2019 has been a strange year for the energy industry as there have been many shifts in the market that have impacted a variety of businesses. We have seen the fall of many small energy suppliers as well as mergers that have been announced with some failing and some energy suppliers divesting out of some of their business by selling off parts of it. Ofgem proposed new supplier checks to prevent further suppliers going bust or entering the market with insufficient funds.
We also saw power cuts that caused chaos in parts of the UK as the National Grid failed to supply the energy required. This has led to greater scrutiny and investment into smart grid and battery technology development.
But how did the energy market change in 2019 and what were the highlights?
We have seen a growth in the renewable energy sector which has seen a greater proportion of our energy being produced from cleaner sources. Globally investment in renewable energy has grown 26 times the level since 2009.
We have also seen the fall of some the iconic giants in the form of most of the cooling towers at Ferrybridge in October, which have been part of the Yorkshire landscape for so long. This has resulted from not needing so many traditional power plants and the site being transformed into a biomass plant.
However, we ended the year the discovering that the UK still lags behind many other countries (including less developed countries) as we were ranked only 59th in the world for renewable energy production, so we have some way to go. Although it was also reported that the UK came 7th as the most attractive nation for renewable investment.
Renewable energy prices have also fared well as less or no subsidy has been required to make projects viable. The Contracts for Difference process saw record low prices for offshore wind being reached and projects have even started without needing any subsidy. Wholesale prices for renewable energy for solar and onshore wind were also reported by Bloomberg as reaching parity with many global wholesale prices.
There have also been proposals for hydrogen energy facilities which could see unrecyclable plastic being turned into energy. Creating energy from sewage also hit the headlines a project was launched to create biogas from sewage and human waste from Reading Festival was used to power homes.
There has also been a growth in the production of green gas which still costs more than standard gas, but it is starting to make a mark in the market. And fracking was announced as no longer being supported in the UK in November.
2019 has been the year of records being broken as month after month renewable energy has helped the UK reduce its reliance on coal. The proportion of coal in the energy mix has fallen, in quarter two coal only accounted for 0.6% of the UK energy mix with renewables rising to 35.5%. This represented Britain’s lowest share of coal energy since the Industrial Revolution.
In June we saw a record-breaking 1,838 hours coal-free which was marked as a historic milestone, this followed weeks of records being smashed starting at the Easter weekend in April.
December’s stormy weather had a positive impact on renewable energy as we saw records being broken for the amount wind power generated twice in one week as the records were broken firstly with over 16GW then over 17 GW. This beat February’s record high of over 15GW which represented 36% of Britain’s electricity need.
Carbon zero and carbon neutral have very much been buzz words this year, as much talk has been focused on the climate crisis that faces us, which has in part been spearheaded by Greta Thunberg. The UK set a net-zero target by 2050 which has received much criticism despite being the 1st nation to set such a target.
May saw the Humber region start a campaign to become a zero-carbon cluster which could lead to them being the 1st in the UK. Their plan included the 1st carbon-negative power plant at Drax, who announced their carbon-neutral plan in December. Many other areas and businesses have also announced plans to be carbon neutral including surprisingly Formula One who set a 2030 target.
Vehicles and energy storage
We’ve also seen a growth in electric vehicles (EVs) with a 158% increase seen in July with a much greater choice of vehicles now being available. The cost of EV battery cells dramatically reduced over the decade with predictions that in a few years EVs could reach price parity with other fuel cars as battery prices fall and their lifespan increases. There has also been a rise in the number of vehicle charging points and increased funding from the Government to support the roll-out of more charging points.
Energy storage has also been a hot topic in 2019 as a race appears to have started to create more economical energy storage solutions with innovative solutions appearing in the news, including using skyscrapers as gravity batteries. Businesses have even started to explore investing their own energy storage infrastructure so could we soon be seeing businesses producing their own renewable energy and storing energy?
The year ahead
Whatever 2020 holds for your business, energy reduction probably forms part of it as pressure increases from all sides to reduce consumption and costs. At Enerteq, we would love to help support and advise you on your journey to a lower-carbon future. See our blog on The Road to a Greener Business or get in touch to see how we can help.
We can offer help with your energy purchasing, energy management, waste management and contracts through our sister company TEQ Group. Our knowledge and experience in these areas can help reduce the pressure on your business and help you meet your environmental targets or aspirations.
To find out more about how we can help your business contact Enerteq today on 01423 815299 or click the button below and we’ll be happy to offer some advice.