Tesco Team Ups With Renewable Energy Investor Low Carbon to Build Three New Solar Farms in the UK by 2021

Tesco

Tesco has brought forward it’s commitment to use 100% renewable electricity by 15 years to 2035. Tesco’s ambitious new plan is set to save 30,308 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year (the equivalent of taking 14,457 cars off the road) by tackling the two biggest sources of emissions in the UK, electricity production and transport. 

The supermarket giant has launched a new partnership with renewable energy investor Low Carbon that will see a major green electricity project deliver three new solar farms in the UK. The solar farms to be based in Essex, Anglesey and Oxfordshire will generate up to 130GWh of energy per year providing sufficient clean energy to power approximately 44,828 three-bedroom homes. Low Carbon’s deal with Tesco will take its advanced renewable energy pipeline to more than 4GW.

Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive and Founder of Low Carbon, said: 

“We are delighted to support Tesco in its journey towards sourcing 100% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. Renewable energy generation at scale is central to Low Carbon’s business model and is a critical element in the fight against climate change. Partnering with forward thinking companies like Tesco will help speed the adoption of renewable energy at scale on the path to achieving a truly low-carbon economy.” 

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Low Carbon invests in renewable energy projects across a range of renewable energy technologies including solar PV, wind, energy storage, waste-to-energy, and energy efficiency. It is the leading renewable energy investment and asset management company committed to the development and operation of renewable energy at scale. To date, its investments have avoided more than 755,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is enough clean energy to power more than 255,000 homes. 

The launch of this new partnership coincided with the news that Tesco has put 30 electric delivery vans on the road in Greater London, the plan being to have a fully electric home delivery fleet by 2028.

In order to help with the wider adoption of electric vehicles across the UK, Tesco is also incorporating 2,400 charging points for customers in 600 stores, with 400 stores due to be fitted with the chargers by the end of 2020. By the time, the programme has been completed, Tesco will have boosted the UK’s electric charging network by 14%. The FTSE 100 business joined the EV100 campaign in September, which is a global initiative that wants firms to switch their fleets to green vehicles and install charging technology for their employees over the next ten years.

The current project comes after the retailer’s announcement last year that it would begin sourcing renewable energy from five onshore wind farms as well as fitting thousands of solar panels across its UK store network with 60 stores fitted out already.  

Back in 2018, Tesco committed to a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund with the ambition to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket.

Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF UK, said:

It’s great news to see Tesco, as one of Britain’s flagship businesses, not only bringing forward the date of its longer-term commitment to net zero, but also pushing ahead with real action in the here and now to confront the climate emergency. Renewable energy and electric vehicles are essential ingredients for the economic recovery we want to see in the UK.” 

Tesco initially committed to being net zero in line with the UK

government’s 2050 target but spurred on by environmental concerns, decided to bring their deadline forward to be ahead of Sainsbury’s and Asda’s net-zero goal by five years.


Tesco UK and ROI CEO Jason Tarry said:

“In 12 months’, time, the UK will host the most critical climate change summit of the decade, known as COP26. At Tesco we want to play our part. That’s why we’ve brought forward our ambition to reach net zero in our UK operations by 15 years and made a series of new commitments to help us achieve that target, including reaching a new milestone today in our journey to using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.” 

Tesco is not only working to improve its own operations but with suppliers to support them to report and make their own carbon reduction commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals. Another of Tesco’s initiatives is to reduce supply chain carbon emissions by 35% across food and manufacturing by 2030, and 15% for agriculture.

The retailer has already switched to 100% renewable-certified electricity across all of its operations in the UK but is working hard towards increasing the proportion of energy it sources through PPAs and onsite generation. It currently has the largest unsubsidised PPA portfolio in the UK. The new PPAs Tesco has agreed in partnership with Low Carbon will support its efforts to procure renewable energy with additionality for the grid. This means the agreement will help add more renewable electricity to the grid. 

Could Infrared Heating be the Solution you Need to Heat Your Home this Winter?

warm_home_infrared_heating

There is no doubt that if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets, the way we live has to change. A vital part of this will be phasing out gas and oil boilers and replacing them with low carbon heating. In fact, from 2025 it will become illegal to install gas boilers in new build homes. As almost all homes still rely on fossil fuels, this presents a formidable task, especially when you consider that the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has vowed to try and keep energy bills as low as possible. Though electricity supplies are rapidly switching to low carbon sources, a big percentage of people are still largely unaware of the alternatives to fossil fuels.

Infrared heating is a great way to keep warm and at the same time reduce your carbon emissions. IR heaters don’t add pollutants to the room you use them in. In essence, IR heaters add nothing to the environment and don’t take anything from it either.

Many people may not realise that the principle of infrared heating has been used for centuries. It fundamentally works in the same way as the natural heating effects of the sun. Surfaces such as stone walls or sand on the beach are warmed up by infrared energy from the sun. The surfaces that have absorbed infrared energy and heated up, then radiate heat back, creating a warmed thermal mass rather like a very large radiator. This is why a sunny hot wall is perfect for growing fruit as the stonework remains warm long after the sun has gone in.

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In the past open fires, log burners or agas have kept us warm working in much the same way by giving off infrared heat which warmed stone walls, clay tiles and cast iron. These surfaces would hold the warmth and radiate it back long after the fire had died down. Today our lifestyles need a heating system which is far more controllable, maintenance free, clean, and easy to use, with just the same principle of infrared.

How does Infrared Heating Work?

Infrared heaters are a type of highly efficient electric heater. The panels in an infrared heating system work in the same way as the sun does, using infrared light. This is far more efficient than traditional heating methods for various reasons. Infrared heating produces heat from the light that our eyes cannot see. This type of heating keeps us warm because our clothes and skin soak up this light. It’s a bit like the difference between being inside, in the shade or out in the sun. If you sit indoors or in the shade you won’t absorb the light of the sun and warm up.

Electric infrared heating comes from a simple unit on the wall which becomes very hot. This could be a mirror or picture or just a slim white panel. There are no moving parts, no fans or noise. The heater must reach a very specific hot temperature across a large surface area to emit an optimum wavelength of far infrared which is comfortable for people but also good enough to heat objects and the air too. Most of us have experienced near infrared which glows orange and is excellent for fiercely heating people in a cold outdoor environment, but this would be the wrong wavelength for heating the home.

