Production and use of refined coal – processed to reduce emission when burned – has reached record highs the United States, particularly in the power sector. According to EIA estimates, refined coal’s share of total coal tonnage consumed for U.S. electricity generation will have increased from 15% in 2016 to more than 18% through October 2018.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission of the U.S. power sector will remain relatively flat, according to EIA projections, despite an anticipated 23% rise in electricity generation from 2018 to 2050, as most added generation will come from renewables of natural gas.
With electric cars gaining popularity, the global electric vehicle battery market is anticipated to grow at a record 18% rate to reach a size of $120 billion by 2027. Government initiatives and more wide-spread environmental concern in western countries are driving the electrification of the transport sector.
Mexico’s state-run electric utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is aiming to renegotiate take-or-pay clauses it had agreed with North American gas pipeline developers, including TransCanada and Sempra’s IEnova. CFE is the anchor customer for most new pipelines under construction, but the company's new CEO Manuel Bartlett wants to focus on hydropower, diesel and coal instead of gas-fired generation.
Beginning with the February billing cycle, customers of SCE&G, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Energy, will start seeing the benefits of the Dominion Energy-SCANA merger reflected in their monthly energy bills. Typical customers will see their bills drop 15%, with further reductions in May for fuel and Demand-Side Management participants.
Price will largely determine the share of gas-fired generation in the future power mix of the United States. Scenario analysis in the EIA’s latest Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2019) shows that natural gas could provide between 21% and 54% of all U.S. electricity generation, dependent on fuel prices and relative technology costs.
Implementing the German coal exit will see 12.5 GW of coal-fired capacity being closed by 2022, pushing up the country’s gas demand. To fully replace these shuttered coal plants with gas-fired generation would create a need for additional 81 TWh in gas supply, equating to an 8% rise of German gas demand, says the lobby group Zukunft Erdgas.
The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is inviting applications for funding under a new £320 million Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP). Designated as ‘gap funding,’ the monies will be is offered through a combination of grants and loans over a period of up to three years.
If the asset swap of RWE and E.ON goes ahead, the resulting companies would have “unprecedented market power”, say Ines Zenke from energy law firm Becker Büttner Held. In 2018, E.ON agreed to buy RWE's subsidiary innogy and the two utilities agreed to exchange large parts of their assets. The swap will leave E.ON focused on regulated distribution grid with stable returns, while RWE takes on E.ON's and innogy's renewable business, on top of fossil power plants.
Natural gas is bound to gain importance in the German power mix starting from the mid-2020s when coal-fired capacity is gradually being phased-out. Energy Aspects says Germany’s coal exit will help more of the global LNG oversupply find a home in Northwest Europe. The 2022 start-up of the Wilhelmshaven FSRU will support this trend.
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.
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.