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News from the UK Power Industry 2nd April 2019

Posted by: James Turner
Industry News

£1 billion electric chargers programme 

The UK is set to see more than 100 electric vehicle charging forecourts across the country which will be powered by solar farms and have onsite energy storage.

The forecourts will cater for both private and fleet vehicles, including buses and heavy goods trucks and most of these will be able to be fully charged within 30 minutes. Cars and light goods vehicles can be ready in under 10 minutes.

The £1bn programme will involve building new solar farms to supply the forecourts with renewable electricity and installing multi-megawatt batteries to provide grid services and flexibility.

While drivers charge their vehicles, they will be able to spend time in a coffee shop, buy fresh food and relax in a WiFi-enabled airport-style lounge.

Sustainable energy company Gridserve are leading the project. Founder Toddington Harper said: “We plan to make charging electric vehicles as easy as using petrol stations. The latest generation of electric vehicles are awesome, and ready for mainstream adoption, but drivers still worry about if or where they can charge, how long it will take, and what it will cost.”

He said the forecourts will “eliminate any range or charging anxiety” and added that the infrastructure “will accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, serve the grid, and help the UK meet climate and clean air targets. We are partnering with operators of fleet vehicles, developers, financiers of vehicles and infrastructure, EV manufacturers, retailers, local authorities, and others who share our vision.”

Construction is due to start on the first sites this year at York and Hull. The solar farms at both sites will utilise bifacial panels to generate energy on both sides and trackers to follow the sun. All of the forecourts will also have battery storage. Full story.

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Huge investment opportunity for clean energy

VT Gravis Clean Energy Income fund adviser Will Argent has said that the UK is leading the charge in the clean energy revolution and that the opportunities for investment are huge.

“Clean energy generation will be vital as the world transitions towards a lower carbon economy and away from its reliance on fossil fuels,” he said. 

Renewable energy has become a crucial infrastructure sector as the effects of climate change become more evident, and its growth has opened up a new world of investment opportunity. Argent explained that wind and solar are key to reducing energy emissions but that battery technology is where the UK has the most opportunity to excel. 

“One area in which we expect to see significant growth within the renewable space is the need for energy storage solutions – most typically in the form of battery technology,” he said. “Developing effective ways of storing energy is a critical step in harnessing the potential of renewable energy supply; effectively storing energy generated when conditions are suitable or when demand for electricity is lower in order to deploy it during periods of lower output or when demand is high.”

Argent explained that this dynamic underpins the investment opportunity in energy storage and that there is a growing opportunity to invest in companies that play a part in the broader theme of ‘cleaner energy’. Wind turbine manufacturers, solar module manufacturers and developers of carbon neutral properties would all fit into this category.

Argent would like to see more long-term, contracted cash flows for solar and wind farm projects to ensure a good return. 

He concluded: “There are many attractive opportunities within this growing sector and investors can target investment towards companies operating in the more utility-like renewable energy generation space, those developing new technologies to facilitate the transition towards a more sustainable, lower carbon world or a combination of both.” Full story.

Gas emissions at lowest levels since 1890s 

Latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reveal that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3% in 2018 from 2017, and the UK’s emissions are now estimated to have decreased by a total of 44% since 1990, with emissions levels in the country at their lowest since the 1890s.

The government has attributed the decrease to the UK’s reduction in coal useage in favour of gas and renewable sources.

The largest emissions reductions came from the energy supply and power sector, which decreased its CO2 emissions by 7% since 2017. Just 5% of the UK’s electricity now comes from coal power, while electricity from low-carbon sources like renewables and nuclear is at a record high of 53%.

Claire Perry, minister for energy and clean growth, said: “We can be proud that we continue to lead the way in reducing emissions while growing our economy. More than half of our electricity comes from low carbon sources thanks to more than £52 billion of government support for renewable projects in the UK since 2010, all part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

The UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 were 449 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), with CO2 emissions counting for 364 MtCO2e of this figure. Full story.

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