Do we need an independent system operator?

Calls are growing for the UK electricity system to be managed by an independent system operator (“ISO”) whose activities are separate from the ownership of the wires themselves. Such a change would require nationalisation of the system operation activities of National Grid, and the creation of a new regulatory framework for the electricity system. This would…

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Subsidies central: electricity markets need fundamental reform to remove distortions

Subsidies and extra-market support now underpin every part of the UK electricity market, and as a result, some technologies benefit from double payments and others double charging, and since the double payments are going to diesel generators and the double charging to battery storage, the system is creating perverse incentives that conflict with core government policy. Attention…

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Energy market innovation: timing is everything

The past few days have seen Tempus Energy surrendering its supply licence in order to focus purely on wholesale market trading, and Tidal Energy, the Welsh tidal stream technology company go into administration. Analysis by the Financial Times indicates that even in mature segments of the energy sector, in particular end-user supply, new entrants struggle…

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Should the Carbon Price Floor be scrapped?

The Carbon Price Floor (“CPF”) is a UK government mechanism designed to support decarbonisation by making it more expensive to generate electricity with carbon-intensive fuels. The doubling in the CPF in 2015 from £9 / tonne to £18 / tonne means the CPF now represents about 34% of the marginal cost of a coal-fired generator and…

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EFR: what we learned from the first auction

The first auction for enhanced frequency response (“EFR”) in the UK closed at the end of August, with just over 200 MW being secured by National Grid under 4-year contracts, at unexpectedly low prices. All of the winning sites were as yet un-built battery storage projects, and there were a significant number of similar projects…

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Transmission matters: it’s not just about capacity

Transmission systems are key to delivering security of supply and yet tend to be treated as an afterthought – note for example Germany’s massive deployment of renewables in the north of the country without a corresponding investment in the necessary transmission capacity to deliver it to the demand centres in the south. As noted in my…

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Turndown DSR should be a no-brainer, so what’s holding it back?

Turndown DSR is what most people think of when demand-side response is mentioned, ie reduction of demand by consumers in response to either price signals or instructions from the system operator. As it involves reduced consumption and moving consumption from periods of higher to lower demand, turndown DSR is both economically efficient and consistent with…

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National Grid to recover most but not all black start costs

Back in June I described the increasing costs National Grid is incurring to protect the UK’s black start capabilities. Over the summer, Ofgem issued its decision on cost recovery, and ruled that while National Grid could recover the costs of the Fiddler’s Ferry contract, only part of the Drax costs would be recoverable. National Grid…

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