Renewable & Green Energy Round-up: July

Our team: Sam Tye, Luke Morris

Fladgate’s Renewable & Green Energy Group highlight recent developments and topics of discussion affecting the renewable energy, electric vehicle and battery storage sectors.

  • The National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios 2020 (FES) published in July was the first to contain scenarios published by National Grid whereby net zero is achieved by 2050 (or, in one scenario, 2048). Some interesting points to take away:
    • 4 GW of solar and 3 GW of wind to be built EVERY YEAR from now until 2050.
    • 71% of electricity to be generated by solar and wind by 2030.
    • Hydrogen will provide between 21% and 59% of end user energy needs by 2050 – this will require a significant ramp up in the production of green hydrogen.
    • Open data and digitalisation is essential to realise energy efficiency in the energy network.

The most important single point, however, is that “Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable. However, it requires immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas, and full engagement across society and end consumers.

  • British start up Britishvolt has taken the first step towards establishing the UK’s first gigafactory. The £1.2b factory will produce lithium-ion batteries for EVs and hopes to employ 3,500 people. They also plan to build a 200Mw solar power plant on the site to supply the factory and reduce their carbon footprint. Read more here.
  • Will we need gas peaker plants in the future? This study would seem to suggest not (at least in California). The UK does not have the same level of irradiation as California. It would be interesting to see the findings of a similar study in the UK…
  • The UK Government passed legislation on 14 July which removed the requirement for energy storage projects (other than pumped hydroelectric) of 50MW or more in size to obtain planning approval through the national infrastructure planning regime. This should reduce the cost, and time taken, to obtain planning permission for new large scale battery and other energy storage projects. This is a further move by the UK Government to reduce regulatory barriers to the development of energy storage projects following on from the recently announced changes to the BSUoS charges as they apply to energy storage assets.  These recent regulatory changes demonstrate that the UK Government now recognises the importance of energy storage to a stable and secure electricity network in the UK. Sam Tye, Head of Fladgate’s Renewable and Green Energy Group suggests that there is no longer a question mark as to whether large scale energy storage has a role to play in the transition to net zero. The question is just how significant their role will be.
  • Join us on the sofa! Episode 4 of Fladgate’s Sofa to Sofa video series features property partner Jenny Sargeant and Head of our Renewable & Green Energy Group, corporate partner Sam Tye discussing Sustainability and The Business Opportunity in the new normal. Watch the episode here.
  • It is encouraging to see that the Government is keeping the green agenda within its thinking, by pledging on 8 July 2020 to set up the Green Homes Grant (and to invest £1 billion in improving the energy efficiency of public sector buildings). On 4 August the UK Government provided further detail as to the home improvements that would be eligible for the Grant. It was confirmed that solar thermal, air source and ground source heat pumps would be eligible improvements. The eligibility of these technologies alongside other improvements designed to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s building stock is a promising development in helping the UK to get back on track for Net Zero by 2050.
  • The UK is surprisingly well placed to play a significant role in domestic, European and even global market for the electrification of transportation and this opportunity can offer tens of billions of pounds to UK businesses with the right investment. Read more here.
  • The electrification by businesses of their fleets is a growing trend that is set to gather pace during the 2020s. We can expect to see more companies taking the decision to electrify their fleets based on economic drivers as much as ESG considerations. This news comes at the same time as sales figures show that battery electric vehicle sales in June 2020 were up by 261.8% on sales in June 2019. As consumer interest in electric vehicles continues to grow much is still to be done to ensure that the charging infrastructure is in place to cater for their mass adoption. Read more here.

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