Infrared rays from the panel shine across the room, warming the surfaces they touch, creating a warmed thermal mass or large radiator. The rise in temperature of the walls, floor and furnishings is only a few degrees but is enough to make the room feel comfortable and cosy. The air will become evenly warmed too as there is no convection or rise of hot air and fall of cold air. This is due to the heat being radiated everywhere and not at one single point. In fact, the heater can be placed on the ceiling allowing it to shine across the room and as it is giving off infrared energy not hot air, high on the ceiling is the best place.

Unlike most heating types, infrared heaters emit heat that warms you up instantly by creating a concentrated beam of warming light. They will warm you up no matter how cold it is outside. Inside your heater there’s a circle-shaped hot coil that is designed to transfer heat evenly. This heat is then reflected by the reflector, a specific type of polished metal, which is why you can feel the warmth even several meters away from your heater. Infrared heating isn’t affected by wind or drafts in your home either.

Heating the surface of the panel requires very little energy. Unlike traditional radiators which are constantly reheating cold fallen air, once the room is warm the infrared heater only needs to maintain that surface temperature. Because the heater is not concentrated on heating air but just maintaining surface temperature these heaters are very energy efficient. The heated objects do the job of warming the air!

Air is not a good insulator which means that if our surroundings are cold, our body will lose heat and our surroundings will chill the air, ultimately cooling us, so the air needs to be hot and constantly reheated to compensate for this, which of course requires more and more energy. This is one very good reason to dispense with traditional gas central heating radiators and storage heaters.

The Benefits of Infrared Heating

Infrared heating feels just like gentle sunshine warming us directly. This form of home heating feels very comfortable and healthy as our bodies are naturally designed to absorb and emit infrared energy. Infrared heating allows the body to equalise itself with the surroundings meaning that most people feel comfortable at 19 degrees C rather than the 21 degrees usually required when heating the air only. This heat source distributes warmth evenly using hot coils and is then reflected to extend outward leading to a comfortable, gentle warmth.

Infrared heating offers an alternative to noisier options as they work without producing noise since no fan is involved and they are only radiating light.

While other types of heating can cause static or lead to dryness in your skin and sinuses, Infrared heating is thought of as a healthier option since it doesn’t reduce the content of oxygen or humidity in your home. This will reduce uncomfortable symptoms like dry throat and itchy eyes. This also reduces skin dryness that other heating sources can cause.  As, it creates heat with light you can enjoy warmth as you would out in the sunshine without harmful UV radiation. It is believed that infrared heating can even lead to better blood circulation and lower blood pressure.

Infrared heating can be a cost-effective way of heating your home. With an infrared heater you have the benefit of zone heating which means that you need only heat up the areas in your home that you wish to be heated. When you don’t heat up your whole house, your heating bill will become considerably lower. You also won’t have to preheat a room, since infrared heat works right away. Some Infrared heaters only use 300 watts of power and almost all of the warmth created is sent out, leading to heating efficiency at a very affordable price. In fact, you could reduce your heating costs by 30-50 percent by switching to infrared heaters. Efficiency depends of course on the specific type of infrared heater you choose and the construction of your home, ceiling height, insulation, and more.

Infrared heaters require very little maintenance. They don’t have any moving parts and there are no air filters to be replaced. There is no engine to wear out and no lubrication needed.  All you need to do to keep the unit functioning well, is to clean out the reflectors periodically.

Safety is often a primary concern when considering new types of heating. An infrared heater’s core temperature won’t even get as hot as that of a more conventional heater. These devices typically come with a metal sheath over their heating elements, too. This means children and animals can come into contact with the heater’s surface without any risk of burns.

As well as being efficient and affordable some infrared heaters can look quite stylish too. Electric panel heaters are also easy to retro fit. You should be able to find one that is portable, compact, and won’t look out of place in your home.


More and more of us are looking at ways in which we can reduce our own energy consumption. Electric heating is a fully controllable and sustainable option which can be added to your list of smart controlled appliances in the home, allowing you the option to turn the heating on or off in any one room of the house at a time. Infrared heating is very much the future of energy efficient electric heating.

UK on the Brink of Becoming the World Leader of Low-cost Clean Power Generation

Renewable Energy

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has set out an ambitious new vision for offshore wind to power every home in the UK by 2030. He has promised to make a massive investment in offshore wind energy announcing the plan at the Conservative party conference.

Boris Johnson said:

“Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle, the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.”

According to Aurora Energy Research, an Oxford-based consultancy, however, almost £50 billion in capital investment is required to meet the 40GW target. As it stands the UK has approximately 10GW of offshore wind power which means that a huge number of wind turbines will need to be constructed over the next decade. Back in February Aurora Energy Research calculated that “an average annual installation rate of 260 turbines would need to be sustained over 5 years which is equivalent to one turbine installed every weekday throughout the whole of the 2020s.”

The wind energy industry has become one of the UK’s most cherished industrial success stories. The capacity of the UK’s offshore wind turbines has developed in the past 10 years from 1GW to nearly 10GW at the start of 2020 and building costs have been pushed down by almost two thirds.

Back in March 2019 the government had already committed to a 30GW target through an offshore wind sector deal, but Boris Johnson promised to increase that number to 40GW if he won the election. Since the Conservative’s victory a lot has happened however with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the government to spend considerable sums of money on industry and job protection schemes. Given the state of the economy few would have been surprised if green plans had been quietly shelved to a later date. 

This has turned out to absolutely not be the case with the government’s new green plan emerging as central to Britain’s aim to “build back better” after the pandemic, towards its 2050 goals.

Johnson has said that the government would invest £160 million in ports and factories that can develop “the next generation of turbines.” He has also promised to deploy floating turbines that can deliver 1GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. His green agenda will still need to clear multiple hurdles to prove that the promise of billions in investment and much-needed green jobs can be delivered.

Hugh McNeal, CEO of trade association RenewableUK said:

“The Government has raised the ambition for offshore wind and renewables, and our industry is ready to meet the challenge.”

The government has committed to investing in a clean energy future to create “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs” in the next decade.

The prime minister compared the UK’s resources in off-shore wind to Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, saying that the UK would “become the world leader in low-cost clean power generation – cheaper than oil and gas”.

Keith Anderson, the chief executive of Scottish Power, one of the largest investors in Britain’s renewable energy industry, said there is “no shortage of capital or investor appetite in offshore wind” but the pace and scale of the industry’s growth will depend on the government’s ability to grant new seabed licences and project contracts at record speed.

The government plans to attract investment from the private sector through a major contract auction next spring. This will also include support for onshore wind and solar power projects for the first time in four years since the government removed the block against onshore wind projects early in 2020 allowing schemes to compete for subsidies alongside solar power developments and floating offshore wind projects.

This upcoming auction alone has the potential to generate more than £20bn of investment and create 12,000 jobs, mainly in the construction sector, according to RenewableUK, the trade association for wind power.

Keith Anderson went on to say:

“I am absolutely confident that the industry can achieve this. My only nervousness is that people will start to see the 40GW as a cap. We should achieve that, and power past it. We are going to need far more clean electricity.”

Next year the UK will be hosting the vital UN climate talks, Cop26, postponed by a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which is putting extra pressure on the UK government to produce a programme of measures that will show the UK is taking its net-zero target seriously.

The UK still has a long way to go in order to reach its net zero commitment by 2050 despite the push to offshore wind and the recently launched £2 billion Green Homes Grant.

There are some doubts that the much-heralded green recovery will lead to a big increase in jobs to accompany the offshore wind expansion but the government has promised that at least 60% of the content of offshore wind farms will be made in the UK.

£160m is being invested by the government in upgrading the UK’s ports to manage the size of a new generation of mega-turbines, including floating windmills capable of delivering 1GW of energy by 2030, over 15 times the current floating offshore volumes worldwide. This will help to create supply chain hubs in port communities which face economic decline.

It is hoped that this initial investment will rapidly create about 2,000 construction jobs and enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories, and the supply chains.

The new floating offshore technology will allow wind farms to be built further out to sea in deeper waters boosting capacity even more where winds are strongest. This should ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the next generation of clean energy.

Executive director of the Aldersgate Group said that this much needed investment in port infrastructure should be matched by “a clear focus on low-carbon skills” to help grow domestic supply chains as well as create jobs in the sector.

Johnson said:

“As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind, a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment.”

Later this year, another step in the planned green economic recovery is expected to be promoted, the shift to electric vehicles with the decision having already been made to end the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

A tentative date in November has been set for the announcement of the government’s Build Back Greener plan which is expected to follow the advice set out by the Committee on Climate Change.

Luke Clark of RenewableUK, spoke recently about the plan to expedite the growth of wind farms:

“It is one of the lowest cost options for new power in the UK, and the industry has worked tirelessly to bring down costs over the last decade by investing in innovative new technologies and our supply chain.  The real risk for consumers is being tied to expensive, high carbon power sources instead of low-cost renewables, which markets across the globe are consistently showing to be the future of the energy system.”

Zero Carbon Housing Retrofit Solution Launched by Engie UK

Renewables Future

Leading service, business energy and regeneration specialist, Engie UK believe it is their duty to develop solutions that will reduce the carbon footprint of the UK’s housing stock. In a bid to help local authorities, housing associations and other housing providers do just that, Engie UK has announced the launch of an innovative low carbon housing retrofit service to decarbonise their stock in line with the UK’s net zero plans.

They have warned that if not enough action is taken now, the existing housing supply presents a “considerable threat” to the UK’s commitment to reach net zero carbon by 2050.

Currently UK households account for more than a quarter of the entire UK CO2 emissions with half of the market only achieving an EPC rating of D or less. This means that the UK needs to take radical steps to achieve a mass reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Engie customers are being offered a range of retrofit solutions designed to help make homes greener and more energy efficient. The service includes the installation of solar PV and battery storage systems, fabric improvements to roof, walls and flooring, a low carbon heating and hot water solution, mechanical ventilation and long-term maintenance and monitoring. Furthermore, the offer is being extended to include a number of smart technologies such as the implementation of rapid EV charge points and grid balancing technologies as part of the deal.

This whole house retrofit solution guarantees reduced carbon emissions and energy bills while ensuring homes are warmer, healthier, and more comfortable.

To develop this new suite of services which Engie UK describes as a “fabric first, one-stop shop to decentralise, digitalise and decarbonise homes” it is drawing on its extensive housing retrofit experience which includes working with Dutch energy efficient building upgrades approach Energiesprong. This experience enables them to develop a product that can be tailored to individual and local requirements. 

Known as Engie Zero, it foresees the upfront costs of retrofit works being paid for by the savings generated from the improvements together with existing revenue streams and government incentives, including Energy Companies Obligation (ECO), Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Grid Balancing Agreements.

Importantly, the Engie Zero solution can also offer clients a viable way to future proof their homes as well as providing them with a long-term energy performance guarantee.

Divisional Head of Energy and Innovation, at Engie UK, Andy Merrin said the company felt a responsibility to develop green home solutions in view of the UK’s 2050 net zero target as well as the 70 per cent of local authorities which have declared a ‘climate emergency’.

Andy Merrin said:

“We know that new homes only account for one to two per cent of total housing stock and 80 per cent of the homes of 2050 are already in existence; so it’s clear that our existing supply is a considerable threat to plans for a zero carbon future. More worrying is that in order to meet the UK 2050 target, a total of 300 homes every hour would need to be retrofitted.”

There is no doubt that the decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock poses a major challenge. Although the government has taken steps to improve the efficiency of UK homes with the launching of the Green Homes Grant in September, the initiative is only set to run for 6 months and is already oversubscribed. There are calls for more to be done to wean UK buildings off fossil fuel heating and to bring the UK’s most draughty homes up to scratch. Significantly more policy support, regulation and investment is required to remedy this situation.

Andy Merrin went on to say:

In launching ENGIE Zero, we are able to offer our partners with a viable solution to support their climate emergency action plans, help eradicate fuel poverty and improve the quality of accommodation and wellbeing.  We hope this, in turn, helps drive substantial investment towards mass-scale renovations, so we can deliver the necessary alterations to the built environment and help make zero carbon happen.”

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP praised Engie for launching the new service, which he said would help lessen the environmental impact of the UK’s carbon-intensive housing stock.

He said:

The UK Government is dedicated to its net zero agenda. All of us have a role to play in the work to deliver a carbon free world. I commend ENGIE’s clear commitment to contribute to this effort to reduce the carbon footprint of our housing stock.”

Though there are many options for decarbonisation they all come with problems, from disruptive infrastructure or home retrofit needs to potentially high costs or requirements for much more extensive roll-out of zero-carbon power.

The time needed to resolve some of these issues must not be wasted. Investments need to be made in energy efficiency now without which the already steep challenge of heat would become harder still.

Engie’s flexible and integrated approach ensures optimum carbon savings in the most cost-effective way, in lockstep with the governments’ clean growth strategy.

