The energy crisis: how did we get here?

If you are concerned about the rising prices, you are not alone.

As the world reels from the biggest price rise in electricity and gas in over a decade, our expert analysts take a look at some of the reasons behind the sudden surge and what the future could hold in store.

European storage inventories are well below average

Graph showing European storage levels
European storage

 

There were strong withdrawals in Q1 2021, as colder temperatures settled over Europe. At the same time, Asia was experiencing similar conditions. Japan had a very cold January along with several outages, which led to an immediate need for LNG to boost gas power generation.

As a result, LNG deliveries to Europe slowed down and the region had to rely on more stored gas. The early part of Q2 2021 saw persistent colder temperatures, low wind and maintenance, leaving little surplus to make its way into storage.

By the time injections started there was already a shortfall and the pace of injections has not been enough to shut down this deficit.

European storage is vital to ensure some security of supply over winter, especially if there are supply issues from other sources. Storage is also needed to top-up supply, when demand is high.

Reduced gas supplies this summer

UK LNG imports
UK LNG imports

 

Part of the reason for the lacklustre injections is the heavy maintenance in many gas-producing regions during this summer. Covid restrictions hampered maintenance schedules last summer and many sites were running strong through the colder winter that followed.

In addition to the shortfall in supply, LNG deliveries to the UK and Europe were drastically reduced, particularly during this quarter. This fall in import volume is due to a marked increase in demand for LNG in Asia this year. This demand growth is largely due to China ramping up its economy post-Covid, as well as other regions replenishing their depleted stock levels.

 

Weak renewable generation this summer

Wind & gas output comparison table
Power output comparison table

 

In recent years, the UK has increased its wind capacity to about 25% of the generation capacity. This summer has seen some of the lowest wind speeds, with the likes of Orsted – who have invested heavily in wind generation – reporting lacklustre returns this summer.

The graph above highlights the drop in wind output, especially in Q3 2021, and the increased need for gas generation. As a result, the need for gas to generate power has been elevated at a time of tighter gas supply.

Supply margins in the UK were extremely tight last week, and as a result, we saw some unprecedented price levels – as shown below in the UK day-ahead power price. System prices were as high as £4,000/MWh at peak times.

Day ahead forecast
UK day-ahead power price forecast

Increased cost of substitute sources of power generation

In parts of Europe, there has been an increased reliance on coal and lignite power generation. On the back of various policy moves, the price of carbon allowances in Europe has also surged. This year alone, prices have doubled. As a consequence, it has become increasingly expensive for fossil-fuelled power generation. Gas prices have risen so strongly that it has become more profitable for coal and lignite power generation in Europe (which are more polluting) instead of gas.

The UK and European governments manage the supply of carbon allowances. With a current policy of zero carbon, it is difficult to see governments increasing the availability of allowances.

Carbon
Carbon allowances

Russian gas supply

Despite the surge in gas prices across Europe, Russian supply volumes have not responded to demand. In July and August, there was maintenance on both Nordstream 1 and Yamal pipelines that saw substantial declines in Russian volumes, exacerbating the tight gas market.

The domestic Russian gas market is also under relatively tight conditions. Russian domestic storage was heavily drawn last winter and there has been some delay in replenishing them, due to heavy summer maintenance.

There has also been a reluctance to increase flows across the Ukrainian and Polish routes. In the meantime, with the completion of Nordstream 2, a preferred alternative route is ready. But there are some legal hurdles that need to be overcome, denting market hopes for the start of the fourth quarter.

 

What’s next?

There is a substantial risk premium priced into this winter, given all these factors so far. There is also an underlying uncertainty of how and when these will resolve, in the face of an unknown winter demand.

A mild and windy winter will allow for more wind generation and reduce some of the demand for heating. However, periods of cold and still conditions will see supply margins drop and system prices record high prices once more.

Gas could start to flow through Nordstream 2 this winter. But will this merely displace gas that is currently moving through one of the other routes to Europe? Or will supply increase significantly, once domestic reserves are met?

It is likely that this winter will see an increase in price volatility, with price swings in either direction.

For advice on how your business can respond to changing energy prices, contact EIC today.

This article was written by the Market Intelligence Team

Targeted Charging Review (TCR) Guide

The Targeted Charging Review (TCR) changes will soon come into effect, starting with distribution charges in April 2022 and followed by transmission charges in April 2023.

We look at how these changes will impact consumers and how we can help businesses to prepare.

What does the review include?

Changes to DUoS and TNUoS

Distribution Use of System (DUoS) and Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges cover the costs of maintaining the electricity networks that supply your energy. Ofgem is implementing changes to these charges to ensure that costs are distributed fairly across all consumers.

Subject to Ofgem consultation, from April 2022 for DUoS and April 2023 for TNUoS a proportion of your DUoS and TNUoS charges will be based on a series of fixed charging bands.

The band you are placed into will depend on your average annual consumption for non-half hourly (NHH) sites or average capacity for half-hourly (HH) sites, calculated over the two year period from October 2018 to September 2020.

TNUoS charges for non-domestic consumers will be based on a series of fixed charging bands set for the whole country, as seen in the table below.

