What has caused September price swings?

Concerns over supply, demand and flexibility within energy markets ahead of the highest demand period of the year were highly price supportive.

Black Swans

In less than a week of trading, front-month gas prices climbed 25%, and the corresponding power contract rose 15%.
The Winter 19 power contract spiked £4.55 in just one day, while Winter 19 gas jumped over 6p/th, the largest daily move on a seasonal contract since at least 2008.

gas season prices

The initial price spikes were triggered by the simultaneous discovery of three ‘black swans’, an industry term describing unpredictable events that go beyond normal expectations of the situation.

season power prices

A fourth such event occurred a few days later when rebels attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Brent and WTI crude oil prices saw the highest within-day spikes in 30 years, with both markets gaining more than $8/bbl in one day. The jump in the oil market provided more bullish support to the wider energy mix, with longer-dated gas and power contracts moving to new highs on the back of the increased oil costs.

crude oil prices

As these unpredictable events have developed, energy prices have given back some of the exceptional gains. However, prices remain elevated across the month, above the lows seen in early September. Here we explain what these issues were and how they are impacting on the energy market.

Groningen Gas

The Dutch Government reported that the production cap at its Groningen gas field will be lowered to 11.8bcm for the upcoming gas year from 1 October 2019. The state also confirmed that the site – previously Europe’s largest – would close entirely by 2022, eight years earlier than expected.

groningen gas production

Production at the field has been gradually slowing for seven years after drilling led to a series of earthquakes, forcing legislation to limit output. In 2013 the field was producing 54BCM/y, declining to 11.8BCM for 2019/20. While the reduced supply from Groningen was somewhat expected within the market, supply was expected to be available for another eight years. This curtailment helped to support a sudden price rise across the curve.

dutch gas production

The loss of production has been reflected in the loss of flexibility within Dutch gas supply, and therefore reducing the ability to respond to spikes in demand or other supply issues. Five years ago Dutch gas production was able to ramp up to 277MCM/d in response to high demand on a cold day. However, production last winter peaked at just 164mcm, while output so far in September 2019 has averaged under 50mcm/d.

OPAL Pipeline

The OPAL pipeline in Germany connects the Nord Stream pipeline with connections in central and western Europe. This month the European Commission overturned a ruling in 2016 which had effectively allowed Russian giant Gazprom a near monopoly of the volume of the pipeline, with 90% access. A complaint from neighbouring countries, led by Poland, saw this ruling challenged and the Russian transit through the link must now be cut to 40%.

The OPAL pipeline had allowed Russian gas to reach central Europe via Nord Stream and onwards, without transiting war-torn Ukraine. The EU decision will see Gazprom’s access cut by half, potentially reducing the availability of Russian gas to enter Europe, unless other transit routes are made available.

French nuclear power plants

EDF reported welding issues with at least five of its nuclear reactors, which could force shutdowns of the power stations. This would greatly reduce available power supplies for France, where 80% of its generation is supplied by nuclear and the majority of domestic heating is electric. Demand for imports will increase as will demand for more expensive and less efficient gas and coal plant, which also increases the consumption of carbon.

The UK’s interconnection with France sees imports from France provide the marginal supply to Britain, ensuring the countries’ pricing is closely aligned. Issues with French nuclear manufacturing had previously occurred in autumn 2016 when over 40% of France’s nuclear fleet closed down. This caused record spikes in UK power prices, with the Day-ahead market at over £150/MWh, and the front-month contract doubling from £40/MWh to over £80/MWh.

UK day ahead power prices

The potential loss of nuclear generation adds significant risk to the coming winter, particularly if tighter power supplies coincide with cold, windless weather conditions when gas demand is already at its highest levels for the year.
Since the initial announcement, EDF Energy has confirmed just six nuclear reactors are affected by the welding issues identified. The company believes no immediate action is required, an announcement which triggered a pull back in prices. However, the ultimate decision on whether to close nuclear plants for repairs lies with the French nuclear regulator ASN.

Saudi Arabia oil attack

The last piece of news impacting energy markets in September was a series of rebel drone attacks on major Saudi Arabian oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and oil fields at Khurais. The United States has blamed the attack on Iran, but Tehran claim no involvement. US-Iranian tensions were already heightened after a failed nuclear power agreement last year and attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

The rebel attack in Saudi Arabia forced around 7 million barrels per day of production offline, halving the country’s output and impacting on more than 5% of global oil supply.

