Weekly Energy Market Update for 29 July 2019

Gas

Balance of Summer gas prices continue to move lower. The September gas contract has moved to new lows in anticipation of low demand for the remainder of the summer. August gas prices fell 3% across the week but are finding support from expectations of heavy maintenance, which will reduce North Sea production next month. Weakness at the front of the curve reflected healthy supplies and low energy demand levels.

The UK experienced its hottest ever July day, but the extreme heat made little extra impact on gas demand. Overall gas consumption remained at its summer lows with weak domestic consumption and excess gas being injected into already very healthy gas storage sites.

UK gas storage stocks rose 15% last week, while total European gas reserves are fuller than ever before. This will reduce injection demand for the rest of the summer and limit the ability of storage to absorb excess production. This would risk further oversupply, pushing prices to lows that will encourage producers to reduce output, as the demand will not be there. Winter 19 prices followed the summer market lower but the rest of the curve saw little change.

Contracts from Summer 20 onwards spent the last week stabilising in the middle of their July range. The strong gains seen in the first half of July have been partly reversed after costs fell heavily early last week. Prices retreated after reaching levels that would have attracted spot LNG cargoes to Europe, an additional supply source that is not required. Any further losses on the curve are being capped by the continued strength in the carbon market. Carbon costs are holding around €29/tCO2e, close to all-time highs.

Gas Graph

Power

Power prices moved lower last week, in line with the weaker gas contracts. However, price movement was more gradual. Seasonal contracts remain above their early July lows, following the strong rally seen in the first half of the month. While prices have dropped back from their mid-month highs, the market remains elevated, supported by the continued strength in the carbon market and higher coal prices. The cost of carbon allowances remains close to record highs at €30/tCO2e, having risen nearly €25 over the last two years.

Peak electricity demand rose marginally last week, supported by low wind and demand for cooling as the UK experienced its hottest ever July day. However, demand levels only peaked around 34GW, within the summer range, heavily limited by the UK’s lack of air-conditioning infrastructure. Peak consumption is forecast to drop to new lows of 32GW this week. Gas dominates the fuel mix but the impact is muted by the low summer demand levels.

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Future Energy Scenarios

Future Energy Scenarios

The National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator) has published its yearly Future Energy Scenarios (FES) report detailing four separate pathways that cover the future of energy to 2050 and beyond.

The ESO has taken onboard changes in policy, combined with technological progress and market forces, to create a range of credible scenarios. The scenarios have been modelled to reflect varying levels of decentralisation and the speed of decarbonisation.

The Pathways

Community Renewables (CE) – In this scenario there is a large focus on local energy schemes, boosting individual consumer engagement. Improved energy efficiency is a priority. Strong policy support promotes innovation and the transition towards renewables.

Consumer Evolution (CR) – This scenario sees a shift towards local generation and increased consumer engagement, like Community Renewables. However, a lack of strong policy direction means that progress is slow.

Two Degrees (TD) – Large-scale solutions are developed and consumers are provided with alternative heat and transport options. Priorities include increasing renewable capacity, improving energy efficiency and accelerating new technologies.

Steady Progression (SP) – This scenario evaluates the pace of the low-carbon transition at a rate comparable to today, slowing towards 2050.

Work on the FES 2019 document predates the UK government’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, the scenarios follow the original Climate Change Act 2008 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

Of the scenarios, Community Renewables and Two Degrees meet the 80% target with common themes of strong policy support and high consumer engagement. One of the main drivers in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions to date has been environmental legislation.

Is Net Zero likely?

The ESO included a Net Zero spotlight in the FES 2019 publication to reflect the recent Net Zero publication by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

Analysis in the FES 2019 report aligns with the Net Zero publication by the CCC. This states that reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, but only through immediate action across all key technology and policy areas.

In this scenario, the ESO highlight that electrification of the industrial and commercial sectors is vital in reducing emissions. Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technologies also have an essential role to play.

At the 2019 Future Energy Scenarios Conference the new target was acknowledged and will likely be taken into account for the pathways modelling in FES 2020.

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Long-Term Forecast Report

Our team of specialists work hard identifying trends, examining historical figures and forecasting for the future. Their expertise has enabled us to produce the Long-Term Forecast Report. A valuable tool which illustrates the annual projected increases to your energy bills and calculates your energy spend  allowing you to confidently forward budget and avoid any nasty surprises.

An Insight into Gas Storage

Gas storage in the UK and on the Continent are both continuing to fill up fast and are much higher than normal levels for the time of year. With so little of the injection season having passed, for storage to be at these record high levels could pose problems later in the summer, when assets are even fuller and demand even lower.

UK

Medium Range Storage in the UK is 66% full, with considerably more gas in store for this time of year than at any point in the last six years.

The high inventories are partially boosted by Interconnector (IUK) maintenance happening in April as opposed to June. However this schedule change was to coincide with a time when the conduit was typically less active. With just 5TWh of working gas capacity left to fill, IUK exports will be key in using up any excess supply.

In September 2016, storage was at almost full capacity and the IUK was flowing at its maximum level. This pushed prompt prices as low as 20.6p/th. However, this situation is less likely now as the BBL pipeline, which currently only flows from the Netherlands, is undergoing maintenance to enable reverse flows (UK to the Continent). This will open up a route for a further 40 MCM/d of gas to flow away from the UK.

Europe

European storage reserves are 100 times bigger than the UK with a working gas capacity of 1087 TWh. This is currently 62% full. Having entered the injection season at the highest levels on record due to the additional LNG coming to Europe, injections have actually begun the season fairly strongly. Additions to gas storage are only marginally below last year’s levels when the injection season began with inventories at record low levels.

Injections across Europe through summer 2018 run at, on average, 3.3 TWh/d. However in June, July and August this moved to 4.0 TWh/d. If we run at that rate of injections this summer, then storage will be full by the middle of September.

However, as assets fill, due to increased pressure within the facility the rate of injection slows. At this rate, European assets will be 90% full by late August. Assuming the injection rate then halves, Europe will have to accommodate, or see a supply reduction, of 1TWh of gas per day throughout September, that would typically go into storage. This is over half of the UK’s total demand on a summer day.

This scenario is likely to tip the supply demand balance and could put very strong pressure on gas and power prices later this summer.

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Government to make further adjustments to Capacity Market

Following a consultation in March on additional measures to keep the Capacity Market (CM) running smoothly during the current standstill period, the government has published a decision detailing planned legislative changes.

The government maintains that the CM scheme is still the right mechanism to provide security to electricity supplies at the least cost. In order to continue this, the government intends to:

  • Replace the planned T-4 auction with a T-3 auction for delivery in 2022/23.
  • Allow certain renewable technologies to participate.
  • Remove the historical floor from the interconnector de-rating methodology.
  • Make minor corrections and additions to the CM Rules to ensure they are clear and operate as intended.

When implemented, these rules will see renewable technologies allowed to bid for contracts for the first time under the Capacity Market, having previously failed to qualify due to funding through subsidies. Renewable generators that do not receive support via the Contract for Difference, Renewables Obligation or Feed-in Tariff schemes will be allowed to participate.

The rearranged date for the delayed 2018 T-1 Capacity Market Auction is scheduled to go ahead on 11-12 June 2019 for delivery in the 2019/20 year.

The current state of the Capacity Market

The CM scheme is currently under suspension, following a ruling on 15 November 2018 by the European Court of Justice that its design was biased against small, clean energy and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for State Aid approval. Under EU State Aid rules, it is required that member states need to consider alternative options to meeting power demand, before subsidising fossil fuel generation.

The Court’s decision means that payments made under the CM scheme will be frozen until the UK Government can obtain permission from the European Commission to continue in an official capacity.

The European Commission has to undertake a formal investigation of the CM to clear it. If successful, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have said that auction results to date will still stand and that payments are legal.

In the meantime, BEIS has asked the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) to keep the Capacity Market scheme running, short of making payments. BEIS has said that if those with contracts deliver their obligations, they may then be eligible for deferred payments if the market is reinstated.

BEIS expects a decision by the Commission to be made by early next year.

How the closure may affect you

In the short-term the Capacity Market charge will still be levied on customer’s bills, currently accounting for 0.3p/kWh, approximately 2.5% of a bill. This means that consumers will likely see little immediate change.

However, the ongoing suspension could mean a halt to the charge. An unsuccessful investigation by the European Commission could potentially see UK consumers receive a refund for previous CM charges paid through their electricity bills. This could be partially offset by a resultant hike in wholesale energy prices as guarantees of supply from larger operators are no longer certain.

Smaller operators in the scheme may be faced with a dilemma as missed capacity payments could result in cash flow issues. However, a closure to the Capacity Market could see the early shutdown of some coal plants, raising market power prices, and providing opportunity to these smaller operators.

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UK LNG terminals filling up fast

With 16 tankers now booked for May, this month has already marked more LNG coming to the UK in 2019 than the whole of last year. With that, capacity at the terminals is dwindling. Across the three terminals – South Hook, Dragon and Isle of Grain – there is enough capacity to store 1.25BCM of gas, a similar amount to all the UK’s Medium Range gas storage. However, despite the strongest average daily sendout since 2011, storage at the three terminals is rapidly filling and there is limited scope for demand to increase to absorb further LNG on to the grid.

The gas market remains well supplied with demand continuing to edge lower. The plentiful supply is largely thanks to LNG which in recent weeks has been making up an increasing share of UK supply to over 30%. Average daily sendout for the last month has been the highest since 2011.

Of the 16 tankers that are booked so far this month 12 have gone to South Hook which has enabled the terminal to send out at over 50MCM/d. Of these tankers seven have been Q-Flex carrying around 126MCM of gas and five have been Q-Max carrying 155MCM. With sendout at 50MCM/d it is getting through a Q-Flex every two days, and a Q-Max every three. This means stock at the terminal has grown from 35% full at the end of April, and is expected to be over 90% full at the end of this week, with three tankers set to arrive in the next six days.

 

Sendout, other than boil off, from the other two terminals has largely stopped since 14 May. With Dragon 64% full, and having only a third of the capacity it will have to increase flows in order to accommodate a tanker. Following the arrival of the Ougarta, from Algeria, into the Isle of Grain this week the terminal is going to be over 90% full and therefore will have no room for further cargoes without increasing withdrawals.

 

Therefore, if the UK is going to receive similar amounts of LNG in the near future sendout is going to have to increase. How much potential demand there is to absorb this gas is limited, with the interconnector running at booked capacity and storage already 50% full. The potential for further and prolonged oversupply in the gas system could lead to more declines in short-term energy prices. The front-month gas contract has already dropped to its lowest level in three years at 30p/th.

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Record Breaking Solar Generation

A week of clear skies and warm temperatures has seen the UK break its all-time record for solar PV generation twice in as many days.

National Grid reported a new all-time peak for solar generation on Monday 13 May at 9.47GW. This surpassed the previous record which had held for two years, when supply hit 9.38GW in May 2017.

 

 

This record was then broken again the following day, when output peaked at 9.55GW on Tuesday 14 May. On that day, at its peak, solar generation was producing 27% of UK electricity.

Peak solar generation has averaged 8.7GW since Saturday as temperatures climbed over the weekend and weather conditions turned significantly brighter. The previous week when conditions were far cloudier, generation peaked at less than 5GW on average.

 

Growth in Solar Capacity

The new record for solar generation has come despite minimal growth in installed solar capacity in recent years. Total installed solar capacity has risen by just 0.5GW since April 2017, following the closure of the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme. Total capacity is currently 13GW, having grown nearly 10GW in the three years from 2014 to 2017.

 

Impact on Demand

Solar output has a narrower window of generation than other fuel sources. High levels of solar generation during daylight hours are more impactful on reducing system demand, both the overall daily peak and the afternoon low. Solar generation raises the volume of embedded electricity, in which homes and businesses are generating their own supply via solar panels. Embedded generation removes the demand for that electricity from the transmission network. The higher the availability of embedded generation the lower the system demand. This is why the transmission network sees a sizable reduction in consumption across the middle part of the day, when solar output is at its strongest.

