chinwag: noun. "a long and pleasant conversation between friends" [example: "We had a good chinwag over a bottle of wine..."] Informal but Informative - your guide to issues around the UK and global clean energy transition
Yesterday, Charley attended the Round 4 Bidders Day at the Crown Estate in London. If that sentence makes little sense to you, then what it means is he was getting up-to-the-minute insight into how the process for the next tranches of UK offshore wind licensing is going to work. Where will future growth be happening, who's interested in it and how will they get their licences?
So if you're interested in UK offshore wind, then this - one of our shorter podcasts - is a great short update into how that growth story is set to continue going forwards.
Regular listeners will know that 'the grid' pops up regularly in any of our conversations about the transitioning power system: it's key to renewable power project development, impacting costs, land use, permitting and a variety of other key issues. Without a grid connection, a project can't sell its production (unless it plans to be private wire or entirely off-grid, selling to a specific customer base rather than into the wider market).
So it was high time we had a proper chat about the grid, discussing what it is, how it's developing and even getting into issues of ownership and long-term planning.
We return to one of our core subjects for this week's podcast: offshore wind.
It's particularly timely in the week that the latest UK government auction saw bidders winning contracts at prices below those projected to be prevailing in the market at their time of deployment. In other words, these latest projects are set to be 'subsidy-free' (in fact they may well end up paying back money to consumers!).
No sooner has that auction been wrapped up than discussions are set to accelerate regarding the next one: so-called 'Round 4'. What can we expect from that, not just in terms of prices, but in terms of market entrants and investors? Will this be where the oil and gas industry makes its big move?
So tune in for our perspectives on these developments, plus your usual access to our insights above and beyond the headlines!
Rather than build just a wind project (or just a solar project, or a battery project), doesn't it make more sense to build hybrid renewable power projects? Why not take advantage of shared infrastructure and land, and combine multiple technologies to increase the value of the energy that's produced?
These are questions we discuss in this latest 'New Energy Chinwag'. As usual, we discover that there's no simple yes/no answer. Instead there's a balance between the advantages of hybridisation and the disadvantages of additional complexity in project planning, financing and development.
The energy world is sometimes prone to debates where two sides of an argument take up entrenched, 'winner takes all' positions. One example of this at the moment is the discussion around electric vehicles: in particular, will the electricity to power those vehicles come out of a battery or a fuel cell (the latter fuelled by hydrogen)?
It sounded like an excellent question for a relaxed, non-partisan chat; and once again we recorded this for - we hope! - your enjoyment.
For this week's podcast we review some of the key themes that have come up in the course of our recent work activities, which has encompassed a range of things from teaching a Filipino coal power plant operator about solar power, to meeting an investment firm in Manchester (the UK one). In talking to a wide variety of people from varied backgrounds and geographies, what kinds of energy issues, both current and future, are we proving to be of interest?
In the week that the UK put into legislation its target to be "net zero" by 2050, we had a chat about the options for renewable heat. After all, without decarbonising heat, there is no chance of coming close to that target - heat in northern climates such as the UK is usually a much bigger energy user than is electricity. So can we decarbonise electricity and use that for heat, or should we be decarbonising the natural gas (methane) that currently provides most of the UK's heat supply? We discuss the options and some of the practicalities around their deployments.
In May, we visited the All-Energy show in Glasgow, UK. It's just about the biggest clean energy show here in the UK, so a good event to catch the mood of the industry and hear what they are talking about.
Regular listeners will have already listened to our preview of the show. So how close were we when anticipating what would be the key themes there? Now you can find out: here's our post-event wrap-up! (spoiler: we were pretty much on the money, but as always there were some interesting specifics and extras to highlight).
In this, the week that a parliamentary committee recommended that the UK set a target for the country to be zero-carbon by 2050, we focus on offshore wind. Without a vast increase in our usage of the latter, such a target stands no chance of being reached. So offshore wind will be crucial to the UK's future energy mix and its economy, and represents a tremendous opportunity to become a world leader in this sector.
So what's happening in offshore wind? As well as chatting through some of the current technological and deployment trends, we also indulge in some crystal-ball gazing to imagine where it might be heading in future - and who might drive it, including great opportunities for diversifying oil and gas companies.
Feedback and comments always welcome, so get in touch with us via www.astutenewenergy.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Both John Massey and Charley Rattan (together, Astute New Energy) will be at the All-Energy conference and exhibition again in Glasgow, in the middle of May. In this New Energy Chinwag, we chat about the kind of topics we're going there hoping to find out more about - and the ones we think the industry will (or should) be focusing on. Let's see if we're proven right!
If you want to meet up there, then either get in touch via LinkedIn (via the links in our names above), or at Astute New Energy.
In this episode, Charley Rattan & John Massey chat about the growth of connected energy, smart grid, energy Internet of Things (IoT) - call it what you will... What does this actually mean, what impacts might it have on the industry and on energy users, and where are we with it currently.
As always, we'd welcome your views, news or feedback - so please contact either of us via LinkedIn or at www.astutenewenergy.com.
There's recently been lots of talk recently about the role of hydrogen in decarbonising energy systems. So, is the "hydrogen economy" back on the agenda? If so, how will hydrogen be produced and for which applications? Is it really low-carbon?
In this latest chinwag, we briefly run through some of these questions and outline the key issues involved in taking hydrogen forwards; including how hydrogen might fit into the energy mix alongside other growing sectors such as offshore wind, and how it provides a way to decarbonise while linking the different sectors of power, transport and heat.
Most discussions around offshore wind focus on giant turbines, fixing foundations to the seabed and fancy cable-laying vessels. So it's easy to forget that all that offshore work is pointless without also delivering those crucial aspects of an offshore project which lie on land.
In particular that means connection into the onshore grid, but also sites for construction and O&M. As with any onshore project, key stakeholders (and their preferences or objections) will play a big role in determining how this onshore part of an offshore wind project plays out.
The first podcast from Charley Rattan and John Massey, who together are "Astute New Energy".
In this episode we have a general chat about the differing fortunes of offshore wind and nuclear power here in the UK. Both provide important sources of low carbon power from huge power generation projects. Yet one is booming and seeing its costs plummet, while the other is beset by delays, high costs and investor disinterest. Why the difference? It's not a story simply of technology and money, but one where supply chain, policy and industrial strategy issues will all play major roles.
Forgive some first-effort 'quirks' (barking dog anyone...) and feel free to get in touch with any comments or suggestions for our future discussions.