Markets

French energy major Total seeks to limit its exposure to commodity cycles by integrating its activities across the supply chain. “We start our integration quite high upstream on the gas chain and that leads all the way to electricity, considering that 60% of all gas is used to generate electricity,” said Philippe Sauquet, President of Total’s Gas, Renewables & Power.

Cost and performance of battery technologies will not only be shaping customer acceptance of electric vehicles in the coming years, but also determine how easy it will be to integrate renewable energy into the grid. Tracking the relation between the dramatic drop in prices for batteries and their usage, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says “for each doubling of output, lithium ion battery prices have been getting 19% cheaper.”

Surging shale gas production at Vaca Muerta has prompted Argentina to resume exports to neighbouring Chile. The Gasoducto del Pacífico has just been reopened after being shut in 2008, and exports of Argentine gas also resumed via the GasAndes pipeline to Chilean power generators.

Though the deepwater industry appears in good health, Wood Mackenzie warns that cyclical cost inflation could raise break-even costs once again. The most competitive region is the Americas, and particularly Brazil, Guyana, and the Gulf of Mexico, where over 50 billion boe of pre- and post-sanction deepwater developments are now profitable under an oil price of US$60/bbl.

Electrification can help to reduce the energy use and emissions impacts of automated vehicles (AVs). Under a best-case scenario of improved efficiency through automation and ride-sharing, road transport energy use could decrease by nearly 50% compared with current levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

Spark Energy has become the seventh and biggest UK provider to go bankrupt this year, following the market exit of Extra Energy on Wednesday last week. Spark blamed “increasingly tough trading conditions” when the company’s debts were uncovered after it missed a deadline to make a £14 million ‘renewables obligation’ payment to Ofgem.

Radical change in Britain’s power mix is driven by the fast fall in technology costs of renewables. By 2030, a system with wind and solar supplying 50% of the country’s electricity needs would be comparable in cost to one dominated by combined-cycle gas power station, according to New Resource Partners.

Developed economies like Japan, Denmark and the United States have achieved a high economic growth with fairly constant energy consumption. If all cost-effective efficiency measures were deployed, the global economy could double by 2040 with only a marginal rise in energy demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

Hourly electricity usage on Thanksgiving and the following day – Black Friday – tend to have different demand patterns from other weekdays. Instead of a morning and an evening peak, the electricity demand on a Black Friday rather resembles that of weekends.

Shaking up its indebted GE Power unit, the new General Electric CEO Larry Culp has reinstated John Rice – a retired GE veteran who once led its energy unit – as chairman of the Gas Power segment. “GE is desperate for leadership,” analysts commented, but it is deemed unlikely that there will be any quick fix.

More than half of India’s installed 25 GW of gas-fired power generation lies idle, with the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) identifying  about 14 GW capacity as ‘stranded,’ of unutilized. These plants had been built based on government assurances of regasified LNG supply, which did not materialize.

Vowing to avoid shortages and price spikes, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is pushing through measures to expand both pipeline gas and LNG imports. Taking early action is meant to improve China’s gas reserve and helps to make pre-arrangements for peak demand. CNNOC just issued a tender for a strip of cargoes to be delivered between November 2018 and 2022.

Swift and efficient completion of drilling at the Wolfcamp play has been driving up the overall hydrocarbon production in the Permian Basin. The Wolfcamp accounted for 1 million barrels of crude oil per day (b/d) and 4 Bcf/d of natural gas. Productivity gains were caused by drilling longer horizontal laterals and optimizing completions.

Iran has expanded its fleet of power plants by adding about 1,000 MW of new-built capacity since March 2018, the energy ministry reported. Installed capacity amounts to 80,000 MW, with gas powering nearly a third of the total. The government aims to add 3GW to meet peak demand.

Soaring costs of LNG imports have increased the importance of a swift restart of Japan’s nuclear reactors to generate comparatively cheap baseload power. Total cost for imported gas topped 418 billion yen ($3.71bn) in October, compared to 280 billion yen ($2.48bn) a year earlier, according to an alert by the Japanese finance ministry.

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News in Brief

Smart grid market to top $70bn by 2027

April 24 – The global Smart Grid Market is expected to reach around $70 billion, growing at an annual rate of 15.56% in the coming years through to 2027.North America is forecast to see the largest revenue growth, according to ResearchNester, while Europe also shows promising growth in smart grids due to high awareness for decentralized power generation, battery storage and conserving energy.

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.