Markets

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has decided to raise energy prices after a winter storm left more than 4 million people without electricity in Texas. The grid operator was not able to cope with the sudden demand spike, while fuel shortages forced some utilities to implement rolling blackouts.

The Japanese ministry of the economy, trade and industry (METI) is working on a new natural gas supply framework in the wake of recent price spikes. “The tightening of power supply ... has made us strongly realize once again the importance of LNG as an adjusting electricity source,” said Ryo Minami, METI's director-general of oil, gas and mineral resources.

US oil and gas midstream company Energy Transfer has created a new business group, led by Tom Mason, to develop alternative energy projects. In focus will be solar and/or wind farms (either through PPAs or partnership with third party developers) and hydrogen gas opportunities – when they make economic sense.

It has become clear that the German government was ready to pay over €1 million to the Trump administration to avert US sanctions against Nord Stream 2. Finance minister Olaf Schulz offered the money to his US counterpart Steven Mnuchin, saying Germany would support the construction of LNG import terminals.

Japanese utility JERA and the Malaysian oil company Petronas have agreed to set up supply chains for ammonia and hydrogen fuels. Petronas has sold LNG to Japan for nearly 40 years and is one of Asia’s leading ammonia producers – now it seeks to produce green ammonia and hydrogen as well.

Japanese engineering firm Chiyoda, together with Mitsubishi and Mitsui and the shipping company NYK Line, has completed world’s first global hydrogen supply chain. A hydrogen cargo  in ISO containers is en route from Brunei to Japan, set to fuel a hybrid gas turbine generating electricity.

Installing a 3,200-kilometre network of overhead power lines for hybrid trucks would help Germany cut its road freight emissions by a fifth each year. Researchers reckon it would cost about €7 billion to add such overhead power lines on the busiest parts of Germany's autobahn, though the system could gradually become financially self-sustaining.

A distortion of the polar vortex has caused harsh winter weather across Europe, pushing up energy prices. Peakload power prices at the European Energy Exchange (EEX) intraday auction surged to €59.54 per MWh for Germany, and a record €65.39 per MWh for France.

Modelling how fast US energy demand will recover after the pandemic, analysts say the consumption of natural gas will increase faster than other fossil fuels. Electricity use is expected to largely return to 2019 levels by 2025, causing a slight uptick in gas-burn while the contribution of coal, oil and nuclear falls behind.

Rolls-Royce has agreed to sell its Bergen Engines medium-speed gas and diesel engines business to TMH International for €150 million. CEO Warren East said the sale is part of ongoing restructuring and helps reach the company’s target to generate at least £2 billon from disposals.

Mitsubishi Power, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has decided to streamline its boiler business by consolidating manufacturing and after sales services at Nagasaki Works. With this move, the Japanese OEM reacts to a sharp contraction in coal power projects and shifts its focus to cleaner fuels.

US fracking companies fear the impact of President Biden’s plan to lower the number of drilling leases on federal land. Analysts see no near-term effect on volumes or prices until 2022, but warn a complete halt on new production would effectively zero out the Gulf of Mexico, much of the Permian’s section in New Mexico and a large chunk of Wyoming.

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News in Brief

Howden powers methanol plant

July 29 – Howden will deliver a hydrogen compressor to Johnson Matthey to serve the world’s first methanol plant that harnesses energy from the wind, in Patagonia, Chile. The Haru Oni project will deliver around 900,000 litres per year of e-methanol as early as 2022 and will be scaled up to 550 million litres of e-fuels per year by 2026.

Bloom SOFCs to power micro plant in South Korea

July 28 – California-based Bloom Energy, in cooperation with SK ecoplant, will install solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Donghae City, South Korea. The CHP will provide heat and warm water for the nearby Bukpyung sports center. Construction on the project is slated to start this autumn.

Shanghai Electric to digitalise factories

July 27 – Shanghai Electric has entered a partnership with AI Investment Fund at the WAIC 2021 conference to provide digital solutions to industrial parks and medical institutions. Yang Hong, Vice President of Shanghai Electric said the aim is to help industries to minimise emissions and waste while maintaining low unit costs.

