Business Lift

Advisory in Energy, Innovation and Business

Renewable Energy

RENEWABLE ENERGY

A Leading Expert

Mark Howitt is recognised as a leading expert in the Energy Transition, renewable energy and electricity storage. This expertise covers the entire energy landscape, the various technologies, politics, regulation and incentivisation. He is an advisor to many bodies, including:

  • United Nations (UNECE) expert in energy transition strategy, technologies, economics, regulation and politics – invitation below.
  • Member of the UK advisory team to the IEA (International Energy Agency).
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the Solar Media Green Hydrogen UK Summit – invitation here.
  • Member of the Energy Storage Steering Group of the Renewable Energy Association.
  • Regular consultee to the British energy ministry, regulator and National Grid.

UNECE Letter of Invitation – Mark Howitt

Mark Howitt Invitation to Join the Green Hydrogen UK Summit Advisory Board

Renewable energy landscape

The world recognises the need to reduce emissions greatly by 2050. It is evident that some sectors of the economy (such as the electricity industry) are easier to decarbonise than others (such as aviation or shipping). Achieving national and global carbon reduction targets requires many trade-offs, so that the easier-to-decarbonise industries approach Net Zero, allowing some headroom for harder-to-decarbonise sectors to under-achieve.

However there are many interest groups that over-focus on a narrow range of technologies, to the detriment of the energy transition / country as a whole. This is because each technology has its optimal uses, and all together form the best system with each doing what it is best able to do. Any over-focus means a narrowing of technology options and many sub-optimal uses of the technology in question and a corresponding loss of the capabilities of those that are crowded out. Then those capabilities need to be procured separately and much more expensively, from specialist suppliers who cannot spread their costs over a broad range of services.

There is no “winning technology”, sought by many: all have their uses, benefits and disadvantages; all together can deliver a cost-effective, reliable and resilient energy transition.

Enabling Net Zero grids

Change is speeding up, especially in the energy industry: yesterday’s working systems are being undermined by the energy transition. Renewables; storage; demand-side response; balancing, stability and ancillary services, EVs, hydrogen; integrating renewables with storage and hydrogen; synthetic fuels; various forms of carbon pricing, taxes, incentives and funding; emissions reduction; international treaties; national, regional and local strategies …

It can be bewildering.

Net Zero energy, renewables, the circular economy, the service economy are here to stay, and need to be addressed while building on your strengths and capabilities. Just because optimisation apps are trendy doesn’t mean that providing the basic energy / product / service is any less necessary – indeed, maybe more so. Just because one technology is all the rage doesn’t mean that others are superseded. The key to the future is not this or that technology, but “all of the above”.

With a special expertise in the electricity industry, we can do the above for that industry.

Most analyses focus on achieving 2030 or 2040 emissions targets, aiming to tackle the “final stretch” later once new technologies have been developed – but this focus in earlier stages has two huge draw-backs:

  1. The installations that will achieve the 2030-2050 carbon reductions will be the harder-to-implement technologies that carry longer lead times – though may well be cheaper than the easier ones, which in turn has four consequences:
    • Over-investment into more immediate projects that solve only part of the problem,
    • Solving the easy bits of the problem and thereby removing the revenue streams that help defray the costs of solving the harder bits,
    • Investment into more costly (for the grid/country, not necessarily more costly in themselves) technologies,
    • Making the energy transition less affordable, reliable and resilient;
  2. By delaying consideration of these projects and technologies, we will run out of time to develop and implement them.

By focusing on 2050 goals, we can identify the portfolio of technologies that will deliver the most cost-effective, reliable and resilient energy transition. And we can work back from there the most cost-effective and least disruptive way to get from “here” to “there”.

Electricity market regulatory strategy

Electricity market regulation is failing on almost every front, and needs a radical overhaul. For example,

  • A focus on cost to consumers tends to mean the consumers of today, thereby sacrificing those of tomorrow;
  • A focus on certain types of market lead to the cost of energy becoming an ever-shrinking element of the energy price, with subsidies, levies and charges making up a growing proportion – already over half in some markets;
  • A focus on letting contracts for each service separately makes it increasingly hard for flexible, capable and large assets to trade profitably;
  • The “law of unintended consequences” dominates, because each issue is so often addressed either in isolation or narrow consideration of a group of issues, rather than placing the challenge and solution within the context of the entire energy system, as they should be;
  • In every market there is a reliance on much hyped technologies that have markedly failed to deliver but will gladly swallow billions in innovation funding and subsidies, and an overlooking of technologies that already exist;
  • Each market considers its own needs and ignores those of other countries / grids / sectors, leading to policies that would exceed the capacity of the planet to deliver globally, whereas a broader-minded approach is readily achievable.