It was a very busy year for the UK energy industry in 2019. We’ve seen plans for drastic change, progress toward climate action and a general shift in the attitudes of the country and much more! So, as we start the new year we wanted to round up all the important changes in the energy sector.

 

A Price Cap to Start the Year

 

Fuel poverty has become more prominent in the UK and there was heavy focus in 2019 from Ofgem on bringing awareness to those who are fuel-poor. In England alone 2.55 million homes are fuel-poor, a staggeringly high number.

As mentioned, Ofgem (the Energy Regulator for the UK) introduced an energy price cap at the start of 2019. This controversial price cap saw consumer default tariffs capped in the hopes of saving 11 million households from fuel poverty. Ofgem estimated that the 11 million households would recieve savings of £76 a year, on average.

Before it was implemented the price cap was very controversial, and remains so to do this day. The main argument for the opponents of the price cap is that this will damage competition between energy suppliers within the UK. The opponents are mostly made up of energy suppliers and notable figures in the energy sector.

 

Declaring A Climate Emergency

 

Last year the climate crisis loomed over the majority of world events, and remains a constant thought in the backs of many people’s minds as we enter 2020. The UK was the first country in the world to declare a state of emergency. Announcing that there was both a ‘climate and environment emergency’. Not only focusing on how fossil fuels and carbon emissions are damaging the climate, but also the plastic, pollution and waste disaster across the planet.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn put the motion forward in parliament last year, MP’s from all parties voted and the motion was approved, leading to the declaration.

This caused a slight domino effect with the rest of the world. While some major countries abstained from declaring a climate emergency, a strong majority of countries planet-wide made the declaration. Businesses and Universities across the world were the next to declare the ‘climate and environment emergency’. The EU has also declared a member wide climate emergency.

 

Net-Zero by 2050

Another milestone and first for the UK! In June a law was passed that will bring the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. With the introduction of this law the UK became the first major economy to set this goal.

The UK will reduce emissions as low as possible, reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and promoting and installing renewable and green energy. The remaining emissions will be offset by tree planting projects and the adoption of carbon capture and storage. These two offset methods are the main way the UK will be trying to reach net-zero by 2050.

 

A New Record for Offshore Wind!

It was quite the year for offshore wind last year. Offshore wind capacity spiked in the latter half of 2019 as well, the main win for the offshore sector came from a record low price. The renewable energy auctions under the Governments latest Contracts for Difference saw 6GW of clean energy projects awarded contracts.

This was the first time in the history of the UK that renewables were expected to be cheaper than market prices. It was even more impressive when you factor in the fact that offshore wind does not receive subsidies from the government. 

Within the auction, offshore wind projects were awarded and delivered for £39.65/Mwh. That is 30% lower than 2017!

 

London’s ULEZ

 

In April of 2019, London introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone or the ULEZ for short. This scheme was implemented to target and reduce toxic air pollution from diesel engines within the center of the city. And it has done so! Air pollution from diesel cars within the ULEZ has decreased almost by a third. This was accomplished a mere six months ago since the start of the scheme. 

The hundreds and thousands of vehicles around London will have to meet similar emission standards or face a ULEZ charge. The daily charge for most vehicle types; cars, motorcycles and vans, is £12.50. The daily charge for vehicles that are heavier or larger than cars, motorcycles and vans etc. is £100. More specifically the heavier vehicles will be lorries over 3.5 tonnes and buses/coaches that exceed 5 tonnes. 

 

Is this the Tipping Point for Coal?

 

It’s very possible that in 2019 we not only saw the coal on it’s last legs in the UK but also the tipping point for coal on a global scale! 

Coal accounted for 0.6% of electricity generation in the UK from April to June of 2019! In it’s place the renewable share rose to 35.5% of the UK’s total power production in the second quarter of the year! Compared to the same quarter in 2018, that’s an increase of 32%! 

 

The General Election and the UK energy industry in 2019

 

The conservative party won the general election in toward the end of 2019 in December. So, there wasn’t a major change for the energy sector as a result of the election. The main effect the election had on the industry was what it prevented. Part of Labour’s manifesto was to nationalize the energy sector. Put the national grid back in the control of the government. This would’ve done notable harm to many businesses in the energy sector, so with the conservative win, this was prevented. 

In regards to the party’s policies were much the same as their previous manifesto. The party has continued to pledge to the legally binding net-zero target of 2050. This means we will see the conservative party continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to tackle climate change.

 

So, that’s a brief summary of all the major events within the UK energy industry in 2019. We hope you found this informative! Thanks for taking the time to read this post, have a great day!  

Are you interested in green energy?