During the record solar generation on Tuesday, demand on the transmission network saw a drop of more than 6GW from the early morning high. Consumption dropped to just 25GW before climbing again for the post-work peak.

 

 

Peak electricity demand on the network is at record lows and is forecast to fall even further as the summer season progresses. 2019 as a whole has seen peak consumption trend lower than previous years, reflecting the greater efficiencies and renewable availability on offer. In the last week of May, a half-term school holiday, electricity demand is forecast to peak at just 31GW, an all-time low.

 

 

A Benefit to All Customers

In addition to the environmental advantages of renewable generation, distributed solar provides many benefits to the grid and by extension to all electricity consumers. Reduced demand on the system improves grid security and the often onsite nature of solar generation leads to less losses in electricity.

The demand reductions caused by higher levels of distributed solar generation, mean that less fuel is being used to power the electricity network. As demand falls wholesale prices fall,  the less efficient gas plants are no longer required so overall cost of generation is lower. These dips in demand means that hourly prices for the early afternoon are now on at similar levels to the prices normally recorded in the middle of the night. As more solar reduces prices in the daylight hours the cumulative effect of all the additional generation is to bring prices lower.

The government is currently analysing feedback on the proposal for a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), designed to replace the now-closed Feed-in Tariff. This scheme would legislate for suppliers to provide tariffs to pay small-scale low-carbon generators, such as solar panel owners, for the electricity they export to the grid. Some suppliers have already begun to offer tariffs, based on the same concept, to incentivise the export of solar power to the grid.

 

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UK holds record storage levels

UK medium-range storage stocks are at record highs for the time of year with reserves more than 50% full just over a month into the summer season. A combination of low gas demand during Q1 2019 and the record levels of LNG imports that have reached the UK since October left the UK oversupplied. Medium-range storage stocks reached full capacity by the end of November 2018 and remained at record highs through December and January before operators began a spell of heavy withdrawals, seeking re-injections during the summer season when prices were expected to be even lower.

Since 1 April excess gas was exported to Continental Europe over the Interconnector. However, annual maintenance on the UK-Belgium gas interconnector halted the availability for the UK to export gas to the Continent. Britain had previously acted as transit nation for Norwegian supplies passing to Europe. While exports were unavailable LNG imports continued at a record pace. Twenty LNG tankers arrived in April delivering the most LNG in one month since 2011.

With demand limited – particularly during the very hot Easter holiday weekend, oversupply in the gas system forced flows into storage.

During the Interconnector’s ten day shutdown injections into storage averaged over 400GWh per day. Stocks more than doubled from 3.2TWh to 7.8TWh. The average level of storage for this time of year is just 3.8TWh and the previous highest level was just under 5TWh in 2016/17. Current reserve levels are 107% above average for the time of year.

With the loss of the Rough storage facility, the UK has limited storage capacity, with around 15TWh of medium-range sites. These offer a faster injection and withdrawal process, but lack the scale of the Rough facility which operated on a seasonal basis. Total European gas storage reserves are also at very high levels. LNG imports flooded North West Europe during Winter 2018/19 and the Continent enjoyed a similarly mild Q1 2019. Total European reserves are broadly tracking the previous strongest year for storage in 2013/14. Before the end of April, total gas stocks in Europe were over 50% full with 500TWh of gas in reserve.

The healthy short-term fundamentals have driven Balance of Summer gas contracts back towards the levels from early April, with the front-month contract at lows not seen since August 2017. With storage stocks fuller than ever before at this stage of the summer, there will be limited availability for injections later in the season. This will limit demand and could lead to further price falls over the summer, unless LNG imports or Norwegian production turns down significantly.

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Task Force publish initial findings on BSUoS

In collaboration with the ESO (Electricity System Operator), Ofgem announced their decision to create a Balancing Services Charges Task Force in November 2018.

The main goal of the Task Force is to conduct investigation and analysis that can support decisions on the future direction of Balancing Services Use of System (BSUoS) charges. These charges recover the costs of ESO balancing actions that are necessary to handle the daily operation of the National Electricity Transmission System.

