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British Hydropower Association highlights Government’s hydro policy ‘blind spots’

Government’s drive for the cheapest kWh fails to provide ‘best value’ to cash-strapped consumers and misses a golden opportunity to replace fossil fuels with climate-friendly hydropower, says BHA

The British Hydropower Association (BHA) is today urging MPs of all parties to stop overlooking hydropower in order to provide a broader UK energy mix and a better deal for cash-strapped households.

The BHA has published a new manifesto “Flying the Flag for British Hydropower” which is being sent to ministers and MPs ahead of the UK general election.

report by Birmingham University suggests that with a price stabilisation mechanism of £140-£180/MWh, the Hydropower industry can deliver a further 1GW of reliable, winter baseload low carbon energy generation.

Kate Gilmartin, CEO of the British Hydropower Association, who recently gave evidence to both the Environmental Audit and Energy Security and Net Zero select committees, said: “Low carbon energy technology diversity is key to a stable, operable, decarbonised grid – alongside delivering national energy security and insulating the UK from the wider volatile global fossil fuel market.

“The lack of technology diversity is largely down to the Government’s drive for the cheapest kilowatt-hour (kWh). But lowest cost does not always translate to ‘best value’ to consumers who can’t afford to pay their sky-high bills.

“The BHA’s new manifesto highlights a number of surprising policy blind spots when it comes to the benefits of Hydropower. Hydropower, Pumped Storage Hydro and Tidal Range are all proven, reliable, renewable sources of power generation which can assist the UK in achieving its climate targets. The big question is why so many politicians still can’t see the importance of Hydropower and Tidal Range technology to our energy security and in providing lower energy bills for consumers.”

The BHA says the true value of Hydropower to the consumer is replacing high cost and high carbon fuels, including  gas peaking plants which are fired up only when demand is high.

The BHA is calling for:

 

  • Policy support that will allow 1GW Hydropower deployment through changes to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, including a strike price of £160MWh.
  • A Hydropower CfD ring-fenced pot, in order to replace gas peaking plant.
  • An approach that moves to “Enhanced” Levelised Cost of Energy, which considers wider whole systems benefits.
  • A ‘Cap and Floor’ price stabilisation mechanism to bring forward the pipeline of Pumped Storage Hydropower projects.
  • A new Government industry partnership approach for Tidal Range, that mirrors the framework set out to catalyse the offshore wind industry 15 years ago.

The BHA has also today unveiled a new logo and website which highlights both the historic importance of hydropower and the future it can provide as a low carbon, renewable, predictable and sustainable source of energy for the UK.

Gilmartin added: “There’s nothing in current government policy which brings forward renewable generation at anything less than five megawatts. Everything ministers are looking at is large scale generation connected at the transmission grid which doesn’t resolve local grid issues or enable local energy solutions that can really help enable energy affordability for consumers.

“You can install offshore wind farms which generate 50 gigawatts out in the North Sea, but without the transmission upgrades, this is not going to bring people’s household bills down in the next 10 years. We need more focus on local energy solutions, supported by local generation like robust, reliable, renewable Hydropower.”

You can read the British Hydropower Association’s manifesto in full on the BHA’s new website, here.