Daily News

Japanese utilities are gearing up to add about 18 GW of gas-fired capacity over the coming ten years, boosting the country's capacity by 30 percent to counterbalance for lost nuclear capacity and cater for rising electricity demand, analyst forecast.

Natural gas is the only fossil fuel for which global demand grows in all scenarios, showing that it "fares well under different national policy condition", the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its 2012 Outlook, released today.

EDF Energy has pushed back the date to start commercial operations of unit 3 at its new British 1,300 megawatt West Burton gas-fired combined-cycle power plant to early 2013, dismissing plans to fully commission the entire plant before the end of this year.

FirstEnergy Corp. and American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP) have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to site, build and operate a natural gas peaking plant at a brownfield site on the grounds of FirstEnergy's operational Eastlake plant in Ohio.

Panda Power Funds has started construction works for the 758-megawatt (MW) gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in Sherman, Texas. Financing of the Sherman project was underpinned by a term loan.

Siemens, Europe's largest engineering company, plans to slash costs by 6 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in two years to counterbalance estimates of lower profits in the coming year. "We didn't fully succeed in significantly boosting our performance vis-a-vis competitors," chief executive Peter Loescher said today. "We know what we have to do, and we are doing it."

Calpine Corp. is ready to pay $432 million to Bosque Power Co. to purchase a gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant located in Bosque County, Texas.

With abundant availability of natural gas from conventional and shale resources in the US, there is no economic incentive to develop gas hydrate resources, as a further source of gas supply for power plants and industrial use, says the US Department of Energy (EIA).

Re-elected U.S. president Barack Obama is expected to toughen regulation on producing shale gas, oil and burning natural gas, coal and oil for power generation at an early stage in his second term in office, analysts say.

China will subsidise shale-gas production to help boost domestic gas supplies, earmarked to underpin plans of the Beijing government plans to expand share of gas in the nation's energy mix. Subsidies of 0.4 yuan (6.4 cents) per cubic meter of shale gas will be offered for shale gas developed and consumed between 2012 and 2015, according to China's ministry of finance.

Gas prices at the US's Henry Hub price benchmark are seen to become less competitive than coal in 2013 which should offset gains in the use of gas for power generation, industrial and residential use, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast.

Rising LNG imports to India, and government efforts to form a national gas grid, will help gas generation to expand beyond its present 10 percent market share. LNG imports can help to boost India's gas supplies, provided that Indian buyers are prepared to pay high prices for attracting cargoes in the tight Pacific Basin, an analyst with India's Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) told Gas to Power Journal.

As Malaysia's government gears up to lifting subsidies on natural gas the market share of gas-fired power generation is bound to drop, forecasts Sarah Fairhurst of The Lantau Group. "Gas-fired power generation is likely to fall in Malaysia as it slowly lifts subsidies. Gas, which was heavily subsidized before, is now becoming more expensive and less economic," she told Gas to Power Journal.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel by next summer aims to have parliament agreed on some form of market orientated capacity payment to underpin investment in new power generation capacity. A regular leaders' meeting in December and a special meeting in March, dedicated to Germany's Energiewende [energy transition] policy, would specify and build on the progress reached so far, she said.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s support schemes of up to £10 million for offshore wind projects is expected to reinforce the need for backup gas generation.

News in Brief

Batteries vs. hydro power

Feb 19 – More than 28 GW of lithium batteries deployed for stationary storage applications by the year 2028, according Navigant Research. Pumped hydro power plants, however, dominate the market as they account for 96 percent of installed energy storage worldwide.

Micro CHP market to top $3bn by 2026

Feb 18 – The global micro CHP market revenue is forecast to exceed $3 billion by 2026 amid rising demand for captive combined heat and power units by industry. According to Global Market Insights, micro CHPs are also increasingly combined with solar PV and energy storage into hybrid power units.

Rio Tinto uses battery to power Pilbara mine

Feb 18 – Australian mining company Rio Tinto has freed up $98 million for a new solar PV unit and a lithium-ion battery energy storage system to help power its entire Pilbara mining network. The 12 MWh battery storage at Tom Price will provide spinning reserve to help stabilize the local grid.

