Regulation & Policy

The EU taxonomy’s classifies new gas power as ‘transitional investment’ if the rate of unabated gas declines over time. At least 30% of low-carbon gas needs to be co-fired by 2026, and the rate is envisaged to reach 100% by 2035 – though utilities will struggle to source enough hydrogen in time.

Unphased by market pressure, the German regulator BNetzA is holding back approval for Nord Stream 2 – one of Europe’s most controversial gas pipelines. BNetzA “preliminary halted” the certification process until Swiss-based Nord Stream AG has founded a subsidiary under German law to own parts of the pipeline – a request set to delay matters until summer 2022.

Brussel has given EU member states time until January 21 to react to the contested Taxonomy, which labels fresh investment into gas and nuclear power as “climate friendly.” The scheme can only be stopped if at least 20 EU countries oppose it, which is unlikely as France and Poland want new small-scale nuclear reactors and Germany more flexible gas generation.

Plans of Germany’s new coalition government to double electricity production from renewable sources by 2030 “present a gigantic task,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz admitted. His aim is to “gradually get out of fossil fuels” by supporting investment in green energy projects.

Germany’s new chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken out against linking the operational permit for the Russian-German gas interconnector Nord Stream 2 to efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. “Nord Stream 2 is a private sector project,” he said, stressing it is up to regulators to decide how far Nord Stream 2 must meet EU unbundling criteria.

Germany’s new government struggles to align the financial sector with more stringent emission reduction targets while adhering to European guidelines. The EU taxonomy on sustainable finance is meant to clarify investment standards but implementation is held up as Germany and France disagree of over the sustainability rating of natural gas and nuclear power.

Legislation has been passed in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) that allows to feed blends of hydrogen and biomethane into the natural gas pipeline network. The aim is to have a 10% hydrogen blend in the gas grid by 2030, and export substantial amounts of green hydrogen to power producers in Japan and wider Asia.

The government of South Korea is working towards turning hydrogen into the country’s biggest energy source by 2050 by expanding H2-based power generation, and replacing all fossil fuel used by the steel and chemical industries with blue or green hydrogen. To tackle transport emissions, over 2,000 hydrogen charging stations will be installed nationwide.

World leaders have reached a historic deal at the COP26 Climate Summit: At least 23 countries – excluding China and India – committed to phase out coal-fired power generation, while international banks will end public financing of new unabated coal power by the end of 2021. Germany’s incoming government hence needs to exit coal earlier than planned.

An unexpected climate declaration between China and the US has sparked cautious optimism that "1.5°C remains within reach." Addressing issues like cutting CO2 and methane emissions and reigning in illegal deforestation, the two sides declared they will "expand individual and combined efforts to accelerate the transition to a global net zero economy."

German chancellor Angela Merkel has made a plea for more widespread carbon pricing, targeting hard-to-abate sectors, at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Progress made so far is “insufficient,” she said, noting Germany just tightened targets and now aims to cut emissions by 65% by 2030 from 1990-levels, and reach Net Zero by 2045.

Britain’s new Net Zero Strategy claims up to £80 billion of additional private green investment needs to be raised to reach the government’s 2030 emission target. “Renewables, particularly offshore wind deployment already reached £100 billion in 2020,” the UK energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng told the BBC this morning, saying it would be “realistic” to raise sufficient funds to meet targets.

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News in Brief

Oman inaugurates 500 MW solar plant

Jan 26 – ACWA Power has inaugurated Ibri 2, an $417 million solar power plant with a capacity of 500 MW. The large IPP will sell solar power to Oman’s national grid over a 15-year period, backed up by flexible gas power plants.

GenCell raises funds

Jan 24 – Israel-based fuel cell maker GenCell Energy has raised $35.9 million in its latest funding round. CEO Rami Reshef said the fresh capital will accelerate developments in the field of green ammonia, pursued with TDK, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles.

German utilities invest record amounts

Jan 21 – Energy companies in Germany invested a record €20.5 billion in 2021, and the industry association BDEW expects capital expenditure will stay high throughout 2022. Out of the total sum, €4.3 billion were invested in electricity generation plants, €9.9 billion in transmission and distribution plants and €1.2 billion in other assets, such as metering points and information technology.

H2-powered plant for French Guiana

Jan 20 – Siemens Energy will set up a hybrid plant to supply stable baseload electricity to 10,000 households in French Guiana. An intelligent combination of 55 MW photovoltaics, an electrolyser to produce green hydrogen, fuel cells and energy storage is scheduled to be commissioned in the autumn of 2023.

