Markets

RWE has confirmed to 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today that is considering divesting stakes in German power plants and splitting-off and selling of parts of the company.

Annual gas demand of natural gas in seven core European countries - UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium – is forecast to plunge by fall by 44 Bcm year –on-year, or 10.7%, to 370 Bcm in 2011, Deutsche Bank said in a report.

European utilities are profiting from a rebound in a power prices and production margins, Societe Generale commodity analysts said, estimating that between 20% and 50% of hedge for 2012 has been achieved by higher generation margins post Fukushima. "Some utilities have delayed their hedging strategy and will thus benefit from higher margins post-Fukushima that should flow into the accounts as soon as 2012," the bank said in a recent report.

International Energy Agency's Executive Director, Maria Van der Hoeven sees "golden prospects for natural gas. However she urged the gas industry in Riyadh today to step-up security standards in unconventional gas production.

Coal is forecast to increase in its competitiveness against gas, Société Générale said in a research note on Tuesday. "Demand for imports [of coal] will in our view keep on increasing, even if more slowly," analyst Emmanuel Fages said with reference to the expected recession in the Eurozone throughout 2012.

The gas value chain is integrating as upstream companies such as Gazprom and Taqa have an incentive to venture beyond their midstream activities into gas-to-power. "Upstream players - producers of oil and gas – have an incentive to go downstream," Sybren Hettinga, head of European gas structuring at Cargill, told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' in an interview.

The Russian gas giant Gazprom and Essen-based RWE are in negotiations to form a joint venture (JV) on power generation, an RWE spokesperson confirmed to 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today. "We do not comment on the status of negations," he said, adding joint projects in gas-to-power would be "one of the options".

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has alerted grid operators of the risk of reduced margins of available power generation overload in Europe this winter. ENTSO-E published its Winter Outlook 2011-2012 and Summer Review 2011 on Thursday this week, indicating that under severe conditions, December and January could be the most stressed months of the winter for security of electricity supply.

The power generation sector is forecast to be the main driver for global gas demand, according to projections of the International Energy Agency (IAE). "Global gas demand will be driven by power generation", IEA analyst, Warner de Kate, said at the EMART energy conference in Lyon.

Gas markets are a different animals than power markets, so the integration of European gas trading hubs cannot replicate the integration of European power markets, panalists at a gas trading session the EMART Energy conference agreed on today. "Financially, it has already happened; physically, however, gas market integration works different from electricity markets," APX-ENDEX CEO, Bert den Ouden, said at the conference in Lyon.

LNG exports from the U.S. are likely to go to China, where new U.S. LNG imports will be in a price competition with not-yet contracted gas from Russia via the proposed Altai pipeline and with LNG imports from upcoming Australian liquefaction projects, Thierry Bros, senior analyst at Societee Generale said.

The lack of incentive to build new gas-fired power plants may cause problems for balancing supply and demand in European electricity markets, Evariste Nyouki, head of economic research at GDF SUEZ Trading told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' at the sidelines of the EMART Energy conference in Lyon today.

"New gas-fired plants are needed but the market is not prepared to pay for it," Nyouki said, arguing it is only economical for upstream companies to invest in new gas plants at the current price levels. His reasoning is that Gazprom has the means to free up enough CAPEX in order to build new gas-fired power plants in Western Europe, while utilities currently do not have an incentive to do so.

Dan Smith, Head of Corporate Development at Trayport, has cast doubt over the European Commission's drive to introduce more stringent financial regulation.

"The European Commission supports the creation of liquidity in the wholesale energy markets via the 3rd Energy Package. However, another potential outcome is that the introduction of financial regulation could have a negative impact on liquidity in the wholesale energy markets," said Smith told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today.

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News in Brief

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.