopting science-based targets. On one website – climateemergency.uk – 228 councils are listed as having signed up to the targets.

In Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister, he affirmed the UKs commitment to a net zero future. Johnson proclaimed “Our Kingdom in 2050… will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet brought about by carbon emissions,” he said. “Because we will have led the world in delivering that net zero target.”

Steps towards a better future

According to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CATs) Zero Carbon Britain research a modern, zero emissions society is possible using technology available today.

Below we’ve outlined some key initiatives that can help the UK achieve its net zero ambitions:

  • Businesses implementing science-based targets.
  • Improving built environment efficiencies. Upgrading old buildings and ensuring new buildings must meet higher energy efficiency standards.
  • A shift to electric vehicles and the continued battery storage revolution.
  • Decentralised energy. Home and local energy generation.
  • Shift to renewable energy sources.
  • New policy.

The Aldersgate Group issued a green policy manifesto to Boris Johnson on 1 August 2019. They are a politically impartial, multi-stakeholder alliance championing a competitive and environmentally sustainable economy. Members of the group include Friends of the Earth, BT, M&S, Tesco, National Grid and Sky. Their green manifesto focuses on 4 key areas for the government to take decisive action and provide greater policy detail:

  • Delivering a Clean Growth Strategy Plus (CGS+) that matches the ambition of the net zero target. This should consist of a targeted update to the existing Clean Growth Strategy to increase ambition where required (for example on zero emission vehicle roll-out). Plus it should incorporate concrete policies that accelerate private sector investment to decarbonise priority sectors. These include surface transport, buildings and support the competitiveness of industry during this transition.
  • Passing an ambitious Environment Bill that safeguards environmental protections currently enshrined in EU law. They believe it must set ambitious and legally binding targets for environmental improvements in line with the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
  • Implementing the Resources and Waste Strategy, through the introduction of detailed regulatory measures and fiscal incentives that drive greater resource efficiency and cut waste across the economy.
  • Building on the Green Finance Strategy, to rapidly grow private capital flows into the green infrastructure required to deliver the UK’s net zero target and the objectives set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Our view

At EIC we believe new government policy is one of the most important steps needed to turn sentiment into action. Legislation relating to major energy users such as ESOS and SECR are steps in the right direction but they aren’t enough. Without doubt more effective policy is needed, to not only ensure energy and carbon is measured, but also that carbon reduction strategies are developed and implemented across the UK. Too often business cases for energy and carbon reduction are created and filed, never to be signed off.

Be prepared for Triad season

A crucial time in the UK energy calendar, Triad season, begins in just a matter of weeks. The Triad season runs from 1 November to the end of February. Three half hour periods during this phase are used to calculate transmission charges for the entire year by National Grid. This is part of the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) scheme. If your electricity contract allows it, reducing your demand at these specific points will result in lower transmission charges. However, knowing when Triads occur is a complex business.

To help our clients, EIC provides a Triad Alert service. We have successfully forecast each of the three Triad periods for the last 7 years. By predicting Triads each winter, EIC has saved customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

WHAT ARE TRIADS?

Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between 1 November and 28 February. Each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

A NEW LOW?

The 2018/19 Triad season saw electricity demand fall to a new all-time low. Peak electricity demand for the three half hour periods averaged 45.6 GW, with the third Triad occurring as demand was just 45.0 GW.

By comparison in 2017/18 average demand for the Triads was 47.5 GW. Maximum Triad demand has fallen by over 11 GW (~20%) in the last ten years. This reflects an overall trend towards lower electricity consumption. Major advances in technology and energy efficiency for appliances, as well as a move to smarter lighting are contributing to sustained year-on-year demand reduction.

EIC historic Triad demand graph

This trend provides an opportunity for an even lower Triad figure this year. Weekly peak power demand during 2019 has so far been lower than its equivalent week from 2018 on two-thirds of occasions.

EIC power demand Triad graph

Greater role for wind

Another factor contributing to the decline in demand is the increase in installed wind capacity over the past decade and the increasing share of the fuel mix secured by renewable generation. The latest BEIS figures from Q2 2019 showed renewables capacity rising 8% year-on-year, with its share of the fuel mix reaching new highs of 35.5%.

