Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng recently announced a review into the existing offshore transmission regime to address the barriers that the current single radial connection approach presents to the further significant deployment of offshore wind. The review suggests that greater coordination between industry participants – particularly between electricity networks, offshore wind projects and interconnectors – may be possible from 2025 onwards.
The Law Commission recently published its reports on leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage and commonhold. The common theme in all three reports is to make each process simpler, quicker and more flexible and to reduce costs for leaseholders. While commonhold was introduced more than 15 years ago, it has hardly been used and the Law Commission seeks to make it a preferred alternative to residential leasehold.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently ran its Capacity Market consultation on future improvements. Following the consultation, the government will now seek to make the necessary amendments to the Electricity Capacity Regulations and the Capacity Market Rules, before the prequalification window for the T-4 2024/25 and T-1 2021/22 auctions open in Summer 2020.
A recent government consultation proposes a pivot towards support being made available to a wider set of renewable energy technologies – including established technologies such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaics and less established technologies such as floating offshore wind – together with an ongoing commitment to support conventional 'fixed-bottom' offshore wind. This article summarises the consultation's wider set of proposed changes.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently launched a consultation titled "Heat Networks – Building a Market Framework" alongside its report on "International heat networks: market frameworks review". The consultation is seeking views on various proposed policy options for the development of a heat networks regulatory framework. The outcome of the consultation remains an area of great interest for the United Kingdom's future development of low carbon heating.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently launched a year-long UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) mediation pilot, which aims to test the extent to which mediation can assist in resolving disputes involving licences in the UKCS. The OGA has consistently emphasised that it would prefer to exercise its influencing rather than its regulatory role in assisting the industry to achieve the Maximising Economic Recovery Strategy for the United Kingdom, and sees mediation as a potentially helpful option.
The past 12 months have seen increased efforts by environmental activists to disrupt the business of oil and gas companies (or those associated with them) and draw attention to their campaigns against the use and production of fossil fuels. Public statements by groups such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion suggest that this trend is likely to continue. Two recent cases provide some indication of the extent of any protection which may be sought from the courts in the event of disruption.
The Commercial Court recently decided that the right of non-operators to vote to remove an operator at will in a joint operating agreement (JOA) was not subject to any implied constraints, including good faith. As similar clauses are an option in the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators 2012 Model International JOA and continue to exist in a number of North Sea JOAs, this decision will be of wide commercial interest to operators and non-operators in the oil and gas industry.
The Crown Estate has confirmed that seven offshore wind extension projects will progress to the award of rights following the completion of its plan-level Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA). Project-specific environmental assessments will be required for each site before the developers seek planning consents under the statutory planning process. Importantly, the plan-level HRA identifies mitigation measures that will be secured.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently published its proposals for business models for carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS). The CCUS forms part of BEIS's package of proposed measures to support the decarbonisation of the UK economy, which includes consultations on reusing oil and gas assets in CCUS projects, the regulated asset base model for nuclear and the facilitation of energy efficiency in the electricity system.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently published its guidance on handling enquiries according to the Energy Act 2016. The guidance may prove useful to parties which find themselves subject to an enquiry, as it will provide them with an indication of the process that the OGA will follow. However, there are limits on the comfort offered by such an expectation, as the OGA has made clear that it will apply the guidance flexibly.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently launched a consultation on proposals regarding the consenting of large-scale electricity storage in England. As the current planning system does not distinguish between standalone and co-located storage technologies, storage developers must consider a number of issues to ensure that the electricity storage facility is consented lawfully. The BEIS's proposals provide much needed clarity in this regard.
Ofgem recently published its decision to launch a significant code review (SCR) into the electricity network access and forward-looking charging arrangements. The decision sets out the scope and guiding principles for the SCR, along with a timeline for the process. The aims of the SCR include encouraging the better use of existing network capacity and minimising future network costs.
Ofgem recently published its 'minded to' decision on its Targeted Charging Review. The decision sets out Ofgem's view that the residual aspect of electricity transmission and distribution network charges should be based on fixed tariffs for different classes of consumer rather than the other options under consideration (eg, usage during periods of peak demand). Ofgem also proposes to remove most of the remaining embedded benefits enjoyed by smaller distribution-connected generators.
Ofgem has published guidance for operators of essential services (OES) in the energy sector. The guidance aims to support OES in meeting their cybersecurity obligations under the Network and Information Systems Directive and the implementing UK law, the Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018. OES must now adhere to a timeline to demonstrate their compliance and work with Ofgem to make any necessary changes.
The Department for Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning recently launched a consultation on the draft guidance to accompany the Offshore Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2018. The overarching message of the new penalties regime is that the processes and outcomes of enforcement with regard to offshore companies engaged in illegal oil and gas-related activity will change considerably.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Ofgem recently released a progress update relating to their July 2017 joint paper "Upgrading Our Energy System: Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan". Among other things, the update discusses the steps that have been and remain to be taken to improve certainty over the treatment of storage in the current regulatory regime with the aim of providing further clarity for developers of storage facilities.
The government has released Part A of its response to the consultation on amendments to the Contracts for Difference Regime 1, primarily addressing its intention to allow remote island wind (RIW) to compete in future Pot 2 allocation rounds with less established technologies. The consultation response also refers to further proposals put to the government in relation to RIW, including improving RIW competitiveness.
The Oil and Gas Authority recently released updated guidance on planning and gaining consent to UK Continental Shelf field developments. The guidance is intended to assist those involved in planning a new field development and obtaining the consent required to proceed with a field development plan. The guidance was created with the industry's input to try to achieve consistent and successful high quality and high value projects.
The Oil and Gas Authority recently released its UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) Technology Insights and Southern North Sea Salting Study reports. The reports focus on current work taking place in the industry to develop technical solutions to maximise economic recovery of UKCS hydrocarbon resources.