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Lo 08

Category: Business

Help shape new NI energy strategy urge Stormont officials

The process of replacing Northern Ireland’s out of date energy strategy has taken another step forward.

An appeal to energy professionals, academics and consumer representatives for ideas to help inform and shape a new energy framework has been launched by the Department for the Economy. After a review of submitted evidence, officials intend to issue an options p...
Published on 17/12/2019

Is this a solution to intermittency of renewables


A reliable electricity system based almost wholly on renewables is not just a lot of hot air, it’s a lot of cold air.

UK based Highview Power’s solution to the intermittency of green sources of power is cryogenic technology relying on chilled air. 

Using off peak energy, air is turned into liquid at close to minus 200 degrees centigrade and stored until it’s neede...

Last updated on 07/11/2019

Need for more transparency on costs


Should we be concerned about the price increases in the domestic electricity market which have just taken place? Most were quite modest varying from around six to eight per cent. In cash terms from £32 to £44 a year. That’s less than a pound a week, a figure which many households could easily accommodate. So then, nothing to get too bothered about. 


But hold on...

Last updated on 07/11/2019

Marketing lesson for energy suppliers


The quarterly reports on gas and electricity customer numbers from the Utility Regulator are normally low on surprises. This supplier has attracted a few more consumers. That one has lost some. It’s not quite a snores fest but hardly riveting reading.

However the most recent edition contained a bit of shocker. It showed that Budget Energy had lost more ...
Published on 05/06/2017

Why electricity tariffs for small firms should be published

Following full deregulation of the commercial electricity market, Power NI have removed from view the only published tariff to which small businesses have access.

In a submission last July to the Energy Regulator, enirgy.info warned that this was likely to happen and recommended in the interests of greater transparency that all suppliers be required to put their prices in plain si...
Published on 23/05/2017

Solar shines brightly


Until relatively recently talk of large scale renewable generation in Northern Ireland meant wind farms. Turbines not only dominated the landscape, they made up the vast bulk of green power capacity.

Wind still predominates but solar power is beginning to assert itself. In recent weeks we have seen two major solar projects linked up to the electricity network. Up near Rasha...

Published on 14/04/2017

Mild winter helps to lower wholesale energy prices


Wholesale energy prices here fell by nearly 18% in February as increased imports into the UK of LNG combined with mild weather continued to push prices downwards. However, the Vayu Energy Report shows that despite this substantial drop wholesale prices are still well up on a year ago. 

Vayu Senior Energy Analyst, Keith Donnelly said: “We are continuing to see...

Published on 26/03/2017

An energy firm to watch

The company which spotted that the wholesale cost of power went negative one morning last month is probably the most interesting Irish energy firm you’ve never heard of. Electroroute reported that for three half hour periods on December 9, suppliers were being paid to take electricity off the grid. The wholesale cost plunged to minus €85 for a MWh which equates to about minus 7 pence a kWh.
Published on 15/01/2017

Regulator plays down role of exports in power price surge

 The Energy Regulator has rejected a claim that exports of electricity to Great Britain have been a major cause in driving up the wholesale cost of power here.

In a note to enirgy.info detailing the background to the recent rise in prices, the Regulator says sales to GB have had only a marginal impact. Their analysis showed that exports were “responsible for setting prices ...
Published on 02/11/2016

Enquiry needed into rising cost of power


Since it first became clear that the wholesale price of electricity had markedly shifted upwards, explanations have been offered to explain the change.

Just to recap: the wholesale cost of power has been around £30 a MWh or 3 pence a kWh for many months. But in recent weeks it has jumped to £50 and even £60 a MWh hour. That’s the load weighted average price over an entire t...

Published on 30/10/2016

Need to redo numbers for N/S Interconnector

There’s one clear message coming through about the North South Interconnector. If the power link isn’t built, the lights may very well go out. Both the Energy Regulator and the company which operates the electricity system have issued statements to that effect. Anyone who reads or listens to the news on a regular basis surely cannot have missed the story.

There’s some...
Published on 30/10/2016

No plan to compensate N/S Interconnector homes equally


It’s emerged there is no plan to offer homes along the Northern Ireland section of the proposed North South Interconnector the same compensation as their counterparts in the Republic.

