New Energy Chinwag

Implications of the UK's fracking 'ban'

An episode of New Energy Chinwag

By John Massey & Charley Rattan
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
More places to listen
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

More places to listen

Hydrogen revisited: the end-of-year update
Back in March of this year, we chatted for the first time about hydrogen. Since then it's been a year of strategies, roadmaps and reports - there seems to be a new one every week. The industry is awash with 'momentum'. But is this all talk, or has there been action on hydrogen since we last discussed it? Are we starting to see signs that hydrogen is set to take off in 2020 and if so, in which applications and market sectors? 
December 3, 2019
Is there a future for Wave & Tidal Energy?
In this episode we discuss those other two "offshore" energy sources: wave and tidal energy. A few years ago there seemed to be much excitement about their prospects, but despite various technical trials and innovations, few actual projects have materialised. Why is that and how might things change?  It's fair to say that we arrive at a fairly downbeat view of both wave and tidal, albeit with some ideas of niches they could exploit. However, new proposals for marine energy projects do continue to appear, so we always reserve the right to be wrong!
November 15, 2019
Implications of the UK's fracking 'ban'
Fracking has, at least for the moment, ground to a halt here in the UK. For a variety of reasons from earthquakes to election politics, the government has decided to withdraw its support from the nascent industry. Remember though, that natural gas accounts for over 40% of UK electricity generation and the vast majority of its heat supply. So in this episode we discuss the background to this change of policy, plus the implications it has for the UK market - not least the opportunities for alternatives which could replace natural gas in the energy mix. It's a discussion that touches on a wide variety of issues, from stakeholder engagement and project planning to geopolitics, trade deals, renewable power and alternative gases.
November 7, 2019
Floating Wind
In this week's episode we look specifically at floating wind. The term 'game-changer' is one which is vastly over-used in the clean energy sector, but are floating wind turbines worthy of that tag? Will they open up entirely new project locations compared to fixed foundations, or will they start to compete in areas where fixed solutions have thus far ruled? Will they open up entirely new offshore energy applications, beyond those possible with today's technology? And, crucially, how far away are they and what are the practical hurdles which could slow down their implementation? We address all these questions and more, in one of our most forward-looking and thought-provoking podcasts to date!
October 27, 2019
What happened at Round 4 Bidders Day?
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.
October 10, 2019
The Grid: what is it and how is it changing?
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.  Enjoy!
October 7, 2019
Exciting Times for Offshore Wind!
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!
September 26, 2019
Hybrid Renewable Power Projects
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. 
September 16, 2019
Transport: Electric or Hydrogen (or both)?
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. 
September 6, 2019
What we've been up to on our travels...
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?
August 22, 2019
Renewable Heat in the UK
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.
June 29, 2019
The UK Energy Scene (Our wrap-up from "All-Energy" May 2019)
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).
June 21, 2019
Offshore Wind: what does the future hold?
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. Enjoy! Feedback and comments always welcome, so get in touch with us via or
May 6, 2019
All-Energy 2019 (Glasgow): here's what we'd like to hear about
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.
April 18, 2019
Energy and the "Internet of Things"
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
April 18, 2019
Why's everyone talking about Hydrogen?
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.
March 7, 2019
Offshore wind... onshore
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.
February 25, 2019
Welcome to Astute's "New Energy Chinwag" podcast!
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.
February 16, 2019
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