Whilst considering wider implications (i.e. Targeted Charging Review SCR, TNUoS, Electricity Network Access Project SCR, etc), the Task Force have delivered an initial Draft Report, providing three deliverables to assess whether Ofgem should attempt to improve cost-reflective signals through BSUoS, or whether BSUoS should be treated as a cost-recovery charge.

Deliverable 1 –
Does BSUoS currently provide a useful forward-looking signal?

Following assessment, the Task Force has found that BSUoS charge does not currently provide any useful forward-looking signal. This makes the charges hard to forecast, reducing the influence of the charge on user behaviour.

They believe reasons for this are that the current BSUoS charges are complex and becoming increasingly volatile. In addition, there are other market signals that are more noticeable to users, which then take priority. The Task Force also note that the charge is applied across the transmission basis equally.

Deliverable 2 –
Potential options for charging BSUoS differently, to be cost-reflective and provide a forward-looking signal

The Task Force assessed whether individual elements of BSUoS have the potential for being charged more cost-effectively and hence could provide a forward-looking signal. They identified four potential options:

  1. Locational Transmission Constraints
  2. Locational Reactive and Voltage Constraints
  3. Response and Reserve Bands
  4. Response and Reserve Utilisation

Deliverable 3 –
Feasibility of charging potentially cost reflective elements of BSUoS to provide a forward-looking signal

The Task Force assessed the feasibility of the four potential options from Deliverable 2. They concluded that whilst there are some theoretical advantages to all four potential options identified, the implementation of each would not or could not provide a cost-reflective and forward-looking signal to drive efficient and effective market behaviour.

An important constraint to consider is that BSUoS is based on total costs incurred by the ESO, which can see significant variation. The Task Force believes that an effective forward-looking signal should come from marginal costs, rather than the total costs, so that market parties face only the cost they impose on the system. Although they have determined that it is unclear how to accomplish this through BSUoS.

In addition to this, if a forward-looking BSUoS signal was to be developed the Task Force expects that this signal could end up being ineffective. Other signals already in place through the market and charging arrangements could lead to double-counting issues. This can create the risk of under or overestimation of charges, leading to market distorting signals.

Current Conclusion – Any change to customers?

The Task Force has so far concluded that it is not feasible to charge any of the BSUoS components in a more cost-reflective and forward-looking manner that would effectively influence behavior that would help the system and/or lower costs to customers. It is on this basis that the costs included with BSUoS should all be treated on a cost-recovery basis.

It is for Ofgem to decide, but the Task Force recommends that cost-recovery charges should aim to minimise market distorting signals, to benefit both the system and customers. They note that the current construction of BSUoS may inadvertently be sending signals that are detrimental to the system, but the structure of the charge is out of the scope of the Task Force.

The Draft Report has been framed as a consultation with a response date of 17 May 2019. Feedback received during this period will be considered in the final version of the report, expected to be published 31 May 2019, and submitted to Ofgem.

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Energy Policy Dates for 2019

As we look ahead to 2019, we’ve outlined key energy industry changes and dates to take action by.

EU ETS – Market Stability Reserve (MSR)

1 January – MSR Implementation

The European Commission is introducing a solution to the oversupply of allowances in the carbon market, which will take effect in January.

EU carbon allowances, or European Allowances (EUAs) serve as the unit of compliance under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). In response to a build-up of these allowances, following the 2008 global financial crisis, the European Commission has introduced a long-term solution known as the Market Stability Reserve (MSR). With Brexit looming, there’s uncertainty as to whether these changes will affect the UK.

 

Energy Price Cap

1 January – Price Cap implementation

Price protection for 11 million customers on poor value default tariffs will come into force on 1 January 2019. Ofgem has set the final level of the price cap at £1,136 per year for a typical dual fuel customer paying by direct debit.

When the price cap comes into force suppliers will have to cut the price of their default tariffs, including standard variable tariffs, to the level of or below the cap, forcing them to scrap excess charges. The cap will save customers who use a typical amount of gas and electricity around £76 per year on average, with customers on the most expensive tariffs saving about £120. In total, it is estimated that the price cap will save consumers in Great Britain around £1 billion. Read more here.

