EV charging first for the UK

Plans were unveiled today to build a world-first 2GW network of grid-scale batteries and rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the UK.

Pivot Power is behind the £1.6bn programme, which will provide infrastructure to support the rapid adoption of EVs and underpin clean air policies, while introducing valuable flexibility into the energy system to accommodate the demands of mass EV charging and higher levels of intermittent renewable generation.
EV charging
Pivot Power plans to develop 45 sites around the country, installing grid-scale 50 MW batteries at electricity sub-stations connected directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. These will give the electricity system operator National Grid a huge resource in managing supply and demand.

The battery network will be the world’s biggest, storing enough electricity to supply 235,000 average homes for a day. It will have the ability to release or absorb two thirds the power of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power plant in response to grid balancing requirements.

Sites have been chosen near towns and major roads where they can also power rapid EV charging stations. These will be fed directly by the transmission system, and so will be able to offer mass charging at competitive rates, supporting up to 100 rapid 150KW chargers. They will also be able to support rapid 350KW chargers when they are available in the UK.

It will also be the world’s largest network of rapid charging stations, addressing the three biggest barriers to EV adoption identified by the Department for Transport: availability of chargers, distance travelled on a charge, and cost.[1] By offering affordable charging it will also lower the costs of car ownership for the next generation, the third biggest barrier.

Pivot Power is a privately-owned UK company, set up to develop and operate grid-scale batteries and EV charging stations connected directly to the National Grid high-voltage transmission system. Its dual mission is to support an energy system that is clean, affordable and secure by providing valuable flexibility, and to accelerate the EV revolution by creating a nationwide network of rapid charging stations offering low-cost, rapid, mass charging.

Graeme Cooper, National Grid Project Director for Electric Vehicles, said: “We expect the use of electric vehicles to grow rapidly. This innovative solution will help accelerate adoption by providing a network of rapid charging stations across the country enabling cars to charge quickly, efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.

“It will also give the system operator more choice and flexibility for managing the demands in the day to day running of the network, and also help mass EV charging”.

Pivot Power aims to have operational batteries at 10 sites within 18 months. Each will provide a hub that can support a variety of infrastructure such as public rapid charging stations, electric bus depots and bases for large transport fleets. A site on the south coast could be operational by the middle of 2019, subject to planning approval, and more details will be announced in the coming months.

CEO Matt Allen said: “We want to future-proof the UK’s energy system and accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, helping the UK to clean up its air and meet climate targets. Big problems require big solutions, and we are moving fast to put in place a unique network to support a clean, affordable, secure energy system and embrace the low-carbon economy.

“We are keen to hear from anyone who shares our vision and wants to ‘go electric’, particularly partners with large fleets such as local authorities, supermarkets and logistics companies.”

Pivot Power has financial backing from Downing LLP, a UK-based investment manager which has funded over 100 deals into renewable energy investments since 2010, totalling more than £500 million. Pivot Power is already in talks with institutional and strategic investors, and potential partners, such as car manufacturers, charging providers, and technology and energy companies.

Downing has provided financial support for the initial phase of the project and plans to provide further funding as the rollout of rapid charging stations progresses.  Members of the public including EV drivers will have the opportunity to invest alongside institutional investors through the Downing Crowd platform.

Colin Corbally, Partner at Downing LLP, said: “The prospects of a future ban on petrol and diesel vehicles, coupled with the threat of a potential energy crisis in the UK, mean Pivot Power is extremely well-positioned to help UK investors benefit from supporting the low-carbon transition. Through our partnership with the Pivot Power team, we have developed an exciting but robust business plan to seize this unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in the battery and electric car revolution.”

Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, an advisor and investor in Pivot Power, said: “Renewables, batteries and electric vehicles are going to completely transform our power system, not just because they help clean up our horrible air quality and meet our climate targets, but because their costs are falling far faster than people realise. Pivot Power were quick to understand the scale and nature of the opportunity and have positioned themselves brilliantly."

The core of Pivot Power’s strategy is connecting batteries and rapid charging stations directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. This will give it a competitive advantage over existing batteries and charging stations linked to the lower voltage regional distribution system.

·        It will be able to buy power at lower cost and it is committed to keeping prices as low as possible for drivers.

·        Its rapid charging stations will have access to abundant power – each will have a 20MW connection, enough to supply a town of 10,000 homes.

·        Combining batteries with EV charging maximises the value from each grid connection, and economies of scale should drive down building and operating costs.

Each site offers a range of revenue streams. The batteries will earn money from providing a range of services to National Grid, from sales of electricity to chargers, and from energy trading. They could also potentially provide services to energy-intensive industries. Rapid charging stations will earn income from EV drivers.



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Essential need for demand response embodied by Origami

The UK’S prioritisation of demand side response (DSR) is being monitored internationally, as the country’s present energy system is seen as a harbinger for the rest of the world to follow.

One company garnering attention for its contribution in this vital area of concern is Origami Energy. Power Engineering International spoke to the company’s head of strategy and solutions Alex Howard.
Origami Energy
Although formed just four years ago, the company’s founders prescience in seeing how the market would unfold has been borne out by strong financial backing, most recently seeing investment by global temporary power specialist Aggreko.

The UK is at a crossroads in terms of the improvement and future-proofing of its energy infrastructure. Decisions must be made on where to invest and for the moment nuclear and renewable energy are to the fore, while ageing power generation is being phased out or replaced.

Where Origami comes in is in enabling a proactive approach to the use of existing energy assets and their flexibility, and in so doing, avoiding significant investment in generation and distribution networks.

Energy flexibility (ability of an energy asset to turn up/down or on/off) is becoming increasingly valuable to help balance electricity systems around the world, as increasing amounts of inflexible and intermittent renewable generation is added to the energy mix.

Origami has developed intelligent, versatile and secure technology to optimally generate value from this flexibility, in real-time.

They provide their tech through strategic partnership agreements with energy suppliers and traders and also provide fully-funded, turnkey storage solutions designed to reduce bill costs, generate new income streams and enhance energy security.

The Association for Decentralized Energy’s Policy Officer Rick Parfett summed their contribution up when telling this publication, “The ability of energy users to provide flexibility in their demand is key to helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets while maintaining a stable and balanced electricity grid. By removing the need for costly reinforcement of existing infrastructure, demand side response can offer a smart, innovative solution, while providing UK industry with an invaluable competitive edge in the global economy.”

Power Engineering International (PEI):
In setting up Origami, were the founders motivated by looking at the wasted potential in the system, through the lack of smart intelligence being deployed?

Alex Howard (AH): “Partly yes, but partly also it’s been driven by opportunity. There is a huge transformation happening with investment of billions of pounds in the grid edge without very much visibility of what the future would look like. Meanwhile technology was moving on at pace, with the ability to measure, communicate and analyse data really coming together in a lot of sectors outside energy.”

“Marrying those two things together giving greater visibility and control and ultimately optimising the system with machines rather than people was something that was required to unlock all this wind and solar hitting the system. It led to an understanding that, while we want to hit these carbon targets and are making terrific progress, if we want to continue along this trajectory we will have to get a lot smarter. Otherwise we will stymie ourselves with an enormous infrastructure bill to go with this green energy we are buying.”

PEI: Is the presence of companies like Origami enough to avoid the need for the enormous infrastructure bill you mention?

AH: “There is already flexible generation and storage on the system albeit we probably need some more and there is demand that is potentially flexible with the right kind of technology. If you can invest in software that is very scalable rather than using picks and shovels and wires and transformers you can potentially do something faster with lower regrets and ultimately something we can afford as a country.”

PEI: Are there case studies you can talk about which demonstrate the efficiencies Origami Energy can bring to a project?