Most of this capacity is connected to the Grid so does not impact demand. However, around 6 GW (~30%) of wind capacity is embedded – it is connected to local distribution networks. As a result, it can influence outturn demand. Each MW of embedded wind generation is a MW of demand which otherwise would need to be provided by the transmission network. Therefore on days of high wind generation there may be a reduction in demand, triggered by the extra embedded wind levels. Average embedded wind output has increased by more than 1 GW over the past 10 years, contributing to the steady trend in demand reduction.

Last year the level of embedded wind generation varied by 3 GW, depending on nationwide wind conditions. This led to a demand swing of the same amount. This is having a growing influence on Triad forecasting as the increasing demand swing reduces the risk of a Triad occurring on days with high wind output. As a consequence, Triads are more likely to occur on days of very low wind generation. This was the case last year when each Triad occurred on a day with less than 1 GW of embedded wind generation.

HOW MANY MORE TRIADS?

The success of Triad avoidance in reducing costs for the end user has forced regulator Ofgem to undertake a change to the charging methodology for distribution costs. A consultation launched in December 2018 proposed changes which could remove the incentive for Triad Avoidance.

The Targeted Charging Review aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem considers is fair to all consumers and not just those able to reduce consumption during peak periods. Under current proposals, Triads would change to a fixed or agreed capacity, eliminating the need for avoidance in the future. Ofgem originally nominated a deadline for the reforms for April 2020. However, a recently released updated timeline has indicated that the regulator is now aiming for an implementation date of April 2023. As a result, it is possible that there will be a maximum of four winters remaining available for Triad forecasting, including the upcoming season. The removal of the Triad scheme will increase costs for business that currently benefit from Triad avoidance.

EIC TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last seven years. We provide clients with comprehensive alerts advising when a Triad is forecast, so they can reduce consumption accordingly.

Our Triad Alert Service forecasts the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and sends alerts before 10am. This allows businesses to take informed action to avoid high usage during these half-hour periods. It also minimises disruption to their everyday activity. We monitor the market throughout the day and in the event of significant change will send out another alert in the afternoon. The daily report includes foresight of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook allowing clients to plan ahead.

Calling an alert every weekday would generate a 100% success rate, however we recognise the negative impact this could have on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for 4 months ‘just in case”. At EIC our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible.

Last year we successfully predicted all three half-hour periods. The only tracked TPI or supplier which issued fewer alerts than EIC failed to predict all of the Triad periods.

HOW WE CAN HELP

We have helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction.

For those that took action last year, demand was cut by an average of 41% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption.

This resulted in significant cost savings, with clients who responded to our Triad Alerts saving on average £180,000. The best result last winter saw a client saving just shy of £1 million in TNUoS charges.

The Triad season begins on 1 November. To find out more about our Triad Alert service click here or call 01527 511 757.

ESOS Phase 2 – Deadline Approaching

By this date (5th December 2019) all companies that qualify for ESOS must have submitted notification of their compliance with the Environment Agency (EA) or risk enforcement action. There is still a considerable amount of work to do to ensure that all of the ~10,000 qualifying organisations are fully compliant.

Penalties for non-compliance are high

Fines for non-compliance could be severe and scheme regulators will issue fixed penalties for a variety of offences. These include:

  • Failing to notify of compliance or to maintain sufficient records (up to £5,000)
  • Failing to undertake compliance activities or making misleading statements (up to £50,000 plus £500 per day up to 80 days)

Businesses that are subject to a penalty will have their details published online.

An arduous task if not prepared

In order to ensure compliance, businesses need to calculate their total energy consumption; this can be an onerous task if sound internal data collection processes are not already in place. Appropriate compliance activities should then be completed covering significant energy consumption or 90% of total energy consumption. Finally, ESOS compliance must be reviewed and signed-off by a qualified Lead Assessor, of which there are a limited number.

Environment Agency external audit

ESOS compliance is subject to an external audit by the Environment Agency (EA). As such it is critical for businesses to ensure compliance activities are delivered to a high standard. In ESOS Phase 1, the Environment Agency audited approximately 1 in 20 businesses that notified compliance. Many of the enforcement penalties related to maintenance and accuracy of records.

Leniency is unlikely

Regulators are less likely to be lenient in this phase of ESOS than they were in Phase 1. This applies to both late compliance and the standard of compliance activity such as energy audits. The deadline is in just two months and businesses that qualify still have an opportunity to ensure compliance, although quick action is required.

