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Electricity Strategy

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How do we make our electricity supply secure, affordable and environmentally friendly?

Currently, Guernsey's electricity is predominantly sourced through the subsea cable (known as an interconnector) via Jersey, to France, with the on-island power station (or thermal power plant) primarily used where demand exceeds the capacity of the cable. However, using the on-island power station is much more carbon intensive as it uses diesel fuel to run, in comparison to the certified renewable energy imported from France.

As Guernsey's electricity needs increase as we move towards our net-zero target, if we don't adapt the way we source electricity, the Island will be heavily reliant on the power plant to ensure the lights and Wi-Fi stay on. This approach has several risks associated with it including the need to invest significantly in the generation assets, but also the need to import fuels from elsewhere, with limited space to store fuels for resilience.

It is essential that Guernsey can manage its own transition to a green economy effectively and so a strategic direction must be set, along with a market structure that supports this, and provide certainty to the energy industry.  

The Electricity Strategy will be debated by the States of Deliberation on Wednesday 6 September 2023. 

What is being proposed?

The Electricity Strategy for Guernsey has been proposed and covers the period up to 2050.

The Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has considered several different ways in which Guernsey could meet its future demand including solar, wind, tidal, additional interconnectors, energy storage and alternative fuels. After careful consideration and with advice from experts from the UK, the Committee recommends that the Island looks to establish:

It is important to note that the Committee is asking for a strategic direction to be agreed, which will enable further, detailed, proposals for each element to be brought back to the States in due course. The States is not being asked to agree the implementation of each asset and provide the costs associated with them.

Technologies will continue to evolve over the duration of the Strategy, so it is essential that it supports and enables flexibility in the supply options. For example, should it become unviable to establish an additional interconnector or a local wind component is not developed, then the Strategy would adapt.

The market framework needs to support the delivery of the supply pathway (as outlined above) and set out how the approach would need to differ depending on the technologies deployed. Consideration had to be given to the complexity and how comprehensive a framework is needed, and the trade off this creates between costs of implementation and costs for investors. The main considerations include competition, regulation and the requirements on Guernsey Electricity.

It is proposed that Guernsey Electricity continue to supply all islanders (both domestic and commercial) with electricity through the network, but that competition is introduced in all other sectors of the market meaning the way in which electricity is sourced to meet customers demands will change. Electricity generated at the power station will need to be treated in the same way as other suppliers, and therefore, Guernsey Electricity will need to ensure an equal playing field for all generators.

If approved, Guernsey Electricity will be required to undertake an 'Accounting Unbundling' exercise which involves separating the accounts associated with various activities undertaken within the business. This is needed to ensure transparency and fairness within the market.

The regulatory framework must be suitable to the size and scale of Guernsey's industry, providing a mechanism to challenge decisions made by the industry, whilst also providing investors with confidence. Setting the regulatory direction falls to the mandate of the Committee for Economic Development and therefore, it is recommended that Economic Development explore all of the potential options and bring back proposals to the States before the end of 2024.

  • How much is this all going to cost?

    • None of the pathways are inexpensive, however, if we continue as we are, with 60MW capacity of imported electricity and the rest of the Island's demand met through the power station, this is expected to be the costliest supply pathway and a total cost of £1,910m.
    • It is important to note that the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure is not requesting any funding at this stage, but asking for a strategic decision to be agreed. This will enable further, detailed, proposals to be developed and brought back to the States in due course.
    • The proposed pathway comprises additional interconnection, through a second interconnector direct to France, with additional solar generation and offshore renewables through an offshore wind array of 65MW, which is anticipated to have a total cost (including both capital and operational) of £1,730m. However, this cost will spread across the lifetime of the Strategy, from now until 2050. The graph below provides an indication of the capital costs that would be required, at five yearly intervals, should all assets be owned by 'Guernsey' either through the States of Guernsey or Guernsey Electricity. A minimum of £30m will be required for any agreed pathway to enhance the network infrastructure.
    • Electricity strategy costs
    • The Strategy has been based upon owning all of the entities as this was modelled as the most cost-effective method. However, the States' financial position and cost-of-living crisis is not forgotten and therefore, it is recommended that all options for funding the offshore wind farm be explored. It is proposed that the interconnectors remain publicly owned as they are critical infrastructure assets, but this could be through a new vehicle established for that purpose.
  • Will my electricity costs go up again because of this decision?

    • There is a need to invest further into the Island's infrastructure whatever decision is made, to ensure the lights and Wi-Fi remain on, and this comes at a cost. Prices for the proposed solution are expected to rise until 2030 and then decrease, whilst in contrast, they are expected to continue to increase under all other potential pathways.
    • Another factor is that Guernsey has been relatively well insulated from recent turbulence in the market. However, this will have an impact on prices in the short term as the costs of importation are impacted.
  • Will my electricity supplier change?