AH: One we have dealt over the last year is a generation asset behind the meter and several megawatt scale. We were able to install a piece of hardware to unlock several value streams. We had time off use to be able to generate a try out period to provide ancillary services to National Grid. By switching between value streams, we were effectively able to do more with the same existing asset. If you expand that example out you start to see we can use that flexibility that we already have in a smarter way.”

“There are ways to stack use cases on the same physical hardware as long as you have a feed of what the market is doing, and a feed of the state the asset is in. You can be a lot more dynamic, so rather than the asset providing one service forever, we are able to move it between value pools in order to generate that asset owner a better return. For them it was zero investment, no new hardware, all that was really required was a bit of brain power and some software to activate and manage that asset.”


PEI: How important are partnerships to the Origami model?

AH: “Partnerships have been incredibly important to us. In the early days we dealt with people who owned assets directly, whether factories or generators. We negotiated with them to use their assets in a different way. But in the last year or two we have changed our model to say there are actually players in this industry who already have a number of those relationships, in particular the people who buy energy from them or sell energy to them. They often have the balance sheet or risk appetite those people expect to deal with rather than contracting directly with a tech start-up.”

“People are comfortable contracting with a supplier or an off-taker. We also realised that access to wholesale energy markets was critical to us, but this wasn’t just about selling services to National Grid or DNOs. We realised if we were to really live this philosophy, the value might shift between different services.”

“You have to be able to reoptimize and you need to be able to work with partners who have a trading desk, that had the collateral to take market positions on energy as well as flexibility services.”

“We signed our first big strategic partnership with Smartest Energy earlier this year and we are now looking to replicate that model with a number of other UK suppliers.”


PEI: What distinguishes Origami Energy from other players in this market?

AH: “There are a couple of things we think are unique. We’ve invested quite heavily in our technology side, in our optimisation capability, the brain at the middle of our system that decides how each asset should be put to work. That best benefit, rather than having a human making those decisions. The platform does it a lot faster over a lot more assets and more revenue options than a human ever could.”

“The second thing is how we are positioned in the market. I mentioned we have moved to a model where we work with partners and I think for someone like Aggreko for example, being able to work in a way that is not in conflict with their off-taker or energy supplier has been important.”

“Being able to say actually we are not in competition with the Smartest Energies or ‘Big Six’ here – we provide technology that enables them to do more with their portfolios and I think people like Aggreko can buy into that. There is a whole heap of change in the energy market and being able to say this is what our model is and we are a technology company and not a player in the market is quite important.”

PEI: Just how much untapped efficiency are Origami Energy finding in a typical site?

AH: “Some sites are really high on untapped potential in terns of percentage points. For other sites, installing our technology gives them greater ability to roll with the market changes but doesn’t improve their position today.”

“Maybe they are making 100,000 positions today and they are doing that in one way and they have limited ability to adapt to any change so if the price of that service dies they are exposed. We have found cases where we can’t do better than 1000, 000 today but what we can do is make sure, if prices do change and new services come in, that these sites are the one who can switch quickly and adapt to a future where Ofgem will be intervening and National Grid will be reforming the way they buy their products. Change is inevitable but may just be difficult to predict.”


PEI: With growing awareness of what the technology can do, not just for the power infrastructure, but for the overall economy, does the government facilitate companies like Origami?

AH: “I think we’ve had good dialogue with Ofgem over the last few years. They recognise they don’t have all the answers in the sector and need to listen, particularly to new entrants, for perspectives on challenges and solutions.”

“I’m not sure the smart energy world is yet something the man on the street can really get excited about but within the industry it’s something people are quite actively thinking about. There is a lot of thought on how we enable or accelerate the adoption of these technologies. We find Ofgem quite open to new ideas. There are a lot of established interests in this market so I don’t expect them to push through change immediately but I do believe they share the same view on the direction this is headed, with more decentralization, and disruption to business deals in the name of the consumer- Whether that’s energy prices or security of the system five or ten years out.”

PEI: What is the potential market opportunity for this particular technological niche within the power sector?

AH: “It’s a pretty new market. I’d say there aren’t a great many market size reports out there yet. The National Infrastructure Commission compiled a recent report that had the clearest analysis of how these techs would benefit the UK. They calculated that by 2030, the benefits could be £8bn per year to the UK primarily in avoided asset buildouts, smarter use of what you’ve got rather than building new gas peakers, new substations and new carbon capture plants.”

“We’re not really shooting at that number. Clearly there are a lot of people who will take a share of that pie but it’s a big opportunity in the UK and if you consider that about 2 per cent of the world’s generation is here, that there is quite a lot of opportunity overseas as well, we are in an interesting position.”

“We are an island and have a pretty high build out on renewable and a high reliance on nuclear power. So, we have this intermittent and inflexible renewable energy and fairly inflexible nuclear generation and you have fewer connections to other markets in continental Europe or the US.”

“That all adds up to the UK challenges being 5-10 years ahead of other markets. We are getting a lot of inbound interest from outside the UK as they see it as a bellwether for what might happen in their market next.”

We clearly need to absolutely need to nail it in the UK first but that gives us really great reassurance that we are doing the right thing and building a really versatile system because there are likely to be pretty similar requirements around the world.”

“If we can adapt a platform that’s proven in the UK that’s potentially a better solution than starting from scratch in another market.”

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Dr Sven-Hendrik Wiers, MAN Diesel & Turbo

MAN Diesel & Turbo’s vice-president, Gas Turbines discusses the Chinese market, gas turbines for combined heat and power applications and where the company’s R&D is headed

Dr Sven-Hendrik Wiers is vice-president, Gas Turbines at MAN Diesel & Turbo and co-author of the article on p14 of this issue. He is based in Oberhausen, Germany.

Tildy Bayar spoke with him about gas turbines for combined heat and power applications, the Chinese market and where MAN’s R&D is focused.

Q: Based on your sales of MGT6000 gas turbines in China, what are your projections for future growth in that market? And, do you have local manufacturing in the country?

A: Thanks to the change in regulations, China decided to shut down all coal-fired boilers up to 10 MW, and due to that fact a lot of coal-fired boilers in the class from 5–10 MW will be replaced by gas turbines.

Gas turbines are a clean technology if compared to coal and China definitely has an environmental issue with all the coal-fired power plants and boilers producing heat and steam for industrial processes.

One of the most efficient ways to produce power and heat/steam/cooling is, and will be in future, the combined heat and power (CHP) plant. For decentralized CHP plants, also in combination with renewables, I see a growing market.

As for local manufacturing: yes, the entire package including boiler and generator is local content manufactured by our partners in China.

We do the packaging at MAN’s workshop in Changzhou; however, the core gas turbine itself comes from our facility in Oberhausen in Germany.

Q: Besides the need to address air pollution, what other drivers exist for the growth of CHP in China, and in Asia more generally?

A: The main driver is the environmental impact and the shift from coal to gas. In certain areas they have also installed LNG terminals and China also signed a gas contract with Russia in order to secure the gas supply following its decision to convert from coal to gas.

A MGT 6000 power generation unit
Credit: MAN Diesel & Turbo

This accounts for China, but then look at Southeast Asia which is still a growing market. There is population growth on all Indonesian islands, and they all need power. Of course renewables are an option, but on a small island gas turbines or engines are definitely needed if you also want heat or cooling for industrial processes in the food industry, pulp and paper and households, for example.

Q: Have you taken special design, configuration or installation measures with the MGTs to deal with China’s pollution?
A: There is definitely a need for clean power in Asia. After the Paris Climate Agreement two years ago, there is a growing target to reduce the CO2 footprint worldwide and limit global warming by combining, in a smart way, renewables with clean power from gas turbines or similar technologies – and they can be also fired by renewable gases, for example.

Synthetic gases which are produced by renewables are a very clean option to produce power and steam. MAN can offer a hybrid system combining a gas turbine, gas engines, battery systems, renewables and power-to-gas technology.

