Markets

Analysts say carbon prices in the European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) could exceed €38 per ton by 2020 as emission certificates taken out by Germany will get cancelled as it exits coal-fired power generation. A subsequent surge in carbon prices will accelerate coal-to-gas switching in Europe.

Texas could not solely rely on green energy sources without putting supply security at risk. Replacing all installed coal power capacity cost-effectively would only work with a combination of renewables, natural gas-fired generation and battery storage. Gas generally outcompetes coal generation in ERCOT if the price of gas falls below $3/MMBtu.

Freezing weather in the Midwest and a fire at a gas compressor station in southeast Michigan has forced local utilities to restrain gas supply. General Motors halted operations at 11 Michigan manufacturing plants and Fiat Chrysler also had to cancel shifts to conserve natural gas.

Rapidly evolving exports of LNG and liquid fuels will turn the United States into a net energy exporter next year. As gas demand grows in Asia and Henry Hub prices remain competitive, US LNG export capacity is expected to rise further before levelling off after 2030, when rival supplies are set to enter global markets.

Streamlining operations, General Electric has decided to consolidate all of its renewable and grid assets into a single, simplified Renewable Energy business. With this move, GE wants to offer more integrated solutions, simplify its structure, and improve performance.

Energy-related emissions in the United States are poised to fall as the country’s GDP growth is anticipated to slow from 2.9% in 2018 to 2.7% this year and down to 2.0% in 2020. According to EIA projections, industrial production will soon grow at a slower rate than overall GDP.

Strong order intake and some very large orders support Siemens’ overall business, although Q1 net profits plunged 49% and revenue growth is seen to stay moderate. “There is still much to do before we achieve industry-leading margins in all our businesses,” CEO Joe Kaeser said in an analyst call today.

Reacting to lower net earnings Wärtsilä will lay off 1,200 employees globally, the Finnish company said in connection to its annual report. The order intake of Wärtsilä Energy Solutions’ business fell, CEO Jaakko Eskola noted, mainly due to “slower decision-making among our customers.”

A new ‘Distributed Resource’ Desk, just launched by UK’s National Grid, allows for faster dispatch instructions to small gensets, battery storage and demand-side response. In the first 24 hours of operation, the number of bids and offers accepted from these aggregated providers was 87 MWh, up 113% on average.

California-based Sempra Energy has decided to sell its equity interests two utilities in Chile and Peru to focus on its LNG export ventures in North America. Sempra CEO Jeffrey W. Martin said “this planned sale allows us more focused capital investment in the U.S. and Mexico.”

Contrary to U.S. President Trump’s policies to strengthen the role of coal in America’s energy mix and support cash-strapped mining companies, the use of coal is falling faster than in the Obama-era. According to EIA estimates, the coal share of total power generation reached a new low of 28%, well below the 35% share of natural gas.

China’s state-owned CNOOC is making a concerted effort to meet, and even overshoot, its target on capital expenditure. The company’s revised strategy follows President Xi Jinping's call for greater self reliance in the face of a growing economic slowdown.

Russia’s Gazprom has decided to invest another RUB 17.7 billion ($266m) on top of an earlier RUB 120.9 billion ($1.8bn) spent on the Sakhalin-III project in Russia’s Far East. The Sakhalin project is at the heart of Gazprom’s Eastern Gas Program, designed to establish a new export route for Russian gas to Asia-Pacific.

Drinking water in the Middle East needs to be generated in a highly energy-intensive process. According to IEA projections, the production of desalinated seawater in the Middle East will rise almost fourteen-fold to 2040, and there is a shift towards membrane-based desalination and away from fossil fuel-based thermal desalination.

Market observers have questioned the commercial viability of a new 300 MW ‘emergency reserve’ power plant at Irsching, Bavaria. Uniper has won a tender to build the open-cycle unit even though it is seeking to mothball two combined-cycle power units at the same site.

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News in Brief

Evol LNG helps power Australian gold mine

June 18 – Kirkalocka Gold Mine in Western Australia will use Evol LNG to fuel Zenith Energy’s 14.5 MW power station with regasified natural gas starting from September 2019. The mine is run by Adaman Resources and had been relying on diesel to cover its energy needs. Based on the current diesel price, Adaman Resources expects to reduce fuel costs by more than A$13 million (US$9 million) during the first six years of operation of the new onsite LNG-to-Power plant.

Shell Energy ordered to refund overcharged UK customers

June 17 – UK energy regulator Ofgem has ordered Shell Energy Retail to refund around 12000 customers who were overcharged after the Government’s cap on gas and electricity prices came into force in January. Shell Energy Retail s agreed to refund these customers by paying £29,000 in compensation (£5 per fuel), and also pay an additional £200,000 into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund.

BASF enters battery market

June 14 – German chemical company BASF is using NGK Insulators’ sodium sulfur batteries as its entry point into the energy market. The Japanese manufacturer NGK is currently the only maker of the large-scale sodium sulfur (NAS) batteries, capable to store several hours of energy. A joint project in northern Germany uses NAS batteries that store energy for five hours, while a recently completed project in Abu Dhabi using 108MW / 648MWh of the systems with a full six hours storage duration.

CNPC boosts domestic gas production

June 13 – China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the largest Chinese oil and gas company, has announced plans for domestic natural gas output to reach 55% of overall domestic supply by 2025. Last year, CNPC managed to boost production by 5.9% to reach 138.02 billion cubic metres, while also increasing imports of pipeline gas and LNG.

