Regulation & Policy

Striving to streamline China’s energy market, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is advancing plans to create a single oil and gas pipeline company by mid-2019. The new China-wide TSO will integrate the pipeline assets of former competitors, notably CNPC and its listed arm PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC.

Since the start of the February billing cycles, customers of the Dominion Energy subsidiary SCE&G are enjoying a 15% drop in their expenses for electricity. Dominion had to commit to lower energy bills to get approval from South Carolina’s state regulators for the $7.9 billion SCANA takeover.

Alarmed by an air pollution crisis in Seoul and other key cities, the South Korean government is proposing measures to help utilities to convert their power plants from coal to natural gas in order to reduce worsening levels of toxic fine dust and mercury emissions in Seoul and other northern cities.

U.S. Democrats have voiced concern that Andrew Wheeler, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will undermine the Obama-era Clean Power Plan by rolling back regulation on power plant emissions. President Trump-nominee Wheeler was instated at the top of the EPA after winning a vote in the Senate by 52-47.

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, has proposed to phase out less efficient gas peaking plants to meet the state’s target of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030, and achieve zero-carbon electricity supply by 2040. The new rules lower the NOx emission threshold, with more stringent controls set to start in five years’ time.

Nearly half of the German public wants a nuclear exit to happen before a coal phase-out: 49.5% of respondents of a Verivox survey say closing the last nuclear plant by 2022, and the last coal plant by 2038, is ‘the right order’. But 44.1% of respondents say nuclear closures are ‘wrong’ from a climate perspective.

Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA) and a gas supply deal for what will be the fourth LNG-fuelled power project in Punjab province. Built by a Chinese EPC company near the city of Jhang, the start-up of the 1,263 MW plant is being fast-tracked to help avert a regional energy crisis this summer.

Voters in a referendum have approved developers to proceed with a long-delayed gas power plant in central Mexico, one of seven projects halted in the region. About 60% of the votes cast were in favour of finalizing construction of the $1.3 billion power plant project in Huexca, southeast of Mexico City.

Proposals to put a price on carbon emissions – in the form of a CO2 tax – will not be realise in the current legislative period, Germany’s energy state secretary Andreas Feicht said. The Conservative-led Government had earlier dismissed the initiative, saying it was not in the governing coalition’s agreed agenda.

Reacting to blackouts during Australia’s latest heatwave, the federal government is proposing to underwrite and partially fund new fossil power generation capacity. On the cards are large-scale fossil generators as well as decentralized hybrid plants, consisting of wind and solar plus energy storage.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the city’s municipal utility, has abandoned plans to retrofit three gas-fired power plants from water- to air-cooling. Instead, the utility will phase out the Scattergood, Haynes and Harbor gas-fired power units by 2029, and invest renewables to lower its carbon footprint.

Though EU member states decided to tighten unbundling rules on gas interconnectors, parliamentarians agreed to a French-German compromise for the €9.5 billion Nord Stream-2 pipeline. The deal places the controversial project “under European control”, but with Germany as the lead negotiator with Russia's Gazprom.

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News in Brief

MAN to maintain power plant in Benin

Oct 23 – PrimeServ, the after-sales brand of MAN Energy Solutions, has signed a service agreement with BWSC for the Maria Gleta power plant near the city of Cotonou, Benin. The 127 MW plant is powered by seven MAN 18V51/60DF engines. The ten-year contract covers the supply of spare parts and the provision of technical services for scheduled maintenance.

Gas saves Virginia over $14bn

Oct 22 – Virginia’s businesses and families saved more than $14.2 billion between 2008 and 2018 thanks to low-cost natural gas and expanded energy infrastructure, according to a new Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) report. Almost 60% of power generation relies on natural gas and a third of its households use gas for home heating.

Energy storage for LNG-powered vessels

Oct 21 – Louisiana-based Harvey Gulf has asked Wärtsilä to retrofit its energy storage system (ESS) on four LNG-fuelled platform support vessels. Once upgraded in early 2022, all vessels will be of full tri-fuel operation.