One unique feature of MAN Diesel & Turbo is that we have both engines and turbines in our portfolio. If these machines are combined with renewables and battery systems and there is smart power management software as an umbrella which enhances the whole plant, the carbon footprint can be optimized substantially.

A growing number of countries will demand such systems in future, because global warming is not only limited to China. It’s an issue for all of us, and as an industry we are asked to develop innovative

We are also installing an online monitoring and diagnostic which is linked to our database. We can compare certain machine data and predict its behaviour. And of course we can also predict if failure could occur, and act in advance – the so-called predictive maintenance.

Q: What issues is your team focused on right now in terms of gas turbine development? And, where can you see future development needing to focus?

A: In the turbine, advanced cooling technologies have been applied in order to improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. We also introduced jet engine technology to our gas turbines to reduce gaps and clearances and to optimize sealing systems – all in line with the overall target of increasing the efficiency of our system solutions.

Of course, on the combustion side you have to develop and work on more advanced combustion chambers. This is key to reaching significant NOx values. Our current combustion chamber is able to do this, but of course we’re working on further improvements for the combustion process.

Additive manufacturing will gain importance in future, and we already use it today. By applying additive manufacturing we are able to introduce advanced cooling and repair technologies.

This represents an advantage for the customer, because they don’t have to exchange the whole part but can simply repair it – that’s an important operating cost advantage. We’re doing a lot of R&D to further improve this and to be able to introduce the best available technology.

For the industrial gas turbines in the power range from 5–20 MW, the matter of cost is also an important aspect. We can apply more sophisticated materials, coatings etc, but at the end of the day I think there is a limit to what the customer is willing to pay for efficiency improvements. This limits the technology the manufacturers are able to employ.

Look at the huge gas turbines in the field, which have an inlet temperature of 1600°C. Such technology could be introduced in an industrial gas turbine but the question is, would the customer be willing to pay for that improvement? There’s still a business case which has to be considered.

If the regulator and authorities would release stricter regulations, then maybe more companies will be willing to pay for advanced technology. Nevertheless, we work with a jet engine company in Germany and of course we use similar sealing and cooling technology, but we cannot apply the same materials and coatings because of their high costs.

Certain emissions standards must be met, because it’s state-of-the-art existing technology. Due to the fact that regulations did change worldwide, there was a need to develop this kind of combustion technology with a lean pre-mix combustion chamber.

For a couple of years we’ve talked about backup power and the need for gas turbines to be much more flexible, which requires a different kind of design philosophy. This is all driven by a change in regulations and the related growth in renewables.

Q: Are gas turbines or gas engines better for CHP?

A: You have a need for both solutions. The question is always about the process: is it power-driven or heat-driven? It really depends on the customer’s needs and what the driver is.

We as MAN Diesel and Turbo can offer both solutions to our customers and this is the real benefit.

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Siemens supplies cloud-based grid data management system for BKW

Siemens is to install a cloud-based meter data management system for power consumption data for Swiss utility BKW Group.

Swiss law now makes the installation of smart electricity meters mandatory and as a result the volume of data that BKW is required to process will increase more than 40,000-fold.Siemens supplies cloud-based grid data management system for BKW

The cloud-based Siemens system, EnergyIP, will make it possible to record and analyze these huge data volumes automatically.

Siemens, working with Omnetric Group, the technology services company it founded with Accenture, will implement, integrate and operate the software as a service solution.

Siemens said putting Switzerland’s energy strategy into practice “requires power and infrastructure companies to align their grid-based processes with a large number of technical and commercial interfaces of market partners.

“Dealing with huge volumes of data and incorporating decentralized energy solutions necessitate a thorough reorientation of grid-based processes over the long term. That’s why the BKW Group decided to fully digitalize and automate the processes in its grid data management system. In doing so, it is laying the groundwork to efficiently implement the smart meter rollout that is required by law in Switzerland as an integral part of its Energy Strategy 2050.”

The meter data management system is expected to be installed by the beginning of 2019.