 

Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review (TCR) – the end of Triad season?

4 February – Consultation conclusion

Ofgem has launched a consultation, due to conclude on 4 February 2019, into how the costs of transporting electricity to homes, public organisations, and businesses are recovered. Proposed changes could remove the incentive for Triad avoidance.

Costs for transporting electricity are currently recouped through two types of charges:

  • Forward-looking charges, which send signals to how costs will change with network usage
  • Residual charges, which recover the remainder of the costs

In order to ensure that these costs are shared fairly amongst all users of the electricity network, Ofgem are undertaking a review of the residual network charges, as well as some of the remaining Embedded Benefits, through the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). Ofgem are exploring the removal of the Embedded Benefit relating to charging suppliers for balancing services on the basis of gross demand at the relevant grid supply point. This is important as it would eliminate the incentive of Triad avoidance.

 

Brexit

29 March – Scheduled date to leave the EU

Whilst not a specific energy policy announcement, the UK’s departure from the EU is a significant event that has raised a lot of questions concerning UK energy security.

We put together a Q&A on how Brexit may impact the UK energy industry and climate change targets. Read more here.

 

Closure of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme

31 March – Scheme Closes

The Government has confirmed plans to remove the export tariff for solar power, which currently provides owners of solar PV panels revenue for excess energy that they generate. This will coincide with the closure of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme.

The FiT scheme was introduced in April 2010 in order to incentivise the development of small scale renewable generation from decentralised energy solutions such as solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, hydro, anaerobic digestion and micro Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Generators were paid a fixed rate determined by the Government, which varied by technology and scale.

The scheme will close in full to new applications from 31 March 2019, subject to the time-limited extensions and grace period.

 

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)

1 April – SECR implementation

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) is on the way, due to come in to effect from 1 April 2019. The introduction of this new carbon compliance scheme aims to reduce some of the administrative burden of overlapping schemes and improve the visibility of energy and carbon emissions when the CRC scheme ends.

EIC can help you achieve compliance. Read more about SECR in our blog, or visit our website.

 

UK Capacity Market

Early 2019

The UK Capacity Market is currently undergoing a temporary suspension, issued by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), on the back of a legal challenge that the auction was biased towards fossil fuel generators.

The ECJ’s decision means that payments made under the Capacity Market (CM) scheme will be frozen until the UK Government can obtain permission from the European Commission to continue. In addition, the UK will not be allowed to conduct any further CM auctions for energy firms to bid on new contracts.

The UK government has since iterated that it hopes to start the Capacity Market as soon as possible and intends to run a T-1 top-up auction next summer, for delivery in winter. This is dependent on the success of a formal investigation to be undertaken by the European Commission early in the New Year.

 

Spring Statement and Autumn Budget

The UK Government’s biannual financial updates are always worth looking out for.

The Spring Statement will be delivered in March and the more substantial Autumn Budget is scheduled for October. The 2018 budget had a very heavy focus on Brexit, with very little to say concerning energy policy. It is likely this will be the case for the Spring Statement and potentially going forward.

 

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

5 December – ESOS Phase 2 compliance deadline

ESOS provides a real chance to improve the energy efficiency of your business, on a continual basis, to make significant cost savings.

In Phase 1 of ESOS we identified 2,829 individual energy efficiency opportunities, equivalent to 461GWh or £43.9m of annual savings across 1,148 individual audits. Our team also helped over 300 ESOS Phase 1 clients avoid combined maximum penalties of over £48million.

With EIC you can achieve timely compliance and make the most of any recommendations identified in your ESOS report.

To find out how we can help, contact us on 01527 511 757, email esos@eic.co.uk, or visit our website.

 

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EU temporarily suspend UK carbon permit processes

EU temporarily suspend UK carbon permit processes

The European Commission has implemented a “no-deal” Contingency Action Plan across specific sectors to help mitigate the continued uncertainty in the UK surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The main talking point, regarding energy policy, is the Commission’s plans for the UK’s access to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

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

How this affects the EU ETS in the UK

The Commission has adopted a number of actions in the area of EU climate legislation to “ensure that a “no-deal” scenario does not affect the smooth functioning and the environmental integrity of the Emissions Trading System.”