Could Renewables Overtake Fossil fuels to Become the UK’s Top Power Source in 2020?

fossil fuel renewables

Europe has recently reached a major milestone in its journey to transform the way it generates energy. According to London based, Ember, an independent climate think-tank, renewables now account for a greater share of Europe’s energy mix than fossil fuels and are now secure as the EU’s main source of electricity. The first half of 2020 saw just 34% of Europe’s power coming from coal, gas, and oil, in comparison to the 40% that came directly from solar, wind and hydro sources. At the same time use of renewable energy went up by over a tenth and carbon dioxide emissions fell by nearly a quarter.

The UK also experienced the favourable weather conditions that played a big part in Europe’s recent successes. These storms helped make February 2020 the first month on record when more electricity was produced by wind farms than gas-fired power stations in the UK. It was truly a landmark moment when the UK renewable power output overtook fossil fuels for the first time in February 2020.

Consistently high winds were a feature throughout the period with output from wind farms was more than 10GW for 63% of the quarter, and more than 5GW for 85% of it.

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The Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES), also known as Westminster’s “energy bible,” documents forensic detail on British energy use. Their latest report, published towards the end of July, disclosed that the UK has broken yet more records, with 37.1% of all energy generated throughout 2019 coming from renewable sources. The combined domestic output of wind, solar and hydropower is documented as being up by 11% if you compare it to the previous year, and bioenergy output is also up by nearly 2%.

According to authoritative analysis by Carbon Brief, the third quarter of 2019, saw UK’s windfarms, solar panels, biomass and hydro plants generate “more electricity than the combined output from power stations fired by coal, oil or gas.” This was the first-ever quarter where renewable generation outstripped fossil fuels in British history.  These figures highlight the potential and progress of green industries in industrialized, western nations.

A new milestone was reached in the first quarter of 2020 with renewables generating 35.4TWh which was more than fossil fuels combined. Wind, solar, biomass and hydro sources made up 41.8 per cent of the renewables mix. This equates to a significant increase from the first quarter of 2019 when renewables produced 27.2TWh. During the period between January and March 44.6% of total power generation was produced by renewables, with the rest generated by gas-fired plants (29.1%), nuclear plants (15.3%), power imports (7.3%) and coal plants (3.7%).

The credit for the rapid growth of the renewables industry has been chalked up to coal plants coming offline ahead of the government’s deadline, as well as the spurt in expansion of the UK’s offshore wind sector. Wind power has made a big difference to the figures, with 10% of energy produced coming from offshore installations and 10% coming from turbines peppered around the British countryside.

With businesses shutting up shop and more people working from home, electricity demand fell during the Coronavirus lockdown to its lowest level since 1982. Renewables came into their own during this period as they allowed the flexibility within the power system that is needed at these critical moments and were crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on.

Melanie Onn, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, said the figures show us “Just how far we’ve come in the revolution in power generation.” This is particularly so if you consider that the UK was only generating 7% of its energy needs from renewables just a decade ago. Looking back to 2010 it is easy to see the dramatic shift in generation and consumption. Just 10 years ago the renewable energy industry was still a relative upstart in comparison to the titan of coal and gas with three quarters of all energy still coming from fossil fuels.

Melanie Onn writes that:

“At a time when so many things seem uncertain, the consistent rise of renewables, keeping the UK powered up, bringing billions in investment in new energy infrastructure and creating highly skilled jobs all over the country, is a terrific success story we can all be proud of.”

There were many people who were still sceptical about the power of renewables at the beginning of the decade. Renewables were after all taking on the might of the entrenched and established fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel purists questioned the reliability and affordability of green technology believing that a country as energy-glugging as the UK wouldn’t be able to generate enough of its energy mix from renewable sources. This case has been decidedly disproved however, in an energy revolution that has seen new developments in renewables accelerate much faster than anybody could have hoped for. As the decade comes to an end, renewables are providing amongst the cheapest forms of electricity that for substantial periods of the year have overtaken its more carbon intensive counterparts. With green energy technology becoming ever more efficient and more acceptable to consumers it looks likely that records will continue to be broken at a pace of knots.

Given the success stories on both sides of the channel you could be forgiven for daring to imagine that the UK could celebrate a year that sees renewable power as the top power source of the country. Many in the renewable energy industry are beginning to wonder what next year’s figures might look like.

Donald Speirs of specialist renewables business Dulas, writes that:

 “We just keep seeing records broken and the whole industry has intense momentum behind it now. Just earlier this year, we saw the longest period without coal energy since the industrial revolution, with the National Grid reporting a two-month hiatus from coal at the last count. And, with the resurgence of interest in energy storage combined with enjoyed favourable conditions for wind and solar in the first two quarters of the year, the industry is looking incredibly promising.”

Like most global economies the UK economy has been affected by Covid-19. However, the government’s determination to make the economic recovery a green one propelled by the legally binding goal of achieving net zero by 2050 could well mean that we’ll see some impressive and era-defining progress come Spring 2021. It is looking increasingly likely that 2020 will mark the start of a new era of renewables dominance.

200MW Boost to Pipeline of UK Solar Projects

Solar field

Solar energy firm, Elgin Energy and the investment group, Foresight have formed a joint venture to develop 200MW of UK solar PV. They have revealed plans for six subsidy-free greenfield solar projects with a total generating capacity of 200MW across England, Wales, and Scotland as part of a new partnership. The aim is to deliver clean power capacity in support of the UK’s commitment to bring all greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050.

Foresight is a leading independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 36 years.

£3.7 billion of the £6.5 billion of assets under Foresight’s management relates to renewable energy infrastructure. Foresight is currently managing more than 250 renewable generation assets globally with a total generating capacity of 2.5GW.

Its portfolio includes over 150 solar plants and it boasts more than 1.4GW of solar generation assets under management around the world.

Peter Bolton, director of Foresight, said that Elgin had a “strong track record” and that they were looking forward to building their relationship into the future. He explained that Foresight was looking to pursue opportunities for their investors that can “offer strong returns from de-risked structures”.

He said:

“We see solar PV enjoying a second phase of growth driven by continuing optimisation of assets and the ongoing reduction in the capital costs. The need to meet net zero targets and the potential reintroduction of government support will further encourage the deployment of utility scale solar”.

Elgin Energy is an international solar developer with over 3GW in development across the UK, Ireland, and Australia. The company delivers utility scale solar projects (20-100MW) from origination through the development process to energisation.