For DUoS charges, domestic consumers will pay a single residual charge set for each distribution area. Non-domestic consumers will be charged based on the same set of fixed bands as TNUoS but with charges varying for each distribution area. Ofgem will review and may revise these charging bands and their boundaries so that they can be implemented alongside new electricity price controls, with the next (RIIO-3) starting in April 2026.

TCR Fixed Charging Bands with latest TNUoS forecast
Table 1. TCR Fixed Charging Bands with latest TNUoS forecast (National Grid, May 2021)

Changes to Triads

The largest component of Triad charges is called the Transmission Demand Residual (TDR), and this is the charge that will change from April 2023, becoming a fixed charge rather than being determined through Triads. Triad charges will continue to apply to the forward-looking components of TNUoS charges, which are known as the Transmission Demand Locational charges, although these represent less than 10% of the total TNUoS charge.

Triad periods are the three highest winter peak periods. They are retrospectively calculated in March each year and form the basis of the transmission network component (TNUoS) of large companies’ energy bills. By reducing consumption or switching to onsite generation during forecast Triad periods, some firms can save large amounts of money on their bills.

The removal of the TDR leaves two full Triad seasons to take place over Winter 2021/22 and 2022/23. Beyond that, the incentive for Triad avoidance will be greatly reduced. And companies that are taking action to reduce costs during Triad periods could see an increase in their electricity bills.

What impact will this have on consumers?

The TCR changes are set to benefit larger consumers with half-hourly (HH) meters, whilst domestic and NHH sites will see a small rise in costs. Consumers outside of London are expected to experience a rise in DUoS fixed costs. This will be partially offset by a decrease in DUoS unit costs. Most HH sites will also benefit from a drop in TNUoS costs. Whereas domestic and NHH sites face a potential rise in TNUoS costs.

Average TCR change for a HH customer

The graph below shows that southern areas are more likely to see a larger decrease in costs than northern areas. HH sites in London, for example, will see TNUoS and DUoS costs decrease by an average of 36%. Whereas HH sites in Scotland will only see an average decrease of 7%. Incidentally, London is also the only area where domestic and NHH sites will see a net benefit from the TCR changes.

Consumers currently taking Triad avoidance action will not see the cost reductions shown below, as that benefit ends in April 2023. Similarly, sites that have a capacity level which is set too high are likely to face an increase in costs, as they could be placed into a higher charging band. Extra-high voltage sites are not included in the graph below, as they are subject to site-specific tariffs and need more detailed analysis.

Average % change in costs due to TCR

How EIC can help

The figures calculated above are based on an average consumer in each charging band. The analysis covers a wide range of consumers with varying demand profiles and cannot easily be applied to individual consumer costs.

The best way to determine exactly how the TCR will affect your business is with our Long Term Forecast Report. This provides your business with a specific breakdown of electricity costs over a 5, 10, 15 or 20 year period. This valuable report will allow you to confidently plan your long-term budget and avoid any nasty surprises.

To learn more read about our Long Term Forecast Report service or contact us today.

Extra year of Triads following further Ofgem delay

With winter quickly approaching, the Triad season is soon to begin. This is an important time for many large UK consumers, as they seek to lower transmission costs by reducing demand during potential Triad periods.

Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of 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.

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 9 years. By predicting Triads each winter, EIC has saved customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

Triads granted an extra year

In May 2021, Ofgem launched a consultation on the Transmission Demand Residual (TDR) part of the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). While the results of the consultation are yet to be published, the minded-to decision is to delay the implementation until April 2023. This would create an extra opportunity for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance over the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Triad periods.

The TCR aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem considers to be fair to all consumers and not just those that are able to reduce consumption during peak periods. From April 2023, the residual part of transmission costs will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses, with the latest forecast figures below. For the majority of consumers, these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action, it is likely that their future costs will rise.

TCR fixed charging bands
Table 1. TCR Fixed Charging Bands with latest TNUoS forecast (National Grid, May 2021)

Uncertain winter ahead

Gas and power prices have increased significantly throughout the summer due to maintenance issues, a global gas market surge and low renewable output. As temperatures fall leading into winter, gas and power demand will inevitably increase and put more pressure on prices. There are particular concerns around extended periods of cold weather with low wind, which will create tight margins and cause day-ahead power prices to spike. It is during these periods that Triads are more likely to occur.

Last winter saw the first increase in peak demand since 2014/15 and the largest year-on-year increase since 2007/08. There were a number of factors which contributed to this, including lower temperatures, a reduction in demand-side response (DSR) and an increase in domestic consumption. An increase in Covid-19 cases over the winter may lead to a return to working from home, which could again lead to an increase in peak demand. However, if Covid-19 cases remain stable then there could be an increase in DSR as more businesses look to avoid Triads while they still can.

EIC track record of success

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last nine years. We issue clients with comprehensive alerts advising them 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 gives businesses time to take informed action to avoid high usage during these half-hour periods, while minimising disruption to their everyday activity. In addition, we monitor the market throughout the day and in the event of a significant change we will send out another alert in the afternoon. The daily report can also help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days, alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Calling an alert every weekday would generate a 100% success rate, however EIC recognises the negative impact this could potentially have on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for four months, ‘just in case’. At EIC, our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible. Over the 2020/21 Triad period we called just 14 red alerts, comparing favourably against a supplier average of 20 alerts.

