Cost and performance of battery technologies will not only be shaping customer acceptance of electric vehicles in the coming years, but also determine how easy it will be to integrate renewable energy into the grid. Tracking the relation between the dramatic drop in prices for batteries and their usage, IEA analysts say “for each doubling of output, lithium ion battery prices have been getting 19% cheaper.”
The Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom, and owner of the expanding Sakhalin LNG plant, has fully re-entered the financial mainstream by signing a credit facility for €1 billion ($1.18 billion) with JP Morgan as well as Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC), two of the largest Japanese banks. “The agreement marks another step in Gazprom's successful long-term cooperation with the aforementioned credit organizations,” the Russian company stated at the signing ceremony.
US manufacturers Koch Industries and Dow Chemical are lobbying against the plan of Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize nuclear and coal as a fuel for power generation. In a letter to Congress, manufacturers dismissed the Department of Energy’s (DoE) plan as “anti-competitive” and said it could distort or “destroy competitive wholesale electricity markets and increase the price of electricity to all consumers.”
The conversion Sasol’s coal-to-liquids plant in Secunda, South Africa, to a gas-to-liquids facility is one of two large-scale projects that drive the global GTL market. Sasol, an integrated energy and chemicals company, is working on getting its GTL plant started up by 2024, while a delayed GTL project in Uzbekistan is hoped to come online by 2021.
Rising exports of “abundant US natural gas” is estimated to support up to 452,000 new jobs and give a $73 billion boost to the economy by 2040 – at a “minimal impact on the natural gas prices,” according to a study by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The resource base is now seen as “larger, less expensive and more price responsive,“ API Chief Strategy Officer Marty Durbin commented.
Commentators have openly rebuked US Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal for a bailout of coal and nuclear power plants. In a letter to FERC, Perry had directed the regulator to set up a rule, offering plants that can store 90 day’s worth of fuel onsite some extra compensation. Critics dismissed this plan as “nuts” as it would interfere in America’s unregulated wholesale power market, effectively reducing the price of electricity generated from burning coal.
Strikingly, South Korea’s year-to-date LNG demand has risen by over 4 million tons – contrary to expectations it would fall. Yet very little of this demand strength comes from the power sector; according to Energy Aspects, Korea’s LNG appetite this year has been more down to expansion of LNG import facilities with players having bought cheap spot cargoes on spec and put the gas into storage.
Alarmed about the scale of gas shortages in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering restrictions on LNG exports from Australia’s eastern coast. Santos, Shell and ConocoPhillips have been urged to help plug an estimated shortfall of up to 17% of market demand in 2018.
Uncertainty over gas demand growth for power generation in Virginia and North Carolina may put at risk the development of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, proposed in 2014 by a joint venture of Dominion, Duke, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources. Though developers say 79% of the pipeline capacity has been contracted, analysts from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) caution that projections for demand growth are overoptimistic.
Despite declining costs for generating electricity from fossil fuels in the U.S., retail electricity prices have continued to rise in line with inflation – mainly due to higher expenses for delivering the electricity to end-customers. Power transmission costs have increased in real 2016 dollar terms from 2.2 cents/kWh in 2006 to 3.2 cents/kWh in 2016, roughly offsetting the decrease in the generation costs.