Markets

China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has decided to reduce city-gate natural gas prices and trans-provincial gas pipeline tariffs starting from April. Electricity tariffs for industrial and commercial users are also being slashed, said the state-planner who just cut VAT rates for several key industries.

Utilities in the United States implement more and more demand-side management programs to help customers save energy and reduce peak power demand. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) allows demand-response aggregators to participate in reserve markets, which reduces close to 4% of annual peak energy demand.

New-built gas power stations and weather-related factors have led to 3.8 Bcf/d increase in domestic natural gas demand in the United States, pushing up the country’s total gas use by 10% to total of 82.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, according to EIA’s recently released Natural Gas Monthly.

Florida Power & Light (FLP), a principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy, is advancing plans to build the world’s largest solar-powered battery energy storage system that will replace two fossil power units due for retirement. The future FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will have 409 MW of capacity when it begins serving customers in late 2021.

Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Mexican oil and gas company, says its 2% month-on-month rise in its natural gas production is aimed at reducing the country’s dependency on pipeline gas and LNG imports from the United States. It consequently strives to intensify fracking at its new Ixachi find in the state of Veracruz.

Growth in global energy demand picks up speed, up 2.3% last year, its fastest pace this decade. Demand for all fuel types grew but fossil fuels still cover about 70% of incremental growth. According to IEA data, natural gas “emerges as the fuel of choice” accounting for 45% of the rise in energy consumption amid strong demand in the U.S. and China.

IGas Energy, an independent UK shale oil and gas exploration company, expects “extremely positive prospects” for developing the country’s shale resources as a preferred alternative to importing pipeline gas or LNG. Demand for natural gas is bound to rise, IGas CEO Stephen Bowler said, suggesting “gas will be the transition fuel in Britain as we move to a cleaner energy future.”

Despite closures, electricity supply from U.S. nuclear power plants has hit a record high in 2018, surpassing its previous peak. By 2025, however, the EIA expects U.S. nuclear capacity to fall by 10.5 GW due to the closing of twelve reactors. Much of this lost capacity will be replaced with flexible gas power plants and renewable energy.

MAN Energy Solutions has agreed to buy a 40% stake in the Lübeck-based electrolysis technology and hydrogen specialist H-TEC SYSTEMS for an undisclosed price. The contact also makes provisions for a complete takeover of H-TEC SYSTEMS at a later date.

Security of European natural gas supply is coming under threat as around 100 billion cubic metres (bcm) of long-term contracts expire by 2025, domestic production declines and consumption increases as coal and nuclear power plants are being retired. IEA analysts say the EU needs to secure additional imports – either pipeline gas or LNG – to meet up to one-third of its consumption.

Ansaldo Energia and China United Gas Turbine Company (UGTC) have signed technology collaboration agreement in the field of heavy duty gas turbines. The cooperation is meant to help UGTC to complete its goal of developing China’s proprietary technology to manufacture gas turbines independently.

Seeking to streamline Siemens AG, chief executive Joe Kaeser is actively considering various options including the sale of the company’s large gas turbine business. Talks are being held with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) about a partial sale of the division or a joint venture, but no final decision has been taken.

Seeking to secure attractively-priced LNG for its power plant fleet, Thailand’s state-run Electricity Generating Authority (EGAT) has announced it will hold a bidding round in May and June. To qualify, interested bidders need to register by April 18. EGAT will then shortlist participants for the first auction in early May.

Renewable generation in the United States has nearly doubled over the past ten years, reaching a new record of 742 million MWh of electricity, or 17.9% of the total U.S. power supply. Amid a steep drop in construction costs, the contribution of wind and solar surged to nearly 90% installed renewable capacity, and the IEA anticipates more capacity additions in the near-term future.

U.S. gas pipeline operator Williams and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) have set up a US$3.8 billion joint venture that centers around Williams' Ohio Valley Midstream (OVM) and Utica East Ohio (UEO) Midstream systems. CPPIB agreed to invest about $1.34 billion for a 35% ownership stake in the joint venture, while William will retain the majority stake.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.