Decarbonising UK homes

Jan 19 – Just 9 million hot water cylinders are currently installed in British homes, leaving a gap of 18 million homes whose heating would need to be decarbonised for the UK to meet Net Zero. According to the trade body HWA, the political focus of decarbonising heating has been solely on the heat source; such as boilers and heat pumps – while little to no focus has been on hot water cylinder. This gap in in government policy, which could result in unnecessary costs to consumers.

Cresta to fund Lapis Energy’s CCS projects

Jan 18 – Texas-based Cresta Fund Management has agreed to finance Lapis Energy’s CCS and clean hydrogen projects. The two partners are now looking to identify, design and develop projects for the permanent sequestration of CO2, targeting customers within the heavy industry and petrochemical companies.

GE to repower Long Lake plant

Jan 17 – GE will modernize four generors at the Long Lake hydropower plant in northwest US, operated by Avista Utilities. Once refurbished, the plant will have an installed capacity of more than 100 MW. The first modernized Long Lake unit is scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2024 and the last one in 2029

mtu to power Romania’s largest data center

Jan 14 – mtu Series 4000 gas generators will provide electricity heat and cooling for Romania’s largest data center. ClusterPower is building a 273,000-squaremetre technology campus near Craiova by 2025, where it will host five data centers with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1

Green hydrogen from Quebec

Jan 13 – Charbone has agreed to provide the US propane distributer Superior with green hydrogen from its Sorel-Tracy facility in Quebec, Canada, starting from the third quarter of 2022. The hydrogen will be delivered directly from Charbone’s H2 plant to Superior’s customers which include mining, power generation, transportation and industrial energy users. 

Cresta to fund Lapis Energy’s CCS projects

Jan 12 – Texas-based Cresta Fund Management has agreed to finance Lapis Energy’s CCS and clean hydrogen projects. The two partners are now looking to identify, design and develop project for the permanent sequestration of CO2, targeting customers within the heavy industry and petrochemical companies.

US rivals Australia as world’s largest LNG exporter

Jan 11 – Analysts at the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) are confident that the growth in US LNG exports could see America’s liquefaction and send-out capacity exceed that of Australia and Qatar – the world’s two largest LNG exporters. Looking ahead, the EIA expects US exports of the super-chilled gas will rise 17% from 2021 levels to average 11.1 Bcf/d from December through March.

Africa’s first FLNG plant arrives in Mozambique

Jan 10 – Coral Sul FLNG, Africa’s first-ever floating LNG facility has arrived in Mozambican waters. The plant is critical to develop the US$7 billion Coral South project, led by the Italian oil and gas company Eni. Some of the produced gas will be used for power generation in Mozambique, though most will be liquefied and sold to global markets.

GE snaps up Opus One Solutions

Dec 23 – GE Digital has agreed to acquire Opus One Solutions Energy Corp, a Californian software company that helps utilities integrate renewables and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) at scale across the electric grid. The transaction is expected to close within 30 days, GE stated without disclosing what price was paid for the takeover.

Qatar invests in Rolls-Royce’s nuclear power business

Dec 22 – Qatar Investment Authority, the state’s sovereign wealth fund, has agreed to invest £85 million in Rolls-Royce SMR, the company’s new technology for small-scale, low carbon nuclear power. UK business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng called the investment a “clear vote of confidence” in the UK’s nuclear innovation. It follows £210 million Qatari investment in the development in Small Modular Reactors. Now fully funded, Rolls-Royce SMR business also received £490 million through commercial equity and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant funding. 

JERA helps Japanese film producer curb emissions

Dec 20 – Toho, a Japanese film producer and entertainment company, will get support from the country’s largest power producer JERA to reduce CO2 emission from film production. To that end, JERA will supply zero-emissions energy to Toho and draw up a roadmap to decarbonise the media company as a whole.

Tractebel develop concept to store H2 offshore

Dec 17 – Tractebel Overdick and partners have developed an offshore infrastructure and processing facilities concept that relies on the storage of hydrogen (H2) in offshore caverns. The design study outlines a scalable offshore platform for the compression and storage of up to 1.2 million cubic meters of hydrogen.

Ethatec uses CO2-free power to produce ethanol

Dec 15 – ESG Clean Energy has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Ethatec to use ESG’s patented CO2-free gensets to its ethanol production. Ethatec uses waste from bakeries and pizza factories which is being crushed and then mixed with water and enzymes and heated in a multi-stage mashing process to saccharify the starch. It is then cooled and fed into fermentation tanks, where yeast is added. for alcoholic fermentation of the sugar. After 72 hours, the mixture is fed to a distillation system where ethanol is obtained.