The General Manager of SONI, the body which operates the electricity system here, told members of the Westminster NI Affairs Committee there is no equivalent of the Republic’s Community and Proximity Funds...

Published on 07/09/2016

UK tops diesel price league

UK drivers suffer the highest diesel prices in the European Union. The average cost of a litre in July was 112. 7 pence. The lowest price was in Luxembourg at 77.7 pence per litre.

The high UK diesel prices are mainly due to taxes. These made up nearly 70 per cent of the total price for diesel compared to 50 to 65 per cent in the rest of the EU.

Published on 25/08/2016

New Belfast power station to reduce blackout risk?

Evermore Energy, the company behind the proposed 400 MW gas fired power plant in the Belfast Harbour Estate, has told an influential House of Commons committee that it intends to be operating commercially by 2019 subject to planning and financing.

In a statement to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC), Evermore, which already runs a 16 MW biomass fuelled CHP ...
Published on 21/08/2016

Phew! what a scorcher

For those who believe that climate change is now under control, there was a timely warning last week from Copernicus, the EU’s earth monitoring service.

Copernicus revealed that July was the hottest month the world has seen since records began in the nineteenth century. 

Jean-Noel Thépaut, Head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, sa...
Published on 14/08/2016

Plan to abolish price control for small business electricity market

The Energy Regulator is proposing to remove the price control which covers the supply of electricity to small businesses. Currently Power NI’s tariff for companies using up to 50 MWh a year has to be approved by the Regulator. The supplier has argued that switching is now frequent enough in this sector, which has around 50,000 customers, to justify the removal of the price control. 
Published on 05/06/2016

Want some electricity? The bill is on me.

Not just free electricity. It’s even better than that. Across the water on Sunday May 8, according to energy data company @enappsys, generators paid more than £30 a MWh to be relieved of unwanted power. It’s not the first time this has happened and the phenomenon is set to become more common.

These episodes occur when combined wind, solar and fossil fuel generation ex...
Published on 22/05/2016

Energy market generating new stories

Perhaps it was the sunny weather but whatever the reason, there was quite a lot of energy news this week. And most of it was positive.

Topping the list was the revelation that the same brothers who have created a biomass power plant at Lisahally in Derry are planning a much bigger generating station in Belfast. Ciaran and Stephen Devine want to build a 400 M...
Published on 15/05/2016

Renewables expansion fails to stop greenhouse gas growth in Ireland


Despite an expanding renewables energy sector, total energy related emissions of carbon dioxide in the Irish Republic rose last year by almost four per cent compared with the previous year. In the UK emissions fell by just under three per cent. There is no separate figure for Northern Ireland.

Across the EU as a whole the EU statistics agency Eurostat estimates that carbon dioxide e...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Energy installer creates over 30 jobs

Heating and renewable energy installer, CTS Projects, has announced the creation of 32 new jobs in the last 18 months, almost doubling employee numbers to a total of 70.
The company, which is headquartered in Warrenpoint, has generated the employment as a result of winning £14m in new contracts with four housing associations and launching a strategic diversific...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale gas prices to fall even further says Vayu

Wholesale gas prices have fallen by 40 per cent over the course of the last twelve months according to the latest Wholesale Energy Market Report published by Vayu Energy. The company which recently announced an expansion into Northern Ireland put the collapse in prices down to abundant supplies and suppressed demand.
The average day-ahead price for gas so far this A...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Power to the people

High demand for low cost electricity has prompted an energy co-operative to launch another round of its programme to install solar panels free of charge for charities and community organisations.

Almost 40 bodies have already expressed an interest in the solar energy project that should see their electricity bills slashed in half. 

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Green energy accolade for Housing Executive manager

Longstanding Housing Executive manager Noel Rice has picked up the top prize at the Annual Action Renewables Association Awards 2016. He beat off tough competition to win the Outstanding Award for Work in the Renewable Energy Sector.

Here's the assessment of Noel's role presented to guests at the Action Renewables Awards ceremony in Titanic Belfast. 

"Noel has bee...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Should all power suppliers publish their pricing for small businesses?


The investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into the energy supply market in Great Britain unsurprisingly attracted virtually no attention here. That’s understandable. Most of what was said only applies to a market we don’t participate in and which is run on different principles. Across the water they have fairly unrestricted competition while here domestic customers can rely on ...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Can the cost of power fall much further?

While electricity prices these days never present a static picture thanks to the entry of new suppliers, the landscape should be clearer when Power NI’s price cut comes into effect on Thursday, April 1.

The company, which still retains the loyalty of three in four of those households who pay for their power in arrears, will be cutting its charges by just over 10 per c...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Record renewable power production

Last year just over 25% of electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources based. That’s an increase of 6.4% on the previous12 months and is the highest rolling 12 month proportion on record. The vast bulk of green electricity produced in 2015 - just over 90% - was generated by wind turbines.

December past produced not just the hi...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Funding for Fair Head?

Fair Head Tidal say their planned 100 MW turbine installation off the North Antrim coast will produce enough power to satisfy the demands of 70,000 homes.

What this implies is that the turbines will have about a 25% efficiency which is comparable to the output of wind turbines. Except of course the building and running of these underwater generators is bound to b...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Turbines, toasters and televisions

The newly approved Cam Burn wind farm near Aghadowey will produce enough electricity to light up and power all the devices in 7,900 homes. That’s the claim by developer TCI Renewables. How do they work that out?

They start off with the installed capacity of the wind farm. That’s 13.8 megawatts. In theory if the wind blew all the time you could expect to get 13.8 ...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Pulling the plug on renewables

When I first started to compose my thoughts for this article on renewable energy, there was still a hope that the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London would cut us some slack on support for new onshore wind farms. It wasn’t a big ask. Letting the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme run on here for a year longer than in Great Britain wouldn’t have imposed a huge burden. The closure ...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale cost of energy drops to new low

The firmus Energy Index touched a new low in July as world markets continue to be swamped by a surplus of oil. The Index, which tracks wholesale fuel prices in Northern Ireland, dropped to 74. That’s the lowest figure recorded since the benchmark was launched over five years ago. 

Brent crude ended July at just over 52 dollars a barrel following a 17 per cent pri...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale energy prices near six year low

Continuing weakness last month in the global oil market has moved the firmus Energy Index close to a six year low. The widely regarded measure of Northern Ireland wholesale fuel costs fell by four per cent to stand at 84 in June. 

Oil prices had been recovering recently amid good news about the US economy but the economic crisis in Greece helped reverse the trend...
Last updated on 11/05/2016

Launch of new electricity supplier


New energy supplier Open Electric has launched itself into Northern Ireland's competitive domestic electricity market with an offer which it claims differentiates itself from its rivals.


The Belfast-based company, which was established last year and has been granted an electricity supply licence by the Utility Regulato...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale energy prices nudge downwards

In a change from the norm, gas rather than oil decided the direction of wholesale energy last month.

A steady stream of imported LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) helped drive the firmus energy index down by four per cent which now stands at 87.

The cost of oil, which has been seesawing since the start of the year, eased by just one per cent. It appears the recovery in prices from ...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Electricity suppliers suspect tampering of 5000 meters


The scale of electricity meter tampering has been disclosed in a consultation document issued by the Energy Regulator. It appears that energy suppliers suspect around 5,000 meters are being interfered with. The extent of the losses from the theft involved has not been revealed. However it's understood that some customers are managing to avoid almost any payment while others are roughly hal...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Air power for east Antrim


It sounds like science fiction but appears to be technologically feasible.

A local renewable energy company wants to store compressed air deep underground – releasing it when needed to power electricity generators.

Gaelectric, a major developer of wind farms, is planning the £300m development near Larne.

It aims to compress air inside caverns located deep withi...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Fifth of power needs from renewables

New figures issued by the Department for Enterprise show how the output of green electricity is still growing.

For the 12 month period from April 2014 to March 2015, 19.9% of total electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources located in Northern Ireland. This represents an increase of 0.5 percentage points on the previous 12 month period
Last updated on 11/05/2016

New wind farm plans under increasing threat


The future of subsidies for new wind farm developments is looking increasingly shaky in light of comments from the new Conservative Government and its Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd.

