Daily News

Shutdowns are lifted in China and South Korea, allowing battery supply chains to ramp back up while rivals in Europe and North America are in lockdown. Electric vehicle sales stayed strong through February, according to Wood Mackenzie, and China’s labour force is returning, expected to be at 70% in March and over 90% in April.

Halts in production and collapsing sales have hit Germany’s carmakers at a crucial time of transitioning to electric vehicles. Sales of e-cars are projected to fall by at least 20% this year, impacting electricity demand, while bailouts for manufacturers and suppliers could cost billions of Euros.

French industrial company Eranove is fast-tracking the development of the 390 MW Atinkou combined-cycle power plant in Ivory Coast, having just taken financial close after receiving €303 million in debt financing. Total cost of the CCGT is €404 million, developers disclosed.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System (MHPS) has been striving to combine is solid oxide fuel cell, called MEGAMIE, with a micro gas turbine to stabilize and increase power output. “The toughest challenge,” researcher Yoshinori Kobayashi recalled, "was to figure out how to build a robust power unit with ceramics which are essential for such fuel cells to function.”

Competitive Power Ventures’ (CPV) new gas-fired Fairview Energy Center has been adapted to use ethane in its combustion mix. Using GE’s DLN2.6+ AFS combustion system, the Fairview combined-cycle gas power plant successfully completed testing with 25% ethane mix and is now ready for full commercial operation.

General Electric is working towards adding 3 Gigawatt of power generation capacity to the grid in Iraq before peak summer demand sets in. Overhauling Iraq’s war-turn infrastructure, GE repairs and brings back existing units and develops phase-3 of the 1.5 GW Besmaya combined-cycle gas power plant.

Tokyo-based Yokogawa Electric will provide a control system and field instruments for the Zerger open-cycle gas power plant in Turkmenistan. The order was awarded by Renaissance Heavy Industries, the Turkish EPC co-contractor that is building the 400 MW gas peaking plant on behalf of Turkmenenergo. Start-up is due by September this year.

Chinese-added power generation capacities in sub-Saharan Africa will total 9 GW over the decade through to 2024, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates. This does not include two large dams under construction  – the 2,160 MW Cacula dam in Angola and the 3,048 MW Mambila dam in Nigeria, which are unlikely to be completed by then.

The Japanese utility Osaka Gas, part of Daigas Group, is fast-tracking development of the Himuka LNG import terminal and integrated gas power plant on Kyushu Island. The project, set to replace a coal power unit of Ashai Kasei chemicals company, is on schedule for start-up in 2022.

Industry lockdowns, caused by the coronavirus, have slashed electricity demand in most countries by around 15%. In Spain and California, where grid operators have to balance a substantially higher share of variable renewables, the lockdown “fast forwarded these power systems 10 years into the future,” the International Energy Agency (IAE) commented.

Nearly all of Hawaii’s utility-scale energy storage is installed adjacent to onshore wind turbines or solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Pairing battery storage with wind and solar helps mitigate some operational challenges of non-dispatchable renewables, as Hawaii aspires to boost its green energy share from 30% at present to 100% by 2045.

Though short-term profits of power and water utilities are hit by the lockdowns of energy-intensive industries to contain the coronavirus pandemic, investors are seeing energy companies as “safe havens” as a recession looms large and stock markets plunge. Amid falling bond yields, investors turn to steady payouts from regulated utilities.

News in Brief

American ISOs to delay grid investments

March 27 – North America’s independent system operators (ISO) are considering delaying investments in grid upgrades and enhancement as electricity demand weakens due to industry shutdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic. PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. bulk power market which spans 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states, revised its daily forecast of about 100,000 MW of load but actual demand came in at 95,500 MW.

Wärtsilä starts combustion trials using ammonia

March 26 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has initiated combustion trials using ammonia in an effort to reduce emissions. Based on initial results, the tests will be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines, followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022, and potentially also with energy customers.

Xodus sees growth in cable services

March 25 – Xodus Group has stepped up services related to subsea power cables over the last twelve months. The number of new consulting assignments grew by more than 50%, resulting in more than 70 active work streams that are handled by more 30 permanent staff.

Electricity “more indispensible than ever”

March 24 – Disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis lay bare how much modern societies rely on electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IAE). Millions of people are mandated to stay home, causing a surge in teleworking, e-commerce and video streaming which pushes up domestic electricity use.

