Ofgem approves £1.1bn for new subsea link

Ofgem has today (16 December) approved £1.1 billion funding for a new subsea link in the north of Scotland, reports Subsea World News. The regulator’s decision is £105 million less than the funding request from Scottish Hydro Electricity Transmission (SHE Transmission) to ensure consumers pay no more than necessary. The final funding decision is £56 million more than Ofgem’s view in October. This follows consultation responses and new information provided by SHE Transmission.

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PM says people ‘fed up’ with onshore wind

People are “fed up” with onshore wind farms being built, and “enough is enough”, David Cameron has said, reports BBC News. The Conservatives say they would not subsidise new onshore turbines if they win the general election. The prime minister also criticised the “religiosity” of fracking critics, saying he would be happy to see shale gas drilling in his constituency. Fracking is a “nascent industry” that needs a tax regime “to encourage it to get going”, he added.

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Commons committee raps Pickles

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has sharply criticised Secretary of State Eric Pickles over the time he takes to decide on the English onshore wind farm applications he calls in, reports reNews. A study assessing the impact of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework noted that in 2013 Pickles approved 81.25% of housing schemes compared with 28.6% of renewable energy projects. The committee warned that the Secretary of State’s actions risk deterring investors from entering the sector.

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Pickles: wind industry vindicated

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Maf Smith, said; “The British wind industry feels vindicated for taking Mr Pickles to task for his constant meddling in onshore wind applications in England. A cross-party committee of MPs has acknowledged the damage caused by the Secretary of State’s continued interventions in wind projects. What the CLG Select Committee doesn’t call out though is the blatant political motivation for Mr Pickles’ interference. He needs to be reined in to stop stifling new developments; he’s sacrificing energy security, new jobs and much-needed local investment in the most cost-effective form of renewable energy that we have.”

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High Court backs Pickles

The High Court has thrown out a legal challenge brought by RWE Innogy UK against Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, reports reNews. Justice Dove ruled in favour of the Conservative Minister’s decision to scrap RWE’s 10-turbine East Heslerton wind farm. Pickles scuppered the application against the advice of both the Planning Inspectorate and the local planning authority, Ryedale District Council. Mike Parker, head of onshore wind for RWE Innogy UK, said: “This decision is extremely disappointing.”

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National Grid holds capacity auction

The National Grid is holding its first capacity auction as part of a government plan to guarantee Britain’s power supplies over the next four years, reports BBC News. In addition to being paid for the power they generate, energy companies will be paid simply to have their plants available during periods of peak demand.

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RE needs to commit to getting off subsidies

Jessica Lennard, head of corporate affairs at OVO Energy writes in The Guardian: The energy debate has left the territory of the rational. Graphs, logic, or claims to the moral high ground hold scant weight now. The impact of statistics about green growth and export opportunities is negligible. It no longer matters what national polls say about belief in climate change; or whether low-carbon generation is obviously preferable long term to finite, dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Renewable sources of power, such as wind and solar, have been caught in the crossfire of this debate.

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Branson: cheaper oil could damage renewables

Saudi Arabia is encouraging the dramatic collapse of oil prices in order to damage the surging global clean energy industry, British entrepreneur Richard Branson has claimed, reports The Guardian. “They have done it before and it hurt. They don’t just want to damage the US fracking industry, but also the clean energy business. The collapse of oil prices is going to make it much more difficult for clean energy,” he warned, speaking from the Caribbean island of Necker. But the British entrepreneur said that now was the time for governments wanting to reduce their carbon emissions to introduce a carbon tax on fossil fuel users because the tax would be cushioned by the fall in prices…. Branson was talking ahead of the merger of his not-for-profit low-carbon thinktank Carbon War Room with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

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Offshore wind ‘more work on UK content’

The energy sector supply chain remains positive about facing the challenges of a changing UKCS landscape in 2015 and beyond, according to NOF Energy 2014 annual survey of its members, reports OffshoreWind.biz. The annual survey charts the activities and views of the industry of its almost 500 UK and international members along with their opinions of the organisation’s business development services. NOF Energy works closely with its members to provide industry intelligence, market knowledge and networking opportunities that can lead to new business…. The survey also reveals members’ views on the nuclear, renewables and shale gas sectors. Offshore wind has become more of a focus as some work is starting to filter through to the supply chain, but so much more remains to be done to secure UK content on these projects.

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John Laing shovel-ready at Albion

John Laing has reached financial close at the 14.35MW New Albion wind farm in England. The developer has confirmed that the project at Kettering in Northamptonshire will feature seven Senvion MM82 2.05MW turbines, as reported in subscription-only newsletter reNews last month. Initial ground investigations and other construction preparations have wrapped up and work to install the turbines and supporting site infrastructure will continue in January.

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