from  Veronica Truman Head of Content & Communications at Cornwall Insight

While lockdown may have been the most used word overall in 2020, in the energy sector net zero would certainly give it a run for its money. The raft of policy announcements, particularly in the last few weeks, will lead to a dramatic change in sector especially with moves to decarbonise heat and transport. This has been set amid a backdown of further consolidation in the supply market and escalation of ambition to achieve net zero.

Our popular weekly articles are an opportunity for our experts to discuss topical industry news. Based on the number of downloads, these are the top five most popular ‘Chart of the weeks’ from 2020.

Five: E.ON UK and npower: When 2 become 1

Recent acquisitions were changing the face of the non-domestic supply market according to our Business Market Share Survey for Q220 (with a reporting date of 30 April 2020). In this ‘Chart of the week’ we looked at what the market will be like once the E.ON UK and npower merger was complete.

Under the proposals announced in May 2020, E.ON Group would merge npower’s I&C arm, npower Business Solutions, with E.ON UK’s I&C unit. Under the proposal the two portfolios would be integrated by the end of 2021 with the merger leading to significant changes in the rankings for the larger suppliers, most notably in the electricity market.



Four: The pipeline for CfD AR4: Who, where, when?

With the potential reinstatement of ‘Pot 1’ technologies in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 4 (AR4) in 2021, this ‘Chart of the week’ took a look at the pipeline of renewables projects most likely to enter the auction.

Drawing upon research in our new service ‘The Renewables Pipeline Tracker’, we showed a heat map of site locations by capacity for potential AR4 bidders.


Three: Energy demand falls amid coronavirus outbreak

In this ‘Chart of the week’, we looked at the timeline of the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact of milestone events on the daily gas and power consumption in the UK.

When the government imposed restrictions on movement in the UK on 24 March, demand for power fell around 11% from March 2019 levels. Comparatively, demand for gas was less affected due to the dominance of the domestic heating market on gas demand.


Two: Cha-Cha Slide: COVID-19 & falling levels of inertia

The level of inertia on the system is a key contributor to electricity system stability. In this ‘Chart of the week’, we took a look at how changes in demand brought about by COVID-19 were impacting this.

Inertia is an attribute of the system related to the energy stored in the rotating motors of synchronous generators (e.g. coal, gas, nuclear). It prevents system frequency from falling too quickly after a frequency disturbance (e.g. a generator trip) as inertia stored in these rotating motors provides resistance to system changes. It is effectively free frequency response the ESO can count on in the case of a sudden fall in frequency and is measured in Gigavolt Ampere Seconds (GVA.s). Typically, levels of inertia on the system will fall as the levels of synchronous generation on the system decline and asynchronous generation (wind, solar and interconnectors) increases.


One: What’s in it for me? Household grid balancing

This ‘Chart of the week’ looked at the potential benefits and flexibility models available to customers. The dearth in energy demand and high renewable generation brought the need for flexible consumption sharply into focus. On the weekend of 22 May, Octopus Energy paid thousands of smart meter customers to use energy. Industry then seriously looked at how households would be supported in their participation in demand side services, traditionally the domain of large commercial customers.