As the mainstream media have recently been full of stories about the energy crisis now facing much of the world generally, Europe rather a lot, and the UK especially, it seems like a good time to examine who actually owns much of the UK’s energy infrastructure (or at least the “renewable” bit of it that seems to have been causing particular problems for the National Grid this year).

On 13th July 2021 the Scottish Herald ran an articlei with the headline “Third of Scotland’s big wind farms linked to tax havens including Cayman Islands”. That potentially alarming headline didn’t immediately suggest to me that much of the UK’s renewable energy infrastructure must be foreign-owned, since the use of tax havens isn’t an activity limited to foreigners. I’m sure plenty of British individuals and businesses are capable of adopting such strategies in an attempt to ensure that the taxman doesn’t get his hands on their filthy lucre. Still, the claims in the article were sufficiently intriguing to suggest that the UK’s energy security may be in the hands of foreigners to a rather alarming extent:

An investigation by The Ferret has also revealed that 39 of the largest 50 wind farms are ultimately owned outwith Scotland in … Spain, France, Germany, Norway, China and elsewhere.

I decided to take a look by sector with a view to trying to find out what’s what. I chose to limit my research to “renewables”, given that this is increasingly the sector that all but the most minor of political parties seek to have us rely on.

Offshore Wind Farms

The biggest offshore wind farm in the UK is Hornsea, and it is

owned & operated by Orsted. As most readers are probably aware, Orsted is Danish. More specificallyii:

Ørsted has its origin in the Danish state-owned company Dansk Naturgas A/S. The company was founded in 1972 to manage gas and oil resources in the Danish sector of the North Sea. After some years, the company was renamed to Dansk Olie og Naturgas A/S (DONG), meaning Danish Oil and Natural Gas. At the beginning of the decade of the 2000s, DONG started to expand itself into the electricity market by taking long positions in electricity companies. In 2005, DONG acquired and merged Danish electrical power producers Elsam and Energi E2 and public utility (electricity distribution) companies NESA, Københavns Energi and Frederiksberg Forsyning. The result of the merger was the creation of DONG Energy…

In 2002, one of predecessors of DONG Energy named Elsam installed the 160 MW Horns Rev offshore wind farm, which was the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the world.

In 2005, DONG Energy acquired 10.34% in the Ormen Lange gas field (operated by Shell). The share of gas reserves allocated to DONG Energy are approximately 40 billion cubic metres (1.4 trillion cubic feet)…

At about the time of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, DONG Energy adopted a strategy, called “85/15 vision”, of changing from a company with 85% of activities fossil fuel based to a company 85% based on green energy activities.

Isn’t it strange that only UK and US fossil fuel company diversification seems to be so hated by the climate worriers?

Dogger Bank Windiii farm is a joint venture, with different partnership arrangements in place for the different phases:

Dogger Bank is being developed in three 1.2GW phases : Dogger Bank A, B and C.

Dogger Bank A and B are joint ventures between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Eni (20%).

Dogger Bank C is a 50:50 joint venture between Equinor and SSE Renewables.

SSE Renewables is lead operator for the development and construction of Dogger Bank and Equinor will be lead operator for the duration of the operational phase.

SSE Renewables is part of a UK Stock Exchange quoted Company. Of course, one of the things about being a public company is that it may always be taken over by another company, whether UK-based or not. In recent weeks, there has been some speculation about the future of SSE, not least in the Herald, with suggestions that the business might be broken up, and separate Stock Exchange listings sought for its constituent parts. An update is awaited in November. In the meantime, SSE sold its energy supply arm to Ovo Energy in 2020 for £500 million (which looks like a shrewd move as things stand).

As for Equinoriv:

Equinor ASA (formerly Statoil and StatoilHydro) is a Norwegian state-owned multinational energy company headquartered in Stavanger. It is primarily a petroleum company, operating in 36 countries with additional investments in renewable energy...

The current company was formed by the 2007 merger of Statoil with the oil and gas division of Nork Hydro. As of 2017, the Government of Norway is the largest shareholder with 67% of the shares, while the rest is public stock. The ownership interest is managed by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy…

Equinor also operates two offshore wind farms off the East Coast of England, Dudgeonv and Sheringham Shoal.

And what of Eni? Who are they?

Eni S.p.A. is an Italian multinational oil and gascompany headquartered in Rome. Considered one of the seven “supermajor” oil companies in the world,it has operations in 66 countries with a market capitalization of US$36.08 billion, as of 31 December 2020.The Italian government owns a 30.33% golden share in the companyvi

Eni is also active in the UK as operator of the Liverpool Bay Area project, for which it was recently awarded a CO2 appraisal and storage licence by the Oil and Gas Authorityvii.

This is a CO2 storage project, which has to date received £33M from the UK taxpayer, via UK Research & Innovation’s IDC (Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge) Fund. The problem with digging in to these things is that one thing just leads to another….

Another increasingly large offshore wind farm is that at Walney, comprising Walney I, Walney II and the Walney Extension, based 12 miles off the south Cumbrian coast.

While the 659MW facility, Walney Extension is co-owned by Orsted and Danish pension funds PFA and PKAviii, Walney I and II are apparentlyix owned by Orsted (50.1%), SSE (25.1%) and OPW (24.8%). Orsted and SSE we have already met. OPW appearx to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange Listed, Illinois based, Dover Corporationxi.

The London Array wind farm comprises 175 turbines, and is based about 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts in the outer Thames Estuary. The 630MW wind farm was developed by the London Array Limited consortium, originally composed of British-Dutch company Shell, German company E.ON and Orsted. However, Shell pulled out of the project to be replaced by Abu Dhabi’s state-owned energy firm Masdar. Further changes in the ownership structure have subsequently occurred. According to its websitexii there are now four shareholders, with German company RWE holding 30%; Masdar holds 20%; and two companies hold 25% each – Orsted, and Canadian institutional investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

The Beatrice wind farm is a 588MW project located about eight miles off the coast of Caithness. It was developed by Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, a consortium initially made up of SSE, Danish investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Red Rock Power. Today:

Beatrice is operated by SSE Renewables on behalf of a joint venture partnership between SSE Renewables (40%), Red Rock Power Limited (25%), The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) (17.5%) and Equitix (17.5%)xiii.

Red Rock Power Limited has its HQ in Edinburgh, but is in fact:

a European subsidiary of SDIC Power, a global power company based in Beijing. SDIC operates hydropower, wind farms, photovoltaic and coal fired power plants, with a total installed capacity of approximately 31.88GW – more than 60% of which is from renewable generation. It aims to have over 2GW of generation capacity outside of China by 2020.

SDIC Power Holdings Co., Ltd, is a listed company in Shanghai Stock Exchange (SH.600886), with State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC), a State-Controlled Enterprise, holding 49.18% of its shares as of 2018xiv.

TRIG appears to be Guernsey-based, but

[I]s a London-listed investment company whose purpose is to generate sustainable returns from a diversified portfolio of renewables infrastructure that contribute towards a zero-carbon futurexv.

And the last piece of the Beatrice Wind Farm ownership jigsaw puzzle, Equitix?

Equitix is majority owned by TFG Asset Management L.P., a diversified alternative asset management business that owns majority and minority private equity stakes in asset management companies. Approximately 25% of the economic interests in the Equitix group is owned by Equitix’s management team. TFG Asset Management is part of Tetragon Financial Group Limited, a closed-ended investment company that is traded on Euronext in Amsterdam N.V. and on the Specialist Fund Segment of the main market of the London Stock Exchangexvi.

