Regulation & Policy

Environmental lawyers have launched legal action after Bulgarian authorities permitted a coal-fired power plant to burn petrochemicals, biomass and waste alongside lignite – a dirty, highly inefficient lignite coal. The first hearing in the Brikel case is scheduled for early October.

California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has issued two new reliability must-run designations to support grid reliability in the face of imminent power plant retirements near Los Angeles. NRG California South had notified the ISO it will retire its Ellwood, Etiwanda and Ormond Beach generating stations by October 2018.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), developer of the $4.3-billion Rover Pipeline, has accused the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of attempting to delay the project’s completion. By raising this claim, ETP is trying to fight back against a regulatory notice over low-level contamination.

More than 45,000 businesses across Europe are at risk of being fined up to €1 million ($1.1m) if they fail to comply with the new EU Energy Efficiency Directive, the registrar DNV GL warned. The clock is ticking – deadline for compliance is 5 December 2019 in most countries.

Taking bold steps to curb air pollution, China’s State Council has extended the reach of the three-year 'blue sky defence' action plan to cities in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces. The target area now includes ‘2+26’ cities and prioritizes switching from coal to gas for winter heating and power generation, as well as renewables. Accelerating air pollution now affects a region with 37% of China's population and contributes to 41% of the GDP.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, has highlighted the country’s potential to become a world leader in energy storage, including renewable hydrogen. Large-scale deployment of energy storage, however, requires a smarter electricity grid and mechanisms to empower consumers to manage their costs.

Agreements reached by EU Institutions over the past fortnight on energy efficiency, energy governance and renewables “fall well short of a comprehensive approach,” according to COGEN Europe. The headline target of 32.5% energy efficiency by 2030 will be missed, the lobby group warns, in the absence of an “actionable framework”.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) no longer warns of an imminent gas shortage in southern and eastern Australia after government pressure has made LNG exporters commit to divert some cargoes to the local market. "No supply gaps are forecast before 2030,” AEMO said when releasing its annual gas outlook – a stark contrast to the body’s earlier concerns about shortages starting from mid-2018.

Only large scale and intelligent energy storage can solve the issue of variable renewable electricity generation. There is little political will for a fresh wave of subsidies for storage – as there was for renewables – hence a carefully crafted market design is needed to incentivises flexibility and storage, says Patrick Clerens, Secretary General at the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE).

Dealing a blow to the industry, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has significantly reduced solar subsidies by setting new on-grid power tariffs that range between $7.8-11c/kWh, effective June 1. Distributed projects are capped at 10 GW and all utility-scale projects are mandated to set power prices through competitive auctions.

Bowing to industry pressure, the British government has indicated it will make a direct investment of public money into the much-contended Wylfa nuclear project in north Wales, backed by Hitachi. Critics dismiss this move as state aid, a reversal of 40 years of UK energy sector privatisation, and unfair prioritisation of nuclear power to the detriment of renewables and new gas-fired power projects.

Energy industry stakeholders have unanimously condemned U.S. President Trump’s latest market interference by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to stop, what he calls, “impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities.” Rebuking the move, several energy industry associates called the action “misguided” as it would be effectively subsidizing “failing coal and nuclear plants.”

Improving power system flexibility is vital for cost-effective management of variability and uncertainty in both supply and demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Hence the agency calls for a proactive response from regulators and policy makers to help manage today’s fundamental a transformation of energy markets.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will unify China’s residential and industrial city-gate natural gas pricing systems from June 10 to better reflect rising demand and costs. The new mechanism will allow gas prices to rise by no more than 20% from a benchmark price, NDRC stated, which is “more flexible” than the existing one which since 2010 kept a ceiling on residential gas prices at at 1.4 yuan (about $0.22) per cubic metres.

Canada’s current policies, combined with energy efficiency investment, could deliver final energy savings of 1.9% per year on average through 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Sectors with the greatest energy savings potential would be buildings (28%), followed by transport (25%), oil and gas extraction (21%) and industry (12%).

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