U.S. frackers cut Capex

March 23 – Sharp cuts in capital spending among Appalachian gas producers are now being replicated in other U.S. basis, with Energy Aspects anticipating the deepest impact on production and earnings to take place starting from the second half of 2020. So far, E&P companies just hedged 52% of this year’s expected production even though some Appalachian producers are seen “lock in some pure gas volumes at prices above the curve.”

EV makers face bankrupcy

March 20 – Electric vehicles (EVs) remain particularly exposed to the corona effect of supply-side constraints and demand erosion. Gigafactory facilities are likely to be delayed and fledging EV manufacturers could face bankruptcy, Wood Mackenzie warns. On the flip side, declines in EV sector demand may be gains for the stationary energy storage segment.

Manufacturing rebounds in Asia

March 19 – Asian-dominant supply chains for solar and energy storage are gradually rebounding after contractions in February. Moving forward, Wood Mackenzie expects near-term development activity and local logistics in leading European and North American markets will outweigh lingering supply issues.

Italy’s gas demand plunges

March 18 – Corona-struck Italy has seen demand for natural gas plunge 8% from the previous week, with similar declines likely in other EU countries as national governments impose lockdowns to contain the virus. Industrial demand is “particularly volatile,” while gas generators will bear the brunt of demand loss, Wood Mackenzie says, as a carbon price decline is bolstering thermal coal.

Nexif raises funds for Rayong CHP

March 17 – Nexif Energy, a joint venture between Singapore-based Nexif and Denham Capital, has raised project financing for the Rayong gas-fired cogeneration project in Thailand. The 92 MW plant is being developed project with Ratch Group, based on 25-year power purchase agreement with Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

ADB provides $10m loan for Afghan IPP

March 16 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide $10 million in debt financing for a gas-fired power unit in Mazari Sharif with a capacity of nearly 60 MW. Phase-1 of the Independent Power Project (IPP) will get another $10 million loan from the Leading Asia's Private Sector Infrastructure Fund (LEAP).

IEA models 50% Carbon-Free Generation

March 13 – Analysts at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) have drawn up the 50% Carbon-Free Generation case - assuming a stark shift in state-level policies. In this event, the U.S. would have 19% more nuclear power generation, 10% more wind power and 17% more solar PV contribution than in its Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (AEO2020) reference case.

E-charging market to top $15bn by 2030

March 12 – By 2030, the U.S. market for energy-optimisation in support of charging electric-vehicles could be worth $15 billion per year, McKinsey finds. The consultancy expects high demand for home-charging appliances as residential power tariffs are comparatively cheap and most charging can happen overnight when off-peak electricity prices are lower.

Oversupply builds up

March 10 – Energy Aspects’ end-March forecast has added on another 100+ billion cubic feet of natural gas supply while demand remains subdued. In the U.S., the seasonal decline in heating degree days nearly halved the natural gas withdrawal rate. Gas-burn in the power sector and residential/commercial demand are forecast to fall by 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) and 4.0 bcf/d, respectively.

Small-scale LNG cuts cost for power plants

March 10 – Decentralized gas power plants in remote locations can source cheaper fuel from small-scale LNG regas terminals than from trucking the super-chilled gas across long distances. “Trucking LNG further inland would entail additional costs as well as logistical challenges,” IEA analysts noted. For example, a 100 MW baseload power plant would require, on average, around 20 daily deliveries from tanker trucks.

Abu Dhabi investor expands Uzbek CCGT

March 9 –Some key Uzbek energy infrastructure is being modernized with foreign monies. Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company recently agreed with JSC Thermal Power Plants and the Uzbek government to acquire, finance, develop and operate the 1.7 GW Talimarjan Power Complex.

Oversupply keeps growing

March 6 – In its fourth quarter report, Awilco LNG warned that demand is now unable to keep up with strong gas production growth. Gas demand from China’s industry and power utilities, the world’s second largest LNG importer last year, has fallen by 10-14% thus far in 2020.

Simatic IOT2050 gateway launched

March 5 – Siemens’ newly launched Simatic IOT2050 links cloud, in-company IT and production. Energy companies, and others, can retrofit the solution in existing plants, where it then harmonizes communication between different data sources, analyzes the data, and passes it on for evaluation to a cloud.