However, Saudi Arabia confirmed it met customer orders by tapping into substantial storage reserves. Furthermore, the affected facilities would be back to pre-attack volumes by the end of September. Tensions remain heightened in the region but the swift return to operation of the affect facilities prompted oil prices to drop back from the earlier peaks.

Price Outlook

Uncertainty lingers over these issues, despite fresh developments so the potential for further price spikes remains in play. However, within the recent volatility on energy contracts, prices across gas, power, oil, coal and carbon remain within a sideways range. In fact, the majority of contracts range-bound since the start of the summer season.

The threat of a break below this range has been mitigated by the recent price spikes. However, the highs reached in July have yet to be tested. How the energy market breaks out of this range will determine future price action.

Ofgem publish update to Targeted Charging Review proposals

In the meantime, the regulator has released a letter detailing guidelines on residual charging proposals and renewables modelling.

Residual charging proposals

In the ‘minded-to’ consultation, published in November 2018, Ofgem proposed two leading options for reform for residual electricity network charges. The options were; a fixed charge, or an agreed capacity charge. Ofgem indicated that they preferred a fixed residual charge.

Most respondents to the consultation also expressed support for the fixed charge. However, there was some disagreement with the structure of the proposal, predominantly with user segments associated with this pricing option.

Some respondents expressed that the fixed charges should take more account of the diversity of non-domestic users, pointing out that individual bands could contain a wide range of different user sizes. It was also highlighted that Ofgem’s proposed basis for segments could be seen as arbitrary.

In light of this feedback, Ofgem’s refined proposal for non-domestic customer segmentation is that:

  • total allowed residual revenue would first be apportioned between voltage levels, on the basis of net volumes, as set out in the November 2018 minded-to consultation;
  • non-domestic segment boundaries would be set in terms of agreed capacity levels for users at higher voltages where this data is widely available, and net volume levels at Low Voltage (LV). This is in place of segmenting these users on the basis of the line-loss factor classes (as set out in the November minded-to consultation).

Ofgem has identified five national level charging bands for Low Voltage non-domestic users and five each for High Voltage (HV) / Extra High Voltage (EHV) non-domestic users. The banding is the same for HV and EHV customers, but their share of the residual charges is calculated at voltage level resulting in fifteen charges in total.

The refined band thresholds would be applied on a consistent basis across the country. Users would be allocated on a historic basis and updated in line with price controls. Incentives are expected to be reduced in a bid to change behaviour in response to residual changes.

The option for agreed capacity has been left open by Ofgem. The regulator has stated that where more users collect agreed capacity data there could be the opportunity to transition charges to an agreed capacity or more appropriate basis.

The Targeted Charging Review

EIC has a more detailed breakdown of the Targeted Charging Review that can be read here.

6 things to consider when negotiating a flexible energy supply contract

In our latest blog we outline some key factors you need to consider when opting for a flexible energy supply contract.

  1. Contract Duration

    The duration of your flexible energy supply contract is often driven by market liquidity. The trading windows cover 4 seasons (24 months) for power and 6 seasons (36 months) for gas but it’s always beneficial to put a longer term contract in place so seasons can be traded as soon as they become liquid. Longer duration flexible energy contracts provide optimum trading opportunities to manage prices over time. It is also worth ensuring a supply contract is in place to cover any duration that requires a budget to be set.

  2. Non-Commodity Charges

    It’s important to think carefully about your non-commodity costs when securing your flexible energy supply contract. There are many options available. These range from fully fixing all or some non-commodity charges, to having all charges fully passed through at cost. Having all, or at least some, of the demand related charges passed through will reduce premiums. As a result you can reduce costs by load shifting or load shedding. This will however increase the complexity of invoices as the non-commodity charges will be transparent on your invoices with some subject to reconciliations. Non-commodity costs will make up around 67% of your overall costs by 2025. So it’s vital to consider your wider energy strategy as fixing non-commodity costs could limit the potential gains from being more proactive.

  3. Trading Flexibility

    Although the commodity element of your costs now makes up a smaller portion of overall spend, this is the element we can influence the most through active trading. Access to supplier trading desks, the ability to refloat volume and the size of tradeable clips are some of the things that should be considered to maximise trading flexibility. Some suppliers will also charge trading transaction fees which can result in additional costs over the duration of the contract so these should be factored into supply contract negotiations. Your preferred trading strategy should also be considered to ensure you’re your contract offers you the required level of flexibility.

