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Up to 30 gigawatts of Japan’s mothballed nuclear power plants are expected to restart in 2014, displacing demand for natural gas power. “The power companies have actually already applied to restart 12 reactors with a total capacity of 11.2 GW, and others will come up over the next year or two no doubt,“ says Niall Trimble, managing director of the Energy Contract Company.

A staggering 96% of 22-gigawatt (GW) of planned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) projects in the UK have been cancelled or postponed as owners wait to see whether the economic and policy environment become "more favourable", according to Ernst & Young's 'Powering the UK 2013' report. The majority of gas-fired power in the country is deemed "increasingly un-economic to build and operate."

Turkey's current-account deficit is forecast to exceed $60 billion by year-end, propelled up by rising cost for energy imports. Keen to curb oil-indexed gas imports and reacting to a lack of spare capacity in import pipelines, the Turkish government is backing new nuclear power and incentivises the use of domestic lignite, instead of gas, as the fuel of choice for new power projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced plans to integrate a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant at the existing 500-megawatt (MW) Cosumnes gas-fired power plant in California with the aim to expand output by 10 MW. The project will be led by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and is part of the DOE's strategy to build a diverse range of hybrid energy systems.

A greater reliance on gas instead of coal as a fuel for power generation has helped to slowdown the increase in global carbon emissions to just 1.1% in 2012, a new report from the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) shows. The findings, published as part of the organisation's "2013 Trends In Global CO2 Emissions" report, call the slowdown "remarkable" and singled out the changing energy mix in China and the U.S. are key factors for declining emission levels.

The case for state-level capacity regulation in the U.S was weakened this week following a ruling by the U.S. District Court of Maryland, as it rejected previous legislation that would have subsidised the construction of new natural gas-fired power plants.

US state support and investment for foreign coal-fired plants is set to be greatly reduced following new guidance issued by the treasury this week. Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) are now required to ensure that all coal power projects in developing nations to feature costly CCS technology, and can only support new high efficiency coal capacity if there is no economically feasible alternative.

If Europe wants to avoid de-industrialisation, policy makers need to address the stark differential between energy prices in the EU and the US, warned Walter Bolz, director of E-Control Austria and vice-chair of Europe's Agency for the Co-operation of Energy Regulators (ACER).

Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co has agreed to pay $1 billion to GDF Suez in a partnership deal to acquire a 20.6% stake in the Astoria I gas-fired plant (1,296 MW) in New York City.

Price signals determine the fuel mix of energy-hungry Asian markets and Dr. Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that coal, not US shale gas production and expanding US LNG exports will have the greatest impact on the region's power mix.

Peak spending on new installations and renovations of gas-fired power plants may be reached as soon as 2016, analysts forecast. "We expect the natural gas power generation market to peak in 2016 and then subside afterwards, before stabilising by the beginning of the next decade, as demand in the US and Japan declines." Riccardo Patrian, energy analyst at VisionGain Global told Gas to Power Journal.

The Beijing municipal government is fast-tracking its Clean Air Action Plan by announcing the closure of all coal-fired power plants by 2017, three years prior to the original schedule. Four major coal-fired plants are due to be replaced with less carbon-intensive gas power facilities already by 2015, in an effort to tackle the city's crippling air pollution crisis, though analysts warn a gas shortage could delay the coal-to-gas switch.

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News in Brief

Supercapcitors to replace batteries

Sept 25 – The global market for supercapacitors was valued at over $487 million last year and is forecast to top $1,570 millio by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 21.8%. Supercapacitor, an emerging technology for energy storage systems, can offer higher power density than batteries was may soon replace the latter.

Atos, Siemens expand digital partnership

Sept 24 – Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, has expanded its strategic partnership with Siemens AG for five years, helping the latter with data driven digital, cloud transformation and cybersecurity. The extension comes in the context of 5-year total €3 billion agreements which were separately signed with Siemens AG, Siemens Energy and Siemens Healthineers.

Rotterdam Port to store CO2 beneath the North Sea

Sept 23 – The Porthos project, a joint venture between the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gasunie and EBN, seeks to transport CO2 from industry in the port to empty gas fields beneath the North Sea. In its early years, the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) will be able to store approximately 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year with plans to be operational by 2024.

German power sector to reach net zero in 2040s

Sept 22 – Revisions to Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) stipulate the power sector should become greenhouse-gas neutral in the early 2040s. Despite the gradual electrification of heating and transport, the German energy ministry is so far sticking to its estimate of 580 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power consumption in 2030 – close to current levels.

