Markets

Sun-soaked Egypt will soon finalize its first utility-scale solar PV power plant, the 1.8 GW Benban Solar Park. The government targets to add 3.5 GW of solar PV by 2027, whereby the cheap but inherently intermittent solar energy is backed up by three new 4.8 GW combined-cycle power plants.

The creation of a national pipeline company in China is meant to maximise the country’s oil and gas output, but analysts warn it could result in higher end-user prices. Using the price-to-book methodology, Wood Mackenzie says China’s new pipeline company may be worth up to $105 billion.

U.S. dry gas production will rise to an all-time high of 91.63 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, forecasting a fall in Henry Hub gas prices by more than $1 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) to average $2.43/MMBtu in Q4-2019.

General Electric will freeze pensions for over 20,000 employees in the U.S. to lower its pension deficit by around $5-8 billion and net debt by up to $6 billion. However, analysts at J.P. Morgan say further steps are needed if GE wants to “truly normalize” its balance sheet.

Though Europe is currently well stocked with gas, Wintershall Dea CEO Mario Mehren has warned prices could spike in 2020 if Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz fail to reach a transit agreement. The current transit contract will expire at the end of this year.

Fast-falling technology costs and supportive renewable policies spur a rapid regional load growth of hydropower, wind and solar power sources. Collectively, renewables are forecast to contribute 49% of global electricity generation by 2050, up from 28% last year.

Atlantic basin LNG producers, notably at the US Gulf Coast, get a better netback value at the Spanish Virtual Balancing Point (PVB) than at other European hubs. However, offtake obligations for Algerian pipeline gas will limit how much extra LNG the Iberian market can absorb in 2020.

Enagas, the Spanish gas system operator, has been busy to match an “extraordinary demand” from both the power sector and industry, leading to a 16.9% surge in gas offtake to 294 TWh. Much of the demand increase was prompted by a fuel switch in the electric power sector.

Dubai-based Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) has agreed to sell electricity from its onsite power units in Jebel Ali to Dubai Natural Gas Company (DUGAS) for use in industrial operations. The deal allows EGA to fully utilize its 2.8 GW Jebel Ali combined-cycle gas power plant.

More money than ever is going to energy venture capital deals, but spread across fewer start-ups. Digital sensors, batteries, electric vehicles and smart algorithms are among the main recipients of the more than $4 billion of deals in 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

Tellurian is trying to sway Saudi Aramco to take an equity stake in the $30 billion Driftwood LNG export plant, after agreeing similar investor-buyer deals with Petronet and Total. Importing LNG could displace Saudi crude oil currently used for power generation.

Germany’s lignite operator RWE is aspiring to become carbon neutral within 20 years as it shuts its coal power plants and focuses on wind, solar and storage. The strategic turnaround follows the takeover of the renewables activities of subsidiary Innogy and rival E.ON.

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News in Brief

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

New England power prices down 40%

June 15 – Spot electricity prices in New England (NE) has fallen since winter 2019/20 when it stood at an average $28/MWh, down 40% from an average $47/MWh in the previous winter. Low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures, lower loads, and reduced needs to run expensive peakload generators were the cause for the substantial drop in NE’s winter electricity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds.

Calpine closes $1.1bn in financing for Geysers Power

June 12 – Calpine Corp has closed $1.1 billion Climate Bonds Certified financing for its subsidiary, Geysers Power, the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the U.S. Geyers will use the proceeds to repay some debt it owes to Calpine and to fund ongoing operations and maintenance.

UK coal-free for two months

June 11 – The UK managed to keep the lights on without using coal for power generation for two months by now, National Grid figures show. Lower demand due to lockdowns and a rising contribution from gas and renewables has rendered less-efficient coal power units uneconomic. All unabated coal power stations are mandated to close by 2025, though Britain’s largest fossil power station Drax has converted its coal units to biomass.

Valmet transforms landfill gas into fuels

June 10 – Valmet, developer of process technologies for the energy industry, has won an order by the Dutch company CarbonOrO to supply and install a gas clean-up system at Viridor’s Dunbar Landfill site in East Lothian, Scotland, UK. Thy system will transforms landfill gas into transport fuels while capturing carbon.