Daily News

Power generation companies have built fewer power plants in the US during the first six months of 2012. New-build capacity dropped by 927 MW as operators realised 54 plant units less than in the first half of 2011, according to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Facing up what it calls the "Red Tap Challenge", the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced it will scrap unnecessary regulation with the aim of stipulating 100 billion pounds of investment in the electricity sector.

Spot-price elements in long-term gas purchase contracts (LTCs) are required for new gas power projects to ensure enough gas is supplied at a sufficiently low price. "Since the end of 2008, the price level of supply contracts for [gas fired power plants] has often been above the level required for a commercially attractive use in power generation," Uli Brunner, energy expert, PA Consulting Group told Gas to Power Journal.

Footprint Power LLC has officially completed its acquisition of the Salem Harbor Power Station from Dominion Energy Inc. for an undisclosed sum. New Jersey-based Footprint Power plans to demolish the 61-year old coal plant and build a new gas-fired plant on the same site.

German utility E.ON said today it expects its first-half underlying net income to be around EUR 3.3bn, more than trippling in value from EUR 0.9bn in the previous year.

Swiss power and automation group ABB has won a $40 million order from Al Toukhi Group, a Saudi engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company, to supply high-voltage gas-insulated switchgear to a expand power grid capacity in Saudi Arabia.

The profit margin of gas-fired power plants in Germany has dropped to a 4-year low, as the clean spark spread for baseload 2013 delivery has plunged to minus Eur8/MWh at the end of last week. Utilities can only operate their gas plants profitably for generating power for higher priced peak load hours between 8am and 8pm local time.

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is facing further cuts in gas supply from the Reliance-operated Krishna-Godavari basin which will reduce gas-to-power generation by another 400-700 MW, exacerbating the energy shortage in the region. 

The price advantage of US LNG exported to Europe over gas prices at the UK National Balancing Point (NBP) is seen to drop to "virtually nil" over the 2016-2020 period. The lack of a price discount means that "US LNG exports cannot directly displace gas into Europe, but could free up flexible LNG supplies which otherwise would have been imported into Asia," analyst Michael Lewis said in a report today.

French-Belgian utility GDF Suez is planning to mothball a total of 1.6 GW of fossil – mainly gas-fired – generation capacity in the period in this and the coming year, Jean Francois Cirelli, the company's vice chairman and president said.

While the Indian government is blaming the federal states for causing the blackout by overdrawing electricity from the grid, Wartsila India told Gas to Power Journal that "to remedy, if not prevent future crippling power cuts" the creation of decentralized, reserve power is of paramount importance.

"This is one thing we have to work on in right earnest," Rakesh Sarin, Managing Director of Wartsila India said.

India's power ministry has appointed an expert committee to investigate the reasons for the massive grid failure that affected 600 million people, nearly half of the country's total population on Tuesday, July 31, across all northern states. The new power minister, Veerappa Moily, who took charge late yesterday, declared that the grid is now functioning normally.

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.