The benefits of ESOS

If engaged with effectively, ESOS serves as an excellent way for businesses to identify ways in which they can reduce their energy consumption as well as associated costs and carbon emissions. EIC have engaged with many businesses that have implemented energy saving opportunities following their ESOS Phase 1 compliance activities.

Why choose EIC?

Whether it’s ESOS, SECR, or CCAs, EIC will work with you to reach compliance deadlines and targets. In Phase 1 of ESOS our team identified 2,829 individual energy efficiency opportunities, equivalent to 461GWh or £43.9m of annual savings across 1,148 individual audits. We also helped over 300 ESOS Phase 1 clients avoid combined penalties of over £48m, based on maximum fines.

To find out more about how we can help you comply and implement recommendations post ESOS compliance, call us on 01527 511 757 or email esos@eic.co.uk

The Energy Awards Shortlist Success

Category 1 – Energy Buying Team of the Year

We’re here to simplify the process of buying and managing energy. We match clients with the right contract for their business. The Energy Awards recognised our success in this field and have shortlisted EIC for Energy Buying Team of the Year for our flexible procurement offering.

Flexible Procurement

Our flexible purchasing solutions begin with a strategy development workshop with our clients. We conduct a detailed discussion of the client’s business objectives and appetite for risk, seeking to identify their key priorities for the contract. We also review their current situation and any upcoming projects that could affect their portfolio or consumption.

Public Sector Portfolio

Our Public Sector Portfolio is an OJEU compliant group flexible purchasing solution. It adds value by removing the administrative burden faced by public sector organisations when procuring contracts, and reduces the timeframes when securing their supply agreement. This has proven a real hit with universities, councils and NHS Trusts.

A team effort

There are multiple teams working collaboratively to make the flexible procurement service a success. Our clients are fully supported throughout the procurement process with a dedicated Account Management team. Traders work within the parameters of a client’s strategy making decisions based on insight from our Market Intelligence team.

Trading success

In just one week our flexible procurement traders locked in a massive £343,000 for our flexible procurement clients. In fact in a single month – March 2019 – savings topped £771,000. What’s more, calendar year savings have exceeded a staggering £2.1million for the period January – August.

Category 2 – Energy Data Collection and Analysis

Our shortlist for the Energy Data Collection and Analysis award focuses on our 360 Strategic Energy Review along with our Triad model and alerts.

360 Strategic Review

Our 360 Strategic Review is a powerful data tool created to unearth hidden savings potential for our clients. We take half-hourly data and analyse it on a site-by-site basis. We focus on where reductions in usage can be made and the associated cost savings. It looks at shifting consumption to avoid the peak Distribution Use of System (DUoS) charges, reducing consumption in the winter to mitigate Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges, and assessing usage against operational hours to identify out of hours wastage. On average we’ve identified savings of £130,639 per customer so far.

Triad model and alerts

National Grid identifies three Triads each year in order to calculate the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges an organisation will incur. Such transmission costs can be reduced if demand is decreased when a Triad is expected. Our Triad model and alerts help clients plan their electricity usage around these dates in order to lower their energy bills.

Our model used from 1 November to the end of February,  identifies which days and what time periods on those days could be a Triad. We then inform our clients using our alert service whether they need to take action to reduce demand and avoid a Triad. We have issued an alert on all three Triad dates for the past 7 years. Last year we issued 24 alerts compared to suppliers who had similar results issuing on average 29 alerts. It’s vitally important for us to issue as few alerts as possible to avoid any unnecessary client interventions.

Awards Ceremony

Our teams work really hard every day to ensure our clients get the right solutions for their businesses. It’s great to have been recognised for our efforts. We’re looking forward to the awards ceremony which take place on Thursday 21 November at the London Hilton on Park Lane. We’ll keep you posted on our success.

 

Weekly Energy Market Update 23 September 2019

Gas

Gas prices saw high levels of volatility last week as the market digested the three unexpected ‘black swan’ developments of the previous week, which had triggered significant price spikes. An attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia led to a further price rise, as over 5% of global oil supply was shut down. The October gas contract hit highs of 40p/th, with the Winter 19 market at two-month highs of 52p/th. However, some of the uncertainty surrounding supply and demand was tempered, prompting prices to reverse some of those gains. EDF reported just 6 of its nuclear reactors are affected by welding issues, believing power stations do not need to close.

