Regulation & Policy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is about to launch the world’s first roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050. The UK and the Netherlands already set binding CO2 reduction goals and if US President Biden follows through on his pledges, countries accounting for over 60% of global emissions will have net-zero ambitions.

The United States has informed German officials its plans to levy sanctions on the Russian pipe-laying vessel ‘Fortuna’ and its owner, KVT-RUS, effective today. ‘Fortuna’ is building the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline, opposed by Washington as it raises Germany’s reliance on Russian gas.

The US Department of Energy’s Office, staffed by the outgoing President Trump, has launched a report on impacts of the so-called “ill-conceived ban on hydraulic fracturing,” proposed by the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. The ban will allegedly cost millions of jobs and make gas and power prices surge.

Striving to get Nord Stream 2 finalised, Germany’s north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania plans to carry out a bulk purchase of construction materials and machinery. These would be made available to companies involved in the project, in an effort to circumvent US sanctions.

Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem has told EDF Energy to pay £6 million for breach of energy market rules. From September 2017 to March 2020, EDF frequently inflated the minimum amount of power it said its West Burton B plant could supply, making National Grid buy more electricity than needed.

Norwegian-German registrar and classification society DNV-GL has decided to suspend works for the Nord Stream 2 project. Vessels, supervising progress on the controversial pipeline project, are deemed “subject to US sanctions,” DNV-GL said, noting it “will no longer provide services that may be incompatible with the PEESA law.”

The first round of auctions for decommissioning 4 GW of Germany’s hard coal plants has been oversubscribed, with almost 5 GW to be offline by year-end. Stiff competition at the auction drove down compensation payments for plant operators to €60,000, well below the planned maximum of €165,000.

Electricity Generating Public Company (Egco) of Thailand has applied to the state regulator for a licence to import LNG to fuel gas-fired power plants. Egco said the 256 MW Banpong plant and the 121 MW Klongluang plant “could use additional supplies,” though they already source gas from state-run PTT.

The US government has started to call companies involved in the 27.5 Bcm/y Nord Stream 2 pipeline, threatening sanctions if they do not pull out. The Trump administration heavily opposes the Russian gas interconnector to Germany, but all five investors continue to support the project.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out plans for a “green industrial revolution,” pledging to mobilise £12 billion of government investment to create up to 250,000 green jobs. The upfront funding is meant to spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030.

If China is serious about becoming carbon neutral by 2060 it has to clamp down on coal, the International Energy Agency (IEA) argues. Beyond 2040, there is “practically no carbon budget for unabated coal generation," so China’s next 5-Year Plant needs to cap unabated coal use.

Jo Biden is set to transform US energy policies, promising a boost for offshore wind and restrictions for hydrocarbons. The President-elect pledged to end sales of new leases on public lands and waters. If permanent, this would lower US offshore oil and gas production by about 30% by 2035.

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News in Brief

Low-carbon batteries

Jan 26 – Geyser Batteries, a Finnish cleantech startup, has calculated the emissions of its electrochemical recuperators (ECR) to be significantly below industry averages. The ECR is an energy storage used for heavy-duty applications in the power grid and industrial machinery. The calculation, validated by the research institution VTT, shows the carbon footprint of ECR production is up to 74% lower when compared to its closest competitor, supercapacitors based on li-ion batteries.

Green hydrogen production surges

Jan 25 – Global green hydrogen production is seen skyrocket at a rate of 57% between 2019 and 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan, rising from 40,000 tons to 5.7 million tons. The hydrogen surge comes as industry and power generators increase investment  in alternative low carbon technologies and more countries set binding targets to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Italy’s power exports Montenegro surge

Jan 22 – Italian electric power exports increased by 28% in 2020, largely driven by flows to Montenegro which surged 26% to 8.6 TWh. In contrast, domestic power demand fell 6% last year to 271.6 TWh with electricity sales from conventional plants down nearly 9% to 140.5 TWh, figures by the Italian energy exchange GME show.

US considers new nuclear

Jan 21 – The new US President Joe Biden has said his country could construct new nuclear power plants and reiterated plans to “swiftly rejoin” the Paris Climate Agreement swiftly. Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, called it illusionary to believe that newer, smaller reactors will be a technology of the future.