  4. Volumes

    When tendering a flexible energy supply contract, including accurate volume forecasts will enable a supplier to provide the most suitable contract offer. Some suppliers will apply a volume tolerance to a supply contract and set limits on reforecasting. So if there are any planned or known volume changes due occur in the future it is important to consider these. Having accurate trading volumes in place from the start also enables effective buying strategies to be implement from a trading and budgeting point of view.

  5. Administration

    When choosing a supplier to renew with it is important to consider your requirements relating to payment terms, invoicing and data access. Some suppliers can be more flexible than others regarding invoicing and payment terms, and certain factors such as credit can impact on the options available. There are also variations in what a supplier can offer in terms of data access. Whether this is access to consumption data or invoices via a dedicated contact or via an online portal.

  6. Negotiation & Analysis

    Suppliers will charge specific fees for managing a contract and offer different premiums for renewable energy for example. Therefore it’s vital to analyse supplier offers on a like-for-like basis to ensure you secure the most competitive contract available. Tender negotiations should consider all aspects of a supply contract to achieve the best contract terms in line with your requirements. The main aim is to procure a competitive contract with a supplier that meets all of your day to day needs whilst offering trading flexibility to suit your strategy.

 

Click here to find out how our Flexible Energy Procurement solutions can transform your electricity and gas buying strategies.

Join our webinar

Find out more about how you can choose your energy contract wisely at our upcoming ‘Smart Procurement – discover best practice energy buying strategies’ webinar on 12 September at 11am. Simply click here to register.

5 ways to proactively manage your non-commodity costs

Taking proactive control of your consumption is as crucial as buying at the right time. There are a variety of options to help manage and mitigate the impact of these charges to your business. Here we explore our top 5 tips to better manage your non-commodity charges.

  1. Choose your energy contract wisely
    It’s important to think carefully about your non-commodity costs when securing your energy supply contract. There are many options available ranging from fully fixed to pass-through. It is important to make sure you’re comparing apples with apples when assessing contract offers and that you ensure you know which option best suits your business before committing to a contract. It’s vital to consider your wider energy strategy, a fully fixed contract could limit the potential gains from being more proactive.
  2. Better understand your energy data
    Unlock the true potential of your energy usage. Gathering data is one thing, translating and interpreting it is another. An Intelligent Bureau uses clever analytics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence programming to unearth serious business insights that turn your site into an intelligent building, delivering powerful savings, and uncovering new and previously unexplored opportunities for additional revenue. Practical solutions could include a kVa capacity review or reactive power analysis to undercover the need for power factor correction equipment.
  3.  Install the right technology to future proof your business
    Transform your data into real-time insights; saving carbon, energy, and other operational costs. Intelligent Building Controls can potentially deliver 20% savings on your operating costs with an ROI under 12 months. Plus additional infrastructure such as wind, solar, battery storage and LED lighting can also help to reduce your usage, cut costs and support net zero carbon targets.
  4.  Start to load shift and load shed
    Reduce inefficiencies in performance by managing out of hours’ consumption and shifting or shedding consumption when prices are greatest at certain times each day. Around 10,000 UK firms could make around £20,000 a year in cost savings or revenue by moving or curtailing power use at peak times, according to 2017 analysis by SmartestEnergy.
  5.  Take advantage of Demand Side Response (DSR) opportunities
    You can get paid if you’re able to reduce consumption from the electricity grid at busy times when the national demand for energy is at its peak or to help National Grid manage system frequency. There are plenty of schemes on offer so you’ll need to decide which is the right fit for your organisation and how best you can react when you need to manage your demand levels. It’s easier if you have Intelligent Building Controls and back-up generation or storage to support your strategy.

 

Find out more about how you can choose your energy contract wisely at our upcoming ‘Smart Procurement – discover best practice energy buying strategies’ webinar on 12 September at 11am. Simply click here to register.

Coal plant capacity to halve by April as more plants shut down

Back in 2015, the Government announced plans to phase out all unabated coal-fired power stations in the UK by 2025. However, our forecasts as part of our Long-Term Forecast Report shows the UK will have just one coal plant left to close. 4.5GW of coal plant capacity is now scheduled to close by March 2020, with the loss of the Cottam, Fiddlers Ferry and Aberthaw power stations.