That represents a summary of the ownership of just five of the largest UK offshore wind farms, and it reveals rather a tangled web, to say the least. What of the biggest “farms” onshore? By the way, I can’t resist putting the word “farms” in inverted commas, since use of such a bucolic word seems so inappropriate in the context of what are, in reality, vast industrial complexes.

Onshore Wind Farms

Whitelee Wind Farm is one of the biggest onshore wind farms in the UK:

The main visitor centre is located in East Renfrewshire, but the majority of turbines are located in East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. It was developed and is operated by Scottish Power Renewables which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrolaxvii.

For the sake of completeness, it is worth pointing out that this Spanish company is also behind the offshore wind farms, West of Duddon Sands and East Anglia ONE. Then again, these things are complicated. East Anglia ONE is in fact a joint venture between Scottish Power Renewables and Macquarie’s Green Investment Groupxviii, so is owned by a combination of Spanish and Australian businesses.

According to Statistaxix Clyde Wind Farm is the largest onshore wind farm in the UK (by installed capacity, as of September 2020). The website devoted to itxx tells us that:

Clyde Wind Farm is one of Europe’s biggest operational wind farms. Clyde Windfarm (Scotland) Ltd is a joint venture partnership between SSE, Greencoat UK Wind Plc and GLIL Corporate Holdings Ltd.

Remarkably, this means that it seems to be entirely British-owned, since:

Greencoat UK Wind Plc is a leading renewable infrastructure fund, invested in 34 operating UK wind farms with net generating capacity of 950MW (including its shareholding in Clyde). UKW is managed by an experienced team of senior executives from Greencoat Capital LLP, is listed on the LSE main market and included in the FTSE-250 index, and is overseen by a strong and experienced independent board.

And:

GLIL Infrastructure LLP (GLIL) is a £1,825m infrastructure fund focused on core infrastructure opportunities in the UK. GLIL is backed by four Local Authority Pension Funds, namely: Greater Manchester Pension Fund, Merseyside Pension Fund, West Yorkshire Pension Fund and Local Pensions Partnership Investments (the entity which manages London Pensions Fund Authority, Lancashire County Pension Fund and Royal Country of Berkshire Pension Fund). GLIL is an unauthorised Alternative Investment Fund, whose Alternative Investment Fund Manager is Local Pensions Partnership Investments. Since being founded in 2015, GLIL has invested and committed approximately £1bn in UK infrastructure projects.

Continuing with the Statista definitions, the third largest onshore wind farm in the UK is Kilgallioch Wind Farm, straddling South Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. It is owned and operated by Scottish Power Renewables, which alert readers will recall is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spanish company, Iberdrola. It is one of 40 or so wind farms which they own and operate in the UK.

In joint fourth place is Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm. Its websitexxi says that its south Wales location makes it the highest altitude wind farm in the UK. It is owned and operated by Vattenfall, a Swedish company owned by the Swedish government. For some reason its UK websitexxii is a little coy about that fact, describing it merely as a “European energy company”.

Stronelairg Wind Farm shares the joint fourth place position, and situated at around 2,000′ in the Monadhliath hills, I should have thought it might have the claim to be the highest altitude wind farm in the UK. It is another SSE/Greencoat joint venture, with SSE holding 50.1% and Greencoat holding 49.9% of the ownershipxxiii.

Solar Farms

Shotwick Solar Park in Flintshire, North Wales, spread over 250 acres, is the UK’s largest solar farmxxiv. It is operated by British Solar Renewables. Oh good, a British company. Well, not exactly:

BSR is the largest privately-owned, integrated solar developer in the UK, and is majority owned by Siem Europe Sarl.

So who is Siem Europe Sarl? So far as I can tell, it’s a subsidiary of Siem Industries Inc., a Luxemburg based company, which has several interests, including in the oil and gas services industry.

Once the UK’s largest solar park, but subsequently pushed into second place, is Lyneham Solar Farm in Wiltshire. It too is operated by British Solar Renewablesxxv, so again is in the hands of an organisation based in Luxemburg.

Looking into the future, the businesses behind Cleve Hill Solar Park in north Kent, where construction is due to start early next year, claim that it will be the UK’s largest solar farmxxvi. It comprises a joint venture between Hive Energy Limited and Wirsol Energy Limited. Hive Energy appears to be UK-based and owned, albeit with interests all over the world. Wirsol Energy, on the other hand, is a subsidiary of Wircon GmbH, which describes itselfxxvii as a global energy company, though it is based in Mannheim, Germany.

Owl’s Hatch Solar Farm, also in Kent, sprawls over 212 acres of our once green and pleasant land. According to the Business Green websitexxviii British Solar Renewables sold it to Cubico Sustainable Investments some five years ago. Cubico’s websitexxix tells us that it is “jointly owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and PSP Investments.”The former is exactly what you would expect it to be. The latter is “one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers”, according to its websitexxx. In other words, this site is entirely Canadian-owned.

West Raynham Solar Farm covers a sprawling 225 acres of disused airfield land, and is another that was the biggest in the UK when it was commissioned, in 2015. It is owned by Bluefield Solar, which acquired it for £56.5Mxxxi on a leasehold basisxxxii from the freeholders, Raynham Estate. Bluefield Solar Income Fund is listed on the London Stock Exchangexxxiii, though of course its investors could come from anywhere.

Postscript – Interconnectors

These do seem to be under the control of the UK National Grid, or at least under the joint control of the UK National Grid and the authority in whichever country the interconnector links withxxxiv. As the National Grid tells us:

As at 2020, National Grid operates three interconnectors, connecting the UK with France, Netherlands and Belgium. Three more are under construction – a second with France, plus one each with Norway and Denmark.

Whilst they may, in principle at least, provide some useful flexibility, both in terms of importing electricity when it is running low in the UK (possibly an increasing risk, as recent events suggest in this year of little wind) or in exporting it if the ever-increasing numbers of wind turbines and solar farms are actually generating power, there are issues here.

First, there is the general unreliability of interconnectorsxxxv. Second, there is the risk associated with being so dependent on foreign countries for essential electricity. Everything will, no doubt, be fine, so long as goodwill prevails, and it is in the interests of the countries concerned to export their surplus energy to the UK. But what if they no longer perceive that to be in their interests? What if there isno surplus? The energy crisis facing the UK in September 2021 was not confined to the UK. When a large anticyclone settles over western Europe for a prolonged period it gives the lie to the claim that “the wind is always blowing somewhere”. Maybe it is, but if it’s not blowing here, there’s also a good chance that it’s not blowing in the countries who we might rely upon to send us their (hypothetical) surplus.

I check the sources of electricity supply to the National Grid from time to time by referring to a very user-friendly website for this purposexxxvi and although I don’t doubt that it might occur occasionally, I have never noticed the UK being a net exporter of electricity via the interconnectors. I have on several occasions this year noticed anywhere between 10% and 20% of the UK’s electricity needs being imported via them. Even as I write this, on a late September evening, when the wind has finally returned and is providing 20.7% of our electricity needs once again, we are still importing 5.9% via the interconnectors.

Security of energy supply is fundamental to all nations. The UK doesn’t seem to be making a very good job of it. In fact, so fragile is the system that it could – and perhaps should – be one of the key issues that undermines the current Government. The main problem with that argument is that the only plan the opposition parties seem to have is more of the same – to build ever more unreliable and unpredictable “renewable” energy sources, many of which will no doubt be foreign-owned, rendering the system ever more reliant on power supplied by the interconnectors, power which might well not be available when we need it. I fear this might cost us all a lot of money and end in blackouts.