Mitsubishi produces methanol in Trinidad

Jan 20 – Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company has launched commercial operations of a methanol and dimethyl ether plant in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant has an annual production capacity of one million tons of methanol and 20,000 tons of dimethyl ether, which can be used as an alternative fuel for cars and power generation.

First 8-cylinder B36:45 engine delivered

Jan 19 – Rolls-Royce has delivered the first 8-cylinder variant of its Bergen B36:45 gas engine to a tomato producer in Belgium. The medium speed genset is planned for delivery this spring and will drive an onsite power plant that generates 4700 kW electricity and 5520 kW heat. The new engine offers a 20% increase in power per cylinder and will replace an existing Bergen 12-cylinder B35:40 genset.

Moody’s upgrades Enel to Baa1

Jan 18 – Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Enel’s long-term rating to Baa1, with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects Enel’s progress in reducing its risk profile, analysts said, pointing at the Italian utilities ongoing investment in networks and renewables, growing geographical diversification and focus on centralised financing.

GE sues Siemens Energy

Jan 15 – General Electric has sued its German rival Siemens Energy over the alleged use of stolen trade secrets to win gas turbine contracts worth several billion dollars. GE told the US district court in Virginia that Siemens received the secret information from a Dominion Energy employee.

Orbital Energy launches Eclipse

Jan 14 – Nasdaq-listed Orbital Energy Group has launched a new subsidiary, Eclipse Foundation, a drilled shaft construction company. The new company specialises in providing services for power transmission and substations, communication tower and a disaster restoration through emergency power.

S’Korean coal and LNG imports slide

Jan 13 – South Korea’s imports of thermal coal and LNG have fallen 12% and 11%, respectively, as the government cracks down on fossil fuel usage to curb air pollution. Customs data shows that coal imports amounted to 10.2 million tons in December, down 1.4 million tons from the same month last year but up from November’s imports of 9.5 million tons.

SMC builds 1.7 GW CCGT in Batangas

Jan 13 – Excellent Energy Resources, part of SMC Global Power Holdings, is building a 1,700 MW combined cycle gas power plant in Barangay Dela Paz and Ilijan in Batangas City with investments of about 67.863 billion Philippine Pesos ($1.41bn). The project is estimated to be completed in 36 to 40 months.

UK’s National Grid issues supply warning

Jan 12 – Natural gas prices in the UK surged as National Grid issued warnings on supply deficit as LNG cargoes are being diverted to North Asia. Prices at the British NBP gas trading hub soared to the equivalent of $8.95 per MMBtu, while the JKM price for North Asian spot LNG cargoes for February 2021 was last at $19.700 per MMBt.

Fortistar invests in hydrogen

Jan 11 – Fortistar, a privately-held fund, has joined an equity investment of up to $157 million in hydrogen producer BayoTech. Cottonwood Technology Funds and the New Mexico State Investment Council also participated in the latest financing round. BayoTech’s systems produce local hydrogen close to the application, serving end users in the industrial gas and petrochemical segment as well as those who use of hydrogen to power fuel cells.

Ashtead appoints new CFO

Jan 5 - Ashtead Technology has appointed a chief financial officer (CFO) and five managers for newly created roles across its international team. The appointments are meant to cement the company’s position in the offshore energy market, including offshore wind and decommissioning of thermal power plants

NFE secures LNG for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua

Dec 23 – New Fortress Energy (NFE) has agreed to purchase Henry-Hub-indexed LNG for its integrated gas and power businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. The New York-based project developer said it now has covered 80% of its expected needs throughout Latin America, thus reducing its need for spot purchases and its exposure to changes in the market price for LNG.

China and Korea mandate coal-to-gas switch

Dec 22 – The Chinese government has launched a coal-to-gas boiler switching programme, targeting 7.1 million homes, which makes gas demand more weather-sensitive this winter. Similarly, South Korea mandated the closure of 15 coal-fired plants since the start of December in an effort to reduce air pollution. Analysts expect this will accelerate the drawdown of LNG terminal inventories going into Q1-2021.

GE repowers oil field in Brazil

Dec 21 – GE Power Conversion has been awarded a contract by Sulzer Pumps UK to supply motors for four water injection pumps of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The 8,000 kW, two pole motors will run at 3,600 rpm with a limitation of the starting current at 300%, enabling the oil and gas field operator to optimise the generator which supplies electricity on the FPSO.

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