UK Government energy stats show renewables provided almost 30% of electricity generation in 2017

he figures published in late July in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics confirm that 29.3% of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewables in 2017 – up from 24.5% in 2016. Half of this came from wind, which provided 14.8% of the UK’s power (8.6% from onshore wind and 6.2% from offshore) – up from 11% in 2016.

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The publication also confirms that the carbon intensity of the UK’s power supply has fallen to record low levels. On average, a kilowatt hour of electricity generated last year produced 225 grams of C02, down from 483g in 2012. This reduction has been driven by a huge reduction in the use of coal and the rapid growth of zero carbon renewables.

The contribution of onshore wind grew by 39% in 2017, while offshore wind grew by 27%. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which published the figures, said this was due to increases in capacity, greater load factors and higher wind speeds.

In 2017, Scottish renewable generation made up approximately 25% of total UK renewable generation and approximately 69% of Scotland’s electricity consumption came from renewables in 2017 – up 15% on the previous year.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Today’s record figures demonstrate how fast renewable energy is transforming the way we generate power to create an energy system fit for the future. This is a radical shift, and we will see ever more low-cost renewables meeting flexible demand from homes, electric vehicles and new manufacturing processes and industries.”

Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2017 key points

• In 2017, gas accounted for 40% of UK electricity generation, down from 42% in 2016. Nuclear accounted for 21%, down marginally from 2016. Hydro, wind and solar accounted for a record 20% of generation, up by 27% on 2016, with thermal renewables accounting for a further 9.4%. Coal’s share was down 27% on 2016 at 6.7% of total generation in 2017.

• In 2017, UK energy production was up 0.4% on a year earlier. The rise was driven by growth from wind, solar and hydro and bioenergy and waste. Overall fossil fuel production contracted.

• Imports and exports in 2017 were both up; overall net imports decreased though they still accounted for 36% of energy used in the UK.

• Primary energy consumption was down 1.2%; and on a temperature adjusted basis primary energy consumption was down 0.3% continuing the downward trend of the last ten years. UK temperatures were above normal with a decrease in heating degree days compared to 2016.

• Final energy consumption fell by 0.7% as demand for heating decreased with temperature adjusted final energy consumption up by 0.9% on 2016 levels, mainly due to increased energy use in transport.

• Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply (including transport), but now account for 80.1%, a record low level. Supply from renewables increased, with their contribution accounting for 10.2% of final consumption.

• Provisional UK Government estimates suggest that overall emissions fell by 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) (3.2%) to 366.9 MtCO2 between 2016 and 2017, driven by the changes in electricity generation.

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UK nuclear regulator to prosecute EDF, Doosan over safety incident

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has notified EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd and Doosan Babcock of its intention to prosecute both companies over a non nuclear-related health and safety matter, the ONR said on Wednesday.

The charge relates to an incident in April at the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant owned by France’s EDF, which resulted in injury to a Doosan Babcock employee.

There was no radiological risk to workers or the public, the ONR said, giving no further details as the case is now the subject of active court proceedings.

“We are reviewing the charges against us and considering our response. As we would in any industrial safety incident of this nature we have and will continue to cooperate fully with the ONR,” an EDF Energy spokeswoman said by email.

Doosan Babcock, part of South Korea-based Doosan Group, said it has cooperated fully with the ONR during the investigation and acknowledged its intention to prosecute.

“As legal proceedings are pending we will not make any further comment at this stage,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale and Nina Chestney; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey

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BILL BLOW Energy bills could jump by £100 a year despite government cap on prices

The increase comes despite the upcoming introduction of the government’s new price cap in December, which promises to keep costs under control.

Energy regulator, Ofgem, has already signed off a £47 a year increase in its energy safeguard tariff for vulnerable consumers this coming winter.

But energy analyst Cornwall Insight is predicting that both tariff caps could rise by another £50 to £55.

This means that by April next year, we could be paying £100 more on our bills.

Gareth Miller, chief executive of Cornwall Insight said: “Household energy prices are set to continue to rise despite Ofgem’s safeguard tariff or the government’s default price cap.

“Only if wholesale costs fall sharply will the pressure abate.”

Why prices are continuing to rise

Analysts have regularly warned that Ofgem’s price caps will do little to stop energy bill increases.