Russian gas flows via the OPAL pipeline, saw little change, despite the tighter restrictions. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia vowed to return its oil output to normal levels by the end of the month, quicker than initially feared. Short-term supply-demand fundamentals are also weighing heavily on the front of the gas curve, with October prices dropping to 32p/th. The Langeled gas pipeline is to return from maintenance tomorrow, boosting Norwegian flows to the UK.

Meanwhile, LNG sendout is expected to remain strong next month as the UK confirms three tankers already booked for October. Above seasonal-normal temperatures are also forecast for the next two weeks, slowing the typical rise in heating demand ahead of the winter season. While winter supply risks have been somewhat tempered, contracts from Winter 19 onwards remain elevated amid uncertainty over French nuclear power, Russian imports and tensions in the Middle East which are supporting oil prices. As a result, seasonal gas contracts are holding in the middle of their summer range, between their July highs and September lows.

Gas Graph

Power

Power prices mirrored movements in the gas market, with short-term contracts falling sharply across the week. The rest of the electricity curve remained elevated. Short-term contracts were highly volatile following three black swan developments. An additional oil attack in Saudi Arabia provided further price support as prices moved to fresh highs early last week.

Seasonal power contracts hit six-week highs. Prices eased after EDF reported only six reactors are affected by welding issues and indicated no power stations need to close. However, the outcome of an investigation by the regulator ASN is still unknown and that body will have the final say on plant closures. Oil prices corrected quickly as Saudi Arabia promised a return to full production by the end of the month.

Short-term power prices fell further, in line with declining gas contracts, which were weakened by the current healthy supply-demand fundamentals. Day-ahead gas prices fell 22% with front-month prices down 13%. The equivalent power contracts also moved lower on the weaker gas costs, but overall declines were more gradual across the week. Longer-dated electricity contracts were marginally higher week-on-week, despite giving back some of their early gains. Prices are still underpinned by elevated carbon costs, with the price of allowances remaining above €25/tCO2e. Seasonal contracts are holding in the middle of their summer range, above the early September lows, and below the peaks from July.

Electricity Graph

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The end of CRC

The final reporting period for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme (CRC) concluded in March this year. Qualifying companies now only have to manage the final elements of the scheme: ensuring they have purchased and surrendered sufficient allowances to finalise Phase 2 reporting.

The CRC scheme ran for eight years, from April 2010 to March 2019. It covered approximately 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and raised roughly £790 million annually for the exchequer.

Qualifying businesses

Qualification criteria for CRC Phase 2 was determined as organisations with at least one half-hourly meter using 6,000 megawatt hours or more of qualifying electricity. This was a simpler method of working out relevant organisations and was implemented following Phase 1 feedback that the system was too complex. The seemingly sensible criteria did a good job of identifying significant energy consumers with a test that was simple.

An issue arose however with qualification being considered only in the period April 2012 to March 2013, and then lasting for all subsequent years in the phase. As time went on, there was an increase in companies who qualified, but had subsequently sold off the (usually industrial) sites that made them qualify for the scheme. This left comparatively low energy users stuck in a scheme for which they were no longer suitable. The qualification criteria became less effective over time. We learnt that rolling qualification criteria for schemes helps to avoid this problem and keep qualifying members relevant.

The impact of ‘greening the grid’

The CRC scheme also changed significantly due to the “greening of the grid”. The government’s electricity conversion factors, which denote the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions associated with consuming a fixed amount of electricity, fell approximately 15% year on year over the last three years of the scheme.

This meant that in three years the number of allowances required to cover a fixed amount of electricity, halved. Some members of the scheme were caught out by this, and held a large number of prepaid allowances which were no longer needed due to the drop in conversion factors that was not forecast. This also had a big impact on the total tax revenue generated by CRC, and if the scheme were to continue, we would expect this to be addressed in a review. We learnt that if part of a carbon scheme’s purpose is to raise tax, then there are factors that can unexpectedly influence this.

The future of compliance

Now the CRC scheme is closed, we see a new future opening for carbon compliance. The tax-raising component of CRC has been incorporated into the Climate Change Levy as an increased flat rate across business energy bills in the UK for firms who pay 20% VAT. This is charged per kWh of energy, and so tax revenues are easier to forecast and less likely to change. However, this has shifted the tax burden initially placed on high emitters to being evenly spread across a wider group of energy bills.

