With plentiful supplies of cheap pipeline gas and LNG available, Europe in 2020 will once again become the ‘market of last resort.’ Record low prices at the Dutch TTF gas trading hub, last seen at $3.55 per MMBtu, incentivizes a significant step-up in coal-to-gas switching across northern Europe.
Utilities, particularly in China and Europe, are retrofitting their gas turbine with combustor enhancements to make assets more cost-effective. To support this market, Ansaldo Energia affiliate PSM developed a Low Emission Combustor (LEC-III) and new FlameSheet combustor retrofit for B, E and F-class gas turbines.
Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States are forecast to continue falling year-on-year through 2021. Coal-to-gas switching in the power sector led to a 10.8 percent fall in emissions in 2020, after plunging 12.7 percent in 2019 due to record-low gas prices. However, EIA analysts say this rate will be less this year and in 2021, at 2.7 percent.
Utilities, trade unions and Germany’s federal and regional policy makers have agreed a landmark €40 billion deal to phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2038. The latest coal exit adds to the earlier agreed nuclear exit, under a scheme to compensate electric utilities, workers and coal-mining regions.
Germany’s prime carmaker Volkswagen Group, producer of Audi and VW, has committed to invest €30 billion in battery-powered vehicles until 2023. Despite limited raw materials and few available e-car charging stations, there is "significant opportunity," analysts say, suggesting; "For auto manufactures, it could be a case of evolve or die out.”
To enhance reliability of its Alon Tavor power plant, MRC Group has signed a 15-year service deal with General Electric. The contract covers parts, repairs, and predictive maintenance for GE’s 9FA unit installed at the 375 MW combined cycle unit, located in the northern Israeli city of Afula.
National Grid, the UK power and gas system operator, is working towards launching a ‘pathfinder to evaluate constraints and encourage innovation and investment in supply stability. Analysts say this could lower cost for balancing services and ultimately lead to lower energy rates for consumers.
The German finance ministry has made clear it will not pay more into the EU budget to bolster the Commission’s ambitious €1 trillion Green Deal. The ministry said if the EU budget remained at 1 percent of economic output, this would give "enough leeway for mustering the necessary funds through priority setting."
Self-reliance of German electric vehicle produces needs to increase substantially, according to government advisors. "If the need to import battery cells and e-cars grows in line with the roll-out, effects on the employment would be significant," analysts noted. Under the most pessimistic scenario, there could be up to 410,000 fewer jobs in the sector by 2030.
Bearish sentiment prevails at the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub where gas prices have tumbled to multi-year lows, dragging down wholesale electricity prices at several major hubs like PJM Interconnection and the ISOs in New England, and New York. In Texas, however, high demand and low reserve margins pushed up prices in the peak summer season.
Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has awarded another order to GE to provide a second 9HA.01 gas turbine for the Orot Rabin modernization project. The aim is to convert parts of the 2.59 GW coal-fired power station at Hadera into Israel’s largest combined-cycle gas turbine plant, delivering up to 1,260 MW.
The Brazilian utility Rio Amazonas Energia (RAESA) has contracted Wärtsilä to convert the Cristiano Rocha power plant in Manaus to run fully on natural gas, while increasing output from 85 MW to 92 MW. This will reduce the plant’s OPEX, and reduce emissions. Works are due completed in the first half of 2021.
Surging supply from the U.S. and stuttering demand growth in Asia means that in 2020, “Europe will again be called upon to save the day,” said Wood Mackenzie research director Robert Sims. With gas inventories at record highs, European gas buyers are looking for flexible supply, or increased demand creation from within the power sector.
Flow data shows U.S. natural gas output in the Lower 48 states has gained 7.0 billion cubic feet per day y/y to date in January, as shippers struggle with restrictions across the TETCO pipeline network in Appalachia. The return of cold weather this week, and long-term rig decline across Appalachia, starts to drag down production and pushes up gas prices.
Rolls-Royce has purchased a 73.1 percent majority stake in Berlin-based electricity storage specialist Qinous for an unspecified price, effective from tomorrow, January 15. With this move, the British manufacturer wants to “pool all its microgrid activities” – from simple storage solutions to complex microgrid solutions of various sizes and configurations.