Footnotes

i https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/19436186.third-scotlands-big-wind-farms-linked-tax-havens-including-cayman-islands/

ii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%98rsted_(company)

iii https://doggerbank.com/a-joint-venture/

iv https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinor

v See Jit’s article, “In High Dudgeon”:

vi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eni

vii https://www.eni.com/en-IT/operations/united-kingdom-liverpool-bay.html

viii http://portesbjerg.dk/en/about/news/offshore-wind-could-see-influx-billions-kroner-pension-funds

ix https://orstedcdn.azureedge.net/-/media/www/docs/corp/uk/updated-project-summaries-06-19/190514walney-1–2-webaw.ashx?la=en&rev=42cdfa99bee6471eafce19a97b07344a&hash=d461c0e55b40cf56592c440527b3e3a6

x https://www.opwglobal.com/emea/company/about-opw

xi https://www.dovercorporation.com/about-us/overview/

xii https://londonarray.com/our-shareholders/

xiii https://www.sserenewables.com/offshore-wind/operations/beatrice

xiv https://www.redrockpower.co.uk/about-sdic/

xv https://www.trig-ltd.com/about-us/

xvi https://equitix.co.uk/#aboutus

xvii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitelee_Wind_Farm

xviii https://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/pages/east_anglia_one.aspx

xix https://www.statista.com/statistics/896600/onshore-wind-farm-capacity-united-kingdom-uk/

xx https://www.sserenewables.com/onshore-wind/great-britain/clyde

xxi https://group.vattenfall.com/uk/what-we-do/our-projects/pen-y-cymoedd

xxii https://group.vattenfall.com/uk/who-we-are/about-us/vattenfall-in-brief

xxiii https://www.sserenewables.com/onshore-wind/great-britain/stronelairg/

xxiv https://britishrenewables.com/portfolio/shotwick

xxv https://britishrenewables.com/portfolio/owl-hatch-solar-park

xxvi https://www.clevehillsolar.com/

xxvii https://wirsol.com/en#ueberuns

xxviii https://www.businessgreen.com/news/2471094/cubico-snaps-up-50mw-uk-solar-park-in-latest-green-investment

xxix https://www.cubicoinvest.com/

xxx https://www.investpsp.com/en/

xxxi https://www.deegesolar.co.uk/uks_biggest_solar_farms/

xxxii https://www.raynham.co.uk/innovation-at-raynham/

xxxiii https://bluefieldsif.com/

xxxiv https://www.nationalgrid.com/our-businesses/national-grid-ventures/interconnectors-connecting-cleaner-future

xxxv “Winter blackout fears after substation fire cuts off French power

Interconnector that largely draws on power from French nuclear stations supplies more energy into the grid than all the UK’s windfarms”: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/15/fire-knocks-key-electricity-cable-france/

See also “20,000 Volts Under the Sea”:

https://cliscep.com/2021/08/30/20000-volts-under-the-sea/

xxxvi https://grid.iamkate.com/

46 Comments

  1. “By the way, I can’t resist putting the word “farms” in inverted commas, since use of such a bucolic word seems so inappropriate in the context of what are, in reality, vast industrial complexes.”

    Not at all, Mark.

    “Farms” harvest stuff.

    And there are few better examples of successful harvesting than two of the farms you mentioned.

    1. Beatrice: Year ended 31st March 2020: 75% of revenue was from harvesting subsidies (£281.3m from CfDs), and only 25% (£91.2m) from generating electricity.

    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/SC350248/filing-history

    2. Sheringham Shoal: 2015: 70% of revenue was from harvesting subsidies (£98.2m from ROCs), and only 30% (£40.6m) from generating electricity.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/subsidies-profits-at-sheringham-shoal-wind-farm/

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joe Public, thanks for that extremely useful information. There is so much wrong with the system as it stands, that it’s difficult to know where to start, and there’s certainly too much to include in one article. But comments, expanding on the problems, are always welcome.

    An additional problem with the subsidies going to foreign-owned wind farms is that it’s money bleeding out of the country. Given the multiplier effect, it’s quite a drag on the UK economy. None of the economists who produce models saying that the costs of “doing nothing” are greater than the costs of “taking action” seem to be blissfully unaware of this. More “models” (this time economic ones) that are fundamentally flawed.

    As this article was drawing to its close, I decided to touch on interconnectors. That led me to the Telegraph article I mentioned in footnote 35, with this headline:

    “Winter blackout fears after substation fire cuts off French power

    Interconnector that largely draws on power from French nuclear stations supplies more energy into the grid than all the UK’s windfarms”.

    That simple statement could be worth an article in its own right. Just think about it for a moment. All those wind turbines, with all their costs and associated problems (unreliability, unpredictability, reliance on interconnectors etc in the case of the growing number of offshore ones, blight of the UK’s wild places in the case of onshore turbines, broken communities etc), and between them they supply the UK with less energy than does a single interconnector from France. That’s a mind-blowing statement really.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe, I think I can trump you there with Dudgeon’s latest accounting: £242 million from CfDs and £51 million from selling leccy.

    Mark, thanks for doing the legwork on this, which cannot have been the most stimulating research (other than perhaps a growing sense of surprise as company after company turns out to have no connection to its customers other than the flow of dosh). The wind farms harvest the money from the poorest in society, and then we export it abroad. It seems to be a perfect system if your plan is to impoverish the nation.

    As to the solar farms, were I the PM (let me dream for a minute – I can’t command a majority in my own house let alone the Commons), their advantageous connection to the grid would be cancelled. They could compete for space with everyone else on level footing, and if they didn’t like it, they could sue me.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Addendum, pasting in something from National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios 2021:

    GB becomes a net exporter of electricity by 2040 in all scenarios

    Obviously with the enormous eruptions of offshore wind farms planned, there will be times when we generate huge excesses of power (as well as lulls when we have a deficit). Now, if France and Germany bin their nukes, and Germany at length bins its coal, then they are as stupid as we are, er, they will be as short of leccy as we will be. Lulls may well occur at the same time as Mark points out, and the times of plenty might well be synchronous too.

    The interconnector is great so long as there is excess nuclear juice behind it. (It may not make economic sense, but still.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jit

    “National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios 2021:

    GB becomes a net exporter of electricity by 2040 in all scenarios”

    Commenter / Blogger ‘It doesn’t add up’ last year posted a chart on NaLoPKT showing that wind peaks & troughs affect many European countries simultaneously.

    Consequently, when our expanded wind capacity is generating a surplus for export, it’s highly likely other countries will too.

    Like

  6. Mark,

    With all this great work you’ve been doing lately on the wind industry, I hope you’ll consider getting in touch with Michael Shellenberger. He apparently has a book contract for a third book from Harper Collins where he’ll investigate green energy scams. He’s soliciting tips and information from the public:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark, Excellent research – thank you.
    Wrt the interconnectors, expectations of a surplus of power being available from Europe when we are in the doldrums are optimistic, to say the least – even if the wind is blowing in some places.
    Germany is shutting its remaining 7 nukes next year. Belgium will close its 7 over the next few years. Sweden (6) and Spain (7) are shaping up to follow suit.
    That lot add up to a huge tranche of reliable, dispatchable power – 30 GW, at a guess.
    France talks the talk but is spending a fortune refurbing all of its nukes. They will be sitting pretty in a few years’ time.
    I very much doubt that all those interconnectors will be of any use to us when most needed.

