The Crown Estate has confirmed that seven offshore wind extension projects will progress to the award of rights following the completion of its plan-level Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA). Project-specific environmental assessments will be required for each site before the developers seek planning consents under the statutory planning process. Importantly, the plan-level HRA identifies mitigation measures that will be secured.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently published its proposals for business models for carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS). The CCUS forms part of BEIS's package of proposed measures to support the decarbonisation of the UK economy, which includes consultations on reusing oil and gas assets in CCUS projects, the regulated asset base model for nuclear and the facilitation of energy efficiency in the electricity system.
Ofgem recently published its decision to launch a significant code review (SCR) into the electricity network access and forward-looking charging arrangements. The decision sets out the scope and guiding principles for the SCR, along with a timeline for the process. The aims of the SCR include encouraging the better use of existing network capacity and minimising future network costs.
Ofgem recently published its 'minded to' decision on its Targeted Charging Review. The decision sets out Ofgem's view that the residual aspect of electricity transmission and distribution network charges should be based on fixed tariffs for different classes of consumer rather than the other options under consideration (eg, usage during periods of peak demand). Ofgem also proposes to remove most of the remaining embedded benefits enjoyed by smaller distribution-connected generators.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Ofgem recently released a progress update relating to their July 2017 joint paper "Upgrading Our Energy System: Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan". Among other things, the update discusses the steps that have been and remain to be taken to improve certainty over the treatment of storage in the current regulatory regime with the aim of providing further clarity for developers of storage facilities.
The government has released Part A of its response to the consultation on amendments to the Contracts for Difference Regime 1, primarily addressing its intention to allow remote island wind (RIW) to compete in future Pot 2 allocation rounds with less established technologies. The consultation response also refers to further proposals put to the government in relation to RIW, including improving RIW competitiveness.
National Grid recently published the provisional auction results for the 2017 T-4 Capacity Market Auction, with successful bidders having been provisionally awarded capacity agreements for delivery in 2021/22 at a price of £8.40 per kilowatt (kW) per year. The clearing price is significantly lower than that awarded in the 2016 Capacity Market Auction, where successful bidders were awarded capacity agreements at £22.50 per kW per year.
The government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published a consultation proposing amendments to its guidance for developers and operators of offshore renewable generating stations and transmission assets in respect of decommissioning programmes. The focus of the amendments is on providing greater clarity around the decommissioning cost estimates that developers must provide in their programmes and the financial security that they must provide.
The House of Lords European Committee has published its report on energy security in the United Kingdom following its withdrawal from the European Union. Key among the report's conclusions is that investors require certainty as to the future of UK energy policy. The report also recommends that any change in arrangements should be accompanied by a transition period that ensures consumers are protected while businesses adjust their working practices, contracts and systems.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently issued a consultation on the siting criteria and process for a new national policy statement (NPS) on nuclear power. The NPS will apply to nuclear power stations expected to deploy after 2025 but before 2035, which have over one gigawatt of single reactor electricity generation capacity. It will establish the framework for development consent decisions on applications for new nuclear power stations expected to deploy post 2025.
The government has released its consultation on amendments to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) regime. The consultation confirms the government's intention to allow remote island onshore wind to compete in future Pot 2 allocation rounds. It also proposes changes to the CfD contract to lower the risk to consumers from conservative load factor estimates and to restrict reliefs awarded to generators in the case of force majeure or grid connection delays.
Ofgem recently published its Draft Guidance for generators: Co-location of electricity storage facilities with renewable generation supported under the Renewables Obligation or Feed-in Tariff schemes, which is open for stakeholder comment. The guidance does not introduce new policy; rather, it is intended to provide further detail on and clarification of how the installation of storage on existing accredited sites will be treated under the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff schemes.
In November 2017 Ofgem published updates on its target charging review (TCR) and reform of electricity network access and forward-looking charges. It recently held stakeholder workshops in this regard and further engagement is envisaged in early 2018, before a consultation on the TCR's proposed policy outcomes. In addition, Ofgem has announced that it has been served with a judicial review claim in respect of its recent decision concerning the reduction of the benefits available to embedded generators.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published its long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy. The strategy was produced to comply with the Climate Change Act 2008, which requires a report setting out proposals and policies for meeting carbon budgets. Notable policies include the return to favour of carbon capture, usage and storage and confirmation that solar panels installed with a battery will attract a reduced value added tax rate.
The National Infrastructure Commission recently published its draft National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) for 2018 for public consultation. The report is wide ranging, addressing systemic deficiencies in areas including housing, transport, telecoms and flood provisions. The draft NIA's central question in respect of energy infrastructure is how a low-cost, low-carbon energy future can be achieved, as well as potential funding models for a post-Brexit future.
The government recently published the Draft Domestic and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill. The bill's purpose is to provide for a temporary price cap for domestic consumers on standard variable tariffs and default tariffs. The cap will be set by the independent energy regulator, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, and is temporary in nature, lasting until the end of 2020, with the potential to extend it for a further three years if needed.
To date, there has been a lack of clarity on the role that distribution network operators can play in the development, ownership and operation of electricity storage. As part of the commitment to remove regulatory barriers in relation to the storage market contained in the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets is consulting on changes to the electricity distribution licence.