Regulation & Policy

Wisconsin’s state utility regulators will decide on whether the proposed 550-MW Nemadji Trail Energy Center will be built. The developers have filed plans to co-develop the $700 million facility, and now await an official permit.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has embarked on a review of its lending criteria for energy infrastructure projects, notably a 550g CO2/kWh emissions performance standard. EU negotiators had adopted this limit just weeks earlier for a ban on capacity payments to power plants exceeding it.

Idled power plants in India that are stranded due to a lack in gas supply might soon get regasified LNG at a subsidized rate, financed the government-run Power System Development Fund. The aim is to revive flexible gas power plants through an e-bid RLNG scheme.

Smart electrically-driven heating is a “valuable field in which to invest”, Delta-ee research finds, pointing at the substantial installed base of electrically-driven heating – 30 million units across Europe. In the UK, new business models are emerging providing heat-as-a-service, with the customer avoiding the need for buying fuel and appliances by simply buying the heat, and comfort that comes with it.

Flexibility and system integration of renewable energy sources will be in focus of a Ministerial Summit co-hosted by the German government and the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Berlin in September. Tackling the intermittency challenge will be critical for 33 countries are likely to have up to 20% variable renewables in their power systems by 2023.

The Chinese government is watering down its pledges to reign in climate change and focuses on stepping up energy imports instead. Over the past year, China’s has demand surged 15% and a big part of these additional needs will soon be met through the Russian ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline project as well as more LNG.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to initiate more rollback regulations in favour of coal in the power sectors. The proposals included loosening the New Source Performance Standards which mandate how much CO2 new power plants can emit. However, these rollbacks are unlikely to stop the demise of the U.S. coal industry as natural gas is outcompeting coal on cost.

Adamant to end coal-burn in Israel’s power sector, the energy minister Yuval Steinitz foresees natural gas to make up 83% of the country’s energy mix by 2030, and renewables account for the remainder. If implemented, Israel’s new energy policy would herald a quantum shift in the county’s resource use given that the transport sector is also meant to run entirely on gas.

Distributed energy sources will be tested as a way to restart of electricity supplies under a £11.7 million project, partly funded by the UK energy regulator Ofgem. The project will see National Grid, SP Energy Networks and TNEI explore how distributed gensets can be put to use to get the grid up and running again, should a ‘Black Start’ event occur.

German authorities want to test the country’s resilience to a severe natural gas shortage with a large-scale emergency drill held over two days, the energy regulator BNetzA and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs & Energy (BMWi) announced. “Germany’s gas supply is very secure and reliable,” said BNetzA head Jochen Homann. “However, it is prudent to be also prepared for unlikely emergencies.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has extended the deadline for a much-awaited report from the country’s coal exit commissions. Elections in three coal states in eastern Germany in 2019, as well as lobbying from utilities prompted her to effectively axe the opportunity of having a report on pre-2020 action ready before the COP24 climate meeting in Poland in early December.

Leaked drafts of a report of Germany’s coal commission show the country’s coal exist will likely be delayed to 2022, rather than starting in 2020. The pathway of the coal exit is now in focus, rather than the exit date. Forced plant closure should be avoided, the commission said, stressing shut-downs need to agreed with operators who will claim compensation.

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News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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