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Planning Consent Granted for East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm

18 Jun 2014

East Anglia One Offshore Wind, a joint venture between ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall, has  received consent from the Department for Energy & Climate Change for a 1200MW offshore windfarm off the coast of East Anglia, the largest renewable energy project ever to receive planning consent in England and Wales.

The East Anglia ONE project is also the first in England and Wales to be approved from the Crown Estate’s Round Three Process.

The planned development is for up to 240 wind turbines to be installed across an area of 300km2 in the southern North Sea. The project could power the annual electricity demands of around 820,000 homes.

It is anticipated that the development, the first of six potential projects in the East Anglia Zone, could support up to 2,700 jobs across the UK during the construction phase, representing more than £170m for the UK economy for each year of construction. More than 1,600 construction jobs could be supported in the East Anglia region alone, adding over £100m to the regional economy annually during construction.

East Anglia Offshore Wind will now accelerate its contact with the supply chain and detailed negotiations will also take place to determine the Ports which could support the project. Following a final investment decision, it is anticipated that onshore construction could begin in 2017, with offshore work starting in 2018 and first power generation achieved in 2019.

ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall expect that up to 170 engineers and technicians would be required to provide operations and maintenance support for the project once completed. These jobs could be required for more than 20 years, potentially adding over £10m to the local economy on an annual basis.

In total, for the three years of construction and 20-plus years of operation for East Anglia ONE the region’s economy could be boosted by £500m and see nearly 1,800 jobs supported or secured.

During the planning process alone, more than £15m of contracts have been awarded to local companies working on the project and a £17m contract was awarded to Wood Group of Aberdeen for the construction and installation of weather monitoring masts.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, said:
“This is the largest renewable energy project ever to receive planning consent in England and Wales, and it is a significant achievement to see our plans approved, and an important step forward towards a final investment decision. Our project team has spent more than three years planning the details of this project, and consulting widely with communities and stakeholders across the East Anglia region.

We will now take forward our discussions with the supply chain as we work towards unlocking the significant economic potential of the project. East Anglia ONE could support thousands of skilled jobs in construction and operation, and make a positive impact on the local and national economy for decades to come.”

Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s Continental/UK renewables division, said:
“The UK is a world leader in offshore wind and if it is to maintain that position it must continue reducing costs if the sector is to have a long term future. The investment in competitive UK and regional supply chains is essential to cost reduction in the sector but that investment will only be made if there is a pipeline of projects. Therefore the consent of a scheme like East Anglia ONE – which should be warmly welcomed by everyone – will boost business confidence and help secure more affordable, more reliable and greener power in the UK electricity mix.”

Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate said:
“Today’s planning consent for East Anglia ONE is another great example of how the offshore wind sector continues to go from strength to strength. As one of the largest renewables projects to get consent in England and Wales, this announcement represents a great opportunity for UK jobs and the transition to a low carbon economy. In our role as manager of the UK seabed we are delighted to see such positive decisions coming through the planning process that will help cement the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind.”

The full East Anglia ONE project could include:

  • Offshore wind turbines and foundations (up to 240 wind turbines to provide an installed capacity of 1,200MW, figure subject to type and size of turbine).
  • Up to three offshore collector stations and up to two offshore converter stations and their foundations to collect the electricity from the turbines and transform it to a form suitable for transfer to shore.
  • Up to four seabed export cables, each around 73km in length, to transfer the electricity to shore.
  • A landfall site with onshore transition pits to connect the offshore and onshore cables.
  • Up to four onshore underground cables, each of around 37km in length, to transfer the electricity from landfall to an onshore converter station.
  • Up to eight cable ducts for two future East Anglia projects to connect into Bramford Substation. This could limit the impact of future construction operations as cables for these future projects would be pulled through the pre-laid ducts.
  • An onshore converter station adjacent to the existing substation at Bramford, Suffolk, to connect the offshore windfarm to the National Grid.

Story appears courtesy of eastangliawind.com.

England V Uruguay Match to Cause Biggest Surge in Power Demand

18 Jun 2014

National Grid survey finds 56% expected to watch England v Uruguay game at home, fuelling surge in power demand. With the World Cup about to kick-off, National Grid expects the Group D clash between England and Uruguay (19 June, 8pm) to cause the biggest surge in power demand during the tournament’s group stage.

