Stockpiles of thermal coal in the United States have fallen to the lowest level in a decade as more and more coal-fired power plants retire and the lost capacity is being replaced with gas-fired plants and renewables. Coal stockpiles decreased to 98.7 million tons in February 2019, their lowest value in more than a decade, and the EIA expects them to remain relatively low for the rest of this year.
Carbon capture and hydrogen are interdependent; hence the resurgence of strategic interest in hydrogen is strongly connected with carbon capture in multiple ways. “The most basic is the source of hydrogen: today it is fossil fuels with over 10 tons of CO2 emitted for a ton of H2,” said IEA chief economist Laszlo Varro.
Texas is at risk of power emergency alerts this summer, and may even face rotating blackouts, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) warned, as the current 8.6% electric reserve margin may prove insufficient to meet strong electric demand growth. Power grid operators typically aim for reserve margins of 10% to 15% and ERCOT itself had set a target of 13.75%.
Two Czech billionaires and energy infrastructure investors are understood to have teamed up with state-run CEZ to bid or Alpiq’s gas- and coal-fired power plants in the Czech Republic. Having posted high losses in 2018, the Swiss firm Alpiq has been considering the sale of some power plants.
Boston-based energy infrastructure developer Advanced Power has broken ground on its South Field Energy project in Columbiana County, Ohio. The 1.182 GW combined-cycle gas power plant is being developed at a cost of $1.3 billion and is scheduled to come online in mid-2021.
The Government of Morocco has made “positive efforts” to improve energy access for all citizens and end fossil fuel subsidies to establish a more competitive energy pricing regime, said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). With the exception of bottled butane, fuel prices are now linked to the international market.
The battery boom is coming as solar-plus-energy storage prices keep falling, making this hybrid technology preferable over gas peaking power plants on a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) basis. According to Wood Mackenzie analysis, unsubsidized utility-scale LCOE for a 4-hour lithium-ion solar-plus-storage will be competitive against gas peakers in all the National Electricity Market (NEM) states of Australia in 2023.
General Electric has outperformed its rivals Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) by winning the most orders for HA-class gas turbines in Q1-2019, according to the latest McCoy Power Report. GE booked six orders, up from zero a year ago – MHPS won five orders, while Siemens booked four.
The power sector is attracting more investment than the oil and gas industry, with developers having spent over $1.8 trillion globally in 2018 on energy-related projects. Though the overall spent has stabilized after three years of decline, investors increasingly focus on projects with shorter lead times, the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2019 report finds.
Dynamics of the global energy transition are driven by the speed of electrification and the competition between flexible gas power plants and renewables plus energy storage. Margins in the downstream power market are becoming more attractive, as price discrimination allows for better value capture downstream than in the generation business.
Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has said it expects to produce enough natural gas from its new Assa North/Ohaji South development to provide fuel for generating about 2,400 MW of electricity. The move is part of Shell’s strategy to shift to a more gas-orientated business, said SPDC’s general manager, Igo Weli.
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has won an order to deliver two H-25 gas turbines for a combined heat and power (CHP) project, being built on behalf of the Chinese Paper Firm Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd. Situated near Dongguan, in China’s Pearl River Delta, the CHP is due to start commercial operations in 2020.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed her new Climate Cabinet is seeking ways for the country to reach climate neutrality. Should the ministers find a “sound” way to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Germany would be able to join France and Sweden, in drafting a long-term EU climate strategy, said Merkel at the 10th Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.
The coal-to-gas switch is gathering pace in the United States. Natural gas will provide the largest share of U.S. generation this summer at 40%, up from 39% last summer, EIA projections show. Coal, meanwhile, is seen losing market share to 25%, down from 28% a year earlier.
The intensifying trade war between the US and China is starting to impact shipments of US LNG to China and slows Beijing’s efforts to switch from coal to gas use in the power sector. Only four US LNG cargoes have been delivered to China since September, when a 10% tariffs came into effect. Now, Beijing hiked this levy to 25% - in retaliation to Washington’s move to expand import tariffs on Chinese goods.