This is because the level the cap is set at depends on factors such as wholesale prices. As long as these continue to rise, our bills will too.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at comparison website MoneySuperMarket explained: “The price of standard variable tariffs has risen by around £140 on average (from the big six) since the policy announcement of an energy price cap by the government in May 2017.

Simplifying energy switch process boosts savings, study finds

The number of households switching energy supplier can be dramatically boosted by removing the requirement for users to provide details of their energy tariff and consumption, a pilot project has found.

A trial of 50,000 people showed that simplifying the switching process led to more than one in five people moving to a better deal, eight times as many as normal. They saved an average of £298 a year, or £3.3m collectively.

The success suggests minor reforms could tackle the energy market’s problem of poorer, older and less educated people paying over the odds for default tariffs, reducing the need for a major intervention such as the government’s price cap.

The energy regulator Ofgem worked with the comparison site Energyhelplineto pick 50,000 customers who had been on the default tariff of an unnamed big-six supplier for three years. The company was ScottishPower, the Guardian understands.

Rather than those consumers having to provide their existing tariff and energy usage in order to switch, as they usually do, the information was supplied automatically. That allowed the comparison site to send letters offering a personalised saving.

Between February and April, 22.4% of those in the trial switched as a result of the approach, compared to 2.6% for a control group of 5,000 who did not receive letters. Around half moved to an E.ON tariff negotiated by Energyhelpline. The rest chose other deals.

More than a quarter were over 75 and 71% chose to switch over the phone, suggesting a digital and age divide also holds back switching.

Far more people were encouraged to switch among the half who received letters with their existing supplier’s branding (26.9%) than the other half which had Ofgem branding (15%).

Ofgem hailed the trial as its most successful to date. “Offering a simplified collective switch and providing personalised savings can be a big help in giving these customers the confidence and reassurance they need to start a switch,” said Rob Salter-Church, interim executive director for consumers and markets.

The positive results have sparked plans for a bigger trial of 200,000 in the autumn, expected to involve either British Gas or SSE.

The energy regulator said, however, that it was too early to say if having energy tariff and consumption information pre-supplied would become the default way to switch in future.

In total, 3.27 million people switched in the first seven months of 2018, up 8% on the same period last year. There are fears, however, that switching could stall with the price cap lulling people into a false sense of protection and reducing switching savings.

A startup that promises to automatically switch energy supplier on households’ behalf won the backing of investors on Dragon’s Den on Sunday. Two of the dragons took a 3% stake in Look After My Bills for £120,000.

The company effectively recreates the Ofgem test, allowing customers to be automatically switched into the best offers on the market.

 

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Big Six energy companies set to lose 2.4 million customers in 2018: how to switch

If the number of switches continues at the current rate then the biggest suppliers will have lost 2.35 million customers to small and mid-size companies by the end of 2018, according to figures released by the industry trade body Energy UK.

British Gas announced its second price increase of the year last week. In the two days following the announcement there was a 40pc increasein switching activity, according to price comparison site Uswitch.

Small suppliers are rapidly gaining ground, with companies such as Bulb now boasting close…

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Switch on to LED lightbulbs before September’s halogen ban

From the end of this month halogen lightbulbs are to be removed from the market across Europe, with households expected to switch to LED lights – which cost more but last far longer and use much less electricity than energy-hungry halogens.

According to Philips, the lighting manufacturer, the average UK household has 10 halogen bulbs and uses them for 2.7 hours a day. If that is correct, then hundreds of millions of halogens are going to have to be replaced. So why are they heading for the scrap heap – and what do you have to do?

What is the ban? Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs were the first to go, in 2009, and in 2016 the phased removal of halogens began in an EU-wide effort to improve energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions. Halogens are hugely wasteful of energy – the Energy Saving Trust estimates that the typical halogen uses £11 of electricity a year while a replacement LED would use only £2 worth. What’s more, halogen bulbs typically fail after about two years, while LEDs should last for around 15 to 20 years on the same usage.

Do I have to replace all my halogens now? Don’t panic, you won’t have to whip them all out for fear of an EU fine. Replace with LEDs as and when the old halogen bulb expires.

