Daily News

Investment in combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGTs) power plants in Germany are "highly problematic" as decreasing, even negative clean spark spreads resulting from reduced runtime hours have cut profit margins to zero". Unless capacity remuneration mechanisms are introduced, PricewaterhouseCoopers sees no market signals that could convince operators to build new plants.

During the first half of 2012, new gas-fired and renewable capacity has dominated power plant additions in the United States. As total of 165 new electric power plants were added in the 33 federal states, with combined new capacity of 8,098 megawatts (MW), according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

NAES Corp. said it has taken over the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the 748 MW Salem Harbor Power Plant. An affiliate of Footprint Power bought the coal-fired plant from Dominion in early August with the intention switching the plant to run on natural gas.

Germany's energy industry association BDEW on behalf of its members has submitted a discussion paper to the Ministry of Economics (BMWi) pushing for a deal to compensate operators for refraining from carrying out planned closures of fossil power plants to guarantee supply security during the upcoming winter period.

As Europe increases its dependence upon green renewable energy as a major source of power generation, it will also need to install fast-starting, aero-derivative gas turbine generators to backstop the electricity grid, forecasts Swift Tarbell, Area Director for Europe with Pratt & Whitney Power Systems.

The Pratt & Whitney Power Systems' 30MW / 60MW FT8 and soon-to-be-launched 60MW / 120MW FT4000 SwiftPac gas turbine units can reach full load on the grid in less than 10 minutes from cold start, and are able to quickly fill the sporadic gaps in power supplied from intermittent wind and solar power technologies.

The German government has abandoned plans to help finance up to 15 percent of the investment costs of new coal-fired power plants, with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The lack of public support for storing carbon underground could shift political support towards gas generation.

Whether US operators choose to dispatch electric generators largely depends on system demand for electricity and the relative cost of operating the plant, a report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.

Doosan Heavy Industries (Doosan HI) is considering local investment in India with the aim of better tapping into the country's rapidly growing power generation market.

August 17 - Germany's municipal utility Stadtwerke Neustadt solar power developer IBC Solar have inaugurated a pilot project to store up to 200 kWh of electricity within a local grid area.

If the utility's solar plants produce more power than is required, the energy can be stored and supplied to the grid at a later point, online media solarserver.de reported on Friday.

The power storage unit helps to stabilises the local grid and reduced the need for further regional grid expansion.

Excelsior Energy said its Mesaba energy project has gained ground after receiving notification from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that all its permits for a natural gas plant are valid through 2019.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) together with China's Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering (Sinosteel MECC), has received an order for two 150 MW blast-furnace-gas fired gas turbine combined-cycle power generation plants from Baotou Iron & Steel (Baogang).

Schmack Biogas, a German suppliers of biogas technologies, is close to finalising construction works of a 2.85 MW biogas-to-energy plant Tongere, Belgium. "We plan to get the plant ready to start full commercial operations in the second half of this year," Schmack Biogas sales representative, Gernot Buchta, told Gas-to-Power Journal.

German utilities E.on and RWE  have spoken out in favor of a strategic reserve as a quick solution to resolve a capacity squeeze in southern Germany in the coming winter. The debate over capacity markets, by contrast, would take years and the scheme is believed to proof counterproductive to energy-only-markets.

CLP Power Hong Kong is prepared to expand capacity at the 2,500 MW gas-fired combined cycle Black Point Power Station (BPPS) to guarantee security of power supply and meet the Government's tightened statutory emission cap, Robert Cochran, Head of Planning and Venture Support at CLP told Gas to Power Journal.

Russian gas exports to Europe have dropped 14.5% to 32.8 Bcm in the second quarter of 2012 on reduced offtake volumes from Gazprom's continental European buyers who prefer coal over gas generation.

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.