Mott McDonald starts construction on ALCP6

Oct 20 – US construction firm Mott McDonald has started building the ALCP6 waste to energy project in Krabi province, southern Thailand. The plant will incinerate 144,000 tonnes per year of municipal solid waste, and the heat obtained will be converted into 6 MW of electricity to be exported to the Thai national grid.

Brace for EU sustainable finance rules

Oct 19 – Sustainable finance practices, drawn up by the European Commission, could create a "bureaucratic monster" that smaller companies and energy investors would find overbearing, the Munich-based Institute for Economic Research (ifo) warned. The regulation should hence prioritise closer scrutiny of large and listed companies.

UK could become net power exporter

Oct 16 – Increased interconnection could provide a route for excess offshore wind power in Britain to be consumed elsewhere in Europe. National Grid Interconnector Register shows up to 16 GW of interconnection could be operational by 2025 and up to 25.4 GW by 2030.

Wärtsilä to deploy GridSolv in US city

Oct 15 – AEP OnSite Partners has contracted Wärtsilä to deploy its GridSolv Quantum energy storage in the city of Martinsville, Virginia. The system includes an UL9540A limiting 2-hour battery firewall and will help lower the city’s energy costs.

Rolls-Royce spends $13.9m in Mankato

Oct 14 – Britain’s engine maker Rolls-Royce has decided to invest nearly $14 million in its Power System business to build a new R&D centre at its MTU manufacturing plant in Mankato, Minnesota, US. The expansion will see 28,000 square foot added to the facility’s existing hall, making room for the production of high-power MTU gas gensets, enhanced product testing and the creation of 20 new manufacturing positions.

Clarke commissions Vitalait power unit in Tunisia

Oct 13 – Clarke Energy and INNIO Jenbacher have completed the commissioning of an onsite power plant of a milk producer in Tunisia. The installation of another Jenbacher gas engine has increased the plant’s output to 4 MW of electricity as well as 1,100 kW of hot water and 800 kW of steam.

Secondary battery market to top $55bn

Oct 12 – Technavio expects the secondary battery market to grow by $55.62 billion through 2024, rising at an 11% rate over the forecast period. Falling costs for lithium-ion batteries as well as growing demand in Asia Pacific allowed the market to grow 2.01% this year, despite adverse effects of the pandemic. Top battery suppliers are Tesla, Clarious, Exide, LG Chem, GS Yuasa and Samsung.

Shift to sustainable tech

Oct 9 – Three quarters of utilities, surveyed by EIT InnoEnergy, are considering adopting sustainable technology over the next 12-18 months. However, over one third of the respondents found it hard to recruit the skills they need.

Generator rentals slow

Oct 8 – The rental market for power generators has slowed down due to the pandemic, with genset rentals from the oil and gas industry forecast to grow by just $153.87 million this year. However, Technavio expects the market will return to a 3% annual growth rate by 2024.

GE upgrades Italian CHP

Oct 7 – GE has completed an axial fuel staging upgrade on its 9E gas turbine at an onsite combined heat and power (CHP) plant at the Milazzo refinery in Sicily. The entire electricity needs of the refinery, over 780 GWh in 2019, will soon be supplied by the upgraded and more flexible gas turbine.

Operating assets ‘from anywhere’

Oct 6 – GE Digital’s latest software gives electric utilities remote and mobile control over their power stations for remote start-up, external monitoring and operational fine-tuning. The goal is to safe cost through autonomous operation from any location.

Chart wins order from New Fortress Energy

Oct 5 – Chart Industries has secured a second leasing order, worth $7.7 million, for ISO containers for LNG applications from New Fortress Energy for a project in the Caribbean. The US equipment maker sees double digit near-term growth in its repair, service and leasing business, notably from growing demand for LNG equipment for infrastructure.

Siemens energises Togo

Oct 2 – Siemens Energy has delivered a SGT-800 gas turbine and other components for the Kékéli Efficient Power plant project. Located in the Togolese capital Lomé, the 65 MW plant will cover almost 40% of country’s expected electricity demand.

Batteries get cheaper

Oct 1 – Cost for battery production is falling rapidly as manufacturers bring large Gigafactories on-line. By 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance anticipates battery pack prices to drop to $73 per kilowatt-hour, down from a current volume-weighted average of below $270/kWh.

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