Will shops stop selling halogens on 1 SeptemberNo. They will be able to sell their existing stock but won’t be able to reorder more. So if you are obsessed about keeping your halogens, then there’s still time to buy some. But you’ll be throwing money away in the long term.

Will the LEDs fit existing light sockets? In most cases, yes. You can buy “bayonet” or “edison” (screw-type) LED bulbs at most outlets. But there may be a problem if you have halogen lights fitted in your ceiling (especially common in kitchens) which are connected to transformers. According to Philips:“The low wattage equivalent LEDs sometimes mean some transformers cannot detect that the light is actually switched on and therefore lights can flicker. In this case it is worth seeking advice from your electrician.”

 

Is this a total ban? There remain a few types of halogens that are outside of the EU ban, for now. For example, there are some oven lights that are halogens that will still be permitted for sale, as well as some “capsule, linear, low-voltage reflector bulbs”, says Philips.

How do I know which LEDs to buyA generation brought up on bulb brightness expressed in terms such as 100w or 60w has to learn the new vocabulary of “lumens”. Wattage measures power or energy, while lumens measure light output. Broadly speaking, a 60w bulb gave off around 700 lumens, while a 100w one is equivalent to more than 1,300 lumens. But stores such as John Lewis still label LED lights primarily with watts; it says its 8.5w “classic” LED bulb is equivalent to a 75w incandescent bulb, while a 13.5w LED is equal to a 100w old-style bulb.

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British Gas loses 340,000 more accounts

British Gas lost 340,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of this year, the chief executive of the firm’s parent company has told the BBC.

The lost accounts represent about 270,000 customers.

However, Centrica chief Iain Conn said the rate of customer losses had halved since last year and he hoped numbers would stabilise.

His comments came as Centrica said operating profits at its consumer business had fallen by 20% to £430m.

Price cap

British Gas is the biggest energy supplier in the UK. It still has 3.5 million customers on standard variable tariffs, which are often the most expensive.

However, that number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year as the company has encouraged customers to switch to cheaper fixed-rate deals ahead of a cap on more expensive tariffs that is expected to come into force at the end of this year.

The way the cap is worked out will be published in August and will vary around the UK according to regional market conditions. It will be reviewed and reset by the regulator, Ofgem, every six months.

Mr Conn told the BBC he remained concerned that the cap would mean some customers would end up paying more.

“Prices may well bunch around the level of the cap so some of the cheaper deals in the market may disappear which means that some customers will end up paying more.”

Instead he suggests ending the standard variable tariff as it now stands, so that no customer languishes forever on the same tariff but is prompted to change at some point.

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British Gas owner hints bills could rise for second time this year

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has hinted that bills could go up for a second time this year, after reporting a 20% drop in profits at its consumer arm and more customer account losses.

British Gas, the UK’s biggest energy supplier, lost 341,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of the year, although the rate of losses slowed. Operating profit at the business fell to £430m.

Centrica said it was keeping its tariffs under review, noting that wholesale energy prices had continued to rise since it increased its prices in April, and that a number of its rivals had raised their tariffs.

The 5.5% price rise in April, taking the average bill to £1,161 a year, affected 4.1 million out of 7.5 million British Gas customers, and prompted criticism from the government and consumer groups

Centrica said it still had 3.5 million customers on standard variable tariffs – usually the most expensive – although the number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year.

The company said it was encouraging customers to switch to one of its cheaper fixed-term tariffs. It has withdrawn the SVT for new customers, and 428,000 accounts have moved on to the new safeguard tariff for vulnerable customers.

The government’s cap on all standard energy tariffs including SVTs is expected to come into force at the end of this year. A price cap for vulnerable households already came in early last year.

Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, reiterated concerns that some customers would end up paying more once the wider cap comes in.

“Prices may well bunch around the level of the cap, so some of the cheaper deals in the market may disappear, which means that some customers will end up paying more,” he told the BBC. Conn suggested ending the SVT instead.

Centrica’s overall adjusted operating profit fell 4% to £782m. The group’s shares were one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 after the results were announced, losing more than 5%.

During the cold snap in February and early March, when the “beast from the east” brought large parts of the UK to a standstill, British Gas incurred additional call-out costs of £15m. It had its busiest week for boiler repairs.