Nearly 96% of businesses are calling on the next government to prioritise providing increased government support, which includes financial incentives, a according to a new survey.

A recent study conducted by BSI suggests that the majority of UK businesses are advocating for greater governmental assistance to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The research, based on a survey of over 1,000 senior decision-makers across various sectors, highlights concerns over cost and political uncertainty as significant barriers to progress.

Nearly 96% of respondents urge the next government to focus on providing greater government support.

While the majority of businesses (83%) express commitment to achieving the UK’s legally binding net zero emissions target, the report underscores persistent barriers hindering progress.

Nearly half of the surveyed businesses cite cost as a primary barrier to decarbonisation, with the cost of living / energy crisis further complicating efforts for over half of them.

Moreover, the report highlights disparities in preparedness and understanding across different sectors and business sizes.

Larger firms tend to be more advanced in their net zero practices, with a higher proportion setting targets and measuring emissions.

However, challenges such as a lack of clarity on what net zero entails and difficulties in finding suppliers with net zero credentials are prevalent across the board.

Scott Steedman, Director-General, Standards at BSI said: “Non-financial reporting will soon force businesses that don’t show leadership in their supply chains to become followers.

“From government, now is the moment for a clear policy environment that encourages organizations to invest and innovate towards net zero.

“We have made great progress in the last 12 months in aligning international standards with the net zero transition and disclosure requirements and we now have the opportunity to press ahead to scale up the implementation of best practices for decarbonization across all sectors.”

Energy regulator Ofgem has closed its consultation on the energy price cap, which was initially introduced in 2019 to safeguard consumers on variable tariffs.

Britain‘s energy regulator, Ofgem, has completed its consultation on the energy price cap, initially introduced in January 2019 to protect consumers on variable tariffs.

Since 2022, the cap has undergone quarterly revisions, prompting Ofgem to assess potential modifications to ensure fairness amidst the shift towards net zero.

Options explored include incorporating time-of-use or vulnerability considerations into the price cap and implementing measures to restrict supplier margins.

The consultation, which sought input from charities, consumer groups, businesses, billpayers and suppliers, closed on 6th May.

Image: Chones/ Shutterstock

Ofgem is consulting on ending the ban on acquisition-only tariffs, with a proposed removal date of 1st October.

Ofgem has launched a statutory consultation to explore the removal of the ban on acquisition-only tariffs, which restricts energy suppliers from offering tariffs exclusively to new customers.

The consultation considers two potential timelines for the removal: after six months, starting 1st October 2024, or at the end of the existing extension period on 31st March 2025.

The ban was initially introduced in April 2022 as a temporary measure to stabilise the market during the wholesale price crisis.

This was in response to the market volatility caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Market Stabilisation Charge (MSC) was also implemented as part of these measures.

After a review, Ofgem decided to let the MSC expire at the end of March 2024, citing improved market stability and new policies aimed at enhancing supplier financial resilience.

However, a residual risk was identified if the ban on acquisition-only tariffs was removed simultaneously with the MSC.

Ofgem’s current preference is to remove the ban after six months, arguing that this would prompt a quicker return to price and non-price competition, resulting in better price savings and service levels for consumers.

The consultation seeks to determine the most appropriate timeline for the removal while considering market stability and supplier hedging risks.

The consultation also addresses the removal of the Market Wide Derogation for fixed retention tariffs within the same time frame.

The analysis suggests that retaining the ban on acquisition-only tariffs is no longer necessary for market stability and could result in increased costs for consumers.

The price cap will continue to protect disengaged consumers from unfair pricing.

Energy network operators have emphasised the crucial role of strategic innovation in achieving the UK’s 2050 decarbonisation targets, outlining 24 key milestones including technology development, data sharing and infrastructure adaptation.

Energy network operators have emphasised the crucial role of strategic innovation in guiding the UK towards its 2050 decarbonisation objectives.

They have unveiled 24 significant “way points” to facilitate the nation’s transition to a decarbonised energy grid.

