Outcome of a court ruling could determine whether the Obama administration’s plan to curb power plant emissions by 32% by 2030 will become a reality. Republican-led states and the coal lobby filed various lawsuits – a key decision will be made by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has commissioned four industry experts to examine options for ‘whole system’ reform, given the mounting pressure on UK power grids. A more decentralised dimension to decisions on energy networks was agreed on by all experts – though there are differences on governance.
While power producers like EDF cashed in on record electricity prices during last week’s heat wave in the UK, capacity constraints provided an early test for National Grid which seeks to keep the lights on with ever tighter capacity margins. Winter 2016/17 might prove challenging in the face of mass retirements of coal-fired plants earlier this year.
Critics of Germany’s reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) have warned that the abolition of Feed-in Tarrifs (FITs) will “make the country’s once vaunted Energiewende policy run out of steam”. From the start of 2017, FITs will be replaced with a competitive auction system as Berlin seeks to keep costs for renewables under control. Caps on new-build wind and solar power will limit the deployment of intermittent power sources.
Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli energy minister, has mandated the closure of four old coal-fired power units and their replacement with two new combined-cycle gas power plants. Earlier this year, Steinitz ordered state-run Israel Electric Corp (IEC) to use 15% more gas, replacing an equivalent amount of coal generation.
Flexibility of power systems can be enhanced by thermostat-based demand response, aggregators and small energy storage. However, high transaction costs - relative to the size of resource - prevent these emerging small resources from participating directly in electricity markets, the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES) finds. Remunerating different kinds of flexibility – MW, MW/min and emission performance – would facilitate a more balanced competition.
Offshore wind and gas power plants are expected to fill Britain’s capacity gap amid uncertainty over the future of the contested Hinkley Point nuclear project. The UK government approved plans by Dong Energy to expand a wind farm in the North Sea to a size that would produce nearly as much electricity as the two Hinkely Point reactors.
Called on by the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) to cap some of the most expensive retail power tariffs in Britain, energy regulator Ofgem has now committed to implementing measures that will improve competition. One utility boss criticised, however, that “too much onus” is being put on consumers.
Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem has voiced concerns that so-called embedded benefits, paid by power suppliers to distribution grid-connected generators, seems to put them at an advantage over larger plants connected to the high-voltage grid. Distributed generators cash in on £45/kW in embedded benefits in addition to selling electricity.
Power shortages in South Australia’s heavily wind-reliant electricity market have highlighted the urgency of developing backup capacity, the grid operator warned. Prices had surged tenfold to hit $14,000/MWh amid severe supply shortages, prompting policy makers to plea for the restart of a mothballed gas power station.
ACEEE’s 2016 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard has ranked Germany as the frontrunner for energy efficiency, followed by Italy and Japan (tied for second place), France and the UK. Though Germany scored highest for ‘national efforts’, ‘buildings’ and ‘industry’, it was overtaken by India, Italy and Japan in the ‘transport’ category.