The Conservatives said in their election manifesto that they would end any new public subsidies for onshore wind farms and they seem determined to make good that promise or threat depending on ho...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Solar Farm Unveiled


Bombardier has just unveiled Ireland’s largest rooftop solar installation at its Belfast wing manufacturing and assembly facility on Queen’s Island. It comprises 14,000 PV panels which will generate 3000 MWh a year – equivalent to the electricity needs of 1000 homes

The arrangement of panels was designed and installed by SALIIS Renewables which will continue to maintain the facility.

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Job Fears


Up to four thousand jobs could be lost in the small-scale renewable energy sector if Northern Ireland fails to find a replacement for Renewable Obligation Certificates or ROCs, which won’t be available to sustain new installations after March 2017.

Michael Doran, the Director of Action Renewables, issued the warning following the revelation by DETI that there is no guarantee that so...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Oil price hike pushes up wholesale energy costs


An increase in the price of oil during April lifted the firmus energy Index to 91. Month on month the cost of a barrel rose 17 per cent. Oil is more expensive now than at any time since the start of January. However, the overall cost of energy remains well below the average level of the past five years despite this hike in the price of oil.


Commenting on the Ap...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale energy prices dropping again


Rises in wholesale fuel prices in February have almost entirely reversed during March. The firmus energy Index dropped ten per cent last month to finish at 82, just above the mark it reached in January 2015.


The strengthening of the world’s main currency paradoxically helped to lower the cost of energy last month. The firming up of the dollar has a track record i...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Curb on Green Power


A new discussion paper issued by DETI reveals the profound impact that reform of the electricity market across the UK will have on the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland. Don’t be misled by its bland title: CFD Implementation in NI–Strategic issues. This document contains lots that should concern and even alarm wind farm developers and solar panel installers. It will also grea...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Industry Minister softens blow for PV industry


The renewables industry breathed a sigh of relief when the Industry Minister announced the new rates of subsidy for small scale solar PV – that’s installations up to 50 kW.

Originally it was proposed to cut the rate of support from 4 ROCs to 1.6 ROCs for new installations from April this year.

A ROC is worth about 4p for each kWh generated. So at 4 ROCs, for every un...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Local energy firms rated by Which


Budget Energy has emerged on top in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by consumer organisation Which.

The North West based electricity supplier scored 61 points, significantly ahead of its rivals. 

Gas supplier Firmus came second with 53 followed by SSE Airtricity on 51 and Power NI on 48.

The figures were based on customers’ overall satisfaction combined wit...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Virtual power station


You probably haven’t heard of what is effectively Northern Ireland’s fourth biggest power station and you’ve certainly never seen it.

And yet it’s been going for four years and and it exists all around you.

With the capacity to deliver 74 MW iPower plays a key role in the electricity system.

While rarely called on to generate, its 24/7 readiness to burst into life a...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Change could mean lower prices


Reform of the all island Single Electricity Market (SEM) has been forecast to put up bills but now there are grounds for believing it will cut charges

The move to the new arrangement which has been entitled the Integrated Single Electricity Market or I-SEM and is required by the EU will involve the auctioning of capacity payments. These are a reward to generators for keeping th...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale energy prices fall


The wholesale cost of energy here plunged ten per cent last month, as oil prices continued to slither downwards. The firmus energy index dropped to 98 - a new low in its five year history. 

Oil may not be the only fuel consumed in Northern Ireland but it is by far the most dominant.  As a result it has a disproportionate influence on the overall energy index, trum...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Offshore wind farm plan abandoned


In a surprise move the company aiming to build Northern Ireland’s first major offshore wind farm has cancelled its plans saying it cannot meet a key Government deadline

First Flight Wind, a consortium involving B9 Energy and giant Danish company Dong Energy, had hoped to locate turbines, capable of generating between 300 and 400 megawatts of power, in the sea near Annalong ...

Last updated on 11/05/2016

Wholesale energy price index at four year low


After moving sideways for a couple of months, the wholesale cost of energy lurched downwards by six per cent in October. The firmus energy Index which monitors a basket of key prices in Northern Ireland dropped to 108, its lowest point in just over four years.

The index was dragged down by a fall in the cost of oil. The charge for a barrel has fallen by 25% sin...

Last updated on 11/05/2016