Its portfolio includes 62 UK-based projects in late-stage development, totalling over 2GW.

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Ronan Kilduff, managing director of Elgin Energy welcomed the agreement with Foresight saying that it was an “important partnership”.

He further commented:

This important partnership with Foresight, a leading player in the UK solar industry, further enhances Elgin Energy’s successful transition into a post-subsidy world – fulfilling our 2020 vision of delivering large-scale, unsubsidised projects to market.”

Following the UK government’s contentious decision to end subsidy support for new projects in 2016 the UK solar market slowed down to a large extent. However, more recently momentum has gathered behind subsidy-free, utility-scale solar developments in the UK. Throughout 2019 a handful of major solar investors, including companies such as NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) and Bluefield Solar Investment Fund, unveiled plans to amass subsidy-free solar portfolios in the UK demonstrating their commitment to the UK market.

The drop in technology and development costs combined with the emergence of energy storage systems at the same time as demand has grown for clean power from large corporate customers has resulted in a growing pipeline of new solar farm projects that developers are confident can be built without subsidy support.

The steady decline of prices for battery storage has also begun to add value to renewables, making intermittent wind and solar increasingly competitive with traditional, “dispatchable” energy sources.

Earlier in 2020 this pipeline was given a further boost when the government decided to allow onshore wind and solar farms to compete for price support contracts and future clean power auctions, providing developers with another viable route to market for new projects. Foresight’s head of UK solar, Ricardo Pineiro, saw this as “encouraging and a step in the right direction”.

Solar photovoltaics are widely recognised as a tried and tested technology in the great race to reduce climate change as they are ready for distribution in the here and now and on a mass scale.

How Can The National Grid Help Make the UK’s Net Zero Target a Reality?

National Grid Net Zero

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing mankind at this time. Decisions we make now will determine the future of our planet and life on earth. It has become crucial that we change the way we live in order to reduce harmful carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050.

Time is running out and acting now is the only way forward. In the next ten years the renewable energy industry must fulfil a number of goals.

There is much work to be done but the future looks promising with the emergence of viable technologies as well as some political commitment and investment.

Undoubtedly, in order to have any chance of reaching net zero by 2050 big changes need to be made. Currently 85 per cent of homes and 40 per cent of the UK’s power needs are supplied by gas. If the UK is to become one of the world’s first net zero economies by 2050 the gas sector needs to set out a plan for decarbonisation. In the next decade alone, it is essential that low carbon heating systems are installed in approximately 2.8 million homes.

Nicola Shaw, Executive director at the National Grid has laid out some ways that both her company and the UK can make the most of the huge opportunities that will come with the progression to net zero emissions. The National Grid is working with their industry partners as part of the Future Gas Forum to research different ways that our homes can be warm but environmentally friendly. One of their main proposals is a switch to hydrogen which is cleaner than the methane most often used at present. There are various difficulties that need to be overcome such as producing hydrogen at scale and adapting the current infrastructure. Tests are being carried out on ways of safely transporting hydrogen around the transmission network. An example of this is Project Cavendish which is researching ways that hydrogen can be produced, stored, and imported at the Isle of Grain in Kent, to get hydrogen to the South of London. Other projects are looking at how hydrogen or a mix of hydrogen and methane can be carried around the gas transmission network. All these projects are vital if low carbon energy, is to be delivered reliably and safely to all consumers. 

In another bid to make carbon savings, the National Grid has been sending robots down high-pressure gas pipelines to carry out checks and repairs. This not only reduces maintenance costs but also generates annual savings of more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon which is the equivalent to the emissions of 500 households.

The changeover to electric cars is another very important condition in the shift to net zero emissions by 2050. The UK needs to see the installation of approximately 60,000 charging points to power nearly 11 million electric vehicles in the next decade.

The National Grid has come up with a proposal to install a network of ultra-fast chargers at UK motorway service stations which would cut charge time to as little as five to 10 minutes. They appreciate that with new petrol and diesel cars no longer on the market from 2035 they need to be prepared for the big increase in electric cars. They believe that faster transition is possible and that they are robust enough to cope with the forecast uptake in EVs. They do think though that some targeted investment will be required to ensure that there are suitable places where drivers can access sufficient high-power charging away from home.

In alliance with Equinor and Drax, the National Grid is investigating the possibility of achieving the creation of a net zero industrial cluster in the Humber region. The three companies together are committed to £800,000 of funding as part of a £2.6m project to plan out industrial decarbonisation on a grand scale. The Humber area employs 55,000 people and contributes £18bn towards UK GDP making it already home to the UK’s largest industrial economy. The workforce has a significant skillset established from taking part in activities such as refining, petrochemicals, and manufacturing. Using this experience and adding the right support and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) technology means that Humber and by default the UK, will lead the way in decarbonisation and regeneration of the area.

Today, the UK has 10GW of offshore wind but this needs to take a giant leap to 75GW under net zero. Up until now the National Grid has connected wind farms to the grid one by one but this needs to change now to allow for the further 65GW needed. Long-term solutions need to be developed to ensure we don’t create bottlenecks and that disruption to coastal communities is minimal. The National Grid fully supports the government’s recent review into offshore wind farms. They are playing their part by evaluating the costs and benefits of different coordinated network designs and technologies. In doing this they can encourage innovation, harness the economic benefits, and create highly skilled jobs.

It is vital that in the next decade that low carbon electricity generation is increased by approximately 50% from sources such as wind or solar power.

National Grid Partners, has backed a range of companies that are assisting the progress of a lower carbon future. One example of this is Autogrid which is developing sophisticated technology to bring more renewable energy into the system. Another example is Carbon Lighthouse which is helping building owners to cut energy waste to fight climate change.

We have already passed the point that saw most of the UK’s energy coming from coal-fired power stations. Those days are over. To ensure that this continues the National Grid is creating a network of interconnectors. These undersea cables enable smarter energy systems to react quickly to changes in supply and demand, ensuring renewable energy flows from where it is being generated in large quantities, to where it is needed most. Over £3 billion has been invested in 4.4GW of new interconnector capacity since 2014, which provides access to enough electricity to power 11 million homes. There is potential to add a further 9.5 GW of interconnectors in order to deliver a smarter, more flexible future energy system.

