Markets

Japanese and Korean investors need to reassess the financial risk of gas-fired power projects in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) system, where wind and solar gain competitiveness against natural gas. Analysts say Japan’s exposure to such projects in PJM amounts to several billion U.S. dollars, and several plants face delays.

The German government has set up an ‘International Power-to-X (PtX) Hub Berlin’ as a platform for dialogue between industrial companies and researchers. Hot and arid regions in Australia, Morocco and potentially Congo could be used by local partners to produce solar-based hydrogen for export.

South Africa’s state utility Eskom needs to reconfigure its fleet given that 10,000 MW of thermal capacity will retire by 2030. Bhavtik Vallabhjee, Head of Power Utilities at Absa Bank pointed out a renewables rollout would still be cheaper than retrofitting ageing coal power plants to clean coal units.

Northern Powergrid, TSO for Britain’s North East, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, has launched a call for flexibility services. The expression of interest call is open to all customers who can shift the time of energy use, or provide flexible supply from distributed power and energy storage.

Gazprom has made a loss due to a weak Russian currency and 40% plunge in sales to Europe as the pandemic depressed demand and prices. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Gazprom booked a net loss of 218.38 billion Rubles ($2.85 billion) compared with a 1.048 trillion Rubles profit in the pre-year period.

Winter has come early in northern China this year and municipalities fired up district heating plants from November 1, causing stock-draws and encouraging buyers to look for spot LNG. Seasonal LNG demand also keeps rising in South Korea due to coal power plant closures, widening the JKM-TTF spread.

The pandemic has slashed the UK’s energy demand by 12% in the first three quarters of the year as the economy contracted by 11.3%. Up to 30,000 jobs in Britain’s oil and gas industry are at risk and the lobby group OGUK urges to government to help the industry transition to a green energy future.

Fast-start capability is vital for peaking plants and about a quarter of US power generation capacity can start up within one hour. Most hydroelectric turbines can go from cold start to full operations in less than 10 minutes, as can aero-derivative and some flexible combustion turbines.

Gazprom says the global health and economic crisis in 2020 keeps a lid on high-cost shale gas production, with US LNG exports seen as “insufficiently competitive.” The current economic slowdown could create a niche especially in China and Europe, to be filled by cheaper Russian conventional gas.

Economies of oil exporting countries in the Middle East will shrink 6.6% this year compared to 1.1% for importers, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts. But analysts urged cash-strapped utilities to make use of cheap energy from solar PV to produce hydrogen for export instead.

Germans are embracing electric cars more quickly than initially assumed, so carmakers now calculate over 14.8 million pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids could be on the roads by 2030. This fast e-vehicle adoption would require more charging infrastructure and boosts electricity demand.

Russia’s Gazprom has been delivering more natural gas than contracted to China through the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline. Upon request by China’s CNPC, daily deliveries were raised by up to 25% in October and during the first twenty days of November. Further increases are planned in 2021.

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News in Brief

B&W wins $20m installation contract

Dec 4 – Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) has been awarded a contract, worth more than $20 million, to install replacement boiler pressure parts for a power plant in North America. As part of the deal, B&W will install new superheaters and furnace panels starting from February 2021.

Orbital signs MSA with Midwestern utility

Dec 3 – Orbital Energy has signed a master service agreement (MSA) with a US Midwestern investor-owned utility. The accord is expected to generate monthly revenues from the fourth quarter and increase revenues by 30% on an annualised basis.

Wärtsilä to use Shell engine oils

Dec 2 – The Finish engine maker Wärsilä has selected Shell as its test oil partner for engines during stress tests and fine-tuning at engine manufacturing sites. Shell’s Mysella, Argina and Gadinia range of engine oils have been developed to provide top class engine cleanliness, enhanced wear protection, long oil life, and high system efficiency.

Hamburg CHP runs fully on hydrogen

Dec 1 – Field testing has started for HanseWerk’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Hamburg to run fully on hydrogen. The converted 1 MW pilot plant, powered by Jenbacher engines, provides district heating equal to 13,000 MWh/year to 30 residential buildings, a sports facility, a daycare center, and the Othmarschen Park leisure centre.

