Markets

America’s green energy transition is gaining pace as retired coal power stations are being replaced with flexible gas peaking plants and renewables. Energy-related CO2 emission in 2019 consequently fell 2.2%, reversing last year’s 2.7% rise, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.

Argentina is seeking to identify potential natural gas storage sites to use supply from its prolific Vaca Muerta shale to meet peak demand. Strategic storage could also help reduce the need for seasonal LNG imports during cooler months from March through October.

Egypt has reduced fuel subsidies, raising domestic prices by up to 30% in compliance with requirements for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While most fuel prices are now in line with their costs, the government is still subsidizing gas used in bakeries and for power generation.

Australia’s AGL Energy has decided to defer the mothballing of two old gas-fired units at its 1,280 MW Torrens Island Power Station near Adelaide in a bid to meet peakload demand this summer. In a regulatory filing, AGL said the two fast-ramp gas units are meant to compensate for one faulty coal block at Loy Yang-A Power Station in Victoria.

Shale gas is now dominating the overall gas production in the United States and is forecast to reach an average 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 8.0 Bcf/d from the previous year. The gas glut is expected to push down Henry Hub spot prices to $2.50/MMBtu in the second half of this year and further increase gas-burn in the power sector.

France-based Ardian, formerly AXA Private Equity, has acquired a 41.9% stake in the gas-fired Hill Top Energy Center in Greene County, Pennsylvania, from funds held by the U.S. investment house Ares Management.

Generation costs for Germany’s fleet of combined-cycle power plants is getting cheaper than those for coal or lignite for the first time in over a decade, according to a report by BloombergNEF. Analysts find burning gas has become more profitable than lignite “for the first time ever” –  a trend set to accelerate the country’s coal exit.

Striving to achieve its goals for carbon-free power, Xcel Energy’s resource plan finds that it will need more “dispatchable” generating capacity by 2030. Up to three fast-ramp gas power stations have to be added to balance Xcel’s plans of tripling its solar power production.

Fossil fuel consumption keeps rising in the United States, largely due to higher natural gas use in the power sector and petroleum consumption for transport. According to EIA figures, gas demand rose in 8 of the past 10 years, surging by 37% since 2005. Thermal coal, in contrast, keeps losing market share and fell by 4.3% in 2018, the fifth consecutive annual decline.

Economic recession and rising inflation has seen electricity demand in Argentina fall for nine consecutive months, down 2.1 % in June year-on-year, while gas demand for power generation stalls. Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s vast shale formation in the Nequina Basin, still attracts interest — but mostly for unconventional oil production.

Too little available electricity supply strained the German power grid at several moments in June. Severe shortages in Germany on June 25 caused a drop in grid frequency throughout the European integrated grid. According to four German transmission system operators (TSOs), “the situation was very tense and could only be managed with the support of European partners.“

In early December, Gazprom will start supplying Russian gas to China via the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline. Pursuant to the $400 billion contract with CNPC, more than 1 trillion cubic meters (Tcf) of gas will be supplied over 30 year, Gazprom said, adding the aim is to build more interconnectors to China.

The Iranian energy ministry has said developments are on track to commission and start up over 4,800 MW of power generation capacity. The aim is to reach a total installed capacity of 85,695 MW by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, on March 20, 2020.

Seven days of a record heat-wave in Europe – with temperatures at over 44°C in northern Spain and southern France – have claimed lives, sparked wildfires and propelled up electricity demand to all-time-highs. However, temperatures are forecast to fall sharply today in northern Germany and the Netherlands, with hefty storms set to allow for wind power supply of up to 14.1 GW on Monday.

As Israel boosts domestic gas production it becomes cheaper for Jordan to import excess Israeli gas via a short pipeline, under construction, than buying LNG cargoes under a mid-term contract with Shell. Works on new 65-kilometre gas interconnector are ahead of schedule and could be completed in Q3-2019. First gas is expected at the start of 2020.

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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.