There’s never a dull moment in the energy sector. And 2017 has certainly been eventful (and not just for energy!). So as we approach the end of the year, here are some of the highlights we covered in our blogs…

 

New technologies make headlines

Through the year, new renewable technologies continued to make headlines. We started 2017 looking at the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, which brought harnessing tidal power a step closer after getting planning permission. Although just this week, ministers appeared to reject the “eye wateringly” expensive investment it requires to get built.

 

Elsewhere, other technologies – and in particular Artificial Intelligence (AI) – look set to revolutionise energy management, after Google used its DeepMind invention to cut its already optimised data cooling costs by a further 40%.

 

And while AI may still be a way off for the rest of us, many of the automated technologies that companies use today – such as Building Management Systems – can learn from and intelligently act using data that’s readily available. It’s just a question of knowhow.

 

April saw UK energy generation deliver its first ever coal-free day, as levels of renewable output continued to increase. Then on 7 June, renewable sources supplied more than 50% of the country’s power for the first time in history.

 

Uncertainty unsettles business

Despite a general election in June, Brexit was the main concern on business’s minds, according to research we commissioned from YouGov. More than half cited unexpected costs to their business as the key reason, followed by an inability to forward plan. Six months later, we appear no closer to resolving these concerns…

 

Where there’s uncertainty, any clues to the future are often welcome. And National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios report generated a lot of interest on its release in July.

 

With four possible scenarios – ranging from the cash-strapped, business-as-usual Steady State scenario to the far more optimistic and affluent Two Degrees scenario – the consistent message was that managing more renewable and distributed generation will be a reality.

 

And while this creates a huge challenge for National Grid, it also signals plenty of opportunities on the horizon for business consumers.

 

Change and opportunity on the horizon

For example, through our newly-launched Energy HQ, we became the first supplier to offer businesses the opportunity to participate in National Grid balancing schemes such as Static Firm Frequency Response (FFR) via an automated and aggregated demand side response service.

 

Ofgem has also been embracing change, unveiling a new strategy in August and following this up with a Targeted Charging and Significant Code Review. As a result, key network charges such as TNUoS and DUoS are under review (with more details and a consultation likely next year).

 

Cost of wind energy falls

Affordability is a key concern for consumers, so there was a welcome shock when the government’s second Contracts for Difference auction in September secured a strike price as low as £57.50/MWh for offshore wind, thanks to significant savings achieved by the offshore wind industry.

 

This wasn’t such great news for nuclear, which started looking rather expensive.

 

In October, our Optimisation Desk published their first Winter Outlook report. So far, their prediction of a colder winter than previous years has come good.

 

Keeping the UK on top for clean growth

The government then unveiled its Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out how the UK can remain number one for clean growth. A key part of this will be asking large consumers to deliver energy efficiency savings of 20% by 2030.

 

Demand side response is seen as a key tool to help reduce energy costs and support a more holistic energy management strategy. So that was our focus at Energy Live Expo in November.

 

Judging by the huge interest we had in our seminars and at our stand, we matched the mood of participants. You can read more about our Battery Storage and Value of DSR presentations by clicking on the links.

 

Barriers to EV investment

Electric vehicles have been in the news a lot this year, with the government announcing that it would ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. But research we commissioned from YouGov found that 45% of senior decision makers will not be investing in EV technology and infrastructure until after 2025.

 

The main barriers to investment were cited as a lack of existing charging points on UK roads, poor battery life and high installation costs.

 

News of new business energy reporting framework

Businesses have been eagerly awaiting news of the government’s proposed Simplified Energy and Carbon Reporting framework, so when details and a consultation were published in October, engagement was high.

 

Indeed, research by Censuswide found that 92% of business decision makers intend to participate in the consultation, which closes on 4 January.

 

Clearly, we’ve only been able to highlight a few of the topics featured in our blogs this year. No doubt, we’ll have much to blog about in the coming year too.

 

But for now, as we pause to celebrate the festive season, we’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas. Look forward to catching up again in the new year…