Although it’s usually a quiet month, August has been a busy one (already) for the energy sector. To start with, the UK Government has launched an independent review to look at ways of reducing electricity costs.
It's big news. The Independent says the inquiry will set out a 'long term road map' for the entire UK energy sector.
But it's the latest in a long line of Government efforts to achieve the lowest household and domestic energy costs in Europe, and at this stage it's unclear what it will do differently, and what steps might become actual policy.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:
“We want to ensure we continue to find the opportunities to keep energy costs as low as possible, while meeting our climate change targets, as part of the industrial strategy.”
Professor Dieter Helm will lead the review. He has previously advocated carbon taxes, but also criticised government intervention to reduce greenhouse gases.
Early indications are the review will make recommendations at the end of 2017. The news comes just days after British Gas said it would increase electricity prices by 12.5% for around 3 million customers, precisely the kind of behaviour the Government seems keen to limit.
Professor Helm has said: “Digitalisation, electric transport and smart and decentralised systems offer great opportunities. It is imperative to do all this efficiently, to minimise the burdens. Making people and companies pay excessively for policy and market inefficiencies risks undermining the objectives themselves.”
National Grid's web portal reports that momentum behind the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) is now clearer than ever, saying the UK Government’s announcement to stop all sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is the latest in a string of high-profile policy decisions in recent months.
In other move, car manufacturer Volvo will now produce only electric or hybrid vehicles from 2019. Meanwhile, BMW has announced that an electric version of the Mini will be built in the UK, with production starting in 2019.
National Grid calls the trends 'seismic,' when you consider that at present there are only around 100,000 electric vehicles in the UK, which compares with a total car fleet of 31 million.
Its data suggests that EVs will create an extra 18GW of demand by 2050, equivalent to an extra 30% on top of today’s peak demand.
Clearly EV charging is a topic close to our hearts and one we will be returning to in some detail in the coming months.
Both promise fundamental, systems level change on UK energy. A flexible grid, energy storage, demand side solutions and grid balancing, plus low carbon futures, all are mentioned.
In this time of unprecedented change for UK energy, such reports make essential reading (or you can read our own handy summary of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios report if you prefer a digested read.)
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