Daily News

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

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

New England power prices down 40%

June 15 – Spot electricity prices in New England (NE) has fallen since winter 2019/20 when it stood at an average $28/MWh, down 40% from an average $47/MWh in the previous winter. Low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures, lower loads, and reduced needs to run expensive peakload generators were the cause for the substantial drop in NE’s winter electricity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds.

Calpine closes $1.1bn in financing for Geysers Power

June 12 – Calpine Corp has closed $1.1 billion Climate Bonds Certified financing for its subsidiary, Geysers Power, the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the U.S. Geyers will use the proceeds to repay some debt it owes to Calpine and to fund ongoing operations and maintenance.

UK coal-free for two months

June 11 – The UK managed to keep the lights on without using coal for power generation for two months by now, National Grid figures show. Lower demand due to lockdowns and a rising contribution from gas and renewables has rendered less-efficient coal power units uneconomic. All unabated coal power stations are mandated to close by 2025, though Britain’s largest fossil power station Drax has converted its coal units to biomass.