    Like

  8. John G and Mike H, thank you for the information – it’s an increasingly depressing story, isn’t it?

    Mike Dombroski – thank you for the heads up regarding Michael Shellenberger, but I have two issues in contacting him. Firstly, I’m an amateur in all this stuff, and happy to admit it. I’m sure he has far more information that I could ever offer him. Secondly, I’m also an IT naif (it’s a miracle that I manage to post articles here at all, sometimes…), and I have no idea how to contact him via Twitter, which I’m not signed up to. Still, thank you for the vote of confidence.

    Like

  9. The future looks no different from what has gone before:

    “Bid for major Orkney offshore wind project announced”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-58726577

    “French oil giant TotalEnergies is part of a consortium that has submitted a bid to build a major new offshore wind project off Orkney.

    Total has joined with Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and Scottish developer RIDG on a proposal to build the West of Orkney Windfarm.

    They claim it has the potential to power more than two million homes.

    The two-gigawatt proposal is currently being assessed by the Crown Estate Scotland (CES).

    The consortium said the bid was the culmination of five years of talks.”

    Like

  10. Mike D – the issue is not that the profits are outrageous or that if the public knew who they were sending money to they would be up in arms – but that this is all entirely above board and legal thanks to the rules that have been set by our recklessly stupid government.

    Perhaps you could tip him off to the Renewable Heat Incentive debacle in Northern Ireland – but a) I’m sure he’s heard of it, and b) the inquiry found that it was a result of incompetence rather than malfeasance.

    Mark, if that 2 GW wind farm can power 2 million homes, it would seem to be rather reckless planning for a total installation of 157 GW of wind by 2050. That would presumably power 157 million homes.

    Joe Public, it would be interesting to see your figure as a power frequency distribution, such as shown in “Randomly blows the wind.”

    Like

  11. With prescient timing, Tallbloke’s Talkshop informs:

    “SSE’s renewable energy output over spring and summer was almost a third lower than planned, as low winds and dry weather combined with high gas prices to push up energy prices.

    The FTSE 100 energy supplier said on Wednesday its wind and hydro output between April 1 and September 22 was 32 per cent beneath its target — equivalent to an 11 per cent hit to its full-year production forecast.

    The summer was “one of the least windy across most of the UK and Ireland and one of the driest in SSE’s hydro catchment areas in the last 70 years”, the company said in a statement.

    SSE’s update is the latest sign of how unfavourable weather conditions are hitting the renewables sector.”

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2021/09/29/sses-renewable-energy-output-drops-almost-a-third-due-to-wrong-type-of-weather/

    Liked by 1 person

  12. John Gross and others, regarding the interconnector with France, and the issues of whether we import or export electricity, I found this:

    “Since the commissioning of the 2,000 MW DC link in the 1980s, the bulk of power flow through the link has been from France to Britain. However, France imports energy as needed during the winter to meet demand, or when there is low availability of nuclear or hydroelectric power.

    As of 2005, imports of electricity from France have historically accounted for about 5% of electricity available in the UK. Imports through the interconnector have generally been around the highest possible level, given the capacity of the link. In 2006, 97.5% of the energy transfers were made from France to UK, supplying the equivalent of 3 million English homes. ”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HVDC_Cross-Channel

    Like

  13. Quote “By the way, I can’t resist putting the word “farms” in inverted commas, since use of such a bucolic word seems so inappropriate in the context of what are, in reality, vast industrial complexes.”

    Dark Satanic (wind-)Mills perhaps?

    p.s. BTW, there is a statement somewhere above (sorry, can’t find it at the moment) suggesting that the French Interconnector supplies more than the total of UK wind farms. Unless that means wholly UK-owned wind farms, then I don’t see how that can be correct, from my perusals of gridwatch.co.uk. I’m not an advocate of wind energy(*), but (e.g. looking at daily averages for last year, it regularly reaches and even exceeds 10GW, while all the ICs together don’t exceed 2GW.

    But my apologies if I misread or misunderstood the original statement.

    (*) I’m a born-again advocate of nuclear energy, as will be clear from my comments elsewhere. Or, as I like to qualify it: nuclear energy, done right. (wind, solar, hydro and tidal are fine in certain niche situations, of course, but not suitable as our main energy sources, as we will no doubt all find out to our cost, sooner rather than later, the way things are going).

    Like

  14. Mike, I agree with your take on the suggestion that a single interconnector provides more energy than all UK wind farms put together. Had it been true I thought about writing an article on the subject, but I could not find the facts to back it up. It was the heading to a Daily Telegraph article.

    Like

  15. It’s not just the UK that has problems with foreign ownership of “green” energy supplies:

    “Chinese wind farm investments stoke concerns in Sweden
    There’s worry Beijing could use the investments to exert political influence on Sweden.”

    https://www.politico.eu/article/chinese-wind-farm-investments-stoke-concerns-in-sweden/

    “A political scrap is brewing in Sweden over a key ingredient in the country’s effort to shift away from fossil fuels: Chinese money.

    It’s all about the hundreds of millions of euros being plowed into Swedish wind farms by Chinese state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, or CGN, with opposition lawmakers fearing the security consequences of allowing Beijing a foothold in Sweden’s future energy production.

    Through questions in parliament and a steady drumbeat of statements to the media over the past year, members of the center-right Moderate Party and the far-right Sweden Democrats — the two largest opposition parties — have been pushing back against the sell-off to CGN.

    The Chinese company owns stakes in six Swedish wind power projects, including 75 percent of Markbygden Ett, the first phase of the wider Markbygden scheme in northern Sweden, which is set to be Europe’s biggest onshore wind farm when completed.

    “When it comes to electricity production, increasing ownership by foreign countries is not by definition a problem, but it could be, especially when we are talking about countries like China,” said Lars Hjälmered, energy spokesperson for the Moderates.

    The Sweden Democrats’ energy spokesperson Mattias Bäckström Johansson called his country’s attitude to Chinese investment in a range of sectors, including electricity production, “naive.”

    In Sweden, power production has become a hot-button issue ahead of next year’s election, with clashes over plans for wind and nuclear power production already commonplace as the government navigates an ambitious shift to fully renewable electricity sources by 2040….”.

    Like

  16. “Will ScotWind auction deliver a renewables revolution?”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-59980279

    No, not if the wind continues not to blow reliably.

    And why not wait until the results of the auction in order to report on the outcome, rather than speculating in advance? Oh, that’s right, this way you get two bites at the cherry.

    And how much will be owned by UK companies?

    “The bigger players include big investment funds in green energy, such as Australia’s Macquarie Bank. The big utility companies are involved, as they are in existing projects, including SSE and Scottish Power.

    Big oil companies have turbocharged these auctions, eager to balance their hydrocarbons with green energy. Total from France, ENI from Italy, Equinor from Norway and Shell have all bid.”

    Those same names keep cropping up, and not many of them are British.

    Like

  17. “‘Sold on the cheap?’ Nicola Sturgeon defends £700m ScotWind offshore plans”

    https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/politics/scottish-politics/3867678/sold-on-the-cheap-nicola-sturgeon-defends-700m-scotwind-offshore-plans/

    “…Mr Sarwar raised the “questionable human rights records” of some of the successful firms.

    He also warned foreign countries, including Sweden, would have a bigger stake in the offshore energy produced in Scotland than the Scottish Government.

    Mr Sarwar said: “This SNP Government have sold on the cheap the right to profit from Scotland’s energy transition to multinational companies with questionable human rights records.

