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ETN Christer_Bjorkqvist

Christer Björkqvist

Excessive subsidies for renewable energies have distorted the Spanish power market, forcing utilities to significantly curtail the operating hours of gas-fired power plants, Christer Björkqvist, Managing Director, ETN-European Turbine Network said today.

Now, the Spanish government has suspended all subsidies for new renewable energy installations in a move that is unlikely to prove a 'quick remedy' for the market distortion.

Escalating output of U.S. gas production has launched a "race to the bottom", with gas prices reacting negatively to rising production. Gas-for-coal substitution, meanwhile, is starting to put significant pressure on coal prices, Deutsche Bank said today.

China will increasingly favour of environmentally friendly gas-to-power plants over coal-fired plants. In 2050, China's gas demand to power sector is forecast to surge to 413 Mtoe (BLUE Map scenario), compared to 195 Mtoe (Baseline scenario), Hirohisa Yamada, IEA energy analyst, told Gas-to-Power Journal in an interview today.

Cold weather conditions across Europe will prolong the recent rally for gas and power demand, but still weak fundamentals may mitigate its impact on prices, Societe Generale forecasts. Recent macro data and sentiment surveys conducted in January "all surprise to the upside", it added.

Deutsche Bank has issued a bullish estimate on a continued increase in gas-coal substitution in the U.S. The current situation in the markets is "unchartered territory", it said in a report today.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has reported the "largest ever three-month gas demand fall" in the UK fir the three months ending November 2011, with gas demand plunging by 19.1% to around 188 TW.

The U.S. is awash with cheap gas supplies for power generation due to rising domestic shale gas production, with Canadian natgas imports providing a "reliable backstop" for US gas-to-power demand, Louis Caron, energy risk specialist at Risk Advisory, SAS Group, told Gas-to-Power Journal today.

Energy shortages and rolling blackouts could become a real possibility in the UK in five years' time, warns Pilgrim Beart, founder of AlertMe. "A large fraction of our coal power stations are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016. If you reduce supply without reducing demand then you get rolling blackouts," he told Gas-to-Power Journal.

Weakness in UK power markets is forecast to continue until 2013 as significant oversupply of power generation capacity is cutting into profit margins of gas and coal-fired plans, JP Morgan Cazenove (JPMC) said today in a research report. "UK power demand is worse than anaemic," JCMC analyst, Edmund Reid, said with reference to a drop in electricity demand below 2009 levels.

Societe Generale forecasts Europe's electricity demand in 2012 will see a mere 0.7% rise in annual demand as economic growth remains lacklustre. "Consumption should recover in 2012, but overall growth will likely to be modest," the bank said in its latest Energy Pulse report.

North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has alerted the U.S. energy industry of a growing reliance on natural gas as the primary fuel source at times of peak electricity demand. "The growing dependence on natural gas as a primary fuel source of on-peak capacity must be considered in planning, and operational measures must be in place to minimize interdependency risks," NERC told Gas-to-Power Journal.

The European Energy Exchange (EEX) will start OTC clearing for UK gas futures on 29 February, the bourse said Wednesday. Trading participants that are already admitted on the EEX Derivatives Market for natural gas can use the new service once they have registered for it at ECC, the clearing house of EEX.

Declining demand for Spanish gas-fired generation combined with unusually warm weather conditions this winter has led to an 8.7% drop in LNG imports to Europe in the second half of 2011, according to Deutsche Bank. Gas demand growth in Spain is forecast to remain sluggish as utilities are likely to favour coal over gas due to Spain's domestic coal subsidy scheme that will remain in place until 2014, analysts led by Mark Lewis in Deutsche Bank's latest European gas report.

China's State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) has forecast an 8.5% drop in power consumption in 2012 on the back a slow-down in China's economic growth. Compared with the 11.7% surge in electricity demand to 4.7 trillion kilowatts hours in 2011, this development marks a significant decline in China's energy hunger.

Power cut hit Turkey's north-western region including the city of Istanbul over the weekend, following a system failure in a gas-fired power plant in the city of Bursa.

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