Grid forecasters say a surge in demand of around 1,300MW is expected at half time in England’s second match as people switch on kettles and lights. The “pickup” in demand is expected to be equivalent to 520,000 kettles being switched on at the same time.

These surges – or TV pickups – happen when a large number of people across Great Britain collectively switch on kettles and lights during a break in programming or after a major event, like a big cup final or the climax of a major soap storyline. Tonight’s World Cup curtain-raiser between Brazil and Croatia is expected to generate a pickup equivalent to 160,000 kettles being switched on (400MW).

A National Grid survey of the British public found the majority of viewers (56%) are likely to watch the England v Uruguay game at home. This, coupled with half-time coinciding with when it gets dark across the country, will mean significant pickups in demand at half-time and full-time. The England v Italy match is expected to create a smaller surge (900MW/360k kettles) due to the late kick-off time (11pm), which could discourage some casual viewers.

National Grid’s survey found:

  • Almost a quarter of fans (24%) plan to watch England’s opener with Italy in a pub, bar or club, despite the 11pm kick off;
  • 70% plan to watch eleven or more games during the World Cup;
  • 59% will watch their team’s games with friends and 56% will watch them with family members; and
  • 40% say they will probably watch fewer matches over the course of the tournament due to later kick-off times.

John Young, Energy Forecasting Analyst, National Grid, said:
“We’ve been preparing for the World Cup by looking at data from previous tournaments and asking people to tell us about their viewing plans. As the electricity system operator, this helps us predict how much power will be needed to meet surges in demand during and after matches.

“In our control room we will be watching the England v Uruguay game particularly closely. With 56% of people tuning in at home, we expect the match to cause the largest surge in electricity demand in the early part of the tournament. This is equivalent to over 500,000 kettles being switched on at half-time.

“In the group stage, we expect the England games to create the biggest surges in demand. We expect the size of these surges to increase if England progress in the tournament.”

Story appears courtesy of National Grid.

Ofwat Publishes Financial Models

17 June 2014

On 30 May, Ofwat published the draft determinations of Northumbrian Water and Dŵr Cymru’s price controls for the 2014 price review. Today Ofwat has published the populated financial models that it used in arriving at those draft determinations.

The populated financial models reflect input assumptions, treatment of allowed expenditure and financial treatment appropriate to price setting. These assumptions include standard notional assumptions on companies’ financial structure. As a result, in a number of respects the models will not necessarily represent a forecast of each company’s actual financial projections, expenditure or statements.

Story appears courtesy of Ofwat.

Ofgem Leads Radical Shake Up of Energy Switching Process

16 Jun 2014

From the end of this year the time it takes to switch energy supplier will be cut to just three days after the statutory two week cooling off period after Ofgem approved suppliers’ proposals to speed up the process.

The changes coming in at the end of 2014 mean that once the customer signs up with a new supplier they will still have the 14-day cooling off period, with the switch completing three days after. Ofgem has been working with suppliers and DECC to speed up switching times.

Ofgem has also today published new proposals to make the switching process more reliable and put next day switching in place by the end of 2018 at the latest. This will be made possible by replacement of the IT systems used in the switching process, which were originally developed in the 1990s. These changes represent a significant modernisation of infrastructure which will help consumers take full advantage of the benefits of smart meters, and pave the way for reliable, fast and easy switching for all.

Dermot Nolan, Ofgem’s CEO, said: “Consumers can change their bank in seven days, their mobile phone in just a couple, but have to wait significantly longer to switch their energy supplier. We know that consumers want a reliable and efficient switching process, and that concerns about it going wrong can put them off shopping around for a better deal. So now that we have taken steps to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching.

“We hope this will give consumers more confidence to get out there and start shopping around. You can save upwards of £200 by changing supplier and independent advice is available from the Be An Energy Shopper website at www.goenergyshopping.co.uk.”

Currently switches take around five weeks, including a statutory upfront 14-day cooling off period (see notes to editors). And from this August, new Ofgem rules come into force meaning suppliers could face investigation and fines if they cannot meet these timescales.

Story appears courtesy of Ofgem.