    “One of the new owners of Scotland’s seabed were fined 54 million US dollars for bribing Nigerian officials and 88 million US dollars for bribing Indonesian officials.

    “Another one was found to have contributed to human rights abuses at one of its construction sites, of destroying villages in Myanmar, of relying on forced labour and using slavery to build pipelines.

    “Surely these aren’t people the Scottish Government should be doing business with?”

    Cases referenced by Mr Sarwar include the Marubeni Corporation that, in partnership with SSE, has been awarded rights for a floating offshore wind turbine site across 858 square kilometres of seabed.

    The Japanese organisation paid a multimillion-dollar penalty in connection with a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials for engineering, procurement and construction contracts.

    France’s TotalEnergies, which in a consortium secured rights to develop a wind farm off the west coast of Orkney, was implicated in historic claims that the military government in Burma had used forced labour and its soldiers had employed murder and rape in the laying of a pipeline through the country….”.

    Like

  18. “Eastern Europe’s toxic relationship with Russia has left the EU divided”

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/eastern-europe-s-toxic-relationship-with-russia-has-left-the-eu-divided

    “Energy dependency on Moscow is an EU-wide problem now and arguably Europe’s most egregious security oversight – resulting from its hasty switch from coal to gas as a ‘greener’ alternative. It’s a problem which is only likely to worsen. Once the Nord Stream 2 pipeline starts pumping gas from Russia to the EU under the Baltic Sea, Putin will have even more control over Europe’s energy supply. He will also have fewer incentives to stay out of Ukraine, currently a vital gas transit route.”

    Like

  19. “Councillors left furious as Scottish Government approves Strathrory wind farm in Alness”

    https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands-islands/3867804/councillors-left-furious-as-scottish-government-approves-strathrory-wind-farm-in-alness/

    “The Scottish Government reporter has overturned Highland Council’s refusal of a wind farm planning application, despite widespread local opposition.

    The north planning committee also learned today that operators Energiekontor have already said they want to increase the height of the wind turbine tips.

    Chairwoman Maxine Morley-Smith branded the developers “sneaky” and “greedy”, warning that locals will be very unhappy with the Scottish Government decision….Now, council planners say Energiekontor has already made plans to vary its application.

    Last week, the operator served notice that it will apply for a modification to allow larger blade tip heights.

    They say this change is due to lower than expected wind speeds on site.

    “The developers are already coming back and asking for more,” said Ms Morley-Smith.

    “It’s pure greed. It’s very sad to see a development going down this route, which people will find sneaky. I don’t like it.”

    Caithness councillor Donnie Mackay shared her view. “Now you understand what I’ve been shouting about for a long time,” he said, referring to wind farm applications in Caithness. “They get round it in a different way and I don’t think it’s right.”

    SNP councillor Raymond Bremner said the committee listened to community voices and made a “robust” argument to the Scottish Government.

    The reporter, however, applied the letter of the law. “This is beyond politics,” he added.

    Ms Morley-Smith concluded: “What’s the point of having a local planning committee at all? We may as well just ask the Scottish Government.””

    Like

  20. “Ceredigion proposed wind farm test mast given go-ahead”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-61277920

    “A mast to test the viability of a controversial proposed wind farm in mid Wales has been approved.

    The 280ft (81.5m) steel structure will measure wind speeds at land close to the village of Ponterwyd in Ceredigion.

    The mast is the same hub height as 13 turbines proposed in the Lluest y Gwynt wind farm near the Cambrian Mountains.

    Conservation groups have opposed the plans, considered to be of national importance, which will be decided by the Welsh government if submitted….

    …Norwegian state-owned company Statkraft AS, the company behind the plan, is one of Europe’s largest renewable energy generators and operates a number of sites in the UK, including the Rheidol hydropower plant near Aberystwyth.

    The Cambrian Mountains Society, Open Spaces Society and Ramblers Cymru objected and have raised concerns over the proposed wind farm.”

    Like

  21. “Energy firm lobbied minister to cut rent on North Sea wind farm”

    https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/20105685.energy-firm-lobbied-minister-cut-rent-north-sea-wind-farm/

    “A COMPANY owned by the Chinese government lobbied a Scottish minister to reduce the rent it will pay at a future wind farm in the North Sea, The Herald can reveal.

    In a letter last August, Red Rock Power told Energy Minister Michael Matheson that rental terms at the proposed Inch Cape offshore wind farm would have a “negative impact” on the project’s chances of being built.

    These terms were set by the Crown Estate in 2011 when developers were initially granted a 10-year lease agreement for the project. Red Rock claims that rents at Inch Cape – which will be paid to the Scottish Government via Crown Estate Scotland (CES) – are now much higher than at other offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

    In its letter to Mr Matheson, the firm said rental costs at Inch Cape would now make it “unlikely” the project will receive financial support from the UK Government. Failure to land this support would deal “a blow to the Scottish supply chain and net zero targets”, the company argued….

    …Red Rock, which is owned by China’s State Development and Investment Corporation, told The Ferret the rents were a “major barrier” to the project securing the long-term financing it needs to go ahead….”.

    Like

  22. I should have added, from that last article:

    “…Scottish Labour MSP Paul Sweeney said Red Rock’s lobbying was illustrative of the “doomed economic model of foreign dependency” Scotland had embarked on with its renewables industry.

    He said: “This is another sad indictment of the mess being made of the ownership of Scotland’s renewables industry.

    “To add insult to injury, these state- backed companies are not only content with making a profit from Scotland’s natural resources, they are actively trying to minimise the amount of money they pay into the Scottish public finances.

    “Scotland’s renewable resources should remain in Scotland’s hands. That economic control would allow us to invest in the industries of the future, create high-skilled jobs, and breathe life back into Scottish industrial communities.”

    Robin McAlpine, head of strategic development at the think-tank, Common Weal, said the lobbying was “further evidence” that “big business has easy access to the Scottish Government”.

    He said: “The Gupta aluminium affair, the Tata Steel mess, the relationship with Heathrow, the close relationship with the Big Four accounting corporations and much more, show this access pays off. But not for Scotland, obviously, which keeps getting short-changed.”…”.

    Like

  23. “Plans set out for floating wind farm off Dounreay”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/czv8yqerelyo

    “Developers have set out proposals for a floating wind farm off the Caithness coast.

    Copenhagen Offshore Partners plans to install up to 10 turbines on platforms anchored to the seabed four miles (6km) off the Dounreay nuclear complex near Thurso.

    In planning documents submitted to Highland Council, the company has outlined what onshore infrastructure would be needed.

    It includes a substation and underground electricity cables.

    The site would involve about 247 acres (100ha) on the edge of the boundaries of Dounreay and HMS Vulcan, a Ministry of Defence facility used for testing nuclear submarine reactors.

    The Sandside Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest lies within the proposed wind farm site’s boundary.

    Highland councillors will be asked to note the developers’ planning notice at a meeting next week.”

    More foreign ownership of UK energy infrastructure. And why let a little thing like a SSSI get in your way?

    Like

  24. “Hornsea 2: North Sea wind farm claims title of world’s largest”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-62731923

    An article with a large fanfare, and some disinformation from the BBC:

    The world’s largest offshore wind farm is now fully operational, 55 miles off the coast of Yorkshire.

    The Hornsea 2 project can generate enough electricity to power about 1.3 million homes – that’s enough for a city the size of Manchester.

    A decade ago renewables made up just 11% of the UK’s energy mix. By 2021 it was 40%, with offshore wind the largest component.