Slow LNG uptake in Africa

July 26 – In Africa, the uptake of LNG imports to new markets has been slow. Both Ghana’s 1.7 million tons per annum (mtpa) Tema LNG and Senegal’s 1.0 mtpa Dakar Powership are still awaiting their first LNG deliveries, though their respective FSRUs Vasant and Karmol LNGt Powership Africa have been in place since June.

Growth in turbine air filtration tops 3%

July 22 – The turbine air filtration market is expected to grow 3.27% annually from $1.92 billion in 2020 to reach $2.29 billion in 2026. Demand from the oil & gas industry and electric utilities had plunged during the corona crisis and subsequent economic downturn, but the latest trend towards clean energy is driving robust growth for turbine air filtration which can be widely and easily applied in the power sector.

US oil exports stay high

July 21 – Despite volatile prices, U.S. crude oil exports reached a record high in 2020 and remained strong this year, averaging 3.51 million barrels per day (b/d). Expanded ports at Houston and Corpus Christi allow for oil to be exported from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Basin.

CVEC to be converted to hydrogen

July 20 – Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC) is taking steps to run the  combined-cycle plants on hydrogen. Works to convert the plant will be carried out by GE and are scheduled to start in late 2022. One of three GE 7F.05 gas turbines at CVEC will be introduced to a 5% hydrogen blend with natural gas.

MAN ETES labelled solar impulse efficient

July 16 – MAN Electro-Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) was attributed the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label by independent auditors. In January, the German manufacturer supplied to ETES heat pumps to DIN Forsyning for a heat and power plant in the Danish port city Esbjerg.

Electricity sales to US industry rebounds

July 14 – Economic recovery has caused a 5.1% rise electricity sales to US industry this year, dwarfing 2.8% more retail sales and a 2.1% rise in the commercial sector as many office workers continue working from home. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) acting administrator, Steve Nalley, called the rebound in electricity sales to industry a “strong sign of rising levels of economic output as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes.”

Solar PV to triple in Asia by 2030

July 13 – Asia Pacific solar photovoltaic capacity could triple to 1,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie estimates, China will add 619 GW of mainly utility-scale capacity while most other nations in Asia prefers distributed solar due to land constraints. Solar PV tends to be backed up by flexible gas gensets and energy storage, forming hybrid power units.

Kinder Morgan closes on Stagecoach assets

July 12 – US energy infrastructure major Kinder Morgan has closed its acquisition of Stagecoach Gas Services. The deal include 4 gas storage facilities with a 41 bcf working gas capacity and a transmission network with multiple interconnects to major interstate pipelines, including Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The Stagecoach assets add to Kinder Morgan’s approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines and 144 terminals.

Dortmund cancels electrotechnik fair

July 9 – The elektrotechnik fair, planned for 29 September to 1 October 2021, will now not be taking place in Dortmund due to requests from the industry. The next trade fair for building, industrial, energy and lighting technology will now open its doors again in spring 2023.

Hitachi to change name of ABB Power Grids

July 7 – Hitachi ABB Power Grids will become Hitachi Energy in October. The Japanese manufacturer bought a controlling stake in ABB’s grid business a year ago and is about to fully take the name of the merged company while expanding its direction towards e-mobility and data centres.

Tapping wind energy for hydrogen

July 6 – Spanish utility Naturgy and the gas grid operator Enagás are evaluating the use of 350 MW offshore and onshore wind capacity to produce green hydrogen. The fuel will be used to decarbonise the steel industry and shipyard in northwest Spain.

EU seeks to expand Green Deal to Africa

July 5 – The European Green Deal should be expanded to also include African states as partners, the German development minister Gerd Müller said. Green hydrogen production in Africa, in his view, should be a “cornerstone for economic cooperation with the Europe.”

Decom Engineering updates PCR

July 2 – Northern Ireland-based Decom Engineering has invested more than £700,000 to develop tools for repurposing and clean decommissioning of energy infrastructure. Through updated Pipe Coating Removal (PCR) equipment, decommissioned or surplus pipelines can be cleaned of multiple coatings, so they can be repurposed for used on other projects.

Cummins buys half of Momentum Fuels

July 1 – Cummins has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 50% equity interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies from Rush Enterprises. The transaction is expected to close before year-end, and the combined venture will produce Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America.

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