Japan and Korea eager to build ‘hydrogen economy’

Feb 17 – Liquid hydrogen is meant to become the basis of Japan’s and South Korea’s new energy economy. Several public-private partnerships accelerate efforts to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and use hydrogen as a clean energy source, gradually replacing oil and natural gas.

MHPS teams up with KBR to expand sales

Feb 14 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to cooperate with U.S. firm KBR to expand sales of SDA pitch-fired power plants. The fuel for these plants is insoluble matter (SDA pitch), which remains when light oil fractions are recovered from heavy oil fractions using the solvent de-asphalting (SDA) process. The petroleum industry can now utilize this residual material for power generation.

Turboden provides CHP to First Nations

Feb 13 – Brescia-based Turboden, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has agreed to an 8,000 kW combined heat and power (CHP) plant, running on woody biomass to indigenous First Nations in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power gen system will uses sawmill residual woody biomass as fuel and help electrify some 5,000 homes.

Himoinsa gensets win award

Feb 12 – Himoinsa has received an Innovation Trail Live award for its rental gas generator sets. Three gensets – HRGO 30, HRGO 40 and HRGO 70 – were distinguished due to their long running time, low operational costs, as well as reduced emissions and sound level.

Ofgem lowers default price cap

Feb 11 – UK energy regulator Ofgem has announced it will lower the default price cap by £17 to £1,162 for the six months effective from 1 April 2020. Analysts say Ofgem’s decision comes amid a “warm winter” and “healthy LNG supply,” which pushed down wholesales gas prices to a 13-month low. Looking ahead, there might well be “another slight reduction to the cap later this year.”

Opel plans Gigafactory for battery cells

Feb 10 – German carmaker Opel, part of French PSA, plans to manufacture enough battery cells for half a million e-cars annually in a new factory in the western German town of Kaiserslautern from 2024. Two billion Euros would be invested in the factory, designed to house three units with 8 GWhs each, which would be the largest in Europe so far.

GE adds 235 MW in Ivory Coast

Feb 7 – GE is carrying out a gas turbine extension at the Azito power plant in the Ivory Coast. Under the contract, GE will supply its GT13E2 gas turbine in combined-cycle configuration, one HRSG, one steam turbine and associated equipment. The upgrade will boost the plant’s capacity by 30 percent, or 253 MW to reach a total of 710 MW.

FID on Azito extension

Feb 6 – Independent power producer Globeleq and IPS have reached financial close on expanding the Azito gas-fired power plant in Ivory Coast. The plant currently has 460 MW installed capacity and provides 25 percent of the country’s power supply. Once the lasted upgrade will be completed, Azito’s capacity will be boosted to 713 MW.

Batteries vs. hydro power

Feb 5 – More than 28 GW of lithium batteries deployed for stationary storage applications by the year 2028, according Navigant Research. Pumped hydro power plants, however, dominate the market as they account for 96% of installed energy storage worldwide.

Ofgem expects green energy to cost more

Feb 4 – Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem has been seeking to incentivize investment in green energy. However, the watchdog’s new head, Johnathan Brearly, cautioned “more investment does mean higher cost.” Though investors’ returns could come down, technology improvements will reduce down capital costs further in the long run.

FES takes over 1.3 GW Pleasants Power Station

Feb 3 – FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), soon to be renamed Energy Harbor, has completed the ownership transfer of the Pleasants Power Station, a 1,300-MW thermal plant located in Pleasants County, West Virginia. FES took over the power unit from Allegheny Energy Supply Company.

Körte heads Siemens Strategy

Jan 31 – Peter Körte, aged 44, has been appointed the new head of Siemens’ Strategy Department, effective February 1, 2020. In his new role, he will develop Siemens’ strategies for digitalization and the Internet of Things (IoT) which are deemed “crucial growth drivers.”

SP40 engine oil launched

Jan 30 – Petro-Canada Lubricants has launched SENTRON SP 40, new oil for gas engines with steel pistons. The lubricant is built to withstand severe operating environments and enables optimum output from stationary engines.

Asian NOCs enact energy transition

Jan 29 – From Tokyo to Jakarta, the energy transition is the hot topic, as most of Asia’s national oil companies (NOCs) that doing nothing is no longer an option. PTTEP and CNPC have both made carbon reduction commitments, but others are yet to follow.