Outlined in the Energy Networks Association‘s (ENA) Innovation Strategy Update, these milestones cover essential aspects of the transformation.

Among them are the development of new materials by 2026, the establishment of a strategic planning entity for high energy users by 2028 and the implementation of anonymised data sharing across the sector by 2030.

Looking ahead, networks aim to integrate AI-driven technology by 2040, capable of adapting to changing conditions and resilient infrastructure to address climate change-induced temperature fluctuations.

The release of these “way points” follows the launch of ENA’s Innovation Strategy Update, which also introduces an Energy Innovation Atlas.

Crafted to outline the trajectory towards meeting decarbonisation targets within set timelines, the Atlas emphasises the collaborative effort required across the energy sector.

Dan Clarke, Head of Innovation, ENA, said: “Networks recognise the central role they play supporting the decarbonisation of the UK and in providing the foundation for the greater use of low carbon technologies.

“Exploring the timeline to 2050 reveals long lead times for commercialising innovative solutions and the large amounts of investment that infrastructure development requires.

“This means we need to be sure we are pursuing the right innovative solutions and technologies today to ensure our energy networks are suited to tomorrow’s challenges.”

Over a third of UK businesses report that unpredictable energy costs have hindered growth in the past year, according to a survey

A recent report from Centrica Business Solutions reveals that more than half (56%) of UK businesses plan to increase their onsite energy generation capacity within the next two years.

The report, titled “How data, onsite generation and leadership strengthen energy control,” highlights the impact of unpredictable energy costs on business growth, with a third (34%) of businesses stating that these costs have limited their growth over the past year.

The research identifies mitigating energy market volatility as the primary motivation for onsite generation investment, with 40% of businesses citing this factor.

Other reasons include the desire to meet decarbonisation targets and transition to net zero (39%) and increasing profitability (38%).

Despite the environmental benefits of onsite generation, half of the businesses surveyed (50%) prioritise reducing energy costs over addressing their carbon footprint.

Additionally, more than a third (37%) of firms indicated they would not invest in onsite generation if it does not offer cost savings that can be reinvested elsewhere.

Christian Stella, Managing Director at Centrica Business Solutions Europe said: “Onsite generation is the next step in managing power consumption and costs more efficiently.

“It will play a vital role in steering firms through the market’s volatility as well as providing businesses with more control over their energy needs.

“While we’re still seeing businesses recognising the carbon benefits of generating their own power, money saving remains the top motivation for the majority of businesses.

“It is clear many firms still need the understanding and insight – particularly around commercial savings – to invest confidently in onsite energy generation.”

Image: Centrica Business Solutions

The Federation of Small Businesses has called on Ofgem to address the escalating standing charges faced by small firms, highlighting the potential financial strain on many.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has increased pressure on Ofgem, calling for prompt action to tackle rising standing charges affecting small firms nationwide.

The FSB’s concern stems from the financial strain on small businesses, worsened by substantial increases in fixed charges, regardless of energy usage.

In a letter to Ofgem Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Brearley, the FSB outlined the negative impact of rising standing charges on small businesses.

This plea follows earlier correspondence from Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho and Minister for Affordability and Skills Amanda Solloway, highlighting the government’s commitment to fair energy bills for all consumers.

According to the FSB, small businesses, particularly those in rural areas, are hardest hit by these rising charges, exacerbating urban-rural disparities and hampering efforts to level up remote regions.

Standing charges, covering network infrastructure and operational costs, pose challenges for small businesses trying to understand utility bills.

Unlike household consumers, small firms lack protection from energy price caps, leading to suspicions of unjustified cost increases by energy suppliers.

FSB’s Policy Chair, Tina McKenzie, commented: “We want Ofgem to do a thorough review of standing charges for businesses as well as consumers, for better transparency and to discern whether energy companies are behaving fairly towards their small firm clients.

“Small business energy customers behave in a way more akin to consumers than big businesses, lacking the resources, the expertise and the buying power necessary to get the best possible deal out of their energy suppliers.

