Markets

New hybrid energy sources, consisting of a combination of renewabes and flexible gas generators, will cover up to 85% of the world’s energy demand growth through 2040, according to BP’s latest Energy Outlook. Fast-developing countries in Asia are expected to push up global energy demand by a third from today’s levels.

Production and use of refined coal – processed to reduce emission when burned – has reached record highs the United States, particularly in the power sector. According to EIA estimates, refined coal’s share of total coal tonnage consumed for U.S. electricity generation will have increased from 15% in 2016 to more than 18% through October 2018.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission of the U.S. power sector will remain relatively flat, according to EIA projections, despite an anticipated 23% rise in electricity generation from 2018 to 2050, as most added generation will come from renewables of natural gas.

With electric cars gaining popularity, the global electric vehicle battery market is anticipated to grow at a record 18% rate to reach a size of $120 billion by 2027. Government initiatives and more wide-spread environmental concern in western countries are driving the electrification of the transport sector.

Mexico’s state-run electric utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is aiming to renegotiate take-or-pay clauses it had agreed with North American gas pipeline developers, including TransCanada and Sempra’s IEnova. CFE is the anchor customer for most new pipelines under construction, but the company's new CEO Manuel Bartlett wants to focus on hydropower, diesel and coal instead of gas-fired generation.

Beginning with the February billing cycle, customers of SCE&G, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Energy, will start seeing the benefits of the Dominion Energy-SCANA merger reflected in their monthly energy bills. Typical customers will see their bills drop 15%, with further reductions in May for fuel and Demand-Side Management participants.

Seasonal imports of LNG help meet peakload gas demand in New England’s industrial and power sector. During the freeze in the first week of February, more than 800,000 million cubic metres per day of gas was imported via Excelerate’s Northeast Gateway floating regas facility offshore Boston.

Price will largely determine the share of gas-fired generation in the future power mix of the United States. Scenario analysis in the EIA’s latest Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2019) shows that natural gas could provide between 21% and 54% of all U.S. electricity generation, dependent on fuel prices and relative technology costs.

Implementing the German coal exit will see 12.5 GW of coal-fired capacity being closed by 2022, pushing up the country’s gas demand. To fully replace these shuttered coal plants with gas-fired generation would create a need for additional 81 TWh in gas supply, equating to an 8% rise of German gas demand, says the lobby group Zukunft Erdgas.

The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is inviting applications for funding under a new £320 million Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP). Designated as ‘gap funding,’ the monies will be is offered through a combination of grants and loans over a period of up to three years.

If the asset swap of RWE and E.ON goes ahead, the resulting companies would have “unprecedented market power”, say Ines Zenke from energy law firm Becker Büttner Held. In 2018, E.ON agreed to buy RWE's subsidiary innogy and the two utilities agreed to exchange large parts of their assets. The swap will leave E.ON focused on regulated distribution grid with stable returns, while RWE takes on E.ON's and innogy's renewable business, on top of fossil power plants.

Natural gas is bound to gain importance in the German power mix starting from the mid-2020s when coal-fired capacity is gradually being phased-out. Energy Aspects says Germany’s coal exit will help more of the global LNG oversupply find a home in Northwest Europe. The 2022 start-up of the Wilhelmshaven FSRU will support this trend.

Analysts say carbon prices in the European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) could exceed €38 per ton by 2020 as emission certificates taken out by Germany will get cancelled as it exits coal-fired power generation. A subsequent surge in carbon prices will accelerate coal-to-gas switching in Europe.

Texas could not solely rely on green energy sources without putting supply security at risk. Replacing all installed coal power capacity cost-effectively would only work with a combination of renewables, natural gas-fired generation and battery storage. Gas generally outcompetes coal generation in ERCOT if the price of gas falls below $3/MMBtu.

Freezing weather in the Midwest and a fire at a gas compressor station in southeast Michigan has forced local utilities to restrain gas supply. General Motors halted operations at 11 Michigan manufacturing plants and Fiat Chrysler also had to cancel shifts to conserve natural gas.

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News in Brief

Smart grid market to top $70bn by 2027

April 24 – The global Smart Grid Market is expected to reach around $70 billion, growing at an annual rate of 15.56% in the coming years through to 2027.North America is forecast to see the largest revenue growth, according to ResearchNester, while Europe also shows promising growth in smart grids due to high awareness for decentralized power generation, battery storage and conserving energy.

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.