Daily News

Myanmar's Ministry of Electrical Power has opened a tender to buy up to 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day before March 2014 to fuel power plants and meet the country's growing energy demand. The ministry considers increasing its gas purchase to up to 600 MMcf/d starting from 2015.

The Sasol Gas Engine Power Plant – the largest power plant running on gas engines on the African continent, and the first of its kind in the Republic of South Africa – will be inaugurated today. Wärtsilä supplied the plant on a fast-track basis with performance guarantees.

A bomb attack on the Sinai pipeline near the Egyptian city of El Arish has interrupted the flow of gas to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC), forcing it to switch from natural gas to heavy fuel oil for power generation. The pipeline blast affects gas supply to Egypt's power producers and industry, negatively impacting EEHC's profit margins, which in turn has the potential to impact export to Israel and Jordan. 

Electricity storage technologies, operating on hourly or daily timescales, tend to be deployed to take advantage of variations in the price of electricity. Researchers at the US Energy Information Administration point out that energy storage increases security of power supply as it flattens the daily load shape and integrating variable generation like wind.

A three year construction project has been kickstarted in Frankfurt, Germany, to develop Thüga Group's pilot power-to-gas project. "By the end of 2013, the plant should be converting electricity into hydrogen for the first time and feeding into the local gas distribution network," project partners said.

German municipal utility network Trianel and the refinery MiRO are planning to invest 900 million euros to jointly build a combined-cycle gas turbine plant with a capacity of 800 to 1,200MW in Karlsruhe to help improve security of power supply in southwest Germany. Construction works are due to start in 2017, for the plant to start full commercial operations in 2020, Trianel told Gas to Power Journal.

Swiss power and automation group ABB has been commissioned by Italy's TSO Terna to install a synchronous compensator to adjust power supply from the new Codrongianos cogeneration power plant plant within an older power station in northern Sardinia. Project partners plan to begin construction in November and commission the $20 million power plant project in 2014.

Four of Japan's 10 main regional utilities today applied for permission to restart 10 nuclear reactors in a move set to curtail LNG imports for gas-to-power generation and reduce electricity prices.

Officials in Ontario's provincial energy ministry are having to face questions from a Standing Committee on Justice Policy, reviewing its decisions in 2010-2011, when it cancelled two gas-fired plants and paid C$585 million in compensation from public funds to financial backers. Dalton James Patrick McGuinty led the ruling party of Liberals as Premier until his resignation over the scandal.

Robert Bradley, CEO of The Institute for Energy Research (IER), has denounced the US President's Climate Action Plan for its subsidies for clean coal. "The new proposal would throw good money after bad," he said. "Not only is taxpayer money being wasted, businesses are being enticed into investments that are costing their shareholders dearly as real-world experience shows."

Reacting to a "rapid structural change in the energy sector", the German utility EnBW has decided to shut-down four fossil power plants with a combined capacity of 668MW. It will furthermore mothball steam plant RDK-4 as the plant is "hardly being utilised and is consequently unable to cover its full costs".

Diminishing price spreads between peak and off-peak load, and a flattening seasonal profile of price differentials have emerged in Germany as a consequence of the expansion of renewables, says Dr. Kathrin Thomaschki, Vice Chair of the Ruling Chamber 6, Access to Electricity Grid at the German Federal Energy Regulator (BNetzA).

A new $182 million REO Town Cogeneration Plant (100MW) has started full commercial operation in Lansing, Michigan in replacement of coal-fired thermal capacity, said the owning public utility, Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL).

Danish Dong Energy has agreed to sell its Norwegian gas-fired power plant in Mongstad to Statoil for 1.8 billion Norwegian kroner, equivalent to 229 million euros.

Competition in Europe's energy sector is shrinking and investment has stalled amid growing regulatory intervention in the market, Olga Mikhailova, Advisor Market Units at Eurelectric warned at Gas to Power Journal's conference in Düsseldorf. 

"The European energy sector is unable to invest, as credit rating of utilities is deteriorating and most generation assets are valued at close to zero by financial investors," she said, suggesting regulatory risk has become the main cause of concern, overtaking market risk.

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.