B&W to supply superheaters to Lumiant

Sept 21 – Babcock & Wilcox’s thermal segment has been contracted to design, manufacture and supply new superheater components for a high-efficiency boiler at Luminant’s Oak Grove Power Plant near Franklin, Texas. Material delivery to Oak Grove is scheduled for February 2021.

EC targets 55% emission cut by 2030

Sept 17 – The European Commission’s latest 2030 Target Plan stipulates a 55% cut in emissions by 2030, compared to 1990-levels. The lobby group COGEN Europe stressed the importance of combined heat and power generation (CHP) to reach that goal, calling for more stable policies and supportive regulation.

Rolls-Royce may sell ITP Areo

Sept 17 – Britain’s prime manufacturer Rolls-Royce confirmed it is looking to strengthen its balance sheet, possibly by disposing of ITP Aero which his hoped to generate proceeds of more than £2bn over the next 18 months. Further cost cutting is meant to deliver £1 billion and revamping of the company’s Civil Areospace business should save another £1.3 billion.

China’s GDP may grow 1.8%

Sept 16 – China’s GDP is forecast to grow 1.8% this year as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. The government slashed electricity tariffs to support manufacturing but the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns of mounting credit risk for banks. Fiscal revenue pressure also intensifies as 1.5% of China’s GDP growth in the first half of 2020 was based on bond-funded investment by local governments.

Zeebrugge goes for green hydrogen

Sept 15 – Colruyt Group (Eoly), Parkwind and Fluxys aim to spend up to 35 million Euros to develop a green hydrogen plant in Zeebrugge, Belgium, by 2023. The plan is to convert off-shore wind energy into green hydrogen which can then be injected in the high-pressure natural gas transmission grid.

Shale gas market to top $41bn

Sept 14 – Global markets for unconventional gas, mostly developed by shale fracking, is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 7% to reach $ 41.76 billion by 2024. According to Technavio, the Americas region will remain dominant with an 87% market share as hydraulic fracturing technologies evolve. Top players in the market are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, PetroChina, Gazprom, Shell, Santos, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., and YPF.

SNAM, Saipem join forces on hydrogen

Sept 11 – Two Italian energy companies, SNAM and Saipem, have agreed to develop initiatives for green hydrogen production and transport, as well as for carbon dioxide capture, transport and reuse or storage (CCRS). The move supports the European Commission’s Hydrogen Strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

MAN, Wasco to drive Power-to-Gas Tech in Asia

Sept 10 – MAN Energy Solutions and Wasco have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote and commercialize Power-to-X (PtX) projects in South-East Asia. The technology in question converts electricity into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, gas or liquid, for use as a clean, carbon-neutral energy source.

Romgaz, GSP to realise 200 MW gas and solar project

Sept 9 – Romania’s state gas company Romgaz has agreed to build 200 MW power generation capacity with the privately-owned Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) which is controlled by the local businessman Gabriel Comanescu. The project entails a 150 MW gas-fired power plant and a 50 MW solar photovoltaic park, to be built on the site of a disused coal power plant in southern Romania.

Alaska uses twice as much energy for transport as NY

Sept 8 – More energy is used per person for transportation in U.S. states with low population density. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA), people in geographically large states with small populations, such as Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota, are useing twice as much energy for transportation than the U.S. average on a per capita basis. That’s in stark contrast to states with higher population density, such as Rhode Island and New York.

Hydrogen Council launched in Kobe/Kansai area

Sept 7 – Mitsubishi Power, part of MHI, and various Japanese energy companies have set up the so-called ‘Kobe/Kansai Hydrogen Utilization Council’ to develop new utilization methods and establish a regional hydrogen supply chain. The aim is to help Japan shift to a carbon-free, hydrogen-powered society by 2030.

B&W sets up Asia-Pacific HQ in Perth

Sept 4 – Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) has setup new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Perth, Australia, and named Nick Carter as managing director of the region. Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, the engineering company is also establishing or expanding operations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China and India.

Germany boosts RES targets

Sept 3 – Striving to meet 2030 emission targets, the Germany government is increasing its renewable energy targets while adjusting the grid to accommodate a greater influx of fluctuating power supply. The draft reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) stipulates raising the solar photovoltaic capacity to 100 GW (up from 52 GW today), onshore wind capacity to 71 GW (from 55 GW), offshore wind to 20 GW and biomass to 8.4 GW.

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