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Clean energy stories of the year 2017: April – June

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Image: National Grid.

As 2017 draws to a close, Clean Energy News looks back on what has been a considerably interesting year for the energy transition. In the second of a series of articles running this week, we recap the best stories that broke in April, May and June.

 

If there was one lasting buzz phrase of 2017 that’s worth remembering, it’ll be the ‘Four Ds’. Digitalisation, Decarbonisation, Decentralisation and Democraticisation took off in a very big way this year and Pure Planet, a new energy supplier which set its sights immediately on the Big Six, put this concept at its heart when it launched in May.

Founded by the team behind Virgin Mobile with backing from BP, Pure Planet launched with a membership model that charges a flat rate £10 per month, per fuel fee instead of adding standing charges to its consumer bills. Customers can therefore purchase renewable electricity “at cost”, leaving co-founder Andrew Ralston to surmise that there is now “no excuse not to choose renewable energy”.

It’s been a busy year for utilities, especially those at the forefront of the energy transition. Good Energy has been busier than most, pursuing a new strategy that encompasses not just a digitalised offering, but also new technologies in battery storage and electric vehicles. In May it launched a £10 million bond offer to help power that new strategy - its second such bond raising - with money that would ultimately help it develop its first battery storage installation later on in the year. Good Energy’s 2017 may still be better remembered for its much-publicised spat with rival Ecotricity, but that’s for another day.

Of course, tech innovations and decarbonisation was not solely the remit of new market entrants and more nimble independent suppliers. E.On has spent much of 2017 pushing this agenda and in early May clinched a digital partnership with online giant Google to assist its bid to conquer Europe’s solar market.

The deal saw E.On bring Google’s ‘Sunroof’ – the online platform used to calculate earnings from potential solar rooftop installs – to Germany, allowing residents of E.On’s native market to see just what solar could do for them. E.On would then be able to take those leads forward, something which the company’s COO Karsten Wildberger promised would digitise its solar offering.

On the network side of things, National Grid spent much of this summer insisting that it had all the tools at its disposal to cope with the increasingly large amounts of renewable generation on the grid. Solar in particular caused a few headaches in late May as PV generation set a new record, equivalent to catering for nearly a quarter (24.3%) of the UK’s total demand at one point.

It came just a few months after mid-afternoon transmissions system demand dipped below that of night-time demand for the night before, the first time this had happened in the UK, with National Grid’s own summer outlook document warning that flexible generators such as nuclear faced periods of curtailment as the energy transition continued to take hold.

 

Tomorrow Clean Energy News will look at the top stories in clean energy July through September. 

You can view part one of our 2017 in review series covering the first three months of the year here

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