The reporting side of CRC has been followed by the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) scheme. This has a larger footprint of approximately 11,000 qualifying firms, and the new qualifying criteria is attached to accounting standards which is both simple and applicable year on year. We welcome the increased attention on emissions that will be generated by the SECR scheme.

Talk to the EIC team

EIC can offer a full review of your organisation to assess your legal obligations and compliance status. We offer ESOS, SECR, Air Conditioning Inspections, Display Energy Certificates and much more, see our full suite of services here. We’ll provide you with a Compliance Report that will summarise our findings, explain the legislation, and outline your next steps.

Our in-house team includes qualified ESOS Lead Assessors and ISO 50001 Lead Auditors, as well as members of the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE), the Register of Professional Energy Consultants (RPEC), and the Energy Institute. Call us on 01527 511 757 or contact us here.

Renewable Obligation mutualisation costs added to customer bills

What are mutualisation costs?

To ensure that the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme runs smoothly, Ofgem calculates a buy-out price and mutualisation ceiling. Where suppliers do not present a sufficient number of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to meet their obligation in the reporting period, they must pay the equivalent buy-out price of the shortfall into a buy-out fund.

This fund is used to cover the administration costs of the scheme. It is distributed proportionally to suppliers based on the number of ROCs they produced towards meeting their individual obligation.

The mutualisation ceiling is set for the yearly obligation period. Mutualisation is triggered in the event of a relevant shortfall, meaning that the remaining costs must be distributed across the industry’s other suppliers apportioned to their market share.

What this means for customers

The 2017-18 period saw a shortfall of £58.6m, leading Ofgem to announce it would tighten rules for new market entrants.

Following this and a spree of market exits again, in the compliance year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, not all suppliers met their obligation. This resulted in some of these suppliers also failing to make the subsequent buy-out payments into the required fund.

As of October 2018, Ofgem revealed a combined shortfall of £102,903,066.44 in the England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland buy-out funds.

This means that remaining suppliers will be required to pick up the shortfall, following redistribution of late payments. Suppliers will be required to pay their share of the mutualisation pot, which totals £57.8 million. Therefore customers can expect to see an increase to the RO portion of their energy bill as suppliers apply one-off charges to those with contracts through the 2017-18 period.

EIC Forecast

At EIC, we track the Renewables Obligation and the many other Non-commodity costs, through our forecasts. If you’d like to find out more you can contact us here or call 01527 511 757.

Winter energy price cap level to see bills fall

The impact on customers

The new level will see the default price cap fall from £1,254 to £1,179 (over a 6% drop). The pre-payment meter cap will fall from £1,242 to £1,217 per year (around a 2% drop).

Ofgem expect energy bills to fall this winter for around 15 million households. Exact savings for each household will depend on; the cost of their current deal, how much energy they use and whether they use both gas and electricity.

The justification for this decrease has come from a significant fall in wholesale prices between February and June 2019. Healthy market fundamentals, record gas storage stocks, and periods of low demand across the last winter all contributed to this.

Households are able to cut their bills further by comparing tariffs to find the cheapest that will suit them.

The price cap moving forwards

Ofgem plans to update the level of the cap in April and October every year in order to account for the latest costs of supplying electricity and gas.

The price cap is a temporary measure, to be in place until 2023 at the latest. This allows Ofgem time to implement further reforms to make the energy market more competitive, enabling it to work more effectively for all consumers.

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Our Market Intelligence team keep a close eye on the energy markets and industry updates. For the most timely updates you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn Follow us today.

Visit our webpage to find out more about EIC Market Intelligence and how we keep our clients informed at a frequency to suit them.

 

 

How will Brexit impact on the energy industry?

More than three years have passed since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Debate is still ongoing over the process of our departure, any possible “deal”, payments or a transition period. However, following his appointment to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has hardened the UK’s negotiating position, promising that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October 2019, deal or no deal. Here we attempt to provide some insight into how this may impact various facets of the energy industry.

The energy sector in the UK had already seen significant changes with the Energy Act 2011 and various proposals for reform of the electricity market. The possible impact of Brexit on the UK and global economy could be far-reaching. However, the direct impact on the energy industry is likely to be more muted. Oil and gas markets are traded on an international level and the EU has little influence over the make-up of a member state’s energy mix. There will be no danger of blackouts or supply shortages and in the short-term you may see little day-to-day change. However, the longer-term outlook for post-Brexit energy may be altered, with one of the major issues being the UK’s relationship with, or role within, the EU’s Internal Energy Market (IEM).