EDF Energy announced earlier this year it would close its Cottam coal plant by 30 September 2019. SSE is to close its last three coal units at Fiddlers Ferry after the winter season in March 2020, with one unit at the plant already closed. German utility giant RWE was the latest to announce a closure, with the Aberthaw B plant in Wales also closing in March 2020 after 50 years of generation.

The closures will see the UK’s remaining coal plant capacity drop by nearly 50% in less than a year, falling from 11GW to under 6GW. Back in January 2016, ten coal plants provided a capacity of 18GW and three years before that the UK electricity network had over 25GW of capacity from coal-fired plants.

coal plant decline

The coal industry has been heavily impacted by various economic and legislative pressure over the last 5-10 years. Enhanced and ambitious Government targets for renewable energy and carbon emission reduction has seen coal plants come under intense scrutiny. Government legislation will remove all coal from the fuel mix by 2025. The intention is to replace coal generation with renewable capacity, cleaner CCGT gas-fired and new nuclear power plant. However, as we predicted at the time, the rate of coal plant closures has accelerated, with expectations that just one coal plant – Ratcliffe – will still be operational by the 2025 deadline.

 

Impact of EU regulations

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) came into force in January 2011. This set out a range of criteria related to carbon emissions which coal plant were required to opt in to by the end of 2016. The Ratcliffe coal plant is already compliant with the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which the IED is designed to replace. It intends to adhere to the new IED laws and has already undergone upgrades to its systems to reduce carbon emissions.

 

Carbon Price Floor (CPF)

The Carbon Price Floor (CPF) was introduced in 2013 as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. Acting as a minimum price for carbon emissions, the CPF acts as a top-up tax on the EU emissions trading scheme. It was originally £16/per tonne emitted and is now frozen at £18/tonne until 2020. It runs alongside the EU emissions trading scheme, where generators purchase permits to emit greenhouse gases.

The CPF’s introduction provided a strong disincentive to high carbon electricity generation, most notably coal-fired power plant.

However, the ongoing use of fossil-fuels in the generation mix meant that it also increased the price of wholesale power, as the cost for generation began to include the value of the CPF.


Coal plant closures

Faced with rising carbon costs, and thin profit lines on top of the substantial emissions regulations, coal plant have reassessed their continued operation. Closures at Lynemouth, Longannet, Ferrybridge and Rugeley all took place by Summer 2016. Uskmouth and Eggborough followed in 2017 and 2018. After the recent announcements, just four UK coal plants will remain open beyond March 2020. The aforementioned Ratcliffe power station, West Burton, two units at the Drax power station and the small-scale Northern Irish plant at Kilroot. Given a one-year reprieve from a planned closure in May 2018, the Kilroot plant has since been sold to new operators and its future is uncertain. However, the power station will not be subject to the Westminster’s 2025 shutdown, as Northern Ireland operates its own energy policy. The remaining coal units at West Burton are only contracted until September 2021 and the future beyond that date is unclear. Drax has already converted four of its six coal units to biomass and the company has confirmed plans to replace the remaining two coal units with gas turbines ahead of the 2025 deadline.

coal plant list
Coal’s power struggle with gas

The resultant loss of available coal-fired capacity has led to a switch to gas-fired plant for baseload generation. Increased renewable capacity and a stronger use of imports from overseas have also greatly reduced the use of coal-fired generation in the fuel mix.

Over the last five years coal-fired generation has gone from leading the UK electricity mix to record stretches of electricity generation without any coal use whatsoever. In Winter 2017/18 coal burn averaged just 2GW, with generation from wind farms over 6GW a day over the same period. By May 2019, as electricity demand fell through the summer, average coal use was just 28MW. National Grid recorded its first week of coal-free generation since the Industrial Revolution that month. A record which was persistently broken during the summer season, reaching a record stretch of 18 straight coal-free days.

Coal plant monthly generation

There is still a place for coal in the short-term, during points of system stress. However, this will become even more limited, with longer periods of entirely coal-free generation expected. There is currently no push to invest in abated coal-fired plant instead through Carbon Capture and Storage.

With the UK being the first country to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 the focus for long-term electricity generation will be on low carbon and renewable sources. With the removal of coal likely ahead of the 2025 deadline, new build power stations, providing baseload generation will need to be almost entirely gas-fired. In nuclear, only Hinkley Point C power station is under construction, as three other new nuclear plants have been recently shelved. This will likely result in increased gas demand in the UK, and more so globally, as major European and Asian economies switch consumers away from coal to less carbon intensive fuels.