    It can’t power a city the size of Manchester reliably all the time. That should be made clear. Even worse is the claim that 40% of the UK’s energy mix was made up by renewables. It wasn’t. Electricity may have (sporadically and intermittently) been supplied 40% by renewables, but of course that depends how you define renewables (I suspect the BBC includes biomass in that proportion, but many people – rightly in my view – don’t think biomass should be counted as a form of renewable energy). And once you realise that electricity represents perhaps 1/5 or a bit less of the UK’s energy requirements, then you realise that renewables, on the most generous assumptions, provide 8% or less of the UK’s energy.

    Note also:

    Hornsea 2 is part of a huge wind farm development by energy firm Orsted.

    Like so much of our renewable energy infrastructure, foreign-owned, in other words.

    Then another piece of disinformation, and I use the word advisedly, because of what it omits to tell us:

    Over the last decade the size of wind farms and turbines have both increased, helping to bring down the cost of the electricity they generate.

    “The last time I checked it was roughly £450 per megawatt hour to buy electricity generated by gas,” says Simon Evans from Carbon Brief, a website that follows renewable energy issues.

    “That’s about 9 times more expensive than the current cost to build new renewable capacity.”

    In the UK government’s latest auction round in July, 11 gigawatts of renewable energy was commissioned which is enough to power about 12m homes. As part of it’s [sic] Net Zero targets the government has committed to de-carbonising electricity generation by 2035, with offshore wind playing a crucial role.

    It’s effectively a repeat of the dubious claims made by Carbon Brief, publicised prominently by the Guardian, and taken apart (I hope) by me here:

    Energy Through The Looking Glass – Part 2

    And very effectively demolished by John Constable and Gordon Hughes here:

    https://dailysceptic.org/2022/08/29/the-fantasy-world-of-renewable-energy/

    If the claims of Simon Evans and Carbon Brief are borne out, why doesn’t the BBC tell us what Orsted is being paid for the electricity generated intermittently and unreliably by Hornsea 2? My money’s very firmly on it not being the £50 per megawatt hour hinted at by the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. “Solar farm near Bristol could power almost 14,500 homes”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-62900931

    The application has been submitted by Perrinpit Road Solar Limited, a joint venture between BayWa r.e. and Grϋne Energien Solar.

    Both companies involved in the joint venture are German. More UK taxpayer subsidies disappearing overseas. More of the UK’s energy infrastructure owned by foreigners.

    Like

  26. “Keir Starmer speech: Labour plans publicly owned renewable energy giant”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63046067

    …The largest onshore wind farm in Wales is owned by Sweden, meaning “energy bills in Swansea are paying for schools and hospitals in Stockholm,” he added.

    “The Chinese Communist Party has a stake in our nuclear industry. And five million people in Britain pay their bills to an energy company owned by France.”…

    I’m glad that he recognises a significant part of the problem, though he could have said so much more about it – we’re leaching taxpayer-funded subsidies abroad as part of our net zero drive. Much (most?) of our renewables infrastructure is owned by foreign companies.

    I don’t agree with his “green” plans one jot, because they’re Cloud Cuckoo Land:

    Cloud Cuckoo Land

    But at last a politician has recognised one aspect of the problem.

    Like

  27. “Richborough Energy Park expansion gets green light”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-63057807

    I notice no author is claimed for the BBC report, which isn’t surprising, since a quick tour of the internet suggests it’s just a cut and paste job.

    Thanet District Council has approved plans to erect 201 container units across a site in Sandwich Road, Manston as part of the Richborough Energy Park.

    The 2.9m (9.5ft) tall structures housing batteries will take two years to install.

    They will produce “no emissions, noise or vibrations”, the park’s operator, Sheaf Energy Ltd, said.

    Energy giant Pacific Green has previously confirmed its intent to acquire the battery storage facility – known as Sheaf Energy Ltd – and says work has already commenced at the site….

    Pacific Green are a little coy on their website regarding their ownership, but they’re well in bed with the Chinese:

    …In order to create economies of scale, in 2017 Pacific Green established a Joint Venture Agreement with PowerChina SPEM, a subsidiary of PowerChina, the largest power plant equipment manufacturer in China….

    …In 2021 the strategic partnership with Shanghai Electric as battery partner allowed battery technology supply, both to Pacific Green projects and third parties…

    https://www.pacificgreen-group.com/company/history/

    But returning to the Richborough Story:

    …Planning documents produced by Sheaf Energy say: “The battery storage of electricity is an important piece of the renewable infrastructure and is a key part of the move to a low-carbon network.”

    “Energy production from renewables and nuclear cannot be ‘turned off’ – the sun still shines and the wind still blows, irrespective of the need at that time….

    Strange quote. Nuclear produces constant and reliable power, the amount of which is known in advance. Unlike renewables.

    And a curious quote from the Green Councillor, who doesn’t seem at all concerned about what’s in the batteries and the possible risks of explosions and/or fires:

    Mike Garner, from the Green and Independent bloc on the council, said: “If it isn’t renewable energy being stored here, then obviously we’re not particularly taking account of climate change, we’re exacerbating it.”

    Like

  28. Mark,

    >“Energy production from renewables and nuclear cannot be ‘turned off’ – the sun still shines and the wind still blows, irrespective of the need at that time…”

    Yes, a strange quote indeed. I thought the first thing that any schoolboy learnt about nuclear power was that its generation can be moderated to suit the needs of the grid. Perhaps the authors of the statement should read this:

    “Nuclear has been flexing its muscles as a clean and reliable source of power for more than 60 years. It works around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But as higher penetrations of renewables pour onto the grid, traditional baseload energy sources like nuclear will need to operate more flexibly to produce heat and electricity as needed. That means baseload power is going to look a lot different in the future as variable energy sources like wind and solar gain larger generation shares on the grid. Luckily for nuclear, that shouldn’t be a problem… Nuclear reactors are known for their ability to provide constant power but their output can also be modified to meet certain grid demands.”

    https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/3-ways-nuclear-more-flexible-you-might-think

    Like

  29. “England’s water: the world’s piggy bank
    England’s privatised water system is owned by funds, banks and billionaires across the world, as this country-by-country breakdown shows”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/nov/30/englands-water-the-worlds-piggy-bank

    England is one of the few countries in the world where water is fully owned by private companies. These companies answer to investors based thousands of miles away from their customers.

    “What we have here is just a crazy system,” said Kate Bayliss, from the department of economics at SOAS University of London and author of several papers on England’s privatised water. “We are managing our water in the interests of offshore investors.”

    These offshore investors include private and state-owned international funds, banks, multinationals and billionaires headquartered outside the UK, and they control at least 72% of English water, new Guardian research has found…

    …While international ownership and corporate complexity may be commonplace in the world of business and finance, the application of them to an essential service like water is, for Bayliss, the root of the problem. “It’s water,” she says, “and it should be managed in the interests of society and the environment.”

    I share the Guardian’s frustration and concerns. Why does it (apparently) not share mine about the ownership of the UK’s energy system? That last sentence from the Guardian article particularly resonates with regard to wind farms.

    Like

  30. It’s impossible to know, but I like to think so. At a minimum (speaking of renewable energy at least), the massive subsidies wouldn’t be leaching out of the country.

    Like

  31. “Climate change: State-owned wind farm ‘could cut bills'”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-63917570

    Plans for a publicly owned energy company could see bills reduced and renewable supplies directly benefit communities, a minister has said.

    The proposal is for a joint venture between the Welsh government and developers.