The number one aim for the National Grid is to enable the transition to a clean and low carbon future but they are also looking closely at their own operations to ensure they are doing the right thing. In the UK, the National Grid has promised to replace over 50 per cent of their internal fleet with alternative fuel vehicles by 2026. They are continuing to lead in developing alternatives to the insulating gas SF6 and will no longer install any equipment that uses this greenhouse gas. Further to this they are also looking at lower carbon construction methods and have set a target of increasing the energy efficiency of their own buildings by 10 per cent.  

You may not have realised that the National Grid had such a pivotal role to play in tackling climate change but they are doing much more than just keeping the lights on or the gas flowing.

Oil & Gas Majors Expedite Their Move to Renewables

oil and gas investment

The year 2020 will go down in history as the point when the long-awaited energy transition to a low-carbon future went from being a topic of debate to something far more tangible. The effects of the global pandemic of 2020 will be remembered for a long time to come. The world-wide lockdown dramatically reduced the demand for oil and gas but provided a big boost for renewables. The speed at which the move away from fossil fuels happens will still not be fast enough for many people but will far outstrip previous and current forecasts. Covid-19 is just one part of what is a complex story.

Fossil fuel companies are turning towards wind and solar in a big way after seeing oil futures dropping below zero in April this year. Mona Dajani, partner and global head of energy and infrastructure at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in New York said in a phone interview with BloombergNEF in June that she is also increasingly seeing storage bundled into packages with wind and solar.

Big oil companies have long realised that the future lies ultimately with renewable energy. Both oil and gas prices have been in decline since 2014. Following the spread of Covid-19 and the inevitable recession that has followed it numerous planned projects are no longer commercially viable. Oil is of course still required as demand cannot be easily substituted in areas such as freight or air transport. The International Energy Agency has predicted that renewable energy generation will more than quadruple by 2040 and this is probably a very conservative estimate knowing the history of their projects.

In particular, European-based oil and gas companies such as BP, Shell, Equinor and Total have realised that for commercial reasons alone they need to be on the green side of the future. This is happening at the same time that energy consuming companies in many other industrial sectors are coming to the same conclusion. Companies both oil and gas producing, and guzzling are understanding that there is no point in resisting the path to renewables as it is not only a waste of time but bad for business.

Electric vehicles are continuing to grow in number and with dozens of new models coming online in the next year we should see an ongoing shift to electric vehicles over the next two decades.

The big utilities and oil super majors are establishing their place in offshore wind. In order to survive they need to develop this arm of their business. They are bringing funds to capital intensive projects. Fossil fuel super majors are repurposing some of the infrastructure needed on flagships and offshore cranes. The consolidation of the industry is a great step forward for renewables. 

Big oil companies are adapting their businesses to stay relevant. One of the first big oil companies to take renewable energy seriously was Total. The European energy giant bought a majority stake in SunPower, the solar energy choice for homeowners and businesses around the world and acquired Saft, which is now building some of the biggest energy storage projects in the world. 

Interestingly, Total’s move into renewable energy makes the company look more like a utility than a traditional oil and gas company. The company is changing its business model in order to survive. In 2020, the company expects to grow gross global renewable energy capacity to 6 gigawatts (GW) from about 3 GW in 2019. That’s enough to power 1.14 million U.S. homes. 

Total is planning to have low carbon electricity operations account for 15% to 20% of its sales mix by 2040. This may not seem like a lot for an energy company but it’s important to remember that big oil companies are in the process of navigating massive businesses slowly away from fossil fuels to other forms of energy. Total is moving faster than most of its rivals but getting ahead of the game is wise as renewable energy becomes a larger portion of the world’s energy mix.

As one of the world’s largest independent oil refiners, you would not normally associate Valero Energy with renewable energy. They manufacture and sell transportation fuels and currently operate 15 petroleum refineries and 14 ethanol plants. Now, however it has a stake in the largest renewable diesel plant in North America. Valero operates Diamond Green Diesel, a renewable diesel joint venture with Darling Ingredients in Louisiana. Though it’s still only a small portion of its business relative to petroleum, the renewable diesel segment grew 80% in 2019.

Though you wouldn’t normally think of Clean Energy Fuels as an oil company as such it does match the definition of a fossil fuels company working to transition to renewables. Clean Energy has already moved a bigger share of its business to renewables than most other energy companies. Their core business is selling natural gas to transportation customers. Natural gas has much cleaner emissions than diesel and as more companies, investors and municipalities are keen to prioritise environmental measures, Clean Energy’s fuel volume sales have grown quickly.

The big oil and gas majors are well placed to expand into the renewable energy industry as they already have the money, the talent, and a lot of the existing infrastructure. They also have the mandate to move into this space. It’s almost like, a win-win situation for both the company and the renewable industry. The once solely traditional fossil fuel companies are gradually changing the way that they are perceived and although they are very much driven by profits it’s also a survival strategy.

Innovative Green Electricity tariffs for the Renewable Home or Business

National Power

Big changes are taking place in the energy sector. Though the Big six energies companies still have the monopoly in the marketplace, the number of smaller independents is growing all the time. A revolution is taking place with the advent of independent energy suppliers, consumers generating their own solar power, dynamic pricing plans and smart homes.

No one can be blamed for being a little confused when confronting the choice of electricity tariffs available on the market today. There are hundreds of different tariffs to choose from so deciding which is the perfect one for you can be difficult. It is helpful that electricity tariffs are now tightly regulated which means that suppliers can’t offer more than four different tariffs to avoid some of the confusion. If you are just interested in price, then price comparison sites could work for you. However, these sites will be less helpful if you want to know how green each supplier is, where each supplier’s energy is coming from or whether their tariff is offering the best value for electric cars and home batteries.

With concern for the environment being a major reason for households to go solar it’s not surprising that they want to buy their non-solar electricity from renewable sources as well. Green electricity tariffs provide assurance that any electricity supplied to you is matched by electricity produced from renewable electricity sources. In order to prove the tariff’s green credentials all renewable generation comes with tracking certificates called REGOs. Most companies also do something additional to this such as investing in renewable generation, tree planting or giving to community energy funds etc. There are various styles of green electricity providers which can be for the most part categorised as:

  • Green electricity suppliers that invest in new renewable generation. These companies invest in new wind and solar farms, as well as other related technologies such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This group includes companies which are older and more established like Good Energy and Ecotricity.
  • Green electricity suppliers that pay into funds. A good example in this group is Marks and Spencer Energy. They pay a contribution per customer into the M&S Community Energy Fund.  This fund then provides grants to community energy projects across the country.
  • Green electricity supplier that plant trees. Many green electricity suppliers choose to plant trees as a way of providing additional carbon savings, including such companies as BulbOctopus EnergyOVO Energy and Green Star Energy.