 

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.

Click here to find out more about our Long-Term Forecast report and how changing market drivers over the next 5 to 15 years could impact your forecasted energy budgets.

 

Updates to the SECR Scheme

The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Scheme (SECR) came into force at the start of this month. Quoted companies and large unquoted companies and LLPs are affected, and will now be required to make a public disclosure within their Directors’ Annual Report of their UK energy use and carbon emissions.

 
Over the last few months the ETG (Emissions Trading Group) have been consulting with various parties and collating feedback and queries regarding the guidance for the scheme. As a result, a number of minor updates have been made to the SECR section (Chapter 2) of the Environmental Reporting Guidance.

 

A guide to the updates

All of the updates can be found in Chapter 2 of the Environmental Reporting Guidance.

Below is a summary of the changes:

  • Page 14, 20, 36 – hyperlinks for ISO 14001, BS 8555, ISO 14064-3 and ISO 14064-1 have been updated.
  • Page 26 – reference to public sector has been expanded (first paragraph and footnote 22) and also for charitable organisations (second bullet point).
  • Page 26 – new paragraph inserted to ensure that guidance is not seen as a substitute for the SECR Regulations.
  • Page 30 – reference to corporate group legislation has been expanded (sections 1158 to 1162 of Companies Act 2006) in the last paragraph of section 2.
  • Page 33 and 39 – amended reference to NF3 to reflect that it is not currently listed as a direct GHG in section 92 of the Climate Change Act.
  • Page 45 – footnote 39 referencing Government consultation published on 11 March 2019 on the recommendations made by the Independent Review of the Financial Reporting Council.
  • Pages 50-56 – changes to reporting templates to recommend grid-average emission factor is included as the default by those organisations that choose not to dual report.


Our view on the changes

These updates provide useful clarification on outstanding queries raised by EIC such as dual reporting of electricity. Dual reporting remains voluntary but doing so allows companies to demonstrate responsible procurement decisions. For example, those selecting to procure electricity from renewable sources with a lower emissions factor can demonstrate this within their energy and carbon report if they choose to dual report.

EIC work closely with the ETG and BEIS to help the group reach key decisions regarding carbon compliance scheme development and implementation, including SECR, and will continue to do so. As a result we are able to ensure all of our customers receive the most up-to-date information and we are always on hand to support with SECR compliant reporting.

If you’d like to know more about the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting scheme take a look at my previous blog 7 facts about SECR. Alternatively, you can download our SECR factsheet here.

7 things you need to know about SECR

    1. SECR stands for Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting, a new UK Carbon Reporting framework. Companies in scope of the legislation will need to include their energy use and carbon emissions in their Directors’ Report as part of their annual filing obligations.

 

    1. It starts on 1 April 2019 and companies will need to report annually, reporting deadlines align with the company’s financial reporting year.

 

    1. The scheme affects UK quoted companies and ‘large’ unquoted companies and LLPs, defined as those meeting at least two of the following; 250 employees or more, annual turnover of £36m or more or an annual balance sheet of £18m or more.

 

    1. It will affect over 11,000 firms from high street retailers to manufacturers.

 

    1. SECR requires companies to report the following: their Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) energy and carbon emissions (electricity, gas and transport as a minimum). Previous year’s figures for energy and carbon. At least one intensity ratio (e.g. tCO2/turnover). Detail of energy efficiency action taken within the reporting year. Reporting methodology applied.

 

    1. Not meeting the reporting requirements can result in accounts not being signed off and missing the filing deadline could lead to a civil penalty. So it’s important for organisations to fully align communications between their energy and finance teams and to get a head start where possible!

 

  1. There is an overlap with other reporting and compliance schemes such as ESOS so savvy businesses can save time and hassle by using data collection from one to support compliance with another.

Find out more by downloading our SECR factsheet here https://hubs.ly/H0h2jWT0

Is the Triad past its peak?

The Triad season has concluded for another year and the three Triad dates, as published by National Grid, are listed in the table below. EIC have once again called an alert on each of these days.

 

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The Triad season runs from the start of November to the end of February every year. In this period, National Grid identifies the three highest half-hour periods of demand. Each Triad needs to be at least ten clear days apart from each other.

