Key themes in the energy market for 2017

2017 could see further interesting and potentially dramatic changes to the UK energy market. In this post I explore some of the key themes for the coming year.   # Creation of an Independent System Operator Throughout 2016 pressure was growing for the UK to explore adopting an independent system operator model, with a report from…

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Policy and financial innovation as important as new technologies in the energy transition

Energy policy is frequently described in terms of the “trilemma”: decarbonisation, security of supply and affordability. Delivering this three-pointed objective requires a three-pointed approach: technological, policy and financial innovation. None of these in isolation can deliver the energy policy objectives.   Technological innovation delivers new possibilities for the energy system The impact of technological innovation…

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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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Solar + Storage: the other side of the story

In this second post on the viability of solar + storage (first post here) I examine the conclusions of the Aurora Energy report, which presents a rather more optimistic view of the prospects of the combined technologies, claiming that the cost of backing up solar generation and integrating it into the energy system was negligible,…

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Shining a light on solar + storage

Solar + storage, the combination of solar power and electricity storage, is seen by many as the Holy Grail of the energy markets and the key to a secure, low carbon future. However two recent reports provide conflicting views on whether this is a realistic prospect or simply another myth. In its analysis, the Adam Smith Institute…

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Decarbonising with hydrogen: more hot air?

Hydrogen gas has been mooted as a possible solution to the challenge of decarbonising heating, one of the major sources along with electricity generation and transport, of carbon emissions. Notably, the city of Leeds in the UK is investigating converting its entire gas network from natural gas (which is mostly methane) to hydrogen. The question is…

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Intriguing ideas and energy innovations of the future

  The energy sector is undergoing a period of significant change with the rapid emergence and adoption of renewable technologies, notably solar PV and wind. Developments in storage promise significant disruptions in the medium term, alongside smart grids, and by the mid 2020s we could see new generation nuclear technologies and tidal power adding to…

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Making waves with tidal power

  The idea of tidal power has fascinated me since I was told (by a tour guide) that the tidal range of the Thames at Tower Bridge was 10 metres. In fact it’s “only” 6.6 metres, but watching the daily rise and fall of the river from the window of my Docklands flat, the sheer,…

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Through the looking glass: transparent solar PV

The speed with which solar PV has taken off has surprised most analysts, with the cost curve coming down far faster than expected as materials technology develops. When people think of solar PV, they tend to think about roof-top panels or large installations in fields or deserts, but imagine if you could integrate photovoltaic cells…

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Breaking the ice with thermal energy storage

In the second article in my series on energy storage, I explore the area of thermal energy storage (TES), which involves the collection of excess thermal energy for later use. This and can be achieved through a range of technologies, at an individual building, district or even regional scale. The technologies fall into three broad…

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