Trad record for 2020/21
Table 2. Triad record for 2020/21 – EIC vs. suppliers

How we can help

We have helped hundreds of clients to avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools they need, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction. Our analysis has found that clients who take direct action to avoid Triads based on our alerts save an average of 20%, which represents an annual saving of £26,000. The Triad season begins on 1 November. Find out more information about our Triad Alert service .

EIC can also help you to accurately budget and forecast your energy prices with confidence, with our Long-Term Forecast Report. Our team of specialists work hard identifying trends, examining historical figures and forecasting for the future. The Long-Term Forecast Report is a valuable tool which illustrates the annual projected increases to your energy bills and calculates your energy spend over the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. This allows you to confidently forward budget and avoid any nasty surprises. Whilst we can’t prevent the rise of non-commodity charges, we can ensure that you are fully prepared for any increases.

To find out more about our Long Term Forecast Report or to discuss your Triad concerns, contact us today.

COP26: what we need to achieve at the climate conference

The Covid-19 pandemic brought humanity’s vulnerability into sharp focus, emphasising the importance of international collaboration. Now, as extreme weather events wreak havoc around the world, the climate emergency is beginning to receive global recognition. This could spur real change at the COP26 conference, which will be held in Glasgow this November.

The summit is likely to be shaped by a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report warns that there is now a very small window to reduce emissions before exceeding the emissions limit of 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement. With this in mind, the gravity of COP26 cannot be overstated.

We look at the expected objectives for COP26, and how these crucial policy shifts could impact businesses across the UK.

Ambitious targets for 2030

So far, the focus has been on achieving net zero by 2050. But countries are now being asked to come forward with ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030.

According to the new IPCC report, global CO2 emissions need to decrease by about 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. Otherwise, if they continue to rise at the current rate, global temperatures are projected to increase by more than 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.

The UK has a significant part to play in this effort. Despite making up less than 1% of the global population, the UK is historically the fifth-largest contributor of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

For the private sector, this will most likely result in a greater emphasis on science-based targets. Science-based targets aim to reduce emissions, through concrete, corporate objectives. These shorter-term goalposts are designed to track progress for businesses, providing greater transparency on the road to net zero and beyond.

Prioritising adaptation

The IPCC report warns that even with global decarbonisation efforts, it will take decades for the planet to recover. This doesn’t mean that achieving net zero by 2050 and staying within the 1.5°C limit wouldn’t result in immediate benefits (such as improved air quality). But it could take twenty to thirty years for global temperatures to stabilise.

Critically, some of the damage could be irreversible. According to the report, numerous climate-related weather events will continue to cause disruption for centuries to come. This means that adaptation will be just as important as mitigation efforts.

Adaptation methods involve adjustments to ecological, social or economic systems in anticipation of climate change. These can range from building flood defences and early warning systems to changes in government policy and redesigning communication systems.

These methods can coincide with mitigation methods, which focus on reducing emissions.

Given the current state of play, it makes sense that adaptation and resilience are principle themes at the upcoming COP26 event. These are key considerations for large businesses hoping to thrive in the future.

Reforestation and conservation

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised new domestic pledges and plans to garner international commitments on “coal, cars, cash and trees”.

He said: “We want COP26, the UN great summit, to commit to restoring nature and habitat and ending the massacre of the forests, because trees are among our best natural defences against climate change. To be net-zero for carbon you must be net-positive for trees and by 2030 we want to be planting far more trees across the world than we are losing.”

The UK has faced criticism in the past for having the lowest levels of tree cover, compared to its European neighbours. Forests currently cover just 13% of the country. To reach its net zero target, the Committee on Climate Change has said that tree cover in the UK needs to rise to 17% by 2050.

Mobilising green finance

According to a new analysis from WWF, the UK government’s committed spending is currently well below the required rates to meet its legally binding net-zero emissions target.

Financing green initiatives is essential to combatting climate change, and mobilising green finance is a key objective for COP26.

Achieving our climate goals will require public finance for the development of infrastructure and private finance for innovation and technology. In this transition every company, bank, financial firm and investor will be expected not only to follow, but to lead change.

How can EIC help your business to prepare?

We can provide a bespoke, adaptable roadmap to net zero for your organisation – ensuring carbon compliance and long-term financial stability along the way. Our comprehensive energy and carbon services help guide organisations towards a more sustainable future.

Our goal is to help companies navigate the transition to a low carbon economy. We recognise that while policy decisions drive decarbonisation, every business has a part to play.

To learn more about our net zero and sustainability services, contact us at EIC today.

REGO prices rise amidst post-Brexit uncertainty

The Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) scheme was designed to provide consumers with transparency about the portion of electricity their suppliers source from renewable generation.

How do REGOs work?

Renewable energy generators are issued with one REGO certificate for every megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable output. This certificate is then sold with an energy contract to prove to the final customer that a share of their energy was produced from renewable sources.

Why are REGO prices rising?

In recent weeks the cost of REGO certificates has increased dramatically, leading to rising renewable electricity contract renewal prices. There are a number of factors driving the increases, including:

  • Lower levels of renewable generation than expected in the UK in the 2020–21 period, reducing the number of REGOs available on the market
  • Higher levels of demand for renewable electricity
  • End-of-year purchasing by suppliers to meet their obligations
  • Uncertainty surrounding the acceptance of European Guarantees of Origin certificates (GoOs) in future
  • Increase in wholesale electricity prices that continue to recover to pre-pandemic levels

These factors mean that customers securing renewable electricity contract renewals are likely to see their prices increase.

Are REGOs used for greenwashing?

REGOs have faced criticism for allowing greenwashing. This is because some suppliers buy power on the wholesale market, which is a mix of all sources including fossil fuels and nuclear. They then separately acquire REGOs to label this power ‘green’. Scottish Power and Good Energy have recently called for regulatory reforms to close these “loopholes” in the market.

Despite these calls for reform, a recent Cornwall Insight’s survey found that 74% of participants felt there had been no improvement in REGOs regulations.

How can EIC help?

The sharpest insights are crucial in today’s volatile markets. We work to ensure that our clients are aware of key market movements and are ready to capitalise on every opportunity.

The EIC Market Intelligence team has extensive knowledge of the electricity and carbon markets and the fundamentals driving them. Interpreting this information is a key component of a successful energy management strategy.

EIC can help your business stay ahead of the curve with market insights and smart procurement so you can make energy management decisions with confidence. To learn more, contact us at EIC today.

Net zero: can the UK reach its 2050 target?

In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. This would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.

This was once seen as a fairly ambitious target. Especially considering the previous commitment to an 80% reduction within the same timeframe. However, it has now become clear that achieving net zero by 2050 is imperative to tackling the catastrophic effects of climate change.

How close is the UK to reaching net zero?

To reach ‘net zero’, the UK must significantly reduce its emissions while simultaneously offsetting those that can’t be avoided. In this effort, the pandemic served as a hidden blessing. Thanks to reduced traffic, travel, waste and energy consumption, there was a record-breaking 10.7% fall in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2020. This resulted in a 48.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, a milestone in the country’s net zero journey.

Yet despite this, the UK is set to breach its fifth carbon budget by at least 313Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) according to research done by Green Alliance. And as workplaces open and travel resumes again, emission levels could return to pre-Covid levels. This could make meeting the sixth carbon budget, which recommends a reduction of 68% by 2030, challenging.

Is this achievable?

A recent report by The National Grid Electricity Operator (ESO) outlines 4 potential scenarios for decarbonisation in the UK. These were designed in part to lay out steps to meet the sixth carbon budget, and 3 of the scenarios see us reaching net zero by 2050. But, while this sounds promising, the report also explains that drastic changes are required to achieve future emissions targets.

The National Grid ESO’s head of strategy and regulation Matthew Wright said, “Our latest Future Energy Scenarios insight reveals a glimpse of a Britain that is powered with net zero carbon emissions, but it also highlights the level of societal change and policy direction that will be needed to get there.

“If Britain is to meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets, consumers will need a greater understanding of how their power use and lifestyle choices impact how sustainable our energy system will be – from how we heat our homes, to when we charge our future cars – and government policy will be key to driving awareness and change. 

“Britain is making significant progress towards achieving net zero. The fundamental changes outlined in our latest FES insight show just how important a coordinated approach will be between policymakers and industry if we’re to capitalise on that momentum.”

What does this mean for businesses?

The UK ramping up its decarbonisation efforts will impact businesses and communities of all sizes. If the recently published Transport Decarbonisation Plan is any indication of policies to come, the general public should prepare for drastic changes. The plan outlines the Government’s approach to decarbonising the highest-emitting sector. It includes bringing the ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans forward from 2035 to 2030. As well as a consultation on zero-emission bus fleets and lorries by 2040.

Other expected changes could include higher energy efficiency standards and extended mandatory carbon reporting. A recent example of this is the extension of mandatory display of annual energy certificates in all larger office buildings. This means that businesses will have to prioritise their energy management in the future. Fortunately, reducing waste and boosting your green credentials often results in both financial and reputational benefits.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we help businesses monitor and manage their energy and carbon with sustainability in mind. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. We are already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations – supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets.

Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions. Helping to carry your business into a green future.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

Mandatory display of annual energy certificates to be extended

In a new scheme proposed by the government, all larger commercial and industrial buildings will be mandated to display annual energy certificates. This will initially affect offices over 1,000m2of which there are approximately 10,000 in England and Wales. However, the proposal includes plans to extend to more varied sites in the future, including smaller buildings. So, why the change and how might it impact businesses in the UK?

What does the proposal include?

Currently, large commercial buildings are required to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) only if their total useful floor area is over 500 square metres, is frequently visited by the public, and an EPC has already been produced for the building’s sale, rental or construction. EPCs measure the building emission rate (kgCO2/m² per year) and primary energy use (kWh/m² per year) for the core HVAC and building fabric assets.

EPCs are valid for 10 years, once an EPC reaches the ten year point and expires, there is no automatic requirement to produce a new one. A further EPC will only be required when the property is next sold, let or modified.

