Sep 12, 2016

4 reasons CCS is the right choice for the UK

2 min
A high-level parliamentary inquiry has today advised that the most cost-effective way to cut the UK’s CO2 emissions is to capture the carbon pr...

A high-level parliamentary inquiry has today advised that the most cost-effective way to cut the UK’s CO2 emissions is to capture the carbon produced at fossil fuelled power plants and store it under the North Sea.

According to the report by Lord Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, the former Chairman of Shell Transport & Trading Co., carbon capture and storage (CCS) could be constructed at a similar cost to nuclear and offshore wind projects — if the policy environment shifts to back the technology.

Here are four reasons ministers ought to consider the method:

It’s flexible
Carbon capture and storage infrastructure can be fitted onto existing power stations, or be custom-fitted onto new projects. The report says that the UK is in an ideal position to install CCS because captured CO2 could potentially be stored in the North Sea’s depleted oil and gas fields. This would effectively breathe new life into disused oil infrastructure.

It can help achieve emissions targets
National Grid, the UK’s electricity transmission network, has said that CCS is one of three technologies — the other two being nuclear and renewables — that can help the country achieve its carbon emissions targets. By 2050, the UK is aiming to reduce its emissions by a minimum of 80 percent on 1990 levels.

It’s affordable (really)
Oxburgh’s report also stated that CCS could be deployed at a cost of £85 per megawatt-hour in the early 2020s as long as ministers introduce policies to back the technology. In fact, it is predicted that it will be more expensive to reach decarbonisation targets without capturing and storing carbon.

It could stimulate the UK’s economy
The development of CCS could provide jobs in parts of the country hit hard by the loss of large industrial processes, like steelmaking.

The Telegraph has predicted that locales like Teesside — which is home to five significant CO2 emitting plants — and other post-industrial coastal areas could reap the benefits of CCS development.

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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