    Profits would be used to construct wind turbine sites owned by communities.

    Climate Change Minister Julie James says “it sticks in my craw” that foreign governments get profits from wind farms in Wales…

    …At the moment, many big wind farms across Wales are foreign-owned, in some cases by other governments, with profits helping to fund their public services….

    Not just in Wales. There are plenty in England, and don’t get me started about Scotland. Profiting from the destruction of the UK’s wild places and high energy bills paid by poor UK citizens during a cost-of-living crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Spot price £950/mwh, wind 3.5%, solar 2.2%, fossil 59.7%, imports 7.7%. No real improvement in wind till Friday so will price hit £1,000/mwh .

    Like

  33. State owned wind farms “could cut bills” .not today ! Unless there was some secret wind blowing mechanism or mega mega battery. We had -8c last night so log burners at full speed this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Perhaps my brain is not yet on full power this morning, but I do not understand how you can make a profit selling stuff to yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. “Soaring Scottish energy bills help pay pensions of Canadian teachers”

    https://www.heraldscotland.com/business_hq/23201644.soaring-scottish-energy-bills-help-pay-pensions-canadian-teachers/

    AS energy giant SSE tries to repair the damage caused to Shetland electricity lines amid the recent wintry blast overseas investors are looking forward to generating big returns in its power networks business, which consumers will subsidise.

    Perth-based SSE has had a torrid time trying to restore power to around 2,000 homes on Shetland, which were cut off after overhead lines broke under the weight of ice and snow.

    The “significant” challenges it faced came weeks after the firm sold a 25 per cent stake in its electricity transmission networks business to the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board for an eye-catching £1.5 billion…

    …Following its latest price-setting review, the regulator, Ofgem, decided in December 2020 that SSE and others should be able to net returns of 4.3 per cent on networks investments. Spanish-owned ScottishPower also has a big networks business…

    Ofgem said the settlement would result in a 40% reduction in the rates of return achieved by firms and would cut £10 a year from the average domestic bill. These include around £100 in respect of networks costs. Ofgem was confident, nonetheless, that the settlement would help unlock £30 billion investment in a clean and reliable energy system.

    SSE, ScottishPower and other networks operators were outraged by the move and took their case to the competition regulator, the CMA, which offered only minor concessions.

    However, last month Ofgem appeared to succumb to pressure to increase the returns firms can make on investment in local distribution facilities. It settled on a 5.23% return rate, after initially proposing 4.75%.

    The transmission networks and distribution settlements will remain in place until 2026 and 2028 respectively providing the kind of certainty investors such as pension funds want.

    It is notable that SSE struck the transmission deal months after it sold its stake in the SGN gas networks business to Ontario Teachers and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management in a £1.2bn transaction.

    After increasing its stake in SGN to 37.5%, from 25%, through the deal, Ontario Teachers said: “This investment can contribute to the financial security of our members while also supporting a critical infrastructure asset that will require additional capital to help it transform for a low-carbon future.”

    With many consumers struggling to pay their bills, such comments will leave people wondering why we are allowing overseas investors to make so much money in the energy infrastructure business.

    Like

  36. “Nuclear plants face shutdown over tax on windfalls
    EDF warns it may be forced to shut two nuclear power stations, which supply 4pc of the UK’s energy, early”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/12/31/nuclear-plants-face-shutdown-tax-windfalls/

    Two nuclear power stations crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on risk being closed next year as a result of Jeremy Hunt’s windfall tax, their French owner warns today.
    EDF, which operates all five of the country’s serving nuclear plants, said the Chancellor’s raid on power producers will make it harder to keep the ageing Heysham 1 and Hartlepool stations open as long as hoped.
    It would mean the sites close in March 2024, potentially removing the “cushion” of spare capacity used by the National Grid to avoid blackouts and reducing nuclear power generation in Britain to its lowest level since the 1960s.
    Two nuclear power stations crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on risk being closed next year as a result of Jeremy Hunt’s windfall tax, their French owner warns today.
    EDF, which operates all five of the country’s serving nuclear plants, said the Chancellor’s raid on power producers will make it harder to keep the ageing Heysham 1 and Hartlepool stations open as long as hoped.
    It would mean the sites close in March 2024, potentially removing the “cushion” of spare capacity used by the National Grid to avoid blackouts and reducing nuclear power generation in Britain to its lowest level since the 1960s.
    Kathryn Porter, an energy analyst at consultancy Watt Logic, said: “Going into winter 2024, we will lose all the coal power stations and could also lose two nuclear plants, so we will be losing roughly the same amount of power as we currently have in spare capacity now.
    “We will pretty much be replacing it with wind – and that is replacing readily dispatchable generation with intermittent generation.
    “So if you have periods of still winter weather where wind output drops, then you could be in a situation where you really struggle to keep the lights on.”

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Happy New Year to Mark & all.

    well Happyish –
    “EDF, which operates all five of the country’s serving nuclear plants”
    ““So if you have periods of still winter weather where wind output drops, then you could be in a situation where you really struggle to keep the lights on.”

    the UK is so screwed.

    Like

  38. And a happy and healthy new year to all at Cliscep, writers, commenters and lurking readers alike

    Like

  39. It’s not just renewables, it seems:

    “China’s North Sea oil investments pose ‘very real risk to our security’, MPs warn”

    https://www.cityam.com/chinas-north-sea-oil-investments-pose-very-real-risk-to-our-security-mps-warn/

    A number of senior MPs have called on the government to review China’s role in the North Sea oil and gas sector, arguing Chinese-backed investments in Britain’s energy resources pose a “very real risk to security”.

    Former conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told City A.M. that Downing Street needed to “expunge Chinese involvement in key strategic industries” including oil and gas production.

    Duncan Smith, who chairs the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a cross-party international policy group focused on UK-China relations, slammed the government for “failing to take seriously” Chinese involvement in the domestic energy sector.

    He said: “We have been calling on the government to carry out a full inventory of Chinese involvement in our strategic industries. They have simply failed to do so.”

    Once the inventory was completed, the MP urged the government to remove stakes owned by Chinese companies in the North Sea.

    The UK’s oil and gas industry is currently the source of nearly half the UK’s fossil fuel supplies, which has been essential for keeping homes heated this winter as the UK has sought to avoid massive energy crunches after Russia cut supplies to Europe.

    Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and China Research Group (CRG), warned that China’s “growing dominance in many key energy sectors poses a very real risk to our security.”

    The Conservative MP labelled the government’s approach to Chinese investment in strategic assets as “fundamentally inconsistent.”

    She compared the lack of action in the North Sea with the recent push to get rid of China General Nuclear Power Group’s (CGN) 20 per cent stake in Sizewell C, where the government bought out the Chinese company’s share in November.

    Kearns told City A.M.: “It’s plainly counterproductive to remove Chinese state involvement in our nuclear energy sector with one hand if we continue to wave through dangerous dependence in the oil and gas sector with the other.”

    Concerns have been raised across the political spectrum, including by Labour MP and BEIS Committee chair Darren Jones.

    He urged the government to follow through on its energy policies with meaningful action, noting that energy has been defined as a critical supply chain in the National Security and Investment Act.

    “Ministers should now undertake and publish supply chain resilience reviews and take a position on what level of ownership is deemed an unacceptable risk,” Jones told City A.M..

    Chinese investments in the North Sea

    A number of Chinese companies – which are backed by the country’s government – have made significant investments in the North Sea’s oil and gas sector.

