Markets

While Iraq's energy sector competes with a host of other spending needs in Iraq, one urgent priority for the government is to catch up and add new power generation capacity to keep pace with rising electricity demand, say analysts from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Natural gas is the only fossil fuel for which global demand grows in all scenarios, showing that it "fares well under different national policy condition", the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its 2012 Outlook, released today.

Japanese utilities are gearing up to add about 18 GW of gas-fired capacity over the coming ten years, boosting the country's capacity by 30 percent to counterbalance for lost nuclear capacity and cater for rising electricity demand, analyst forecast.

Gas prices at the US's Henry Hub price benchmark are seen to become less competitive than coal in 2013 which should offset gains in the use of gas for power generation, industrial and residential use, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast.

China will subsidise shale-gas production to help boost domestic gas supplies, earmarked to underpin plans of the Beijing government plans to expand share of gas in the nation's energy mix. Subsidies of 0.4 yuan (6.4 cents) per cubic meter of shale gas will be offered for shale gas developed and consumed between 2012 and 2015, according to China's ministry of finance.

Rising LNG imports to India, and government efforts to form a national gas grid, will help gas generation to expand beyond its present 10 percent market share. LNG imports can help to boost India's gas supplies, provided that Indian buyers are prepared to pay high prices for attracting cargoes in the tight Pacific Basin, an analyst with India's Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) told Gas to Power Journal.

As Malaysia's government gears up to lifting subsidies on natural gas the market share of gas-fired power generation is bound to drop, forecasts Sarah Fairhurst of The Lantau Group. "Gas-fired power generation is likely to fall in Malaysia as it slowly lifts subsidies. Gas, which was heavily subsidized before, is now becoming more expensive and less economic," she told Gas to Power Journal.

Gas generation is expected play a bigger role in denting Brazil's need for peak load power supply, providing bottlenecks in the gas pipeline network will get resolved so that power companies can make full use of domestic gas reserves, according to a GlobalData report. Gas-fired power plants in Brazil are predominately dispatched as peaker plants, due to high fuel prices for natural gas compared with hydropower.

Singapore is on track to reach 90% gas-fired power generation capacity, Neil McGregor, chief executive at Singapore LNG Corporation forecast.

Power generation companies and industries in Singapore have committed to purchasing around 2.7 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG, S. Iswaran, second minister for home affairs and trade and industry said at the Asia Gas Summit. BG, appointed as the aggregator for importing the first 3 mtpa of LNG, has already achieved 90% of its franchise, he revealed.

Plans for an ASEAN power grid must proceed cautiously with one step at a time, says power analyst Sarah Fairhurst of The Lantau Group. "There are too many players trying to align too many interests," she told delegates at the Electricity Roundtable organised as part of the Singapore International Energy Week, referring to wide disparities among South-East Asian countries.

The share of gas generation in India, which at present is about 10%, is expected to rise as the government steps up efforts to form a national gas grid. Provisions in the Electricity Act such as open access to transmission and distribution network, recognition of power trading as a distinct activity, flexibility accorded to captive generating plants and provision of supply in rural areas will introduce and encourage competition in the electricity sector, an analyst with India's Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) told Gas to Power Journal.

Siemens plans to divest its lossmaking solar sector to focus its renewable energy activities on wind and hydro power. The German engineering giant confirmed it is currently in talks with potential buyers.

The market share of natural gas in Germany's power generation mix is estimated to rise to 19%, the regulator BNA's estimated in a mid-range scenario, deemed more likely than a bullish or bearish case. The mid-range scenario anticipates installed capacity from gas-fired plants to surge from 26.5 GW in 2011 to 32.9 GW in 2023.

Unconventional gas, due to its estimated abundance, has improved energy security in the United States and started a process of gas displacing coal as the dominant power generation fuel. Europe needs to adapt regulation to foster shale gas drilling, as it needs unconventional gas to make up for depleting indigenous gas production and supply new-build gas-fired plants, says Morgan Bazilian, deputy director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis in Colorado, USA.

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News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.