You tend to find that the more well-established suppliers of green electricity buy electricity from their own wind and solar farms. The newer green electricity suppliers will source renewable power from the cheapest sources they can find. This can work out to be very cheap if the supply includes old hydropower stations which were paid for long ago. This means that you will sometimes find green electricity suppliers such as Bulb providing the cheapest power on the market.

Some suppliers are offering time-of-day tariffs. It’s a simple case of supply and demand as energy usually costs more on wholesale market at peak times. Basically, it costs different amounts to generate electricity at different times of the day. Energy suppliers will tend to pay more to obtain energy during the day which is typically the most expensive time as demand is high. It costs more to produce electricity at peak times between 4pm and 7pm and less in the middle of the night, and at weekends. This is why some energy providers offer time-of-use tariffs that charge lower rates to businesses & homeowners for the electricity they use at off-peak times. You may be familiar with Economy 7 tariffs which have been around for many years and historically encouraged the use of night-time electricity for electric heating. What we are now seeing are specific variants of this, especially for electric car charging.

There are a number of time-of-day tariffs specifically designed to encourage households to shift their demand to off-peak times. These tariffs have low overnight pricing, medium prices in the day and high pricing at peak times between 4 and 7pm.

To give an example, Green Energy UK offer the TIDE tariff which has the following price structure:

  • Off Peak time– 7.9p per kWh
  • Standard time – 16.3p kWh
  • Peak time – 32.5p kWh

In order to access a time-of-day tariff you will need to have a smart meter installed. You will be at a particular advantage if you have a battery storage system. Daytime demand will be largely covered by solar, and the battery will discharge to the home and cover your demand during those expensive peak time hours. This means that a household with a home battery might only be buying electricity at cheaper times regardless of when electricity is actually being used in the home. It is important to bear in mind however that your battery will operate differently throughout the year. You need to be sure that you can capture enough solar during the winter to fill the battery or you may find that you are importing expensive peak time electricity anyway.

You can get round this with a Tesla Powerwall which can partially top up your battery with cheap night-time electricity, whilst still leaving space for tomorrow’s solar generation. This an excellent way of ensuring that the only electricity you use is either your own solar or cheap night-time electricity.

Electricity tariffs can go one step further with real-time pricing meaning that instead of banding pricing by time of day, the price actually varies every half-hour through the year. The market leader with this approach is the Octopus Agile tariff.  Once signed up, they will send you the next day’s prices at 4pm, so you can look at these and determine when to use electricity.  If national demand is low and there is a lot of renewable generation from for example, offshore wind, then prices may be very low.  If the reverse is true and demand is high and renewable generation low, prices will be high such as on winter evenings, when the weather is still.

Interestingly though the Agile tariff is likely to follow a similar profile to the TIDE tariff which means that once again you could avoid high prices by having a home battery (especially with a Tesla Powerwall) and only ever importing electricity at the cheapest times.

The price of each unit of energy on some of these time-of-day tariffs can change throughout a 24-hour period and even on different days of the week.

These tariffs are ideal for businesses if they are able to be flexible with how and when energy is used as it can save them money. It could be worth businesses considering changing their routines so that they could move to off-peak usage for some if not all of their main energy consuming activities.

These businesses would have to be on a time-of-use energy tariff, and either have a half-hourly (HH) meter or a smart meter fitted.

An HH electricity meter sends half-hourly meter readings to your energy supplier. This automated process lets a business owner accurately monitor their energy use and the times their business uses the most energy, helping them to look for ways to use it more efficiently.

Some large businesses are required by law to have an HH meter fitted. If you are a company that regularly uses 100kW of electricity in a half hour period, you will be required to install an HH electricity meter. Businesses that fall into this category include factories, supermarkets, large offices, and warehouses. You can choose to have an HH meter installed if your business uses 70kW or more in a half hour period.

With the arrival of the electric car a number of new electricity tariffs to support electric vehicle charging have come onto the market in recent years offering cheaper night-time rates. This makes it possible for electric vehicle owners to charge and run their cars as cheaply as possible and makes it less attractive to charge at peak times which if high volumes were reached could be problematic for the grid. To see a completely up-to-date list of night-time rates you are advised to check Zapmap’s list of EV tariffs.

Businesses that don’t have an HH meter can have a smart meter installed instead. They send regular meter readings to your energy supplier automatically so you will only be charged for what you use, putting an end to estimated billing.

Smart meters also allow you to monitor your company’s or household’s energy consumption accurately so you can identify when the peak usage times come into play.

All UK businesses and households must have been offered a smart meter by suppliers by the end of 2024 as part of a rollout by the government although this deadline may be delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s essential that before you commit to a time-of-use tariff you ensure that it’s right for your business or household as you could end up paying more than on your previous tariff.

You can make significant savings if you can use a large proportion of your energy in off peak periods or can change your routines to accommodate this. But if you’re tied to using the bulk of your energy during peak times the time-of-use tariff may actually cost you more than other tariffs.

However, having an HH or smart meter and being incentivised by a time -of-use tariff could motivate you to plan how to use your energy more efficiently. The more you can use energy efficiently the bigger the potential for saving on your bills.

An added bonus to this, is that time-of-use tariffs help to reduce the pressure on the UK energy infrastructure at peak times.

Of course, price isn’t the only concern for customers choosing a tariff and the generation mix received. It’s also becoming more common for tariffs to offer local supply or supply that comes from specific sources.

This is where the future of energy generation can have a part to play in bringing communities together. For example, municipal tariffs such as the not-for-profit Robin Hood Energy or Bristol Energy ensure that their energy supply comes form generation in the local area.

It’s still early days for peer-to peer trading of electricity but the distributed generation and sale of electricity could cut out the need for traditional utilities to act as the middleman in the future.

As you can see there are a multitude of tariffs out there making it important to do your research thoroughly before making your choice. It’s worthwhile talking to your electricity supplier to determine exactly how each tariff will work so you can plan for the change in advance. As with all financial transactions always make sure you compare the different options before you commit to a switch.

A Look at the Smart Export Guarantee Six Months On

Last year the government unveiled a new scheme to be launched in January 2020 that would compensate people who produced more electricity than they needed. The new SEG scheme duly came into force as planned in January. The scheme requires all energy suppliers with at least 150,000 domestic customers (including the big six, such as EDF Energy and Npower, and smaller companies such as Ovo and Bulb) to buy surplus solar, wind or other renewable energy generated by its customers under the smart export guarantee (SEG). This means that homeowners can be compensated for the electricity that they put back into the grid. Offering an SEG tariff is optional for smaller companies.

