Peabody, the world's largest private coal producer, projects 2013 US coal demand to rebound 45 to 55 million tonnes over 2012 levels amid rising coal fleet utilization. Higher natural gas prices are cited as a reason for the uptick in coal with the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimating that US coal-fired electricity generation will rise by 6.1% this year while natural gas-fired generation will fall by 9.8%.

Stepping up efforts on energy efficiency may limit the need for new-build power generating capacity. "Simply put, the cleanest megawatt hour will be the one we never need (...). It is also often the cheapest, and the easiest to achieve in difficult conditions," says IEA executive director, Maria van der Hoeven.

British Gas will hit domestic customers in the UK with a 9.2% hike in electricity prices ahead of the winter season to compensate for its rising costs of gas imports, loss-making operations of gas power plants in the UK, and reduced profitability of gas storage due to narrowing seasonal gas price spreads. 

LNG buyers in power-hungry Asian countries seek more flexible terms and call for a Henry Hub price element in long-term import contracts in a bid to bring down costs of gas purchase. Almost 70% of global LNG supply is consumed in Asian countries but "it seems at times that we are paying more than we need to," Kogas CEO Jang Seok-hyo said at the World Energy Congress in Daegu, Korea.

Replacing coal-fired power with gas-fueled plants on a wide scale by 2030 would reduce carbon emissions in the power sector by five percent compared to today's levels, according to a Siemens study compiled under the lead of Professor Horst Wildemann at the Technical University of Munich. "Of course, it would be illusionary to replace all coal-fired power plants with gas-fueled units – but the potentials identified are really impressive," he admitted.

Uncompetitive gas markets in Europe could lead to the closure of up to 60% of Europe's gas-fired power plants by 2016, Cap Gemini has warned, causing regional price increases and making power shortages unavoidable. The predictions come as part of the consultancy's annual European Monitoring Centre for Energy Markets report and outline an uncertain future for the industry.

China will use fossil fuels in a low-carbon manner, engage in green growth and work towards energy security as rapid urbanisation continues, Wang Yumin, vice administrator of the National Energy Agency of China said in a keynote speech at the World Energy Congress this morning.

The European Commission has launched a €5.85 billion funding push to diversify gas and power infrastructure across the continent, as part of its long-term infrastructure vision. Financing will go to 248 projects, with approximately 140 aimed at "diversification of gas significantly increase the gas system's flexibility and resilience in the short and medium term" according to a statement from the commission.

A risk analysis of gas-fired power generation versus nuclear suggests that the current low costs for gas power operators may disguise long-term risks, according to consultancy EnergyPath. A probabilistic comparison of the investment risks shows that "gas has shown great volatility in the past and this volatility must be recognized as part of investment strategies," Thomas Retson, analyst at EnergyPath, told Gas to Power Journal.

Investment in global energy infrastructure in Asia-Pacific is forecast to grow to $11.7 trillion by 2035, with the bulk spent on power and heat generation in China and India. Though there is no lack of local financing, but investors shy away from regulatory risk as power and gas prices are still regulated in many Asian markets, warns Seethapathy Chander, deputy director general of ADB

In the face of a rise in Korea's electricity consumption by a quarter by 2030, the power industry is forecast to reduce the share of coal from currently 40 percent to around 16 percent by 2030 in a bid to diversify energy sources and reduce carbon emission, a study carried out by Siemens shows.
If Korea were to dispense completely with coal-fired power plants in favour of modern gas-fuelled units by 2030, the sector's carbon emissions would drop by a further third, and the country could save 9 million tons of imported oil equivalent per year, the study finds.

Natural gas will surpass oil and coal as the primary fossil fuel consumed by industries and power producers around 2030, provided and expansion of pipeline, storage and a virtual LNG pipeline to allow for more decentralised gas-fired generation, forecast Steve Bolze, GE president and CEO.

Page 174 of 218

News in Brief

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.

Calpine closes $1.1bn in financing for Geysers Power

June 12 – Calpine Corp has closed $1.1 billion Climate Bonds Certified financing for its subsidiary, Geysers Power, the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the U.S. Geyers will use the proceeds to repay some debt it owes to Calpine and to fund ongoing operations and maintenance.

UK coal-free for two months

June 11 – The UK managed to keep the lights on without using coal for power generation for two months by now, National Grid figures show. Lower demand due to lockdowns and a rising contribution from gas and renewables has rendered less-efficient coal power units uneconomic. All unabated coal power stations are mandated to close by 2025, though Britain’s largest fossil power station Drax has converted its coal units to biomass.

Valmet transforms landfill gas into fuels

June 10 – Valmet, developer of process technologies for the energy industry, has won an order by the Dutch company CarbonOrO to supply and install a gas clean-up system at Viridor’s Dunbar Landfill site in East Lothian, Scotland, UK. Thy system will transforms landfill gas into transport fuels while capturing carbon.