Ofgem Statement on Ovo Energy

16 Jun 2014

“Ofgem wants to see customers’ money in their pockets rather than languishing as surpluses in energy suppliers’ bank accounts. We already have detailed rules to make sure that suppliers set direct debits at the right level and surpluses are refunded.

“The last thing we want to do is stop deals which truly benefit consumers. We are not banning Ovo’s offer of a 3% interest on balances. Our reforms to deliver a simpler, clearer and fairer market are flexible and allow deals such as Ovo’s where they are in consumers’ interests. We are currently working with Ovo on this issue to ensure that this offer stays within our framework to protect consumers, and in the meantime we have no intention of stopping Ovo from continuing to pay interest on balances.”

Story appears courtesy of Ofgem

Ofgem Calls on Suppliers to Explain Prices to Consumers

12 Jun 2014

Energy regulator Ofgem has called on the Big Six energy suppliers to explain to their customers what impact falling wholesale costs will have on their energy prices.

In a letter to the large suppliers, Ofgem outlined that failure to engage with consumers on this issue further risks undermining public confidence in the energy market if wholesale costs continue to fall.

In recent months, both wholesale gas and electricity prices have been falling significantly. In early June 2014, gas prices for next day delivery reached their lowest level since September 2010 and are now around 38% below this time last year. The trend has been similar in electricity, with prices reaching their lowest level since April 2010 at the beginning of June. They are currently around 23% lower than this time last year. While there are upward pressures on energy costs resulting from government schemes to support environmental objectives as well as energy network renewal, the costs of wholesale power and gas cost dwarf these and make up just under half the total household bill.

Forward prices for gas and electricity have also fallen. Compared with last winter, gas and electricity prices for the coming winter are around 16% and 9% lower respectively than last year. This trend has been driven by the mild temperatures across GB and Europe last winter, leaving gas storage at record levels. In a competitive market the threat of losing market share would encourage suppliers to reduce their customers’ bills whenever there are sustained reductions in costs. Suppliers are yet to reduce their prices for existing customers to reflect the wholesale cost changes.

Ofgem Chief Executive, Dermot Nolan, said: “The Big Six suppliers tell us that they think the market is competitive, but our research shows that consumer trust is low. Therefore if suppliers are going to start rebuilding that relationship they need to take the initiative and explain clearly what impact falling wholesale energy costs will have on their pricing policies.

“If any of the companies fail to do this, consumers can vote with their feet. Independent suppliers are currently offering some of the cheapest tariffs on the market. Impartial and independent advice on getting a better deal on your energy is available from the ‘Be an energy shopper’ campaign at www.goenergyshopping.co.uk.”

Ofgem is currently proposing referring the retail market to the CMA after a joint report with the OFT and CMA confirmed that competition is not working as well as it could.

Story appears courtesy Ofgem.

Offshore Transmission (OFTO) Regime by Ofgem and DECC Fully Commences

11 Jun 2014

The 10th of June marked a milestone, as the offshore transmission regime set up by Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) fully commences. Full commencement means that from today the laws supporting the regime take full effect. Ofgem now regulates and licenses the transmission of electricity generated in Britain’s territorial waters at 132kV or above.

The Generator Commissioning Clause gives greater certainty to wind farm developers that choose to build the transmission systems themselves. It gives them an 18-month period to legally test transmission systems before transferring them to an offshore transmission owner. This will reassure offshore transmission owners and investors that the transmission assets they are buying have been fully tested.

The changes will enable Ofgem to attract further investment and achieve significant savings for consumers. £1.4bn of investment has already been attracted from a variety of new sources and £1.5bn is currently in the tender process. Developers recovering the capital invested through the tender process will be able to reinvest in future projects, promoting economic growth.

Ofgem is currently consulting on an independent report that estimates that through competition and appropriate allocation of risks, the regime has already saved consumers between £200m and £400m. As future projects will be further from shore and more complex, Ofgem’s competitive tendering approach could achieve further savings.

Story appears courtesy of Ofgem.


National Grid Announces Tenders for New Electricity Balancing Services

10 Jun 2014

Dermot Nolan, Ofgem Chief Executive, said: “Ofgem has taken decisive action by giving National Grid additional tools to manage lower electricity margins from this winter, when Britain will have less generation available. We welcome their announcement on tenders for using these tools.

