What has happened in renewable energy policy in the UK in 2020/2021?

ECOE director Sonya Bedford has summarised the year's policy developments

ECOE director Sonya Bedford has summarised the year’s policy developments

As we prepare for our Annual General Meeting, ECOE director Sonya Bedford has reviewed recent UK renewable energy policy events. The following is an invaluable, exhaustive, list. For the summary version, check out our upcoming Annual Report.

30/04/2020 – Goodbye to RHI –  Government announcements on the proposals for replacing the Renewable Heat Incentive

Key points:

  1. Addressing project delays caused by COVID:
    1. Extend the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme until 31 March 2022.
    2. Introduce a third allocation of flexible tariff guarantees under the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
    3. Extend the commissioning deadlines for projects currently holding a Tariff Guarantee until at least mid-March 2021.
  1. Main consultation:
    1. Replacement of the RHI with a Clean Heat Grant targeted at biomass boilers and heat pumps in domestic and non-domestic installations with a capacity up to and including 45kW. This is proposed to be set at £4,000 flat rate for all eligible technologies.
    2. A Green Gas Support scheme using a tariff approach (for 15 years) to support biomethane production from AD plants.

14 July 2020 – Storage exempt from national planning regime

BEIS confirmed that it will bring forward secondary legislation to exempt all size storage facilities (except pumped hydro) from the national planning regime in England.

7 October 2020 – Energy Storage and the Electricity Generation Licence

Summary: Ofgem confirmed that they will define electricity storage as a subset of generation and amend the generation license accordingly.

30 October to 26 November 2020 – Ten Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution

–        Initial government announcement

–        Regen response

–        Community energy’s 10 point plan – forum

27 November 2020 – Back Onshore

Key point: Confirmation that onshore wind and solar will be able to participate in the next round of Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions. The total pot available for all technologies will be 12GW.

30 November 2020 – Government Policy Bonanza

(a)   10 point plan

(b)   Spending review

(c)   National Infrastructure Strategy (CP329)

(d)   Contracts for Difference regime

15 December 2020 – Energy White Paper

Key areas: Renewables, Energy governance and infrastructure, Heat, Markets and Smart Systems

Link to paper: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/945899/201216_BEIS_EWP_Command_Paper_Accessible.pdf

16 February 2021 – Western Power Distribution’s 2023 – 2028 First Draft Business Plan: Briefing Note for Community Energy Groups

Link to WPD Briefing Note: https://www.regen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/WPD-Business-Plan-Briefing-Note-FINAL.pdf

19 March 2021 – Regen responds to Environmental Audit Committee call for evidence on community energy

Link to full response: https://www.regen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Community-energy-call-for-evidence-Regen-response.pdf

Link to EAC inqury: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/news/139374/new-inquiry-what-role-could-community-energy-play-in-decarbonising-energy-and-heat/

29 March 2021 – Regen responds to Green Homes Grant closure

Policy and advocacy

 6 policy priorities for 2021

  1. Local energy planning and investment
  2. Creating a fair regulatory framework for low carbon generation and technologies
  3. Decarbonisation of heat and energy efficiency
  4. Electricity markets for a net zero electricity system
  5. Hydrogen – costs, feasibility, applications and funding
  6. EV charging and its impacts on the electricity network

Government Consultations

16 April 2020 – 11 June 2020: Climate Change Agreements scheme extension and reforms for any future scheme (Outcome Decided)

Summary: We’re seeking views on a proposed extension to the climate change agreements (CCA) scheme, and on potential reforms were there to be a future CCA scheme.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/climate-change-agreements-scheme-extension-and-reforms-for-any-future-scheme

26 August 2020 – 7 October 2020: Taking action on climate risk: improving governance and reporting by occupational pension scheme (Outcome Decided)

Summary: This consultation seeks views on policy proposals to require trustees of larger occupational pension schemes and authorised schemes to address climate change risks and opportunities through effective governance and risk management measures.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/taking-action-on-climate-risk-improving-governance-and-reporting-by-occupational-pension-schemes

30 September 2020 – 13 October 2020: Designing the Green Heat Network Fund (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking evidence which will help us develop a Green Heat Network Fund intended to help new and existing heat networks adopt low carbon technologies.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/designing-the-green-heat-network-fund-call-for-evidence

18 November 2020 – 12 February 2021: Improving home energy performance through lenders (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We are seeking views on how mortgage lenders can help householders to improve the energy performance of their homes.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-home-energy-performance-through-lenders

4 December 2020 to 26 February 2021: Greenhouse gas removals:: call for evidence (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking evidence on greenhouse gas removal methods, and views on policy mechanisms that could incentivise and facilitate their development and deployment.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/greenhouse-gas-removals-call-for-evidence

30 November 2020 to 29 January 2021: Green Heat Network Fund: proposals for the scheme design (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking views on the design of the proposed Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) scheme, a funding programme to help new and existing heat networks move to low and zero carbon technologies.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/green-heat-network-fund-proposals-for-the-scheme-design

12 June 2020 to 4 September 2020: Combined Heat and Power (Outcome decided)

Summary: We’re seeking views on the future role of efficient co-generation of heat and power to support achievement of our net zero emissions target by 2050.

Outcome: We will use the information provided through the call for evidence to shape future policy options for combined heat and power (CHP).

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/combined-heat-and-power-chp-the-route-to-2050-call-for-evidence

14 December 2020 to 26 February 2021: Early phase out of unabated coal generation (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We are seeking views on bringing forward the phase out of unabated coal-fired generation in Great Britain to 1 October 2024.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/early-phase-out-of-unabated-coal-generation-in-great-britain

30 September 2020 – 8 January 2021: Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking views on proposals around raising energy performance standards for the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-the-energy-performance-of-privately-rented-homes

16 November 2020 – 14 December 2020: Low Carbon Contracts Company and Electricity Settlements Company Operational Costs 2021 to 2022 (Outcome decided)

Summary: We’re seeking views on the proposed 2021 to 2022 operational cost budgets and resulting levies for the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) and the Electricity Settlements Company (ESC).

Outcome: We made no changes to the proposed budgets, except for one amendment: the consultation preceded the 2020 Spending Review which announced a pay pause for the majority of the public sector. The operational costs of the company have been amended to reflect this
Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/low-carbon-contracts-company-and-electricity-settlements-company-operational-costs-2021-to-2022

14 December 2020 – 8 March 2021: Enabling a high renewable, net zero electricity system (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking evidence to inform the design of our renewable support schemes.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/enabling-a-high-renewable-net-zero-electricity-system-call-for-evidence

12 February 2021 to 5 March 2021: Clean Heat Grant (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking views on further policy design for the Clean Heat Grant.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/clean-heat-grant-further-policy-design-proposals

12 June 2020 to 4 September 2020: Energy-related products (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking evidence to support our future UK products policy and our aim to achieve greater carbon savings.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-related-products-call-for-evidence

17 March 2021 to 23 April 2021: UK emissions trading scheme free allocation review (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: The UK government and devolved administrations are seeking evidence on free allocation in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/uk-emissions-trading-scheme-free-allocation-review-call-for-evidence

17 March 2021 to 9 June 2021: Introducing a performance-based policy framework in large commercial and industrial buildings (Outcome being deliberated)

Summary: We’re seeking views on the government’s proposals to introduce a national performance-based policy framework for rating the energy and carbon performance of large commercial and industrial buildings.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/introducing-a-performance-based-policy-framework-in-large-commercial-and-industrial-buildings

28 April 2020 to 7 July 2020: Future support for low carbon heat (Outcome decided)

Summary: We’re seeking views on options for the future support for low carbon heat, beyond the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-support-for-low-carbon-heat

20 April 2021 – ongoing: Role of biomass in achieving net zero (Ongoing)

Summary: To inform the development of the upcoming biomass strategy, we’re seeking evidence on how sustainable biomass should be sourced and used to best support our net zero target.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/role-of-biomass-in-achieving-net-zero-call-for-evidence

23 November 2020 – 15 January 2021: Smart Meter Policy Framework post 2020

Summary: We’re seeking views on annual tolerance levels associated with smart meter installation targets for energy suppliers in Great Britain and the level of reporting thresholds for large energy suppliers.