“However, they do not benefit from anything like the same level of protection as that rightly available to households, leaving them caught between two stools.

“Many small businesses could be forgiven for suspecting that they have been seen as something of a soft target for price hikes in their standing charges, and they do not have a full picture of where the money they pay on a daily basis is going – something that needs to change.

“Small firms were put through the wringer by the energy price crisis, which sadly spelled the end for many otherwise viable businesses who saw their utility bills become completely unmanageable.”

An Ofgem spokesperson: “We are assessing the standing charge system overall including tackling issues faced by non-domestic consumers. We are grateful for FSB for responding to our consultation and we are looking at its ideas.

“We agree too many businesses get unexplained price hikes from suppliers or are ripped off by brokers – that’s why we’re putting tough new rules in place from July to resolve disputes and get greater clarity on fees.

“We published a detailed non-domestic market review last year – and are working with ministers, industry and businesses on the additional price protection and bill transparency they’re calling for.”

Simon Askew, Managing Director at Business Energy Direct, said: “Further to the recent article regarding the soaring cost of standing charges, which has been published by multiple mainstream media outlets, Business Energy Direct is disappointed with the comments, from Ofgem which are damaging to reputable brokers and third-party intermediaries.

“Ofgem’s poorly considered comments come off the back of the FSB highlighting concerns regarding excessive increased costs on behalf of their members and small businesses, concerns that Business Energy Direct share, having repeatedly contacted Ofgem regarding the impact of P272, P432, Market wide Half Hourly Settlement (MHHS) and Targeted Charging Review (TCR).

“All of these poorly considered industry changes were approved by Ofgem, despite opposition from the supply industry and other stakeholders, with TCR being the most recent of the changes to be implemented, and the noticeable increases can be directly attributed to it.

“When announcing the decision to approve TCR, Ofgem stated  “We have decided to make changes to the way in which some of the costs of the electricity networks are recovered, so that the ‘residual charges’ are recovered more fairly now and, in the future”.

“Following the request for comments to the recent article, Ofgem had the opportunity to educate the public about the industry changes that they approved, in particular TCR, but instead they decided to make defamatory comments against a sector of industry that doesn’t make policy decisions,  one which had nothing to do with the issues the FSB highlighted.

“Despite evidence of poor supplier practices, which on occasion have been identified as introduced deliberately for the benefit of the supplier, and the circa £500 million fines issued to suppliers following enforcement action, Ofgem has refrained from using derogatory and inflammatory language when providing comments to the media in the past.

“The majority of brokers and TPIs work incredibly hard to protect the interests of the millions of business customers that they work with, despite the poor performance of our industry regulator, and we believe that Ofgem should retract or amend their comments accordingly.”

 

RenewableUK, in collaboration with key industry stakeholders, unveils a comprehensive Industrial Growth Plan aimed at tripling offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next decade.

The UK’s offshore wind sector is preparing for significant expansion with the introduction of an Industrial Growth Plan (IGP) by RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, and The Crown Estate.

This plan outlines strategies to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next decade, positioning the UK as a prominent player in the global offshore wind market.

Already a significant contributor to the UK economy, the offshore wind industry employs 32,000 individuals and each new large offshore wind farm adds £2-3 billion to the economy.

The IGP forecasts a surge in employment to over 100,000 by 2030, with investments in new offshore wind projects expected to create an economic opportunity worth up to £92 billion by 2040.

Central to the IGP’s success is its aim to accelerate offshore wind deployment in alignment with the UK’s net zero targets, targeting a capacity of 5-6GW per year.

Currently, the UK boasts the second-largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects, with nearly 100GW in various stages of development – six times the country’s current capacity.

The plan addresses critical supply chain constraints and identifies strategic opportunities for investment in manufacturing capabilities.

It focuses on five key technology areas, including offshore wind blades, turbine towers, foundations, cables and other essential components and services.