You are most likely to benefit from this scheme if you have solar panels, but you will also qualify if your home produces, renewable energy from wind, hydro, micro combined heat and power or anaerobic digestion.

The SEG has replaced the previous feed-in tariff (FIT), which is no longer available to new customers. Although both schemes reward at-home electricity production there are a few essential differences. FIT tariffs are funded by a levy on all energy bills and because home electricity production is paid for at a rate set by energy regulator Ofgem there is no need for homeowners to shop around. Another significant difference in the two schemes is that with the FIT tariff the homeowner is compensated for all home electricity produced whether or not it is fed back into the national grid. This is not the case with the SEG which focuses on Individual energy companies paying home electricity producers directly for the electricity they feed into the National Grid which is then available for others to use. The SEG scheme tends to be less generous than the FIT and for this reason it is recommended that you wait until your FIT contract has ended before moving to an SEG tariff.

In order to take advantage of the SEG scheme, you must sign up to a dedicated SEG tariff. The energy supplier you choose will set the rate paid for the electricity you export. As some deals are better than others it’s best to shop around.

It will come as no surprise that now private companies control the prices of SEG tariffs that the amount that you get back for your excess energy production varies somewhat between tariffs.

The Solar trade Association (STA) has produced data which reveals that the three best-value tariffs will pay you more than five times the amount you would get for the energy you produce from the worst-value tariff.

Social Energy pays 5.6p/kWh, while Octopus and Eon both offer fixed tariffs paying 5.5p/kWh. In comparison, the lowest-paying company pays just 1p/kWh. However, this is better than the dismal 0.5/kWh that was the lowest offer in January 2020.

The tariff you are offered could make a big difference to how much you earn depending of course on how much you’re able to export.

A household with a fairly typical solar panel set-up could earn £69 more a year (£84 vs £15) with the highest-paying tariff rather than the lowest-paying.

This figure is worked out based on tariffs available as of August 2020 for a 4kWp system exporting 1,500kWh of electricity to the grid in a year. To put this into context, the average household uses 2,900kWh electricity in a year.

The Solar trade Association keeps a list of tariffs and updates when required as below:

Variable   
 ProviderTariff NameTariff Rate
 Octopus EnergyOutgoing AgilePegged to half-hourly wholesale rate
Fixed-Rate tariffs        
 SupplierTariff NameTariff Type (fixed, currently fixed* or variable rate)Tariff LengthTariff RatePayment CycleIncludes Battery StorageRequirement to be on the suppliers’ import tariff?
1Social Energy^Smarter ExportCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date5.6p3 monthsYes (must be SE battery)Yes
2Octopus EnergyOutgoing FixedFixed12-month fixed term5.5pMonthlyYesYes
E.ON EnergyFix & Export ExclusiveFixed12-month fixed term5.5pUnknownUnknownUnknown
4Bulb EnergyExport PaymentsFixedNo Fixed End Date5.38p3 monthsYesNo
5OVO EnergyOVO SEG TariffFixed12-month fixed term4.0p3 monthsCase by case basisNo
ScottishPowerSmart Export Variable TariffCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date4.0p6 monthsUnknownNo
7SSESmart Export TariffFixedNo Fixed End Date3.5p12 monthsCase by case basisYes
EDF EnergyExport+EarnFixed12-month fixed term3.5p3 monthsNoNo
Shell EnergySEG V1 TariffCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date3.5p12 monthsUnknownYes
Green Network EnergySEG TariffCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date3.5pQuarterlyNoNo
11British GasExport & Earn FlexCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date3.2p6 monthsYesNo
12E.ON EnergyFix & ExportFixed12-month fixed term3.0pUnknownUnknownUnknown
UtilitaSmart Export GuaranteeUnknownUnknown3.0pUnknownUnknownUnknown
AvroSmart Export TariffUnknownUnknown3.0pUnknownUnknownUnknown
15Utility WarehouseUW Smart Export GuaranteeFixedNo Fixed End Date2.0pQuarterlyNoNo
16EE SEG January2020v.1Currently FixedNo Fixed End Date1.0pUnknownUnknownUnknown

*Currently Fixed means that the supplier has specified a fixed rate but has not fixed this for a specific timeframe / the supplier has caveated that the current fixed price might change in the future

^Offering tariffs on a voluntary basis

Shell Energy has recently launched a new type of tariff that is slightly different to SEG tariffs.

Rather than paying you directly for the electricity you export to the grid you earn credits for energy exports during the summer months which means that you are then able to get a discount of up to £150 on your winter energy bills. Unlike the SEG, it’s targeted solely at solar-panel owners.

It is being marketed by Shell as a solution to at-home waste but there is a significant cost attached to this tariff. In order to take advantage of this tariff you have to own a SonnenBatterie to store solar energy. This is because the battery allows you to capture electricity so that you can use it another time. This in turn maximises the benefits of having solar panels. The downside to this is that SonnenBatteries are among one of the pricier home energy storage batteries on the market starting from £6,499.

On top of that the import tariff Shell offers is relatively expensive, priced at £1,016 a year for a household that uses a medium amount of energy. The import tariff allows you to buy gas, and any electricity you need when the amount you generate from your solar panels isn’t enough. This tariff will only save you £111 on the energy price cap for customers on a standard or default tariff, which limits how much suppliers can charge per unit of energy.

However, it is worth taking into consideration that Shell says their customers will be able to get up to £150 off their winter energy bills, which is quite likely to be more money than most solar panel owners could expect to make by selling their energy to another customer using SEG.

The Shell tariff works on the basis that those on this tariff will be able to produce up to 75% of their own electricity. The caveat to this is that when you need to import gas and electricity it will most likely be more expensive than other suppliers.

Solar panels continue to become less expensive to buy but you should not expect any earnings for SEG to cover the cost of installing solar panels any time soon.

Despite this there are still many good reasons to get solar panels. Most homeowners will be happy to hear that a solar PV system can reduce their energy bills which combined with the SEG earnings will cut the solar payback time quite considerably. You can also bask in the glow of being self-sufficient if you produce your own electricity though you’ll also need an energy storage battery to make this a reality. Most important of all is being able to reduce your carbon footprint by becoming a sustainable consumer and helping protect the future of the human race.