The race for flexibility

How the free market will impact renewable energy growth…

During times of adversity there is are trends towards local, community, and sustainable thinking. Now for than every we are feeling this due to the restrictions the world has felt, and in some places, still feeling. In truth, this trend started long before COVID-19 was a thing. A recent article from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has highlighted that we are now living more sustainably in a variety of different and unrelated forms.

The article explains that over the past 5 years (2014-2019):

  • Global renewable capacity has grown by 50%
  • UK Sales of meat substitutes have grown by more that 85%
  • Global electric car stock has grown by a staggering 900%
  • Global sustainable debt issuance has grown by more than 1000%

As the article has indicated energy is one of the ways we have become more environmentally conscious.

Traditional energy companies have noticed this trend and have unanimously begun to market their services around their respective renewable credentials following the popularity of pioneers such as bulb. Customers are snapping up these deals too. Now these are all welcome changes for the long-term health of our planet so we should chalk this up as a win!

However, much like National Grid’s task to balance supply and demand of wholesale energy to avoid blackouts, traditional energy companies will be balancing the supply of a finite provision of renewable energy, approximately 40% as of today’s figures from the National Grid. But still the marketing spin says “100% renewable”, from companies with a deep legacy in traditional energy.

Now this opinion is not about greenwashing, despite sounding like it. This is more about the upcoming problems we are likely to see from a free market…

The result is of the renewable popularity of course is a landgrab for the provision of ‘true’ renewable energy, which will in turn drive up the price of this sustainable segment until more is introduced into the system. This is inevitability in a free market system.

How do we avoid this?

  1. The government must act to remove our dependence on fossil fuels. To its credit, it has announced more wind farms on a regular basis. It has also activated its decarbonisation initiative which is the first step to remove gas powered heating.  All great news.
  2. ESOs must focus its efforts on growing the ‘flexibility’ in the energy system over time so that it may comfortably allow for a significant increase of renewable energy coming online in a short space of time.
  3. Business community must also act by seeking our opportunities to support National Grid (FYI – these are significant incentives for you if you do) as this is a ‘community’ effort.

Where are we today? Stage 1 is in motion. The emphasis now will be on NG and those that support it (including Pearlstone) to recruit businesses to be ready for more renewable energy capture to come online and avoid volatility of energy prices. It is my opinion that we are in a race against time, but we collectively don’t know it yet.

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