"Our technology offers BKW a comprehensive, integrated overview of its data and systems, making them easier to analyze and improving the decision-making processes," said Thomas Zimmermann, chief executive of the Digital Grid Business Unit of Siemens Energy Management Division.

"The evolution of our energy system is well underway, and data is the new raw material for energy utilities. Innovative IoT technologies are essential if our customers are to derive commercial benefit from their data."


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Welsh EFR battery project operational

Vattenfall has overcome some engineering difficulties to complete its 228 MW Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) battery storage facility in Wales.

The battery@pyc project has been completed at the 228 MW Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm, making it the largest battery to be co-located at such a site.
Vattenfall logo
Vattenfall’s battery@pyc is one of eight projects to have won an Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) contract back in 2016, and is only the fourth to have been publically confirmed as operational following announcements from E.On in October and VLC Energy earlier this year.

Current Online reports that the company had to overcome challenges associated with it being a battery prototype.

“The co-location battery prototype at PyC presented fascinating electrical engineering challenges. Solving these challenges provided us with a great learning experience which we will take to our next installation,” Nick Entwistle, Vattenfall’s battery@pyc construction project manager.

“The challenges did mean that we amended our schedule – agreed with National Grid – and included more difficult than expected ground conditions, bad weather on site and integrating the battery into the windfarm’s electrical network.”

Now operational, the battery is believed to be the largest in the UK to have been co-located with an onshore wind farm, sharing the electrical infrastructure of the 76 turbine site, generating 228MW.

Claus Wattendrup, head of business unit Solar & Batteries, said: “This is Vattenfall’s largest battery installation to date, where we make use of synergies at our existing wind farms sites – such as at Pen y Cymoedd or the Princess Alexia Wind Farm in the Netherlands. Hybrid renewable parks will play a larger role in the future and we are leading this development.”

The site uses batteries previously destined for BMW i3 electric vehicles that will now be used to help National Grid maintain frequency levels and reliability of electricity supply on the GB transmission network.

With the EFR battery now successfully completed, Vattenfall has suggested that it will seek out similar projects globally, with the head of Vattenfall’s wind business Gunnar Groebler previously praising the flexibility of battery technology in providing certainty over the business case for such projects in the future.

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RWE contemplates legal action over Dutch coal power phase-out

German utility RWE have stated that they are considering legal action if not adequately compensated for developing coal-fired power generation in the Netherlands, now that the Dutch government has decided to phase out coal from its electricity mix.

The Netherlands will ban the use of coal in electricity generation in the coming decade and shut down two of its five coal-fired plants at the end of 2024 unless they switch fuels.
The law announced by economy minister Eric Wiebes on Friday applies to plants build in the 1990s, while newer ones will have to shut by the end of 2029, and marks the first step towards the government’s goal of shutting all coal-fired plants by 2030.

The first two plants are run by Germany’s RWE and Sweden’s Vattenfall in Geertruidenberg and Amsterdam, respectively, and have been in operation since 1994. The remaining three were built in 2015 and 2016.

RWE, which also operates one of the newer coal-fired plants, expressed its displeasure at the decisions being made and said it expects to be compensated for the EUR3.2bn it invested in its newest plant at the request of the Dutch government.

 “We expect significant consequences for our activities”, the company said in a statement. “We will contemplate legal action if the law is implemented as currently proposed.”

Vattenfall subsidiary Nuon said it would abide to the law and would shut down its coal-fired plant, known as Hemweg-8, at the end of 2024.

Shutting the coal-fired plants should help the government achieve its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 49 per cent relative to the 1990 level by 2030. Emissions were 13 percent lower last year than in 1990.

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Drax commences pioneering carbon capture and storage project

Drax is set to commence a pilot bioenergy carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at its plant in Yorkshire, northern England.

The company said in a statement that the $538,880 project is the first of its kind in Europe and will examine the potential of capturing carbon dioxide from bioenergy sources, effectively removing the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
Drax biomass plant
Drax, which generates about 6 percent of Britain’s electricity, has converted three of its previously coal-fired units to biomass power plants that use wood pellets, often made from compressed sawdust. A fourth conversion will be complete by the end of the year.