Gazprom taps new gas deposits for Nord Stream 2

June 12 – Gazprom is fast-tracking hydrocarbon production in northwest Russia to boost reserves for export through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (55 Bcm/y), currently being built through the Baltic Sea. At a meeting with Nord Stream shareholders, Gazprom noted that its Yuzhno-Russkoye field has yielded about 276 Bcm of natural gas, including 0.9 Bcm of hard-to-recover Turonian gas, since the start of operations. Turonian gas reserves, consisting of about 99% methane with no heavy residues, lie at a depth of 800–850 meters in reservoirs with low permeability. Commercial production at the Turonian deposit is scheduled to start in late 2019.

PG&E turns off electricity to avoid wild fires

June 11 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has turned off electricity for some Californian communities at risk of a wildfire during the lastest heat wave. The authorized blackout started on Saturday in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, with electricity being gradually restored over the course of Monday. Approximately 16,000 customers have been affected.

Gazprom to build power plants in Serbia

June 10 – Gazprom Energoholding has signed an Agreement of Intent (AoI) to build an upgrade several gas-fired power plants in Serbia. Together with Novi Sad, Gazprom Energoholding is already building a CCGT with some 200 MW capacity near a refinery in the Serbian town of Pancevo.

U.S. fund splashes out $4bn to buy El Paso Electric

June 7 – Infrastructure Investment Fund (IIF), a private investment vehicle within J.P. Morgan Inc., has agreed to acquire the U.S. utility El Paso Electric Co for $68.25 per share in a cash transaction. The enterprise value on the transaction is estimated at $4.3 billion. El Paso Electric customers will receive a total $21 million in bill credits over three years.

Caterpillar gensets back up Finnish data center

June 6 – The Swedish telecom giant Telia has ordered 12 Caterpillar gensets to provide standby emergency power to back up operations at its new data center in Helsinki. The Cat dealer Witraktor figured a system which includes eight Cat 3516B and four 3516E generator sets. The Telia Helsinki Data Center is the largest such facility in Finland, and its primary electric power supply comes from a combination of wind, hydroelectric and biomass.

Capstone wins orders in Iraq

June 5 – Micro-turbine producer Capstone has secured an order for two C600 Signature Series microturbines to provide 1.2 MW of energy to power a triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration facility near Basra, in southern Iraq. The contract also includes Capstone’s new self-cleaning pulse filtration system, allowing the turbines to better withstand hot and sandy conditions with minimal maintenance.

Gas to supply record 43% of US power needs

June 4 – This summer, natural gas is forecast to cover between 40% and 43% of 2019 peak electricity demand in all U.S. states except Texas, according to projections by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas demand soared to nearly 10,700 billion cubic feet (Bcf) last summer, a 16% rise from 2017 levels. Should there be another heat wave this year, that record may well be broken. Capacity wise, natural gas is on course to top its 45% share in the U.S. power mix.

Lukoil to upgrade CHP at Krasnodar

June 3 – Russia’s oil and gas company Lukoil has received government approval to modernize and expand three combined heat and power units in Krasnodar. The gas-fired CHP units have more than 400,000 hours and ran an average 74% utilization rate, the operator said. The upgrade will add 150 MW of power generation capacity and Lukoil said it expects the revamped power plant to be ready for commissioning as early as 2022.

GE commissions Al-Qudus CCGT in Iraq

May 31 – GE Power has installed and commissioned a new 9E gas turbine at the Al-Qudus combined-cycle gas power plant, run by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity’s (MoE). The CCGT was previously capable of generating up to 1,125 MW and the turbine upgrade adds another 125 MW of capacity.

Groundbreaking takes place for Ohio CCGT project

May 30 – This Thursday morning, groundbreaking will take place for the $500 million Long Ridge Energy Generation Project in Hannibal, Ohio. Long Ridge, a 485 MW combined-cycle power project, is being developed by Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors (FTAI). It will create up to 350 construction jobs and some 25 permanent jobs. The CCGT is expected to open in 2021.

Asia to spend more on renewables than oil & gas by 2020

May 29 – Utilities in Asia-Pacific region will invest more in renewables than on oil and gas exploration by 2020. Total capital expenditure in renewables will rise above $30 billion in the region by 2020, according to forecast of the consultancy Rystad Energy. India, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea will led the way in Asia’s green energy transition.

Ichthys LNG looses court claim against power sub-contractor

May 28 – JKC Australia LNG consortium, developer of the US$34 billion Inpex-built Ichthys LNG plant near Darwin, has lost a US$1.9 billion court case claim against a power station sub-contractor. Construction of the power station was subcontracted to UGL-led group which CIMIC took over in 2016 and subsequently cancelled the Ichthys power contract. The Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth now dismissed an application by JKC Australia LNG for upfront payment of damages. The power plant’s five gas turbines have already been handed over to Inpex, and KBR aims for the plant to be ready for commissioning this autumn.

San Miguel Energy claims $6.19bn subsidy for Ilijan plant

May 24 – South Premier Power Corp. (SPPC), San Miguel Energy’s development vehicle for the 1,200-MW Ilijan gas power project, has claimed that it already paid $6.19 billion in subsidies to state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (PSALM) for its financial obligations as independent administrator. The build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for the Ilijan plant will expire in 2022; and by that time, SPPC will get ownership of the plant.