In October 2019, the Government told the Climate Change Committee that it would consult on introducing a new scheme that would rate commercial and industrial buildings based on their actual energy consumption and carbon emissions.

As a result of this, the government launched a new consultation called ‘Introducing a Performance-Based Policy Framework in large Commercial and Industrial Buildings in England and Wales’. This is the first step towards introducing a national performance-based policy framework that aims to reduce energy consumption and emissions.

How does this differ from DECs?

A Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rates public sector buildings over 250m2 based on actual energy consumption, so why not simply expand this to commercial buildings? According to the proposal, the new rating framework will look to modernise and go beyond what (DECs) currently offer.

Why the change?

Larger office buildings use over 53% of the energy used by all commercial and industrial buildings. This means that more frequent audits and stricter oversight will help to root out waste and reduce overall consumption. Success from similar policies has already been seen in countries like Australia who reduced consumption by 34% in 10 years with the National Australian Built Environment Rating System.

In this global push for energy efficiency and retrofitting, the UK is falling behind. Since 2016, similar requirements have been mandatory in all non-residential buildings over 500m2 throughout the European Union.

What are the benefits of the proposal?

Mandating more frequent energy evaluations will help to identify areas of inefficiency or, at the very least, raise awareness around energy consumption. While retrofitting the UK’s predominantly old building stock is a daunting task, the benefits could be enormous. This initiative alone is predicted to save British businesses over £1 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8m tonnes when completed.

The Government is also considering including waste, water usage and air quality standards. None of these are currently required for either EPCs or DECs, and could lead to further cost savings for businesses.

How can EIC help?

The government plans to introduce the new rating system in 3 phases over the 2020s. The 1st phase is aimed at the office sector and has been planned to start in April 2022. EIC helps its clients stay informed and prepared for policy shifts such as these. In a net zero economy, staying ahead of the curve will be crucial to business resilience and growth.

As emission reduction targets become more important, energy reporting will become an essential part of managing a successful business or property. EIC can help you stay compliant with fast-changing legislation by streamlining and simplifying any and all of your energy admin. Our energy specialists have extensive experience with EPBD requirements including DECs, EPC and TM44 certification. We can go beyond mandatory reporting and certification to ensure you are as sustainable and energy-efficient as possible.

EIC can help you stay ahead of the curve. To find out more contact us today.

Earth Day: 5 things businesses can do to celebrate this year

After months of isolation and wintry weather, spring is finally in full bloom and the UK is reopening again. With this recent freedom has come a renewed appreciation for friends, family, and the great outdoors. This, and the rise in climate change awareness, make this Earth Day more important for businesses than ever.

Environmental awareness days are often marked with a social media post and quickly forgotten. But businesses that embrace real sustainability all year can enjoy significant financial and reputational benefits. As the UK transitions to a net zero economy, this will only become truer.

Companies with ethical and environmental strategies are already favoured by consumers and investors. This makes a sustainable strategy essential for securing future funding as well as growing and maintaining a loyal customer base. Not to mention, energy efficiency and clean energy solutions can provide valuable savings to facilitate further stability along the way.

This Earth Day, why not use the momentum to embark on your sustainable journey? Here are a few ways to celebrate the planet and ensure a green future for your business.

1.  Make a commitment

Companies and communities across the UK are pledging to reach net zero emissions by as early as 2030. This is largely due to recent shifts in policy that have made carbon monitoring and reporting an inevitable part of business practices. Climate-related risks are also beginning to play an important, even mandatory, role in investment decisions. This means large companies will have no choice but to reduce their environmental footprint.

What better day to announce your businesses commitment to net zero than Earth Day? EIC can help your organisation navigate the path to net zero from your initial carbon footprinting onwards. Our team of energy specialists streamline complex energy admin, carbon compliance, and give guidance on clean energy solutions. We go beyond what is mandatory to integrate sustainability into the core of your business.

2.  Embrace small changes

If your business is not ready to commit to a net zero target, there are numerous small changes you can make to save money and reduce your environmental footprint. Simply switching to LED lights can result in significant costs savings, especially for big energy users with extensive office or retail space. This and other efficiency solutions offer emission reductions that will prepare your organisation for future carbon reporting requirements.

Waste management is another important small but impactful change, as is water efficiency. Taking control of your utilities and ensuring there is as little unnecessary waste as possible is the first step towards sustainability.

3.  Switch to green energy

As companies and councils continue to join the race to net zero, energy suppliers are offering more green procurement options. There are different types of energy contracts in various shades of green, and choosing one can be a complex process.

If you are taking this Earth Day to switch to greener energy, EIC can help. Our procurement specialists can help you choose the contract that is right for your organisation and your net zero goals.

4.  Get smarter

Data gathering and analytics is the future of energy management. Smart energy monitoring and building control systems identify areas of inefficiency and waste. And enable you to make changes in real time. This technology is already becoming widely used to help businesses of all sizes control their costs and reduce emissions.

Make a real, impactful change this Earth Day by taking control of your utility usage. Our sister company, t-mac, offers next-generation metering, monitoring and controls solutions. These enable clients to manage their assets and energy consumption in real-time via a single platform.

“By working with t-mac we were able to identify that our immediate solution was to scrutinise the use of in-store equipment to save energy and carbon. Using t-mac’s expert advice and assistance we were able to implement a control strategy and immediately benefited from the energy reduction. To date, we’ve chalked up a substantial reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions across the 1,600 UK branches. We’re confident that the system will continue to be a winner, saving carbon and cost for years to come.” – Nick Eshelby, Director of Property Services at Ladbrokes

5.  Make it a team effort

Making structural changes to your energy portfolio is key. But genuine sustainability requires action on every level. Getting employees involved can help your sustainable efforts and also boost morale.

In August 2020, Reuters commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 UK office workers about workplace culture and environmental ethics. Of those surveyed, almost two-thirds (65%) said that they were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies.

This proves the rising interest in climate change and social equity is impacting peoples expectations of their employers. And as younger generations enter the workforce, this will only become more prevalent.

This Earth Day, ensure employees are aware of your commitment to environmental action by getting them involved in your sustainable business strategy. One way to do this is through EIC’s staff energy awareness training, which teaches employees how to reduce energy usage. By helping your employees understand how they can improve energy efficiency at work, they’ll learn how to cut their usage and costs at home too, which is great news for the environment.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we celebrate Earth Day every day by leading clients towards a more sustainable energy future. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that build a green and resilient foundation for your organisation’s future.

To learn how our net zero services can help your business, contact us at EIC today.

It’s not too early to start thinking about ESOS phase 3

The deadline for the third phase of ESOS is on 5 December 2023, but it is never too early to start your carbon reporting process. Although working on a distant deadline may not seem like a priority, planning ahead may save considerable time and money.

Regulated by The Environment Agency, the mandatory compliance scheme aims to ensure that big energy users are working as efficiently as possible. Businesses that qualify for the scheme must have compliance plans in place to avoid fines and civil penalties.

The first step towards assessing an organisation’s carbon footprint is to conduct an energy audit. Energy audits assess total consumption within a business including buildings, industrial processes and transport usage. This is also crucial for understanding where a business could save money through energy conservation.

Who qualifies for ESOS?

ESOS is mandatory for large UK organisations that meet one of more of the following criteria:

  • Employ at least 250 people.
  • Have an annual turnover excess of €50 million and an annual balance sheet excess of €43
  • Are part of a corporate group containing a large enterprise.

Businesses that qualify must carry out ESOS assessments every four years. While fines differ from case to case, they can include an immediate £50,000 fine or £500 per day for up to 80 working days. Businesses who refuse to comply also run the risk of having their information published online.

What are the benefits of ESOS?

You may be thinking, why should I start thinking about phase 3 so early? Starting work towards phase 3 now means you are able to explore different options before deciding on the perfect one for your business. Becoming more energy efficient now will also mean environmental and financial benefits in the long term.

The two most significant benefits of ESOS lie in the reduction of carbon emissions and lowering of energy bills. If approached correctly, ESOS could bring benefits for both the business in question and the environment, in the form of cost effective savings.

ESOS has been predicted to deliver a total of £1.6 billion in savings to UK businesses between 2015 and 2030. Some of the most common areas in which savings are found include lighting, air conditioning and metering. EIC can also provide intelligent procurement: further simplifying our client’s energy management and reducing their utility costs.

Putting off compliance plans may also leave you vulnerable to price increases. Phase 1 of the scheme more than 40% of businesses were still not compliant 4 months after the deadline. If this were to happen again, in excess of 2,800 firms would be fined and in turn suppliers would be forced to raise their prices again. By identifying areas of carbon reduction, ESOS can also improve your Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) narrative. While they are separate schemes, information gained from ESOS can be used to manage energy efficiency in annual reports.

How can EIC help with your compliance needs?

Our carbon team have extensive experience with complex compliance legislation and are dedicated to helping you reach deadlines efficiently. Our Lead Assessors and highly trained Auditors are on hand to assist you throughout your compliance process.

We have assisted over 550 clients with their ESOS journey, and in doing so have identified 4.65 million tonnes worth of CO2 savings. This has meant that our clients have avoided approximately £80 million worth of fines over phase 1 and 2.

Whilst balancing other jobs and responsibilities, schemes may seem like a hassle. Fortunately, EIC can help turn that obligation into an opportunity for your organisation.  Get in touch to find out how we can help you start your compliance journey.

What nuclear fusion means for big energy users

Big energy users rely on the UK’s power network to provide safe, reliable electricity for their ongoing business stability. While the use of renewable energy is reaching an all-time high, concerns linger about its reliability. Nuclear fission has been supporting the drive to lower emissions but remains controversial and recently, science has been looking to the future. Could nuclear fusion be the solution?

Every business uses electricity but smaller companies and low level energy users can often handle short outages. Unfortunately big energy users are not so lucky. While solar and wind can be powerful contributors to the grid, they can’t meet all our energy needs. To decarbonise energy-intense industries such as industry or aviation, the development of hydrogen and nuclear is essential.

How does fusion work?

Unlike nuclear fission which splits an atom to release the energy and heat we need for electricity, fusion does it by combining two atoms. Under intense heat and pressure, two positively charged hydrogen isotopes are forced together to create a heavier element.  This releases the same heat and energy we see in fission.

While the process is more complicated than fission, the end result is far safer and more sustainable. It produces almost no radioactive waste material and if the system gets overwhelmed it shuts down automatically so there’s no risk of a meltdown. Not to mention, it is 25% of the cost of nuclear and half the cost of wind energy.

Fission power is fuelled by uranium which is mined, refined and remains dangerous for thousands of years after use. The fuel for fusion power is deuterium. This is found in seawater and the earth has a near limitless supply.

Fusion power promises clean, reliable energy and a consistent output day or night whatever the weather. Renewable power will certainly remain a key part of the plan but with the help of fusion power, we could completely eliminate the use of coal, oil and natural gas.

What is the problem?

Currently, efficiency is the big issue. Existing reactor designs have struggled to produce more electricity than they require for operation. This is mostly due to the scale of the designs and the fuel used for testing. Scientists have been working on the project for decades but lately, a lot of progress has been made. Current research aims to have a functioning, economically viable fusion reactor online by 2030.

The progress of this technology is often compared to the advancements made in microchip design. The processing power of a microchip doubles every year, (following a principle called Moore’s Law). Fusion research has followed a very similar trend.

If progress continues at the current pace, scientists hope to meet their targets and bring fusion into the fight against fossil fuels.

What do we do until then?

The main problem with nuclear fission reactors is the cost. Taking an average of 6 years to build and costing billions of pounds they represent a big commitment. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until 2030 for the next advancement in energy technology. Small modular reactors and hydrogen fuel are getting ready to bridge the gap.

Small reactor, big energy

A popular option amongst energy researchers today is the Small Modular Reactor (SMR). These portable, self-contained reactor buildings are designed to be mass produced so they can be plugged into a power facility to generate electricity. Once used up, they would be returned to the manufacturer or moved into deep storage. SMR technology has made great progress in the last year and researchers hope to have a working model online in the next 5 years.

Hydrogen fuel

Nuclear power stations can also generate the temperatures required for the production of hydrogen fuel. The market for hydrogen has been growing steadily and is likely to maintain this trajectory in years to come. While not as energy dense as most fuels, hydrogen is more efficient than current battery technology and could greatly benefit the growing electric car market.

Where does EIC come in?

EIC are passionate about cutting edge technology. We regularly explore all the latest advancements and choose the best options for our clients. While fusion power may not be an immediate solution, the future for clean energy looks bright.

At EIC, we can help you manage your energy needs and ensure you meet your emissions targets. Our bespoke services can transform your energy strategy and integrate sustainability into the foundation of your organisation.

From procurement to onsite generation, we can help you find the most efficient and cost effective green energy solutions for your business. To learn more about working towards a clean, efficient energy future, contact us at EIC.

Triad demand rises despite winter lockdown

National Grid have published the three Triad dates for the 2020/21 season, which are listed in the table below. For a ninth consecutive year EIC has successfully called an alert on each of these days.

EIC hit all three Triads with only 14 Red alerts issued.

There was an increase in the number of Triad calls this year with 24 alerts issued in total. This compares favourably with other suppliers who called an average of 30 alerts across the Triad period.

triad dates

Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of 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. If consumers are able to respond to Triad alerts by reducing demand then they will be able to lower their final transmission costs.

First increase in peak demand for 6 years

This winter saw the first increase in peak demand since 2014/15 and the largest year-on-year increase since 2007/08. There are a number of factors which contributed to this including lower temperatures, a reduction in demand-side response and an increase in domestic consumption. While peak demand increased from last winter, average demand decreased by around 2%.

The rise in coronavirus cases at the start of the winter led to the Government imposing further lockdown measures. This led to a reduction in the number of businesses reacting to Triad calls and reducing demand at peak times. Our analysis has suggested there was up to 1GW less demand-side response than the previous winter. The lockdown also signalled a return to home schooling and working from home which subsequently increased domestic consumption. This increase was mainly driven by lighting and heating which are typically less efficient in homes than in schools and businesses.

The trendline below shows that weekday peak demand over the Triad period increased by an average of 0.5GW for every 1°C decrease in average temperature. Some of the variation in the graph can be explained by the two national lockdowns that were in place over most of the Triad period. Our analysis of the temperature-corrected data has shown that peak demand increased by around 4-5% once lockdown conditions were lifted in December. This coincided with a drop in temperatures leading to the first Triad on 7th December.

temperature vs demand graph

Cold January leads to increase in demand

The Triad season started with long periods of mild weather during November and most of December. Temperatures fell after Christmas which led to the coldest January since 2010 and the second coldest in the past 24 years. This is in stark contrast to January 2020 which was the second mildest in the past 30 years. Across the Triad season eight weekdays had an average temperature below zero, all of these occurring after Christmas. This compares to none the previous winter and only two for the 2018/19 winter.