This involves a decision to temporarily suspend the free allocation of emissions allowances, auctioning, and the exchange of international credits for the UK effective from 1 January 2019.

The Commission has also elected to allow an appropriate annual quota allocation to UK companies for accessing the EU27 market, until 31 December 2020. This will be supplemented through regulation to ensure that the reporting by companies differentiates between the EU market and the UK market to allow a correct allocation of quotas in the future.

The full Contingency Action Plan can be read here.

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Will Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review bring an end to Triads?

Ofgem has launched a consultation into how the costs of transporting electricity to homes, public organisations, and businesses are recovered. Proposed changes could remove the incentive for Triad avoidance.

Costs for transporting electricity are currently recouped through two types of charges:

  • Forward-looking charges, which send signals to how costs will change with network usage
  • Residual charges, which recover the remainder of the costs

In order to ensure that these costs are shared fairly amongst all users of the electricity network, Ofgem are undertaking a review of the residual network charges, as well as some of the remaining Embedded Benefits, through the Targeted Charging Review (TCR).

 

Proposed options for residual charges

On setting transmission and distribution residual charges, Ofgem has conducted an analysis of different approaches, leading them to two primary options that they are consulting on, the first of which is a ‘Fixed Charge’. This is highlighted as Ofgem’s preferred option, in which charges would be set for individuals in customer segments, with these segments being based on an existing industry approach.

The second option is an ‘Agreed Capacity Charge’. This would see a charge calculated directly for larger users who have a specific agreed capacity. Capacity for smaller households and businesses would be based upon assumed levels.

Ofgem’s assessment is that a reform of residual charges would result in potential net system benefits up to 2040 between £0.8bn and £3.2bn, with benefits to consumers as a whole in the range of £0.5bn to £1.6bn. In addition to this, Ofgem assess that the proposed changes would save around £2 a year for households in the longer term.

Either scenario would see a fixed rate for Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges. However, under the Agreed Capacity Charge option, as charges would be based on capacity, there would potentially be some room to reduce contribution to the residual charges.

 

Changes to Embedded Benefits

There are a some notable points within the TCR regarding Embedded Benefits; notably, Ofgem are consulting on setting the Transmission Generation Residual to zero, subject to maintaining compliance with the current cap on overall transmission charges to generators. This will remove a benefit to larger generators that receive a credit from these charges at present.

Another key point is that Ofgem are exploring the removal of the Embedded Benefit relating to charging suppliers for balancing services on the basis of gross demand at the relevant grid supply point. This is important as it would eliminate the incentive of Triad avoidance. Currently, National Grid identifies three Triads each year in order to calculate the TNUoS charges an organisation will incur. Such transmission costs can be reduced if demand is decreased when a Triad Alert is called (a warning that demand will be high that day). Find out more about what Triads are and how you can avoid them here.

For both of these points, Ofgem believes that whilst these benefits reduce costs for individual companies or consumers, they don’t reduce the total network costs that users need to fund collectively. This can lead to greater costs for other users and, if not addressed, Ofgem say this will lead to less efficient outcomes that are not in the best interests of consumers as a whole.

 

BSUoS changes

The Review outlines a proposal for Ofgem to set up a Balancing Services Use of System (BSUoS) task force. The task force would be responsible for considering how cost-reflective and effective the current charges within BSUoS are. From this, they would evaluate the potential to provide a better system in the future, looking to make it more cost-effective. This would come with the responsibility of assessing how feasible any improvements to BSUoS charges are.

Ofgem are deliberating between two reform options; a partial or a full reform of BSUoS. A partial reform would see a reduction in suppliers’ contributions to BSUoS charges, while a full reform would see the removal of BSUoS payments, and require smaller embedded generators to pay BSUoS charges.

Under the current system, suppliers are charged BSUoS based on net demand. A bill is calculated on gross demand and then any embedded generation reduces this cost to the supplier, which is recouped from consumers via a separate non-commodity cost (NCC) charge. Under the proposed full reform, embedded generators would be considered the same as transmission connected generators, leading them to be charged for BSUoS with no savings.

