Energy news round-up: cheaper British Gas rival to launch, suppliers to start chasing debt again, and more

Here’s the latest news from the energy sector so far this week...

energy bills
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're only mid-way through the week, but there's already a lot of energy news to report. British Gas is set to compete against a cheaper rival - launched by its parent company, Centrica. Ofgem warns that energy suppliers may start chasing unpaid bills again, as the UK emerges from lockdown - and there's some green energy news, too...

British Gas owner to launch cheaper energy rival 

The parent company of the UK's biggest energy supplier, British Gas, is to launch a cheaper rival under the temporary pilot name of 'British Gas X'. Centrica has already set up a test website for the new venture, which is aimed at "digitally savvy" customers with everything being done online, reports the BBC. 

Although British Gas remains the dominant energy provider for now, it's facing increasing competition from around 60 suppliers around the country in a fast-moving and frequently changing sector. Centrica says it will reveal more details in July.

In the meantime, energy prices are the lowest they've been in three years - so if you want cheaper bills now, run a quick energy comparison to see the best energy deal in your area. 

Ofgem: energy suppliers can start chasing debts again

Energy providers could start chasing customers for payment of unpaid bills again, says Ofgem. However, the industry regulator has warned against aggressive debt collection.

Requests for payment were temporarily suspended during the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown. Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley has said in an open letter to providers that he recognised they couldn’t extend unlimited credit to customers, and nor was it in the customers' interest overall. He said he anticipates that suppliers will begin to restart debt management procedures that were put on pause during the immediate crisis.

Siemens turbines chosen for huge offshore wind farm

Innogy SE, developer of one of the world's biggest offshore wind farms - the 1.4 gigawatt (GW) Sofia project - has ordered 100 SG 14-222 offshore wind turbines from turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE). The order includes a service and maintenance contract, and a final investment decision is expected in early 2021. 

The 593 km2 offshore wind park will be around the same size as the Isle of Man. Upon completion in 2024, Sophia - located 195 kilometres off the UK's north east coast on the Dogger Bank - will generate enough power to supply more than 1.2 million British households.

Calls for new investment in hydrogen

A recommendation by think-tank Policy Exchange that calls for more capital investment in hydrogen by the Government is exactly the right thing to do if the UK is to become a leader in this sector. That's according to Jo Bamford, owner of Ryse Hydrogen and Wrightbus, who is planning to introduce 3,000 hydrogen buses across the country.

The Policy Exchange report says that green hydrogen projects offer immediate infrastructure investment opportunities, and that an All-Electric Bus Town scheme for hydrogen could help support the development of hydrogen buses in the UK.

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Robin Whitlock

Robin is a freelance journalist specialising in renewable energy, environmental issues, climate change and transport. He's written for Renewable Energy Magazine for almost a decade, covering all sub-sectors of the global renewable industry - from onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and solar thermal energy, to biomass, anaerobic digestion (AD), geothermal, energy efficiency and smart technology, electric vehicles and hybrids, and much more.