Daily News

General Electric has decided to close down the 750 MW Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) in California some 20 years before the end of its lifetime. The steam-cooled H-class turbines had taken hours to start and repeatedly suffered technical problems, which hampered a swift dispatch of the CCGT and ultimately rendered it uneconomical.

Duke Energy’s subsidiary in Indiana has brought forward the date for planned retirement of more than 4,100 MW coal-fired capacity. Instead, the utility plans to add some 1,240 MW of cleaner-burning natural gas, 700 MW of wind energy, and 1,650 MW of solar power by 2037.

Electrification of the transport sector can help curb emissions substantially, Wood Mackenzie finds. A typical mid-size electric vehicle (EV) generates up to 67% fewer emissions than a gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE) car. But the crucial factor is the location where they are driven and the regional power generation mix.

California-based Sempra Energy is striving to take a leadership role in modernizing North America’s natural gas infrastructure to help incentivize power plant operators to switch from coal to gas. On a global scale, Sempra said its US LNG export terminal will supply affordable clean energy to Asia.

This year, for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, more of Britain’s electricity production will come from zero carbon energy sources, than fossil fuels. The landmark tipping point will be reached after National Grid invested £1.3 billion over the past decade in the clean energy transition, as well as £2 billion in new interconnectors such as the 1,400 MW North Sea Link to Norway.

Feasible Inc., a Californian battery analytics platform company, has received a major cash injection from Chrysalix Venture Capital’s RoboValley Fund to help promote its newly-developed intelligence platform EchoStat. Based on real-time analytics, the system provides actionable insight to solve challenges related to battery design and manufacturing.

The retired C.P. Crane coal-fired power station in Maryland is likely to be revived and converted to natural gas. Avenue Capital Group, the owners of the plant, has started the planning application process related to the fuel conversion, and a judge at Maryland’s state utility commission already signed off these plans.

Australian-owned liquefied natural gas trading platform GLX is now allowing European gas buyers and sellers to access its digital bid-offer system for global spot LNG cargo dealings. U.S. and Russian cargoes are increasingly traded at UK National Balancing Point (NBP) and Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF).

Malaysia offers some of the most material and attractive upstream investment opportunities in Southeast Asia, as the country needs additional gas supply for power generation. Time is of the essence, hence WoodMackenzie expects Petronas to ramp up its exploration efforts in deepwater Sarawak to prove up easier-to-develop resources.

The Swiss arm of MAN Diesel & Turbo and ABB Switzerland have started to jointly develop, produce and commercialize a three-way Electro-Thermal Energy Storage system (ETES). Based on so-called ‘charging cycle,’ the ETES uses surplus renewable-electricity to generate heat and cold for storage in insulated reservoirs. The stored heat and cold can then be converted back into electrical energy on demand.

Wherever connectivity goes, vulnerability follows, so as the power sector becomes more central to our lives, electricity businesses must switch to a cybersecurity-first mindset, says Erik Laykin, head of global data risk at Duff & Phelps. In his view, the trend towards autonomous vehicles is "just the start. Power is set to be the platform our world is built on.”

Trump-alley Andrew Wheeler, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has signed a final ruling that roles back Obama-era emission limits for thermal power plants. The new rule gives U.S. states wide discretion in deciding whether coal power plants need efficiency upgrades or retrofits, hence benefiting the local mining industry.

The German government has been urged to keep the coal exit roadmap as flexible as possible. Andreas Kuhlmann, head of the German Energy Agency (dena) said rather than rigidly implementing the Coal Commissions’ proposals, there needed to be some leeway for key sectors – notably transport, buildings and industry.

Burning hydrogen (H2) in a combined-cycle power plant is a step towards dispatchable, totally CO2-free power generation. However, the main challenge of H2 combustion lies in its properties, notably its increased reactivity. In contrast to natural gas, the flame position moves upstream during H2 combustion, which increases the risk of flashback.

By 2030, green hydrogen – produced from renewables – could substitute more than 45% of the European Union's industrial (grey) hydrogen demand, or 10% of the EU's natural gas consumption. If the right policies are put in place to facilitate this transformation, it would decarbonise the “hard-to-abate” sectors like industry and heavy transport. But not all clean hydrogen will be produced within Europe.

News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.