Outcome: The government response confirms the following decisions: the extension of the current All Reasonable Steps obligation for 6 months to 31 December 2021, with the new Framework commencing on the 1 January 2022; distinct tolerance levels for domestic and non-domestic energy suppliers; final tolerance levels for Years 1 and 2 of the rollout now, to start from 1 January 2022 (for domestic and non-domestic rollouts; a review point during Year 2 (2023) of the Framework, followed by a further consultation. This consultation will focus on setting the appropriate tolerance levels for Year 3 (2024) and Year 4 (2025) of the Framework; the alignment with Ofgem reporting thresholds for large energy suppliers. Energy suppliers with 150,000 or more gas and/or electricity customer accounts will now be subject to reporting requirements under the new Framework and a forthcoming consultation (during 2021) on a modification in the calculation of Year 2 targets (2023) to mitigate the impact of churn in smart meter customers
Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/smart-meter-policy-framework-post-2020-minimum-annual-targets-and-reporting-thresholds-for-energy-suppliers

12 June 2020 to 7 August 2020: Energy Technology List Scheme

Summary: We’re seeking views on the future direction of the scheme, and on proposed technical changes for the 2020 update of the Energy Technology Criteria List (ETCL).

Outcome: The government has confirmed that in response to this 2-part consultation on the Energy Technology List (ETL) Scheme, BEIS will: take forward the vision and future direction set out for the ETL Scheme; continue to work with stakeholders to further develop our understanding of user needs to improve the ETL’s effectiveness as a low carbon information source; make significant improvements to the content and functionality of the ETL website and materials; retain the Energy Technology List name for now but consider rebranding the scheme materials; pursue promotional activity to encourage greater awareness amongst SMEs; revise the terms and conditions of the Scheme to confirm that BEIS will give 6 months’ notice in the event of a decision to close the ETL; accept all of the changes to the Energy Technology Criteria List (ETCL) that were set out in Part 2 of the consultation
Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-technology-list-scheme-its-future-direction-and-technical-changes-to-the-2020-update

Policy Papers

18 November 2020: The ten point plan for a green industrial revolution

Description: The ten point plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment, and potentially 3 times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-ten-point-plan-for-a-green-industrial-revolution

7 December 2020: COP26 Energy Transition Council Summary

Summary: The Council agreed to explore specific opportunities for collaboration in areas including:

  1. a) Making clean power technologies the preferred option for countries investing in new power generation, with the aim of doubling the rate of investment in clean power by 2030.
  2. a) Developing policy and regulatory frameworks to attract the private sector to help deliver and finance these investment needs.
  3. b) Supporting people and communities heavily reliant on the coal economy to make a secure and just transition to clean power and other economic opportunities, ensuring that no one is left behind.
  4. c) Enabling the delivery of SDG7, harnessing centralised and decentralised clean energy solutions to achieve universal access to sustainable, affordable, modern energy by 2030, increase energy efficiency, and maximise the wider development benefits of the energy transition.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cop26-energy-transition-council-summary-statement

12 December 2020: The UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement

Summary: On 12 December 2020, the UK communicated its new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The NDC commits the UK to reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. It also includes information on how this target was developed and is quantified. Under the Paris Agreement this is known as ‘information to facilitate clarity, transparency, and understanding’ (ICTU).

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-nationally-determined-contribution-communication-to-the-unfccc

14 December 2020: Energy white paper: Powering our net zero future

Summary: The energy white paper builds on the Prime Minister’s Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution. The white paper addresses the transformation of our energy system. It promotes high-skilled jobs and clean, resilient economic growth as we deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-white-paper-powering-our-net-zero-future

17 March 2021: Industrial decarbonisation strategy

Summary: The Industrial decarbonisation strategy is the first strategy published by a major economy which sets out how industry can decarbonise in line with net zero, while remaining competitive and without pushing emissions abroad.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/industrial-decarbonisation-strategy

10 May 2021: UK Emissions Trading Scheme Markets

Summary: This document explains how the supply of allowances in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) will work in the early years of the scheme.

Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-emissions-trading-scheme-markets