 

The impact to Triads

Triads are currently evaluated based on average demand during the three highest half-hourly peaks of electricity use between November and February. These periods can be forecast, allowing network users who employ Triad avoidance to reduce their electricity consumption in anticipation, for example by instead using on-site generation, Demand Side Response (DSR), or storage. Ofgem argue that whilst this reduces their own costs, the total network cost doesn’t change, meaning that those unable to employ the same avoidance methods pay a larger cost.

Under the proposals by Ofgem, charges will remain roughly the same to users where no Triad management is in place. However, it is expected that large increases will occur for those who use Triad avoidance to reduce the impact.

The new system would see single fixed charges applied based on voltage level. Ofgem believe this will result in reductions in charges for larger SMEs, whilst SMEs at the lower end of consumption will see moderate increases. Importantly, users with on-site generation will pay the same charge as those without, in contrast to the current arrangements.

The Triad period this winter will be unaffected, as will winter 2019 going by Ofgem’s timetable. However, this will have a significant impact on how businesses may seek to recover operating costs in the future. No replacement could see a lack of incentive for DSR, resulting in adverse constraints on the market.

 

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Targets for 2019/20 Renewables Obligation published

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published the Renewables Obligation (RO) for 2019/20, which will bring an estimated cost increase to consumers of £2.21/MWh.

The Renewables Obligation is the main financial mechanism by which the Government incentivises the building of large-scale renewable electricity generation. Ofgem issues Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to generators in relation to the amount of eligible renewable electricity they produce.

Generators sell these ROCs to suppliers or traders, which allows them to earn a premium in addition to the wholesale electricity price received for the electricity generated.

BEIS has outlined that electricity suppliers will need to produce 0.484 ROCs per MWh during this financial year across England, Scotland, and Wales.

This marks an increase of 3.4% from the 2018/19 Obligation, which was 0.468 ROCs per MWh. The new targets translate to an increase in the cost to consumers of an estimated £2.21/MWh from current levels.

 

Exemption for Energy Intensive Industries

BEIS established an exemption for Energy Intensive Industries (EIIs) from up to 85% of the indirect costs of the RO in 2017. This was implemented in England and Wales, then subsequently by the Scottish Government, meaning that under current arrangements there is a single obligation level for Great Britain.

The exemption means that the obligation level applies to:

  • 100% of electricity supplied to non-EIIs
  • 15% or more of the electricity supplied to EIIs

 

ROCs for biomass

New to the Renewables Obligation Order is the introduction of annual flexible caps on the number of ROCs that certain RO-eligible biomass co-firing and conversion units can receive.

The new regulation will define two types of generating stations – ‘capped’ and ‘mixed’ – to which the flexible cap mechanisms will apply. These stations will be subject to a different amount of ROCs that can be assigned.

Capped generating stations comprise only of non-grandfathered ‘capped’ units, whilst mixed generating stations comprise of these and also grandfathered ‘exempt’ units. A grandfathered unit is one that has a policy commitment to receive no less support under the RO than they have received historically. The cut-off date for grandfather biomass units was 12 December 2014. Any units that generated at the biomass conversion band after this date are not grandfathered.

At capped stations, there is a limit on the number of ROCs that the station can be issued in an Obligation year, equal to 125,000 ROCs for each unit at the station.

At mixed stations, an overall cap will be calculated by adding an allowance of 125,000 ROCS for each of the stations’ capped units to an estimate of the number of ROCS likely to be issued for generation at the exempt units during the Obligation year.

Currently, only Drax Power Station in Selby meets the BEIS definition of a mixed generating station for 2018/19.

 

How EIC can help

Our Market Intelligence team work hard to demystify the energy markets for clients. When these changes come into effect, we can ensure the accuracy of your energy bills by checking your invoices on an ongoing basis.

We can also provide actionable insights with our Long-term Price Forecast Reports which detail predicted rises for all commodity and non-commodity charges up to five years in advance.

To find out more, contact us on 01527 511 757 or email info@eic.co.uk. You can also download more information about the report here.