The EU Internal Energy Market (IEM) – will Britain stay a part?

The IEM is a borderless network of gas and electricity transfers between EU member states. Common market rules and cross-border infrastructure allow for energy to be transferred between countries tariff-free.

Post-Brexit, Britain is likely to have less influence over EU energy regulation but will be able to adopt a different, potentially lighter, framework for its energy polices. The extent to which the UK still adheres or follows the EU energy regulation will be dependent on any ‘deal’ reached before the deadline.

Continued access to the IEM is a key priority for the UK Government in its Brexit negotiations. This would allow the country to continue to take advantage of various benefits associated with the IEM including increased security of supply, market coupling, cross-border balancing and capacity market integration.

Having recognised the benefits of the IEM the Government is seeking to retain as free as possible access to internal market and to maintain a strong influence on energy within the EU.

Plans to increase interconnectivity with the Continent are continuing and enhancing with many new interconnector links currently in development (see below). Irrespective of negotiations, this will require close co-operation with the EU Internal Energy Market going forward.

However, there are some inconsistencies in regards to UK plans encompassing full membership of the IEM. Continued participation is likely to involve the UK adopting various European legislation, which may not tally fully with UK judicial ambitions unless the UK remains part of the institutions which handle EU energy regulation (ACER, ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G for example).

Will Brexit impact on connectivity between the UK and Europe – what about interconnectors?

The ongoing negotiations regarding the UK’s 2019 exit from the E U, are having no real impact on developments, with four new interconnector links now under construction.

The Government wants to see all the current planned projects through to operation, the majority of which will not be completed until after the UK has left the EU in 2019. Former Business Secretary Greg Clark had indicated he was keen for the UK to remain in the EU’s I E M, although the final result will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

Regardless of the outcome, the UK’s energy networks’ connections to the EU will remain in place. The Government recently posted guidance on the trading of gas and electricity with the EU if there is no Brexit deal. The publication highlights that there are only small changes expected to interconnector operations. Interconnector operators have been advised to engage with relevant EU national regulators to confirm any requirements for the reassessment of their access rules.

The main area that may see impact is for proposed interconnectors, which are still in stages of project development, without final financial decisions. Uncertainty caused by Brexit, surrounding commercial, regulatory and operational impacts, will likely see planning stages re-visited to adjust for these challenges.

The UK may lose access to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) going forward. The CEF help to provide funding for interconnectors across Europe through targeted infrastructure investment. The Government have confirmed that any commitments that have already been made by the CEF regarding interconnectors into the UK will be safe following the UK’s withdrawal. However, it is not clear whether companies in the UK will be able to seek investments for new projects.

How will Brexit impact on the carbon market? Will the UK be part of the EU ETS?

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 EU ETS. 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 UK 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/tCO2, 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 4 November 2019. The aviation sector would be exempt from this tax.

Will EU state aid rules still apply to the UK?

Unless the UK remains part of the European Economic Area (EEA), then the EU state aid rules would no longer apply. The Government has said it will transfer existing EU state aid law into domestic law after Brexit. The Competition and Markets Authority will take over responsibility of state aid enforcement. Going forward UK rules may diverge from the EU but the extent of this will be limited by the terms of a future UK-EU trade deal. In the immediate aftermath of Brexit, no significant change to state aid rules are expected.

How will Brexit affect the nuclear sector?

The UK indicated its intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the associated treaty (the Euratom Treaty) on 29 March 2017 as part of the Article 50 withdrawal process.

A report from the House of Lord’s energy sub-committee in January 2018 highlighted the potential for this withdrawal to impact UK nuclear operations such as fuel supply, waste management, and research.

However, the Government has made clear withdrawal from Euratom will not affect nuclear security and safety requirements. A Nuclear Safeguards Bill was introduced to Parliament in October 2017, highlighting how this will be achieved by amending the Energy Act 2013.

The Government will also continue to fund nuclear research in the UK, through programs like the Joint European Torus, Europe’s largest nuclear fusion device. Going forward, the UK will negotiate nuclear cooperation terms with other Euratom and non-Euratom members.