These three Triads form the basis of National Grid’s electricity transmission charges. For half-hourly consumers with direct pass-through of transmission costs, these Triad points are of particular importance. If these consumers can predict when the Triads will occur and reduce their demand when they happen then their final transmission costs can be significantly reduced.

 

Demand continues to decline

Total UK winter electricity demand for 2018/19 (Nov-Feb) has declined by 19% since 2009/10 as a result of energy efficiency, demand side management, and warmer weather trends. Consequently, these trends, supported by targeted demand-side management schemes such as the Triad, have created a declining trend in the Triad peak demand and, more recently, a flattening of the profile seen during the peak periods.

Another factor contributing to the decline in demand is the steady increase in installed wind capacity over the past decade. Most of this capacity is connected to the Grid so does not impact demand. However, around 6 GW (~30%) of wind capacity is embedded so is connected to local distribution networks. Embedded wind generation is invisible to National Grid and can instead influence outturn demand. Average embedded wind output has increased by more than 1 GW over the past 10 years which has contributed to the decline in average demand seen in the graph below.

 

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Throughout the past winter embedded wind generation varied by 3 GW, depending on nationwide wind conditions, which led to a demand swing of the same amount. Embedded wind generation 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. This was demonstrated during the previous winter as all three Triads occurred on days when embedded wind output was less than 1 GW.

 

Errors in National Grid forecasting increase

This winter, National Grid demand forecasts showed a significant error against outturn demand. The graph below shows that across the Triad period National Grid day-ahead forecasts averaged 2.4% higher than demand outturn on 76 days and 1.3% lower than demand outturn on 6 days. Furthermore, on EIC alert days National Grid day-ahead forecasts were 3.6% higher than actual demand levels. This equates to a difference of 1,600 MW which is the equivalent of 2 million microwaves or half a million kettles being used at the same time. In comparison, the average day ahead error for the last Triad period was 1.5%, which shows that uncertainty in forecasting has increased.

 

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Warmer weather trends

Another contributing factor to the fall in peak demand was milder temperatures, with an average UK temperature of 5.7°C this winter. This is higher than the previous winter average of 4.1°C and the 10-year average of 4.7°C. There has only been one milder winter in the past 10 years; in 2015/16 when the average temperature was 6.2°C. The graph below shows the link between low temperatures and high demand. This winter there were only 36 days below seasonal average temperature, whereas last winter there was 61. Nearly half of these days fell within the same cold spell at the end of January so only one Triad fell during this period. This meant there was an increased chance that the remaining two Triad dates would fall on milder days with low wind. This was the case with the Triad on 10th December as the temperature was above seasonal average but wind output was only 1.7 GW.

 

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Demand Side Response

National Grid estimate that demand side response (DSR), where consumers reduce energy usage during peak times, can lower national demand by up to 2 GW. The impact of DSR is typically larger during periods of cold weather and when all suppliers have issued a Triad warning. However, as we have seen from the December Triad, a lower level of demand response on milder days can inadvertently increase the risk of that day being a Triad.

The implementation of DSR has also affected the timing of the peak demand period. The graph below shows that the evening peak on Triad alert days was both longer and flatter than on non-alert days. When EIC issued a Red or Amber alert the evening peak typically lasted from 4pm to 8pm and was 4 GW higher (~10% increase) than afternoon demand (12pm to 2pm). Whereas on Green alert days the evening peak occurred between 5pm and 7pm and was 5.7 GW higher than afternoon demand (~15% increase). This suggests that a large number of businesses are reacting to Triad alerts by reducing demand during the typical evening peak.

 

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The flattening of the evening peak on Triad alert days created problems with several suppliers’ Triad forecasts. The table below shows that six large suppliers all incorrectly predicted the peak time period on a number of occasions. For example, on 3rd January all six suppliers in the table below recommended reducing demand at some point between 4:30pm and 7pm. However, the peak half-hourly period fell between 4pm and 4:30pm before many businesses started to reduce demand. EIC managed to correctly predict the timing of the peak half-hourly period for all 24 of the alerts issued, eliminating the risk to our customers of reducing demand at the wrong time and potentially missing a Triad.

 

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Uncertain future for Triads

As a result of the success of the Triad scheme in reducing peak demand as well as other fundamental changes to supply and demand, we have now reached a point where Ofgem are considering a different charging methodology. The Targeted Charging Review aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem consider is fair to all consumers and not just those able to reduce consumption during peak periods. Ofgem’s preferred option is for a fixed charge, however there is also the potential for a capacity based charge.

It is possible that next winter will be the last for Triad forecasting although at this point no timescales have been confirmed. The removal of the Triad scheme will increase costs for many business that currently benefit from Triad avoidance. An innovative way for these businesses to reduce future electricity costs is to invest in on-site generation and Intelligent Buildings solutions. EIC can help with this.

 

Next Steps

As the Triad dates have been confirmed for the 2018/19 season we are now able to calculate your Transmission costs for the next year. This forms part of our 360 Strategic Review which is the ideal first step to creating a Strategic Energy Solution for your business. It is key to unearthing hidden savings potential within your business. We’re offering businesses this insight for FREE. Claim yours here https://hubs.ly/H0gG7j20

 

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Our IoT-enabled Intelligent Buildings 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, reacting to Triad alerts, saving valuable time, money, and hassle. Find out more here https://hubs.ly/H0gYtTJ0

UK and Europe strengthen electricity links against backdrop of Brexit uncertainty

The UK continues to press ahead with plans to significantly increase its Interconnector links with Continental Europe.

Negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union, currently scheduled for 29 March, have been turbulent to say the least, with the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal twice rejected by the House of Commons. However, this is having no real impact on energy infrastructure, with new developments strengthening electricity links across the Channel. More information on the impact of Brexit on the energy industry can be found here.

The first electricity link connecting Britain with Belgium became operational on 31 January 2019. The 1GW power link had been under construction since 2016, with funding provided by a joint venture between Britain’s National Grid and Belgian system operator Elia.

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. Business Secretary, Greg Clark had indicated he was keen for the UK to remain in the EU’s Internal Energy Market, although the final decision will depend on the conditions of any final withdrawal agreement.

 

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Following on from the Belgium link, two more links with France are under construction – ElecLink and IFA2 – with both scheduled to be operational by 2020. A North Sea Link with Norway is also progressing, expected to be fully commissioned in 2021.

As a consequence, over the next three years, Interconnector capacity between the UK and Europe is expected to more than double to over 8GW.

This will provide the British power market with access to greater supplies and improved flexibility in meeting peak demand. Tight surplus power margins triggered sharp spikes in Day-ahead power prices last winter, particularly during the Beast from the East cold snap. The threat of cold, windless days will remain a problem for the UK going forward. The incentive for investment in increased interconnection for the UK is clear.

 

Interconnectors

The UK now operates five interconnector links, including the Nemo Link. Three are with mainland Europe via France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and two are with Ireland. Total capacity across the links is now 5GW, with the completion of Nemo. A further 3.4GW of interconnector capacity is currently under construction.

 

UK links target France and Ireland

In addition to those under construction, a further four additional interconnectors with France are in the pipeline. A new 1.4GW FAB cable to Devon was granted planning approval earlier last year. The 2GW AQUIND Interconnector, planned for Portsmouth, received approval from energy regulator Ofgem in September 2017. Further connections include two 1.4GW projects, the GridLink Interconnector in Kent and the Channel Cable. Both are hoping to be online by 2022.

Developers are also looking to take advantage of high renewable availability in Ireland. Utilising the short distance between Wales and the Republic of Ireland, four interconnectors are planned across the Irish Sea. The GreenConnect, Greenlink and Greenwire North and South developments could add 3.5GW of transmission capacity between Britain and Ireland. Ireland is also planning its own direct link with France, but the Celtic Interconnector is only in the early planning stages.

 

Scandinavian connections

The UK also has early plans to tap into the Scandinavian energy market, hoping to take advantage of high levels of installed renewable capacity as well as hydropower reserves in the region. Two interconnector links are in planning with Norway. These will run to Peterhead in Northeast Scotland and Blyth in northern England – both with a capacity of 1.4GW.

A further 1.4GW Viking Link is in planning that will connect the UK with Denmark. Just last week the UK Government gave final approval of the project, which is scheduled to come online in 2023. Developer National Grid Viking Link Limited (NGVL) has explicitly stressed that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union “does not influence the plans to build and operate Viking Link between the UK and Denmark.”

An ambitious 1,000km IceLink interconnector is also in planning and will connect Scotland with Iceland. However, the €3.5bn project is only at the concept stage and it is expected to be at least ten years until this link could be operational.