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 Up to 60 percent of Saudi Arabia's ageing oil-fired capacity is foreseen to be replaced by gas generation by 2030. "If electric power continues to be generated on a large scale by inefficient oil-fired power plants, as it is today, then the Middle East would have to import crude," warns a Siemens study, carried out by the Technical University of Munich.

Power market liberalisation in Japan and South Korea is slowly forthcoming; and the lack of clarity over nuclear energy has prompted major utilities to delay firm LNG procurement decisions which could cause a supply crunch in the Pacific Basin, warns Gavin Thompson, head of Asia Pacific gas & power analysis at Wood MacKenzie.

Value and use of fossil baseload capacity is declining in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) in the US as wind capacity doubled from 3.4GW to 6.8GW in the three years until June 2013.

Action seems forthcoming from policy makers in continental Europe to follow Britain's lead and introduce a carbon-floor price as a means to improve the profitability of gas-fired power generation (spark spreads). Germany's Green party calls for a minimum national carbon price of €15/ton, while the CEO of Austria's biggest utility Verbund, Wolfgang Anzengruber suggested only a carbon price at €35/ton would promote a switch from coal to gas.

Japanese utilities are rushing to step up LNG imports, spurred by Kansai Electric Power's announcement it will suspend operations of its two Ohi reactors until they comply with more stringent safety regulations. Gas-fired generation is vital to make up for the lost nuclear capacity and to avert the risk of power shortages.

Despite Europe's sub-par gas demand growth, with indigenous supply collapsing and global LNG supply diverting to Asia, suppliers like Gazprom "regain the whip hand" in Europe, Deutsche Bank analysts warn.

"A market that should be in the doldrums looks poised to see prices breaking to the upside," they forecast, singling out US LNG exports as a panacea to avert the risk of high-priced oil-indexed Russian gas that threaten to further undermine the profitability of gas power generation.

Myanmar's state-owned power producer has awarded Wood Group GTS a $13million contract to overhaul and upgrade three GE Frame 6B gas turbines in operation at a plant near the city of Yangon. "The order is our first major contract win in Myanmar," a Wood Group representative said, adding the retrofit is expected to increase the utility's revenue by $1million per year.

The 'Energiewende' (energy turnaround) is profoundly reshaping the energy landscape in Germany: Regulatory changes, financial incentives and technological developments are the driving factors for transforming a previously centralized, hierarchical energy system to an ever-more distributed conundrum with a rapidly-increasing share of renewables at its heart, says Frank Reichenbach, manager at The Advisory House (TAH).

Chinese investors are gearing up to spend close to $4 trillion on building and commissioning 88GW of new power generation capacity every year between now and 2030 – mainly hydro, renewables and gas-fired plants. A report compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts that China may annually start-up the equivalent of the UK's total generating capacity, boosting supply by more than 1,500GW in the coming 18 years.

Scotland-headquartered turbine services company, Wood Group GTS has upgraded its two facilities in Aberdeen, UK and Houston, US to add more gas turbine maintenance services for turbines used to power industrial oil and gas production. Previously, these engine lines were supported nearly exclusively by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). 

The Nigerian government's National Council on Privatization has received 110 submissions from joint venture companies interested in operating 10 power plants under construction, including gas-fired ones. The Nigerian government is in the midst of a privatisation program that will draw to a close at end of this year, a deadline set out by Vice President Namadi Sambo, chairman of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC).

A slight expansion of Europe's thermal power generation capacity would suffice to supplement and balance the surge in intermittent renewable energy supply, said GlobalData's senior power analyst, Sowmyavadhana Srinivasan.

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News in Brief

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.

U.S inventories at record highs

May 4 – Inventories for crude oil and natural gas have reached a new record high in the United States, as fuel demand declines both for transport and the electric power sector. From March 13 – when a national emergency was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to April 24, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 74 million barrels, or 16%, according to government figures. The acute scarcity of crude storage on April 20 led to a sell-off of future contracts at negative prices.

Wärtsilä to service Argentinean power plant

May 1 – Wärtsilä has signed a 10-year maintenance and service agreement with one of Argentina’s upstream companies. Under the deal, Wärtsilä provides a guaranteed performance for a 57.6 MW onsite power plant in the southern part of Argentina, with excess power sold to the national grid.

Zink-Air batteries for NY

April 30 – Zinc8 Energy Solutions has entered a cooperation with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to install a zinc-air battery energy storage, backed by $2.55 million in state funding over a three year period. The Zinc8 ESS units can deliver power in the range 20-50 MW, with capacity of 8 hours of storage duration. The project will help New York State achieve its goal of installing 3 GW of energy storage by 2030.

UK again ‘coal-free’

April 29 – The UK continues to break its coal-free record as thermal coal-fired power plants currently remain off the system, according to National Grid data. Faltering demand due to the pandemic and high renewable energy supply radically altered the energy mix in many developed countries, with power in-feed from solar PV reaching 10 GW in Britain at the start of this week. “Coal is due off the system by 2025 and renewables have shown they are cost competitive with a viable route to market,” Delta-EE director Andy Bradley commented.