New utility-scale solar power installations increased in the United States in 2010-16 at a faster rate than any other electricity generating technology. Solar PV and thermal power facilities together grew 72% per annum on average to currently over 21.5 GW. But regardless of this rapid growth, solar's contribution to the overall US power mix remains fairly limited – the dominant fuel is natural gas.
The United States and China have reached a landmark agreement designed to reduce America’s growing trade deficit and promote LNG shipment to China. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross underlined the deal was part of a broader effort to remodel the relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
South Africa’s mining and manufacturing industry has been hit repeatedly by sharp increases in electricity tariffs. With President Zuma’s plans for new nuclear thwarted, South Africa’s future energy mix is seen shift towards renewables and flexible gas generation. An LNG-to-Power IPP Programme envisages some 1GW of new gas power capacity to be constructed at South Africa's Coega port, with another 2GW to be built at Richards Bay.
Engie of France and AES have entered into a joint venture to market and sell LNG to third parties in Central America. The JV will utilize the Costa Norte LNG regasification terminal, currently under construction with a capacity of 1.5 million tons per annum (mtpa). Approximately 25% of the Costa Norte LNG regas capacity will supply fuel to a 380MW combined-cycle gas power plant in the city of Colón, Panama.
Asian investors used to pour over $20 billion into US Lower 48 assets in the period 2010-13, mostly in shale plays – but this cashflow dried up some three years ago and has become “negligible,” particularly on the Permian tight oil play. Wood Mackenzie says this trend is about to change, anticipating some of Asia's largest upstream players “wish to diversify and grow production.”
Levelized cost of energy (LCOE), a common metric for project costs, measures a power plant’s lifetime and operation-cycle and amortizes these costs over an assumed lifetime. Yet, EIA analysts pointed out LCOEs do not include contractual terms on price, duration, or price inflators, hence “they should not be directly compared with other prices such as power purchase agreements.”
Combustion-weighted carbon intensity of all fuels used to generate electricity in the United States is now lower than that of natural gas. After averaging near 60 kg CO2/MMBtu for decades, the carbon intensity in the electric power sector fell to 48 kg CO2/MMBtu in 2016 – slightly lower than that of natural gas, which produces 53 kg CO2/MMBtu.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is the most pressing challenge in the global energy industry, says Jantine Zwinkels, Consultant at Royal HaskoningDHV. Throwing in a word of caution, she added that “the challenge for our [renewable] industry is to stand truly on its own two feet and outcompete fossil fuels without public money.”
The global gas insulated switchgear (GIS) market is forecast to grow from $5.23 billion in 2015 to $8.61 billion by 2020. According to GlobalData analysis, extensive power plant capacity additions in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and the need to improve access to electricity are driving grid expansion and the GIS market.
Gas could be the “ideal partner for renewable energy generation” in a future sustainable energy mix, says Remi Eriksen, head of Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and Germanischer Lloyd (GL). He calls on the energy industry to work together to help policymakers, planners and the public understand and embrace the “non-price benefits of the fuel.”
Throughout the US, the running costs of solar-tracking photovoltaic units vary greatly dependent on the weather and how much the unit is exposed to the sun throughout the year. In Nevada and California, and other areas of the western United States which receive more direct solar radiation, single-axis PV panels track the sun’s path from east to west – a technology that is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Working gas storage in the United States as of March 31 stood at 2,051 billion cubic feet (Bcf), ending the most recent gas year around 15% above the five-year average. Responding to slightly higher prices, gas consumed in electric power generation fell 2.1 Bcf from the 2015–2016 heating season, but the drop was almost entirely offset by a 2.0 Bcf increase in US gas exports, according to data from PointLogic.