The graph below shows that the first Triad fell on the only day before Christmas with an average temperature below 2°C, while the second and third Triads occurred during longer cold spells during the start of January and February. Wind generation continued to have an impact on peak demand as embedded generation is not connected to the grid and is instead seen as a drop in demand. All three Triads occurred on days when wind generation was less than 5GW as the drop in demand from embedded wind generation was reduced.

temperature energy price graph

TCR Final Decision

In December 2019 Ofgem published their final decision on the Targeted Charging Review (TCR), although the implementation date has since been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main outcome of this decision is that from April 2022 the residual part of transmission and distribution charges will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses. This means that there is one final chance for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance over the 2021/22 winter period.

The TCR aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem considers is fair to all consumers and not just those able to reduce consumption during peak periods. For the majority of consumers these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action it is likely that their future costs will rise.

Impact on Consumers

The graph below shows the average % change in DUoS and TNUoS costs across each region and meter type as a result of the TCR. Our analysis has found that most half-hourly (HH) sites will benefit from a fall in costs, however most domestic and non-half hourly (NHH) sites will see a small rise in costs. Southern areas will typically benefit from a larger decrease in costs than northern areas.

Consumers currently taking Triad avoidance action are likely to face an increase in TNUoS costs from Apr-22 as the effect of Triad avoidance is removed. Likewise, sites that have a capacity level set too high will also not benefit from the same level of cost reductions shown below as they are potentially placed in a higher charging band.

TCR graph

How EIC can help

With the confirmation that from April 2022 residual charges will be calculated using a capacity based methodology, now is the perfect time to undertake a capacity review on all of your HH sites. EIC’s Capacity Review service is a fully managed end to end offering. We undertake detailed analysis for each of your sites, outline potential savings and offer clear advice on what action you should take. If we find that your capacity can be reduced by more than 50% it may also be possible to apply for a charging band reallocation which could significantly cut your future DUoS and TNUoS charges.

EIC can also help you accurately budget and forecast your energy prices with confidence with our Long-Term Forecast Report. Our team of specialists work hard identifying trends, examining historical figures and forecasting for the future. The Long-Term Forecast Report is a valuable tool which illustrates the annual projected increases to your energy bills and calculates your energy spend over the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. This allows you to confidently forward budget and avoid any nasty surprises. Whilst we can’t prevent the rise of non-commodity charges, we can ensure you are fully prepared for the increases.

What the new Industrial Strategy means for big energy users

On March 17 2021, the UK government announced their plans for a new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy. In efforts to reach net zero by 2050, more than £1 billion has been channelled into industry, schools and hospitals. The strategy’s blueprint plans to switch 20 Terawatt hours of the UK’s energy from fossil fuels to low carbon alternatives.

The world’s industry sector generates one quarter of global GDP every year, as well as a significant percentage of jobs. However, industry also makes up a staggering 24% of global energy related carbon emissions. It is for this reason that the decarbonisation strategy is vital in championing a sustainable industrial future.

The strategy aims to cut two-thirds of emissions by 2050, meaning a 90% cut in comparison to 2018 levels. In addition, three megatons of CO2 are expected to be captured from industry by 2030. If this is achieved, the UK would become an international leader in industrial decarbonisation and manufacturing of low carbon products. But what does this mean for big energy users?

How will the decarbonisation strategy impact big energy users?

Carbon pricing

A carbon pricing tool will be introduced that helps assist businesses take account of their emissions by providing them with investment decisions. These measuring tools could potentially save businesses £2 billion in annual costs.

This project will ensure that businesses are maintaining the correct policy framework in switching to low carbon products. New product standards will also ensure that manufacturers are able to clearly identify their products as low carbon.

Financial benefits

It is imperative that this green revolution comes with economic benefits. Through greater energy efficiency, it is predicted that businesses will be provided with commercial opportunities and the chance to save on costs. These opportunities will be available across not only the UK, but global market.

Transforming industrial processes to include low carbon technology will benefit businesses tenfold. Significant costs will be saved on raw materials following a push for more sustainable practices, such as 3D printing and AI. Following the economic downturn created by Covid-19, finding a green recovery for the economy is vital.

Green links

The revamped decarbonisation strategy is heavily linked to the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, in which nine green tech projects will receive a cut of a £171 million grant. Announced last year as a £139 million project, the budget was further raised once the winner’s projects were announced. This challenge was created to support low carbon innovations across nine regions in the UK including Scotland, South Wales, Humber and Teesside.

As part of the Public Sector Decarbonation Scheme, £932 million has already been granted to 429 projects across England. This will fund low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and, solar roof installations.

The strategy has also seen the emergence of the Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce, otherwise known as ‘Project Speed’. The taskforce will ensure that land planning is fit for low carbon infrastructure. This project will focus on delivering infrastructure that is quick, efficient and sustainable. It could also generate over 80,000 green jobs.

How can EIC help?

At EIC, we provide businesses with comprehensive energy management, as well as next generation energy technology. Our in-house services range from green energy procurement to onsite solar instalment and battery storage.

On the journey towards net zero carbon emissions, it is imperative that the economy has a sustainable Covid-19 recovery. By championing both efficiency and self-sufficiency, EIC are dedicated to finding the most suitable and sustainable solutions for your business. Get in touch to learn more about how EIC can help your business work towards a profitable and environmentally friendly future.