Markets

Natural gas prices at Henry Hub are forecast to stay lower than $4 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) through 2050 amid an abundance of low-cost resources, primarily in the Permian Basin.“With continued technologically-enabled growth in production, we see the United States remaining a net exporter of energy for some time,” said the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Linda Capuano.

Electricity generation from renewable energy sources in the United States is forecast to double between now and 2050. Declining capital costs, and higher renewable portfolio standards (RPS) targets in some U.S. states, will prolong the sharp growth in renewables seen during the past ten years while gas-fired generation stays rangebound.

LNG and pipeline gas have still a long way to go to reduce, let alone replace, the current “massive coal consumption” by Asian nations. In contrast to Europe, where gas is regarded as one of the fossil fuels amid strives for net-zero emissions, "coal-to-gas switching is important in Asia," the Institute of Energy Economics in Japan (IEEJ) noted.

Wärtsilä has missed Q4 expectations as order intake plunged 17 percent and the operating result fell to 202 million Euros, or 12 percent of net sales. Anticipating “soft” demand, Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola said “the year 2019 was characterised by a difficult environment and poor financial performance.”

Crude oil and associated gas production in the United States will keep growing, albeit at a much slower rate due to a decline in rigs. Projections of the U.S. government, revised in January, expect growth rates in crude oil production to slow down from 9 percent to just 3 percent by 2021, and remain subdued.

Germany's gas industry plans to establish a 5,900 kilometres pipeline network to enable the large-scale use of hydrogen use. FNB Gas, representing German gas TSOs, intends to use mainly existing infrastructure to transport hydrogen from future generation sites in the north of the country to industrial centres in the west and south.

Rising upstream spending, notably in unconventional oil and gas resources, will drive the related gas turbine market to an estimated $1.2 billion, growing at 3.5 percent annually through 2024. Major suppliers in this sector are GE, Siemens, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Solar Turbines, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

With solar PV set to become India’s largest power source by 2035, more energy storage capacity is needed to balance supply and demand when the sun is not shining. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), battery storage will account for more than one-third of India’s total deployment by 2040.

To enhance service reliability, FirstEnergy subsidiaries have approved part two of their Long Term Infrastructure Improvement Plans (LTIIP II), outlining an additional $572 million in capital investments over the next five years. The fresh capex adds to the nearly $360 million spent already.

Oil and related natural gas prices are falling, weighed down by fears over the economic impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus in China – one of the world’s largest oil consumers. Brent crude prices have shed $6 a barrel since 20 January, with front-month March20 last seen trading at $58.96 per barrel.

Economic growth in India has picked up pace, spurring a 5% rise in power generation capacity this year. Several plants with over 15 GW combined capacity are under construction and will add to India’s total 364.9 GW installed, Wood Mackenzie says, noting the economics of solar projects have improved substantially.

Growth in exports of U.S. gas production will nearly double over the next two years, as new liquefaction facilities are placed in service and new gas interconnectors to Mexico begin operations. Exports are forecast to exceed imports by an average 7.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2020, and 8.9 Bcf/d in 2021.

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News in Brief

Denmark paves the way for Nord Stream 2

July 7– Denmark on late Monday gave the Nord Stream 2 consortium permission to utilize pipe-laying vessels with anchors in Danish waters, paving the way for the Gazprom-led consortium to complete the interconnector. Construction of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline is nearly complete, except for a final stretch of about 120-kilometers in Danish waters. The project was halted in December when the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying company Allseas suspended works over threats of U.S. sanctions.

EPRI tests early warning system

July 6– The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting trial tests with multiple utilities across the United States of an early warning system. It can detect an off-gassing event as a precursor to thermal runaway up to 30 minutes prior to a cascading failure. This gives plant operators time to mitigate the problem or shut down the system.

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

New England power prices down 40%

June 15 – Spot electricity prices in New England (NE) has fallen since winter 2019/20 when it stood at an average $28/MWh, down 40% from an average $47/MWh in the previous winter. Low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures, lower loads, and reduced needs to run expensive peakload generators were the cause for the substantial drop in NE’s winter electricity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds.