Missing opportunities to lower bills with renewables no longer an option

Mo Hajhashem, UrbanChain CCO, explores the Government’s decision to limit contracts on new renewable energy generation

Dr. Somayeh Taheri named on Insider's Green Power List 2022

Keep bills high, continue our exposure to Russian gas and hinder mission net-zero.

These are just three things that will continue if the UK Government doesn’t enforce a step change in its approach to energy security and access. Renewable energy generation is the latest to have fallen on the wrong side of a series of energy-related Government decisions. And it's an opportunity missed. One we, as consumers of energy, can ill afford.

Those of us working in the renewable energy industry know that approximately 17.4GW of projects have cleared planning permission. The projects are ready to move forward but the Government has only authorised around 12GW of new renewable energy generation. It’s not enough and will contribute to us collectively remaining on the path we have been on for too long.

Our broken energy model has led us into a situation where business and household consumers are paying eye-popping prices for energy. Depriving energy savings during this cost of living crisis is a no-go. Preventing us from putting our best net-zero feet forward is a no-go. Flimsy decisions that mean energy is currently a luxury is a no-go.

While the energy industry has complexities there are green lights that exist. Green lights that allow us to go forward with stronger foundations. Green lights that carve the path for a brighter, cleaner, greener and more prosperous future.

Maximising UK renewables

Starting with renewable energy now being cheaper than fossil fuels is relevant. In today’s market generation of gas fired power is around £140 per megawatt hour. Whereas it is approximately £40 per megawatt hour for power generation from solar and onshore and offshore wind.

The Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) is responsible for managing renewable energy payments and recently forecasted a total of £770m in paybacks by the end of this winter. Potential significant savings for businesses and households. The current renewable energy system runs on ‘contracts for difference’. It sees generators of renewable energy bid at auction to produce power.

How much incentivised cash the Government is prepared to pay, while of course setting a limit on renewable energy capacity at auction are however in place.

Reacting to the recent 'limit' policy director for Greenpeace UK Doug Parr said: "We have a global climate emergency which requires low carbon power, we have a cost of living crisis which requires cheap power, and we have a war in Ukraine that requires domestic power. By an amazing stroke of luck, renewables are low-carbon, cheap, domestic and can be deployed faster than the alternatives. Capacity limits on cheap renewables are outdated thinking."

Maximising step-change solutions

The publication of ‘Energy sector digitalisation’ on Thursday, September 16 2021 was encouraging to say the least. (Do not miss opportunities) should have been typed in as the sub-heading. Here’s the opening line of the report.

'Digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) can improve the efficiency and flexibility of the UK energy system, support deeper penetration of renewable and distributed energy sources, and help support the development of innovative products and services for consumers.'

Referenced also was the 2020 report by PwC which estimated that by 2030, the incorporation of digital technologies such as AI into the energy sector may boost global Gross Domestic Product by up to £3.82 trillion while helping reduce global carbon emissions by up to 4%.

These are the right kind of eye-watering figures. Opportunity knocks so let’s unleash; and unleash now so we don’t continue to chase our tails.

AI + Blockchain since 2017

UrbanChain launched peer-to-peer (P2P) energy exchange system eChain in 2017. It’s the solution for businesses that consume energy and renewable power producers (generators). Our P2P exchange is an energy market for renewables - the only in Britain.

Participants - of which there are many - buy and sell green energy amongst themselves. Consumers buy 100% green energy and save at least 25% on bills while generators improve margins by 25% minimum and earn more money in the medium to long-term. It works and works because of its technological accuracy. AI and blockchain technologies enable corporate consumers to place an exact order for electricity and for generators to meet that order.

Matching, balancing, consumption, billing and managing generation are all taken care of. As are profiling and aggregating so the intermittency and fluctuation of renewables is overcome. It’s a platform and marketplace that we are proud of as we work through the next steps in our journey. In summary, let’s look at two critical headline points from the ‘Energy sector digitisation’ report.

They state:

  • - The application of AI systems in the energy sector can improve system operations by incorporating predictive analytics and lead to better decision-making about energy network assets via the development of Digital Twin Models.
  • - Though still in an earlier stage of development, DLT (Blockchain) can potentially be used to help manage a decentralised energy system and facilitate functions such as enabling consumers to trade energy between them (known as ‘peer-to-peer’ trading).

Let’s encourage investment in low-cost renewables and not miss any golden opportunities that are presented. Lets' truly make the moves that offer us an escape from out-of-control volatile gas prices.

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