The energy sector, including renewables, hasn’t had the best of weeks.
Two energy providers, supplying over 500,000 customers in London and Bournemouth, went bust. That brings the total to seven over the past year, and at a time when gas and electricity prices are at an all-time high.
Electricity and gas prices are skyrocketing. The increase in gas prices is impacting the whole of Europe (the Russian pipeline still hasn’t recovered to pre-Covid levels), with reserves that are critical for meeting peak winter demand only 67% full.
This increase in gas prices has a massive impact on electricity generation in the UK, as gas-fired power accounts for almost half of the country’s needs.
And all this at a time where warm autumn weather has had a significant impact on the energy generated from offshore wind farms.
The bad news continues. A fire at Britain’s main electricity subsea cable site (which connects the UK with France) will reduce imports until March of next year. The UK imports around 7% of its electricity from France.
The financial impact of these events won’t immediately be felt by residential customers because the rates are capped (however price comparison website Compare The Market has switched off its energy comparison tool because there aren’t enough affordable deals).
However, business customers are already taking a pounding. There’s no cap on energy pricing for them.
CF Industries in Teesside & Cheshire is stopping production in the UK because it can’t afford the uncapped business rates.
Is this going to be the state of play for the foreseeable future?
It doesn’t have to be.
There are companies out there – yes, like Alpha 311 – doing something new that can help mitigate these problems.
Mounted alongside roads or railways, our light and efficient turbines will turn as traffic passes. Natural wind isn’t necessary.
Or take a look at Oxford PV, which is working with perovskite to make solar panels more efficient and more affordable.
There’s no silver bullet, and a blended approach is needed, but it’s new businesses and new technologies like these that will secure our energy future.
It’s time for Governments and decision-makers to start paying attention.