Will Brexit affect the UK’s climate change targets?

The UK passed law in June to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. The country’s climate change targets will remain unchanged, regardless of whether a Brexit deal is reached. However, there are expectations that potential economic impact from a no-deal Brexit may act as a significant hindrance to decarbonisation efforts.

Additionally, there are several international issues in this area which will need to be settled. The UK’s emissions reduction target forms part of the EU target under the Paris Agreement and this will need to be withdrawn. The UK would also need to submit its own Nationally Determined Contribution under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) processes. It is yet to be determined whether the UK will continue to participate in the EU ETS post-Brexit but plans under a no-deal scenario were outlined in the October 2018 budget.

The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has strongly recommended remaining in the EU ETS at least until the end of Phase III in 2020. The UK’s 5th carbon budget adopted in 2016 assumes continued participation in the EU ETS, and will need to be altered if the UK leaves the EU ETS.

What about renewable energy?

After Brexit, the UK will no longer be obligated by renewable energy targets as part of the EU Renewable Energy Directive. Additional freedom from state aid restrictions has the potential to allow the Government to shape renewable energy support schemes.

The development of large scale projects may be impacted by the availability of funding from EU institutions such as the European Investment Bank. However, renewable and low carbon energy will remain a focal point of UK energy policy post-Brexit, with national and international decarbonisation obligations unaffected by their relationship with the EU.

As part of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 EU legislation will be initially transposed into UK law from 31 October 2019. For some elements of the EU law, the UK will need to reach an agreement with the EU in order to maintain the status quo.

Will coal plants stay open?

Coal-fired power plants in the UK are required to adhere to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) which places conditions on such plants in order to control and reduce the emissions and waste generated by these power plant. Strict emissions limits often require substantial investment in technology to reduce pollution. Several plant determined this was not cost effective, and will close down. All but one coal plant has chosen not to adhere to the new regulations and will close by 2023. The Cottam plant announced it will shut down at the end of the summer, while Fiddlers Ferry will close its remaining units in March 2020. Despite Brexit, these unabated coal plant will close. The Government has confirmed its policy to remove coal from the fuel mix entirely by 2025.

The Medium Combustion Plants Directive 2015 (MCP) operates in a similar manner, limiting the emissions of harmful pollutants. The UK has adopted both the IED and the MCP into its European Union (Withdrawal) Act, meaning that in the short-term these regimes will continue beyond October 2019. In the long term, the UK and EU will need to agree on common standards following Brexit.

What about EU investment in energy projects?

Several EU initiatives promote investment in energy infrastructure which encompasses funding towards UK projects. The European Investment Bank (EIB) for example has invested over €13bn into UK energy projects since 2010.

The draft EU Withdrawal Treaty anticipates this funding will continue, at least for projects approved by the EIB for investment before 29 March 2019.

After withdrawal from the EU, the UK will not be eligible for specific financial operations from the EIB which are reserved for EU member states. New projects may be supported by the EU depending on the nature and whether it aligns with the EU’s own energy policy. Cross-border projects, such as interconnectors and pipelines, may be available to non-member states.

The UK Treasury has sought to boost funding certainty and has vowed to underwrite all funding obtained via a direct bid to the European Commission and has also confirmed Horizon 2020 projects will still be funded.

What about the gas market, will supplies be affected?

The UK already operates a diverse import infrastructure, consisting of interconnectors and LNG terminals to allow for the import of gas, mitigating against supply risks. Operations and gas flows are expected to continue as normal, irrespective of any Brexit.

A more significant impact is likely to come from the expiry of long term supply contracts and restrictions which allow for selling capacity on a long term basis. The tariff network coderestricts the price at which interconnectors can sell their capacity. With Brexit it is unclear whether interconnectors will continue to be bound by these restrictions.

Other benefits like the Early Warning Mechanism and the Gas Advisory Council may be lost unless the UK can negotiate to retain its role in these.

For Brexit to have a significant impact on gas prices (barring any substantial currency moves) then the withdrawal from the EU would need to lead to export tariffs on EU gas flowing to the UK.

STAY INFORMED WITH EIC INSIGHTS

Our Market Intelligence team keep a close eye on the energy markets and industry updates. For the most timely updates you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn Follow us today.

Visit our webpage to find out more about EIC Market Intelligence and how we keep our clients informed at a frequency to suit them.