Regulation & Policy

The British energy regulator Ofgem is gearing up to address the issue of how much decentralised generators need to pay for grid services. “Embedded generation is perceived to be getting a free ride in terms of network charges. We are looking into that,” said Ofgem’s CEO Dermot Nolan.

Gas shortages, pipeline sabotage and vandalism of power grids were cited by the Nigerian government when it apologised to its citizens for the latest serious of blackouts. Information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, promised there would be a “decent improvement in the power situation from this weekend,” as he referred to “ongoing remedial efforts” that should double electricity supply to 4,000 MW.

Judicial risk is posing a threat to plans of the Japanese government to restart the country’s nuclear fleet in a bid to rekindle nuclear baseload power and reign in gas generation. A regional court this week restricted Kansai Electric from operating two reactors in western Japan.

Demand flexibility, power storage and interconnection are meant to help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets, strengthen security of supply and allow consumers save up to £8 billion a year by 2030. 
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) advocates more power cables to import cheap hydropower from Norway and Iceland, incentivising industries to curtail power use in peakload hours as well as storing excess energy produced by renewables.

To ensure “peace of mind” for industrial and household electricity customers in Britain, the UK government plans to start its capacity trading market one year earlier than planned. This move is meant to avert blackouts in the coming winter as closure of major coal power stations is adding supply-side risk. Now, an early capacity auction has been pencilled in for January 2017, for delivery in winter 2017/18.

The scope for gas in Britain’s power mix without carbon capture and store (CCS) is “very limited”, the UK Energy Research Centre finds. The role of gas as a ‘bridge’ fuel will be questioned way before 2025, by when the UK energy minister wants to phase out all unabated coal capacity. UKERC analysts warn that a gap in capacity, caused by the coal exit, cannot simply be covered by new gas generation.

One in four in Germany’s nearly 1,000 municipal utilities, so-called Stadtwerke, face financial woes due to depressed wholesale power prices, reduced runtime hours of their thermal fleet and rising debts. Cash injections by their municipal owners would help, a KPMG study suggests, – but those are far from certain.

The Energy Minister and Secretaries from Canada, Mexico, and the United States have started to share energy information for North America on The website can be displayed in English, French, and Spanish and has links to all three countries’ statistical agencies.

Debates surrounding plans to phase out Germany’s lignite power stations, dubbed Kohleausstieg, are heating up as adversaries meet at the E-World energy trade fair in Essen. While the green energy lobby advocate an “orderly exit from coal” to ensure planning security, RWE rebuked such debates as “unnecessary.”

The coal lobby rejoices as the US Supreme Court has surprised market observers by stymying President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is now on hold until a legal challenge is resolved. Proponents stress this verdict would delay, but not derail America’s shift towards more gas generation and renewables.

Econometric modelling of the wider economic impact of energy reforms in non-OECD Asia, carried out by the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, shows a tension between the policy goals of economic growth and consumer welfare. “Variables that are associated with a positive effect on economic growth appear to be associated with a negative impact on welfare indicators,” the authors of the paper state, calling for a renewed thinking for future reforms.

A recent US Supreme Court ruling is set to accelerate demand response (DR) schemes, notably during peak-load, to cover up to 60% of electricity supply across the United States. EIA figures show that industrial offtakes delivered more than half of actual peak demand savings in 2014, in return for incentives of over $9,000 on average.

The ‘gas for electricity deal’ between Iran and Armenia is expanding and the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) eyes a fivefold increase in gas exports to Armenia, provided that the northern neighbour will build a new power interconnector to step up electricity supply in return.

Decentralized power generation is high on the agenda to in Tanzania, with the Rural Energy Agency (REA) pleading support for individuals or companies that intend to supply ‘mini-grid electricity’. This helps to close Tanzania's 1,290 MW power deficit and give more of its rural population access to electricity.

India’s Supreme Court has permitted Gas Authority of India (GAIL) to build the controversial Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline, paving the way for more LNG imports to fuel idled, or underutilized gas-fired power plants in southern India.