Additionally, the IGP emphasises the potential for technology innovation, with plans to incorporate automation and AI technologies to further reduce environmental impacts.

To mobilise funding for the IGP, RenewableUK anticipates an investment of nearly £3 billion nationwide, with private finance playing a significant role. It is estimated that for every £1 invested, the plan will yield a return of just under £9 to the UK economy.

Looking ahead, industry stakeholders are set to establish an IGP Delivery Body to govern and implement the plan effectively.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Britain’s windswept shorelines give us a competitive advantage in the global race for energy. That’s why, since 2010, Britain has been second only to China in building new offshore wind.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said: “The UK will need three hundred giant turbine towers every year for offshore wind projects between now and 2030 to deliver government targets.

“The plan charts a clear course for us to ensure that we seize that massive economic opportunity and maximise our opportunities to manufacture those towers here, along with more blades, cables, foundations and a whole range of other products.”

Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate, said: “As an early action, The Crown Estate is establishing a £50 million Supply Chain Accelerator to catalyse early-stage investment, with an initial £10 million pilot fund launching this summer to support supply chain opportunities created through the Celtic Sea Leasing Round 5 and a further £40 million earmarked aligned to the IGP.”

Deployments in 2023 nearly tripled from the previous year and forecasts anticipate further significant expansion in 2024, according to a report.

The global energy storage market is witnessing a significant surge, with deployments in 2023 tripling compared to the previous year and forecasts anticipate continued growth in 2024.

That’s according to the latest report by BloombergNEF, which suggests China leads in installations driven by co-location mandates, while activity intensifies in regions like the US, Australia and Europe, supported by targeted government initiatives.

Projections indicate substantial growth with a compound annual rate of 21% until 2030, primarily fueled by mandates, subsidies and declining costs.

According to the report, annual additions are expected to reach 137GW/442GWh by 2030.

Asia Pacific leads in capacity expansion, followed by Europe and the Americas.

New report indicates that currently only 12% of wind and solar farms in the UK are co-located with energy storage facilities.

A new report by RenewableUK suggests that integrating energy storage projects with onshore wind and solar farms can significantly reduce electricity system costs and enhance energy security.

The report, titled “Making the most of renewables: the role of onshore co-location in accelerating an integrated energy system,” emphasises the potential benefits of co-locating battery storage and green hydrogen projects with renewable energy generation sites across the UK.

According to the report, such co-location could streamline the planning process and reduce costs associated with building and operating battery storage projects.

This approach could save time and money by utilising existing grid connections and sites with planning permission.

RenewableUK’s EnergyPulse database indicates that currently only 12% of wind and solar farms in the UK are co-located with energy storage facilities.

However, the report suggests that this percentage could increase significantly in the coming years to meet rising electricity demand, provided that the right policy framework is established.

The report recommends measures such as clearer rules and regulations for co-location, streamlined planning processes and improved resource allocation for planning authorities to expedite decision-making.

Ofgem has released guidance for RO, FIT, REGO and SEG scheme participants considering co-locating storage facilities.

Ofgem has unveiled guidance for participants of the Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO), and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) schemes contemplating the co-location of electricity storage facilities with accredited renewable generation installations.

As the energy system shifts towards decentralisation, operators of renewable generating stations aim to co-locate storage facilities, although legislation under RO and FIT schemes doesn’t explicitly address storage.

Ofgem asserts that, if scheme requirements are met, storage deployment alongside accredited generation can remain valid, but cautions on potential impacts on support eligibility.

Four principles are outlined for operators considering co-location, with guidance stressing the need for independent legal and technical advice before making changes or investment decisions.

Britain’s energy regulator said: “It is possible that co-locating storage may impact the eligibility of an accredited RO generating station or FIT installation to receive continued support under the schemes, or may alter the amount of support received.

“Generators should consider carefully the requirements of the scheme to ensure their proposed configuration does not adversely affect their ability to receive support under the schemes.”

Image: graham parton / Shutterstock