Oil majors in the red

Nov 30 – For most oil majors worldwide, higher prices are needed to get their business out of the red. Breakeven prices for Saudi Arabia are $85 per barrel, around $64/bbl for Iraq, $49/bbl for Kuwait and as little as $40/bbl for Russia. As business confidence plummets, major oil companies have already slashed planned CAPEX spending by almost $89 billion in first quarter of 2020, with further cuts being made throughout the summer and autumn.

EU invests into battery cells

Nov 27 – Germany's EU Council Presidency has pledged Europe should develop an integrated value creation chain for battery cells, starting with the processing of raw materials over battery cell production to recycling. Germany is investing 3 billion Euros into the two projects that foster novel methods of battery production.

Rolls-Royce wins order from Hinkley Point C

Nov 26 – Rolls-Royce has been awarded an order from Hinkley Point C to deliver 140 Bibloc pressure transmitters for the two EPR nuclear reactors currently under construction in Somerset, UK. The transmitters will measure the flow, level and pressure of the Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS).

CHP industry to grow 14.4% through 2025

Nov 25 – The combined heat and power (CHP) market, evaluated at $12.152 billion, is expected to expand nearly 14.4% per year to reach $27.196 million by 2025. Growth is primarily driven by government funding and subsidy schemes. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the country aims to install 40 GW of new, cost-effective CHP to save $10 billion per year, compared to current energy use.

Rolls-Royce opens US customer center

Nov 24 – Rolls-Royce has opened its latest US customer support center in Savannah, Gerogia. The 62,000 square feet facility houses a power plant completion center, a wing services repair unit and a warehouse, all under one roof.

Lithium Werks grows manufacturing

Nov 23 – US-Dutch manufacturer Lithium Werks is growing the output and sales fuel cells and battery modules for use as power, pulse, and stand-by applications. The company’s 26650 Nanophosphate cells are used as single cells, as well as to build cell-packs and modules like Lithium Werks P40-24 battery modules. The Austin and Enschede-based company said it can “produce millions of 18650 and 26650 cells a month in China.”

AGL plans 1,000 MWh battery

Nov 20 – Australian power producer and retailer ALG wants to realise a large grid-connected battery storage unit of up to 250 MW rated output and four hours’ duration of storage, equalling 1,000 MWh. The battery will be built in stages on the site of Torrens Island Power Station in South Australia. AGL vowed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but is currently still operating some 40 GW of coal-fired generation.

Fusion demo plant to be designed in Canada

Nov 19 – Vancouver-based General Fusion has entered a partnership with the architecture firm AL_A to design a demonstration plant, based on magnetized target fusion (MTF). Once operational, the demo plant will showcase MTF technology under power plant-relevant conditions.

Toshiba opens H2One fuelling station

Nov 18 – Toshiba has opened the first ‘H2OneMulti Station’ which fills fuel cell vehicles with green hydrogen and supplies for green electricity at Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture. The station consists of H2One ST Unit and H2One, using hydrogen produced from wind and solar power sources.

Shale gas market grows at 7% rate

Nov 17 – Unconventional gas markets are poised to grow by $41.76 billion through 2024, rising at a rate of almost 7%. According to Technavio, about 87% of the supply growth this year is coming from the Americas.

Agua Blanca pipeline expanded

Nov 16 – Austin-based WhiteWater Midstream and MPLX have completed a 1.8 billion cubic-feet-per-day (Bcf/d) expansion of their joint venture Agua Blanca pipeline system. Christer Rundlof, CEO of WhiteWater CEO, said the expansion will be brought into service ahead of schedule. Testing and commissioning will begin this month, for the new pipeline stretch to be brought into full service in early 2021.

Wärtsilä integrates clean energy

Nov 13 – Finish technology group Wärtsilä strives to integrate variable clean power sources to achieve a 100% renewable energy future. The necessary operational flexibility will come from gas generation assets running on synthetic renewable fuels and by the extended use of energy storage.

First German-Belgium power link to start operation

Nov 12 – The two TSOs Amprion and Elia are preparing to launch the first electric interconnector between Germany and Belgium. The 1,000 MW interconnector stretches between Aachen and Lüttich, from where it links to the Rhineland region and Wallonia. It will go into operation as of 18 November, with intraday capacities to begin trading on 8 December.

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