    Much of this was achieved in the past decade or so amid a flurry of investment activity when the government was courting Chinese investment under previous administrations.

    China National Offshore Oil Corporation, or CNOOC, has stakes in multiple North Sea oil fields including one of the UK’s highest producers Buzzard.

    It has a 44 per cent share in the site, which produces up to 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day

    CNOOC has further stakes in Golden Eagle, and the combined platform which oversees the Scott, Telford and Rochelle fields.

    It is also an active player in the UK’s industry with membership at industry body Offshore Energy UK.

    While it is difficult to calculate specifically, CNOOC previously boasted of contributing more than 25 per cent of the UK’s oil production, and 10 per cent of the country’s energy needs.

    Meanwhile, Neptune Energy, one of the UK’s largest and most established producers operating in the North Sea, is 49 per cent owned by China Investment Corporation.

    Repsol Sinopec – a joint venture between Spanish energy giant Repsol and Chinese state-backed Sinopec – has interests in 48 fields on the UK continental shelf – including 38 it operates – alongside 11 offshore installations.

    Oil and gas producers CNOOC, Neptune Energy, and Repsol Sinopec have been approached for comment.

    UK trade association Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) told City A.M. the industry does not determine the rules for controlling North Sea assets.

    A spokesperson said: “The government has long had a policy of promoting foreign direct investment and open markets and this has many benefits for boosting UK industry and jobs.”

    “But, as recent events show, investment from overseas does also bring increased exposure to geopolitical trends and events. It is for the government to assess these issues and review the rules as they see fit,” the spokesperson said.

    Alongside the Chinese-owned assets, the UK exports considerable amounts of oil to the country.

    In the second quarter of 2022, it was the second biggest export to China after cars according to ONS data.

    Like

  40. “Fury over China & UAE multi-million offshore wind profits in Scotland”

    https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/23267705.fury-china-uae-multi-million-offshore-wind-profits-scotland/

    FOREIGN governments including China and overseas firms with interests in Scotland’s offshore wind farm revolution are already enjoying more than £200m in annual profits, the Herald on Sunday can reveal…

    …There is concern that governments in China and the United Arab Emirates which have presided over human rights concerns are among the beneficiaries of Scotland’s green revolution.

    In just their last full financial year, together offshore wind farms have made over £230m in profits.

    The “astonishing” array of state government-controlled firms that are making millions from having a key stake in Scotland’s collection of offshore wind farms also include France, Norway, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland. The Scottish Government has no stake in any company reaping the green rewards, even though it is in the nation’s waters that the farms are being constructed..

    Controlling interests are also being held by privately-owned energy firms in Germany, Spain, Holland and Japan….

    Like

  41. Mark,
    “The Scottish Government has no stake in any company reaping the green rewards, even though it is in the nation’s waters that the farms are being constructed..”

    I find this breath taking if true, they have “no stake in any company reaping the green rewards”.

    say it’s not so, they can’t be that stupid.

    Like

  42. It’s not just UK wind farms that are foreign-owned. The Guardian article linked to below deals with important issues about the cost of balancing the grid (apparently without any understanding that it is the inherent unreliability of renewable energy that leads to those balancing costs), but also of interest is the recital of foreign companies involved in (and profiting hugely from) the UK energy market:

    “The gas-fired plants tasked with keeping UK lights on – but at what cost?”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/29/gas-fired-plants-uk-lights-on-cost-profits-energy-crisis

    …Last month National Grid paid a record £27m on a single day to get power stations to crank up supply at short notice, including £6,000 a MWh to fire up Rye House power station in Hertfordshire.

    Rye House belongs to VPI, a subsidiary of the Swiss trading multinational Vitol. Like many other peaking plants, it has passed into the hands of overseas investors as some of the biggest UK operators have exited the market.

    Coryton was owned by InterGen until last week. It now belongs to the Czech financier Pavel Hubáček’s Creditas investment group, which bought it from another Czech businessman and China Huaneng and Guangdong Energy.

    Yet another Czech billionaire, Daniel Křetínský, owns EP UK Investments, which has a power plant collection that includes South Humber Bank and Langage – formerly owned by Centrica…

    …Prices paid for gas-powered electricity this winter are unprecedented. The average offer price for “balancing actions” – to align supply and demand – between the start of September and early January was £287 a MWh. Data from Elexon, which oversees the market, shows Rye House submitted the 20 highest winter bids – between £5,000 and £6,000 a MWh – for varying volumes of power on 12 December, setting new records. That day, VPI earned more than £11m, while InterGen received an estimated £12.6m from Coryton, according to figures from the market data platform EnAppSys.

    InterGen said a rise in demand had produced a “particularly pronounced spike” on 12 December, and that it always acted “in line with regulations and guidance issued to the market, to provide energy to balance the grid and keep the lights on across the UK”.

    Among the other plants bidding above-average winter prices were Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired plant in Nottinghamshire and its gas power station Killingholme in north Lincolnshire, as well as Dinorwig, a pumped hydroelectric power plant in north Wales that is majority-owned by the French multinational Engie and is the fastest source of electricity in the UK.

    Cowes power station on the Isle of Wight and the Didcot plant in Oxfordshire both bid at £1,500 for small volumes in October…

    …The country’s electricity supply industry is a complex jigsaw puzzle designed to encourage the generation of everything from wind, solar and nuclear power to biomass and gas-fired.

    Underpinning this is the “balancing market”, operated in effect by National Grid, which relies on offering the right prices to incentivise power plants to help balance supply and demand. Last winter, the network operator tripled its spend on balancing the grid to £1.5bn.

    The system is designed to prioritise renewable electricity ahead of nuclear, coal and gas.

    The electricity price in every half-hour period is set by the marginal cost of the last generating unit to be turned off to meet demand – usually gas-fired plants, which have the highest costs. While gas prices were low, there were few objections to this system, but the energy crisis has triggered repeated calls for gas and electricity pricing to be delinked.

    The supplier Good Energy draws the analogy with a penalty shootout in football: the best players (renewables) are selected first “but it’s the individual who steps up last who has the final say, deciding the fate of the result” – in this case, the cost.

    Gas-fired power still plays a significant role in Britain’s electricity makeup, accounting for 38% of generation last year – a three-year high as the single largest source of power and well ahead of a record 25.6% for wind….

    Like

  43. “Ofgem looks to crack down on firms ‘manipulating’ electricity market
    Energy regulator plans to tackle manoeuvre that has brought in millions of extra pounds for generators”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/mar/23/uk-power-firms-market-energy-prices

    The energy regulator Ofgem is preparing to crack down on UK power firms to prevent them from “manipulating” the market with a manoeuvre that has bolstered their profits by millions of pounds.

    The practice, which does not break existing market rules, involves generators warning the electricity system operator that they are turning their power plants off at times of peak demand and subsequently offering to keep them running in exchange for a “balancing” payment.

    In some cases, the electricity system operator, which is owned by National Grid, has been left with little option other than to make payments of significantly above the market price to keep power plants from turning off and avoid the risk of winter blackouts.

    The balancing payments, which are passed on to consumers in the form of higher bills, add up to millions of pounds. An analysis by Bloomberg claims some power plants have received £525m in extra revenue from using the “off-on manoeuvre” between 2018 and 2022….

    …About three-quarters of the alleged £525m extracted by power plant owners was paid out on days of restricted energy supplies, according to the research, and more than half of this sum was reportedly paid to power plants owned by VPI, a unit of the commodity company Vitol, and the German utility group Uniper…

    …Uniper did not respond to a request for comment…

    Like

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