Regulation & Policy

To close the nuclear gap in Germany's power generation capacity, "more new gas- and coal-fired power plants need to be built than we had estimated," Rainer Brüderle, head of the German liberal party FDP, said over the weekend. "And this may well cost more than we thought," he told the paper "Welt am Sonntag".

The European electricity industry stands by its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, but struggles with investors' lack of confidence and the low carbon price, delegates learned at Eurelectric's Annual Conference. E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen, however, criticized the preferential treatment of renewable energies, which widely profited from generation subsidy schemes across Europe, causing market distortion.

Horizon 2020, an EU innovation, has earmarked €80billion for research and development (R&D) of low-carbon intensive fossil fuels. Industry observers rate this development a "clear victory" for the gas lobby in its effort to attract investment in new gas-fired power plants.

The subsidy criteria for new power plants without CCS-readiness are "very restrictive", the German energy industry association (BDEW) criticises. New EU rules have "effectively stopped plans of the Germany government to sponsor new efficient plants," BDEW head Hildegard Müller said.

Further hesitation or reluctance to undertake much-needed investment in new power generation capacity could threaten Britain's energy security. "Our priority is to rebuilt the power sector. To put it bluntly, we need twice as much investment every year of this decade, as in the last decade," the UK energy minister Charles Hendry said.

The introduction of a capacity payment market is needed to stop German utilities from closing gas-fired power plants due to low profitability, according to the head of the German energy agency Dena, Stephan Kohler.

The long-awaited UK draft energy is expected to favour new gas-fired and nuclear plants over renewables, as the Government is set to introduce new support schemes - including contract for difference -  as a price guarantee for power companies. The Government will propose a new draft law later today.

 Russia's energy minister Anatoly Yanovsky has backed efforts of Gazprom to go downstream by buying gas-fired power generation assets in Western Europe.

The British government is developing a gas generation strategy with the aim of encouraging investment in new gas plants, said Charles Hendry, minister of state for energy in the U.K.

"The role of gas has not been sufficiently clear," Hendry said at a Lloyd's Register press conference late yesterday, voicing support for a growing role of gas in Britain's energy mix. "The earliest we can have a new gas plant is 2019," he forecast.

Representatives of Germany's four biggest utilities have highlighted the need for new conventional power generation capacity to underping the transition of Germany's energy sector at an "energy summit" with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Entso-E, the representative body of European TSOs, is criticizing the lack of investment in power grid expansions to support the massive increase of renewable capacity throughout Europe. Gas-fired power plants are widely used to backstop the intermittency of electricity produced by renewable energy sources.

China's State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) has imposed measures compelling power plant operators to improve coordination of plant dispatchment to meet summer peak demand. To this end, SERC set out measures to enhance stability of the power grid by closer supervision of plant dispatchment and load scheduling.

Eurelectric sees the introduction of capacity remuneration mechanisms as an 'option of last resort'. "Policymakers should only consider introducing capacity remuneration mechanisms, or capacity markets, where the proper functioning of energy-only markets is still not enough to ensure system security," Anne-Malorie Géron, head of Eurelectric's Market Unit, told Gas-to-Power Journal.

The Danish government pledges the country can rely entirely on renewable energy by 2050, however gas-fired power generation and increased interconnection capacity are vital to balance electricity supply and demand. "Gas will be needed as a backup for renewable energies, but we are working on replacing natural gas with biogas and other renewable gases," Marlene Hein Nybroe, gas development and preparedness manager at Energinet DK told Gas-to-Power Journal.

The Spanish Congress of Deputies supports the timely introduction of a new cogeneration tariff, with Acogen, Spain's cogeneration association, calling the congress support a "very positive step". Investment into new CHP plants in Spain has come to standstill, following the decision of Spain's government to enact a temporary halt to new feed-in-tariff contracts for renewable energies starting January 2013.