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Clean energy stories of the year 2017: July – September

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 third of a series of articles running this week, we recap the best stories that broke in July, August and September.

 

As we alluded to yesterday, Good Energy has had something of an interesting year in 2017. Not long after it clinched more than £10 million in new funding had Dale Vince, founder of rival Ecotricity and holder of a significant stake in the firm, made noises about securing board representation.

This, Vince said, was in response to a number of “concerning” transactions between Good Energy and the solar development firm owned by chief exec Juliet Davenport’s husband. Vince said the “unjustifiable” terms of those contracts meant that Good Energy was guilty of a lack of corporate governance, one that could only be solved by Vince and another Ecotricity representative’s election to the board.

Good Energy, funnily enough, strongly resisted those calls and it wasn’t until late August that Ecotricity finally relented two weeks before a crucial vote was due to take place, seemingly because it was facing defeat. Ecotricity still holds a not insignificant stake in the firm and rumours surrounding a potential takeover or merger have continued to abound this year. Clean Energy News would not be surprised if this story emerged again in 2018.

Elsewhere in the energy market the overwhelming trend of evolution continued apace. July started with a glimpse inside Ofgem’s so-called ‘Regulatory Sandbox’, a space in which innovative projects held back by red tape could operate free of those shackles.

While specifics have been scant, projects known to be in the works include a blockchain-powered, peer-to-peer energy trading project on a housing estate in Hackney, a collaboration between OVO Energy and VCharge to trial new domestic tariffs in homes with storage heaters, and the launch of a platform that would allow corporate customers to buy power directly from independent generators.

It was also an astonishing year for the offshore wind sector, perhaps best typified by September’s CfD results which saw the technology come in at “astounding” low prices. More than 3.2GW of capacity was procured in the second CfD round at prices as low as £57.50/MWh, far outperforming even the industry’s greatest expectations.  

Government was quick to laud the price reductions and all of the innovation that contributed towards it, with the industry itself only too keen to bask in that praise. The continued cost reductions also played a crucial factor in the government announcing a further tranche of funding for more CfD rounds in the coming years.

It was not all good news for renewables and their enabling technologies though. In July BEIS announced its intent to de-rate certain battery storage technologies when bidding into the Capacity Market, owing to the durations at which they can discharge power at full capacity. While the move makes sense from a technical perspective, the threat that the changes could be enacted in time for the forthcoming auctions was not received well by the industry.

And the industry was perhaps right to be perplexed by the government’s proposed timetable, as the de-rating was only confirmed after pre-qualification results were published.

 

Tomorrow Clean Energy News will look at the top stories in clean energy in the final three months of the year. 

You can view part one of our 2017 in review series covering the first three months of the year here, and part two of the series, covering April through June, here