Conventional CCS captures carbon dioxide from power plants fired by coal and other fossil fuels and stores it underground, but the technology is still small scale and very costly.

In bioenergy CCS (BECCS), the plants or trees used to produce biomass soak up carbon from the atmosphere as they grow. When the biomass is combusted to produce energy, the carbon is released into the atmosphere but there are no new net carbon emissions.

However, if bioenergy is combined with CCS, the carbon dioxide is not released but is stored underground or deep under the seabed, thereby resulting in negative net emissions.

The company said this could be the first of several BECCS projects, with the initial phase starting this month and, depending on the outcome of a feasibility study, the second phase could begin before the end of the year. 

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National Grid moving ahead on EV super highway

National Grid is planning a fleet of superfast charging points for electric vehicles along Britain’s motorways that would feed directly off the electricity transmission network, according to its chief executive.

The UK grid operator is to install super chargers at 50 sites along the country’s motorway network and is in discussions with several government departments and other stakeholders about the proposal to create a “super highway”.
National Grid
CEO John Pettigrew said, “People are talking about electric vehicles reaching price parity [with conventional cars] in the early to mid-2020s,” adding that the company is examining what needs to be done in terms of upgrading the transmission network and the investment needed to support a full-scale rollout of EVs.

Under the company’s proposal, a series of 350kW super chargers would be installed at 50 strategic sites along the motorway network. These would enable drivers to charge their cars in six to eight minutes and alleviate “range anxiety” about running out of charge.

The scheme would require an investment of between £500m and £1bn, which would be spread across stakeholders or could be levied on drivers in the form of a surcharge equating to about 63p per driver.

Mr Pettigrew was speaking as National Grid reported underlying profits for the past year had risen 4 per cent to £2.68bn, boosted by a strong performance in its North American business.

Fiona Cincotta, Senior Market Analyst at CityIndex told Power Engineering International, “National Grid is doing what utilities should do best: pay a reliable dividend through the good times and the bad.

“Its rising debt load is of some concern. But at 12.3%, the company is generating strong return on equity. Investors can also find reassurance in its upbeat growth guidance for both the short and medium term.

“Stormy weather in the US has put a large dent in the bottom line as expected, though that shouldn’t detract from National Grid’s strategy of shifting more business across the Atlantic. Regulatory uncertainty in the UK looms large, with price caps on the cards, so it’s comforting that the US now accounts for around 49% of operating profit.

“With last months’ GDP data showing the UK economy had a wobble in the first quarter, scope for rapid interest rate rises looks diminished. That should play well for National Grid shares, which still offer a relatively attractive dividend yield.”

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Double investment boost for UK nuclear power

The UK nuclear power industry has received positive investment news today with the announcement that Lloyds Bank will make £100m available to small businesses in the nuclear supply chain serving Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile Japanese media are reporting that the British government are offering £13.3bn in financial support to Hitachi to build nuclear reactors in Wales.

The country’s nuclear reactor fleet is ripe for replacement, a critical development as 20 per cent of the country’s capacity is set to go offline by 2025.

The British government is offering support in loans and other ways to Hitachi unit Horizon Nuclear Power to cover a large proportion of the cost of its Wylfa Newydd project in Wales, Kyodo reported, citing a source close to the matter.

A spokesman for Britain’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Discussions are commercially sensitive and ongoing, we have no further details at this time.”

Meanwhile a £100m fund has been launched by Lloyd’s Bank dedicated to help small businesses take advantage of supply chain opportunities during the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in southwestern England.

The fund will help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Britain access discounted lending and take part in the project.

The fund can also be used by businesses that provide indirect services to the power plant, Lloyds said in a statement.

Hinkley Point C in Somerset is due to come online by the end of 2025 and will be the first nuclear plant built in Britain for decades.

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