Daily News

British consumers will be hit with rising energy bills as utilities are passing on the costs for power grid updates allowing greater volumes of intermittent renewable energy, warned RWE Npower, one of the UK's Big Six power producers.

With about 10 GW of offshore wind power expected to come on the system in the UK by 2020, balancing the additional intermittent capacity, mostly through gas-fired plants, will "not pose a major challenge," Dong Energy's UK country manager, Benji Sykes said in an evening debate in Westminster on 'Cutting the costs of Carbon'.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, has filed for approval to build a 700MW combined cycle gas-turbine (CCGT) plant in Flint at a cost of $750 million to replace coal-fired capacity that is up for retirement by 2017.

Impending reforms of Spain's electricity market will reduce Red Electrica's regulated revenues by up to 100 million euros this year from 1,628 million euros, the TSO said with the aim of limiting downside risk for investors.

The use of fuel cell based micro Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installation is rapidly expanding in Japan, underpinned by government support for decentralised power generation in reaction to blackouts in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, says Scott Dwyer, senior analyst for Micro-CHP at Delta-ee.

The European Commission will open a state aid infringement case against Germany on Wednesday to investigate alleged state aid for the energy-intensive under the country's renewable energies act (EEG), a report in Der Spiegel states today.

Demand from Chinese and US energy companies will spur an expansion of the global stream condenser market for thermal power plants to $3.3 billion by 2020.

Shale gas developments in the UK, given their projected timing and modest production volumes, "in no way changes the critical and pressing nature of UK energy policies" and won't affect gas pricing to help promote peak-load power plant projects, says Howard Rogers, Director of the Natural Gas Programme at the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES).

Natural gas will ascent to become a leading power source in Texas, competing with and complementing the inherently intermittent renewable energy supply, a Brattle Group study shows.

GE Water & Power will supply the Chinese steel and iron company, Jiangsu Yonggang Group with an innovative blast-gas fueled 7.88MW cogeneration system for its steel mill in Zhangjiagang City. The project marks the first commercial use of blast furnace gas to generate power and heat worldwide, GE said.

The share of coal in Germany's power generation mix has risen to 52 percent in the first-half of this year amid a drop in output from gas-fired power plants and wind turbines, research organization Fraunhofer Institute (ISE) said.

Plans to allow more natural gas exports from the US will become more difficult in two years once the proposed emissions restrictions on existing power plants come into effect, Juscelino Colares, law professor at Case Western Reserve University told Gas to Power Journal.  

"Power plants are subject to regulations that are designed to turn them towards fewer emissions, and the way they are meeting them is by switching to [cleaner burning] natural gas," he said calling the process "a very dramatic transformation in the history of the US in the past 6-7 years."

Rio Tinto has selected GE's aeroderivative gas turbines to power the expansion of mining operations at two sites in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. Keen to expand the capacity of its Pilbara operations from currently 237 million tonnes per annum to up to 360 million tonnes per annum in 2015, Rio Tinto is implementing Australia's largest-ever, integrated mining project.

Carroll County Energy gears up to investing $800 million to build an 700MW combined-cycle gas-fired power plant, powered by a GE turbine, in Ohio, US. The proposed plant is in a pre-permitting stage, completing environmental surveys, project partners said.

Development banks with a combined annual lending pot of $166 billlion (€130 billion) should stop to support fossil power generation projects, the European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard has urged.

News in Brief

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – 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.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.

Gazprom seeks to partner with Fortum

June 27 – The heads of Gazprom and Forum, Alexey Miller and Pekka Lundmark, have met in St. Petersburg to discuss a potential cooperation in the field of power generation. The Finish energy company Fortum owns 29.5% of the Russian power plant TGC-1 as well as a 49.99% share in the German utility Uniper. Through the talks, Gazprom could gain Fortum’s support to expand its firm long-term deliveries of Russian gas to Finland and Germany.

Quarrels over contract award

June 26 – Guam Power Authority’s decision to award a contract to finance, build and operate a new 180 MW power station on the island to Korea Electric Power has sparked protest by rival bidders. Four companies had submitted proposals – Korea Electric, Osaka Gas, Powerflex and Hanwha Energy Corp. Declining to comment on the quarrels over the contract awarding process, GPA said the deal with Korea Electric is expected to close by September 9, pending a related impact study.

PTT steps up power sector investment

June 25 – Thailand's state-run PTT Pcl has decided to boost investments in the retail and industrial power sectors to help insulate the energy company against the impact of a global economic slowdown on its oil refining and chemical businesses. Referring to the Sino-U.S. trade war as a global challenge, PTT chief executive Chansin Treenuchagron said the company is looking “how we can survive in the short term.”

APR helps power Libya’s recovery

June 24 – Libya’s state-owned GECOL has asked APR Energy to bring in temporary generators to provide a rapid 450 MW boost. Under the latest contracts, APR provided mobile gas turbines at four key sites in Libya (250 MW) as well as 200 MW of diesel generators at two sites.