Dispatchable power generation capacity is shifting from flexible gas gensets to wind and solar technologies paired with energy storage. Excellent solar resources in the U.S. state of Arizona make First Solar confident that its 65MW solar farm and a 50MW/135MWh battery storage facility will outcompete gas peaking plants in terms of supplying electricity into the evening peak.
For the first year in three, Japan’s LNG purchases have risen as gas-fired power plants make up for the missing nuclear power supply. Delays in the restart of nuclear reactors also caused a 4.3% rise in thermal coal imports, while LNG purchases notched up 0.4% to 83.632 million tonnes in FY2017 – driven by a 5.4% rise in December.
Energy storage technologies like batteries create an “unusual combination of cost and revenue streams,” according to EIA analysts, given that they can serve as both energy suppliers and consumers at different times. Thanks to their versatile functionality, about 700 MW of new utility-scale batteries has been added to the US power grid over the past three years.
Chinese authorities have mandated power producers in some regions to return to burning coal, responding to acute gas shortages. Coal imports rebounded from a three-month low in November as utilities seek to replenish stocks prior to the period of peak winter demand.
Oversupply of LNG throughout Asia is boosting spot trade – a trend that has been strengthening the case for smaller and more distributed LNG receiving terminals for combined-cycle gas generation. Such projects, according Jim Schnieders, Black & Veatch’s Country Manager Indonesia, give operators “greater flexibility to manage peak and off-peak grid demands while advances in technology also allow a scale up for baseload generation.”
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made a political U-turn on energy, dismissing earlier instated 'clean energy targets' in favour of stipulating guarantees for reliable power supply and emissions reductions as the two new pillars of his new policy. Utilities will henceforth be obliged to deliver electricity at times of peak demand.
Peak power demand in the UK is forecast to top 50.7GW, but National Grid is “confident” to be able to balance the system “even under colder conditions than we have experienced in recent years,” the grid operator said in its 2017/18 winter outlook. Without intervention, reserve margins would be 1.2% - the lowest in a decade.
LNG imports to Spain have kept rising over the summer driven by record levels of gas-burn in the power generation sector. At the end of the peak summer season in August, Spain imported 19 LNG cargoes originating from Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria, Norway, Peru, Trinidad and the U.S.
Multiple record-breaking heat waves swept across the western United States this summer, with temperatures reaching 105 degrees in Portland – some 23 degress higher than the 30-year average. Record peak summer demand for electricity has been challenging some of the largest electricity balancing authorities in the area.
Natural gas-fuelled power generation in the United States reached its highest daily level at 41 Bcf/day on July 20 – just a tick lower than the 2016 peak of 42 Bcf/d seen on August 11 last year. Higher gas prices relative to last summer explain part of the decrease; but PointLogic Energy analysts stressed that “although power burn in 2017 is lower than in 2016, it is still relatively high compared with the previous five-year average for that period.”