    • No. Under the proposals, Guernsey Electricity will remain the sole supplier of electricity in Guernsey. This means that Guernsey Electricity will continue to supply all domestic and commercial properties with electricity in the way they do now.

      The Electricity Strategy also encourages and supports the use of solar panels and these can be purchased from, and installed by, any business. If there are occasions where more electricity is made then is needed to power the property, on say a very sunny day for example, then Guernsey Electricity can buy this electricity for a set rate (the "buy-back" tariff) and use it to supply other properties on the network. The Electricity Strategy will ask that the Committee forEconomic Development to investigate this further and bring back proposals to the States on what change of direction is needed. 

  • Why an additional interconnector direct to France and not through Jersey?

    • All options for interconnection have been explored, including an additional subsea cable to France through Jersey, to France directly and direct to the UK. However, the modelling showed that from both a cost and technical perspective, a direct interconnector with France was the best option. Additional interconnection through Jersey would require the network there to be upgraded to allow for substantially higher loads to be transferred through to Guernsey. A subsea cable direct to France would also provide Guernsey with additional security as it would be connected to a different part of the French network than the existing cable is. However, all landing options still remain a possibility and Guernsey Electricity will be required to bring back detailed proposals to the States of Deliberation in due course.
  • Has local renewable generation been considered?

    • One of the six supply pathways proposed was called "Renewables First" and that enabled Guernsey to meet its electricity demand without additional interconnection, but maintained the existing subsea cable and local power station. The amount of on-island renewable energy generation would need to be substantially increased through both solar PV and offshore wind arrays. Energy storage would be used to manage supply and demand levels. This supply option was supported by both industry and political members, but as it does not provide flexibility or opportunities for additional revenue streams, and the overall security and resilience of the pathway was lower than other options, it was not selected as the preferred pathway. In addition to this, carbon emissions would be at 21ktCO2e in 2050, compared to 1ktCO2e for the proposed supply pathway.
  • Where will all the wind turbines and solar panels be located?

    • The area of land available to install ground mounted panels is limited and therefore, a large proportion of the solar arrays will need to be located on the roofs of large commercial properties. Due to the large roofs, this will help make the array more cost effective because the cost of the activities are spread across the installation and therefore, the bigger the development the smaller the effective "fixed" elements impact on the overall costs.
    • The remainder of the solar PV capacity would be installed on domestic properties with a limited amount installed on agricultural or horticultural land.
    • Under the proposals, Guernsey Electricity will be required to work with other local providers of renewable energy assets. This could include purchasing electricity generated from a large solar PV array from a separate organisation which would be fed into the network to supply Guernsey Electricity's customers.
    • The modelling for the pathway used "fixed-bottom platform" wind turbines, rather than "floating", as they are currently more cost effective. Fixed-bottom platform turbines are attached to the seabed by piles or gravity bases, whereas floating platforms are anchored to the seabed by mooring lines or cables. As a result, floating platforms can be deployed in deeper waters where fixed-bottom platforms are not feasible or economical. Should the States proceed with a fixed-based offshore wind array, this will need to be located closer to the shore due to the geography of the Island's waters.
    • Feasibility studies to date have shown that the most optimal location for an offshore wind array in Guernsey's territorial waters is the west coast. The offshore wind feasibility report completed in 2016 is available in the downloads section of this page, along with a summary document. Detailed analysis for a preferred location has not formed part of the Electricity Strategy but following the agreement of the States, the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure and the Policy & Resources Committee will need to explore this further and work with Guernsey Electricity and any other interested parties, to bring it to fruition.
  • Why has tidal energy not been included in the proposed supply method?

    • The use of tidal energy was included in the process and assessed in the pathways and forms a part of one proposed supply pathway, 'Lighthouse', where the States of Guernsey would invest in innovative and up-and-coming technologies that are not yet commercially viable. However, tidal energy was not included in the other pathways at this time as it is not yet commercially viable. This means that the cost of establishing and maintaining the asset(s), would cost more than what could be obtained from selling it or in Guernsey's case, what Guernsey Electricity could justifiably pay for it. However, should this change in the future, the proposed supply solution is flexible and versatile, and would support the implementation of tidal energy generation.
  • What happens if no conclusion is reached?

    • If the States does not come to a conclusion on how Guernsey should meet its future energy demand requirements, whether it is the recommendation of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure or another supply pathway including in the analysis, the industry will be required to continue supply in the way that it is delivered today. It is important to recognise that this has been identified as the costliest supply option, and will involve re-carbonising Guernsey's economy.

Downloads

Electricity Strategy for Guernsey - Policy Letter 2023 Offshore Wind Feasibility Report 2016 Offshore Wind Feasibility Report Summary - 2016

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