What impact will Brexit have on UK climate change targets?

The energy sector in the UK had already seen significant changes with the Energy Act 2011 and various proposals for reform of the electricity market. The potential impacts of Brexit on the UK and global economy could be far-reaching. However, the direct impact on the energy industry is likely to be more muted.

 

How will Brexit impact on the carbon market and the EU ETS?

The Government has published plans for the implementation of a UK carbon tax in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

Under a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the UK would be excluded from participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This would mean current participants in the EU ETS who are UK operators of installations will no longer take part in the system.

In this instance, the UK Government will initially meet its existing carbon pricing commitments through the tax system. A carbon price would be applied across the UK, with the inclusion of Northern Ireland, starting at £16/tCO2, marginally less than the current EU ETS price, maintaining the level of carbon pricing across the UK economy post-Brexit.

The tax would be applied to the industrial installations and power plants currently participating in the EU ETS from 1 April 2019.

The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has strongly recommended remaining in the EU ETS at least until the end of Phase III in 2020.

The UK’s 5th carbon budget, adopted in 2016, assumes continued participation in the EU ETS, and will need to be altered if the UK leaves the EU ETS.

 

Will Brexit affect the UK’s climate change targets?

The UK’s climate change targets are expected to continue unaffected by whatever Brexit deal is reached. The Climate Change Act 2008 established that such goals are undertaken on a national level.

However, there are several international issues in this area which will need to be settled. The UK’s emissions reduction target forms part of the EU target under the Paris Agreement and this will need to be withdrawn. The UK would also need to submit its own Nationally Determined Contribution under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) processes.

 

What about renewable energy?

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

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

As part of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, EU legislation will be initially transposed into UK law from 29 March 2019. For some elements of the EU law, the UK will need to reach an agreement with the EU in order to maintain the status quo.

 

Stay informed with EIC insights

For the latest news on the energy markets and industry updates, you can find us on Twitter.

Follow @EICinsights today.

The role of renewables this winter

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

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

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

 

average wind

 

What happens when there’s no wind?

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

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

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

 

How could this impact energy bills?

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

 

Renewable energy solutions with EIC

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

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

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

Is wind technology facing an uncertain future?

With a remaining budget of £557m (in 2012/13 prices) Utilitywise estimates that funding may not be able to cover all of the offshore wind projects currently in development, let alone provide support for any other technologies.

The next CfD auction is expected to focus heavily on offshore wind projects, with the Government eager to develop the country’s geographical advantage towards this technology. Offshore wind also faces less local opposition and environmental challenges than onshore wind. Onshore wind has been banned from entering the CfD auctions, although the next round will have an exception for projects within the Scottish Islands. This is due to the Government’s focus on what it defines as ‘less established’ technologies, and the application of onshore wind in this location fits their definition.

Growth in offshore wind across the UK is already set to accelerate from the current 6GW of capacity in operation. Just over 18GW of additional capacity is in various states of development, with 8GW of that already contracted with a CfD or FIDER subsidy agreement. A further 1.5GW is under construction (meaning the project has broken ground, so is likely to have secured funding arrangements).

All this leaves more than 8GW of offshore wind capacity up for grabs in the upcoming Capacity Market auction. However, if the clearing price in next year’s auction is similar to that in the previous auction – around £57/MWh – EIC calculations show the cost of subsidising all of this capacity would exceed the £557m budget within the next decade, when the new schemes come online.

 

What if the Strike Price falls?

Should the offshore wind Strike Price fall to £55/MWh, which some reports indicate the technology could still operate at, then the budget could support around 80% of the planned capacity by 2030.

However, if costs fell even further, and the Strike Price can be set at levels equivalent to current wholesale prices of £50/MWh at the time of agreements, then this could support all of the in development offshore projects and 40% of the planned onshore sites. In this case, projects would effectively be zero-cost with inflation the main factor providing uplift.

Currently, there is 8GW of onshore wind capacity in differing states of development, only 0.7GW of which has already secured a CfD contract (this was in earlier auctions when the technology was still allowed to take part). Around 6.5GW of the remaining capacity has yet to begin construction and would likely be seeking a subsidy contract of some kind.

 

How will this impact you?

Based on the funds currently provided to the new auctions, regardless of the Strike Price, consumers are expected to face an increase on their electricity bills of around £2.50 to £3/MWh per year by 2030.

The cost to consumers could rise further if the Government wanted to support onshore wind while still pushing for the bulk of planned offshore to be developed, and if Strike Prices were higher than those noted above. This would need a larger budget for CfD contracts and would lead to additional costs, which would then require even higher bills to ensure customers pay for the increased green energy capacity.

 

Long-term price forecasting from EIC

EIC can help you remain informed of price increases and help you budget for any impact these auctions may have on your costs. If you’re uncertain about how to budget effectively for your energy costs then we have a solution for you; access year-on-year price projections for the next five years with our Long-Term Price Forecast Report.

This report calculates future energy prices which include the ever-increasing green subsidies, network costs, and taxes.