“An early indication of our analysis shows that the risks to security of electricity supplies for next winter are going to be very similar to last winter. And while no electricity system anywhere in the world can give a 100 per cent guarantee we are confident that National Grid has the right levers to keep the lights on for households this winter. However, there can never be any room for complacency: National Grid and the industry must be vigilant at all times.”

Story appears courtesy of Ofgem.


Northumbrian Water’s Bills Set Below Inflation For Five Years

04 Jun 2014

Customers of Northumbrian Water will benefit from their bills being set below the level of inflation for 2015-2020 when plans are finally approved. And about £900 million will be invested by the water company in those five years in work to further improve services to customers.

The water regulator Ofwat has today published its draft determination on Northumbrian Water’s bills for 2015-2020 based on the business plan submitted by the water company in December 2013.

Northumbrian Water, which supplies drinking water and waste water treatment to 2.7 million customers in the North East, is committed to keep improving its services, and for bills that will change by slightly less than inflation (RPI). Northumbrian Water now has five weeks in which to review the draft determination and consider its response to the regulator before Ofwat makes the final decision which is expected towards the end of 2014.

Planned improvement to customer services includes significant work on the sewer network to reduce flooding and pollution incidents, investment in water treatment works and the drinking water network and minimising interruptions to supply. It also includes further investment to maintain and cleanse the sewer network, more improvements to rivers and bathing waters and reducing levels of lead and pesticides in water and reducing the risk of discoloured water.

Northumbrian Water’s business plan was produced after more than two years of comprehensive planning, research and consultation with customers and with scrutiny and challenge from an independent Water Forum. The water company’s planned investment will also be a welcome boost to the regional economy and employment with its extensive investment programme supporting thousands of local jobs.

Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water’s Chief Executive Officer, said:
“While we appreciate that any increases in the household budget are unwelcome our plan avoids any change in bills apart from an adjustment below inflation. We have listened to our customers and produced a plan which balances the needs of our current customers, our future customers and is sustainable in the long term in protecting the environment. Northumbrian Water is one of the best performing companies in the industry – with bills that are already amongst the lowest in the country – and our sustainable five-year business plan will ensure that our bills will continue to be amongst the lowest in the country until 2020.”

Story appears courtesy of Northumbrian Water

Thames Water Pledges Customer Package Worth £86 Million

09 Jun 2014

Ofwat has welcomed Thames Water’s commitment to paying a package worth £86 million to customers and the communities it serves, following Ofwat’s investigation into the company’s reporting of sewer flooding data in 2010.

Thames has committed to a reduction in bills worth £79 million, spread over the coming decades, and will give back £7 million to customers and the community. Thames will:

  • put an additional £2 million into its independently managed Thames Water Trust Fund, to assist customers who are having difficulty paying their bills;
  • invest £5 million to support additional community projects such as local programmes to better protect rivers and improve the natural environment; and
  • accept a reduction of £79 million from its regulated capital value (RCV). This will result in lower bills for Thames’s 14 million sewerage customers for years to come.

Ofwat’s investigation related to Thames misreporting the number of properties at high risk of sewer flooding between 2005 and 2010. This meant that more properties were recorded as at high risk of sewer flooding than there was evidence to support. The misreporting may have led to poorly targeted and inefficient spending of customers’ money. But there was no evidence of deliberate misreporting, and Ofwat is satisfied that Thames’s approach did not put any homes at risk of sewer flooding, and that its programme did reduce the risk of sewer flooding at the homes of a large number of its customers.

Ofwat welcomes Thames’s recognition of the problem and a commitment to put it right by returning money to customers. It also recognises that between 2005 and 2010 the company spent an additional £20 million of its own money to help deal with sewer flooding problems, and this money has not come out of customers’ bills. Since 2010, it has also taken steps to avoid such a problem recurring and it has been able to demonstrate to Ofwat significant improvements in its sewer flooding reporting processes.

Cathryn Ross, Chief Executive of Ofwat said:
“We welcome Thames’s co-operative approach which means we have concluded our investigation more quickly and resulted in a better outcome for customers.

“We are satisfied that Thames has put right the problems that caused the misreporting. It’s only fair that when companies make mistakes, they put it right and make sure customers are not out of pocket.”

Story appears courtesy of Ofwat.