Regulation & Policy

Climate policy linked to the European Green Deal and the digital transformation will be “at the centre” of the German EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020, Chancellor Merkel told parliament. “Recovery after the crisis must be a ‘green recovery,’” a strategy paper by the foreign office reads.

Baltic Pipe, connecting the Polish gas grid with Norway, has secured construction permits through Sweden’s territorial waters - the final permits required before works can begin. The pipeline will have nearly 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of capacity and is due on stream by October 2022.

Thailand’s energy regulator has approved Gulf Energy’s application to import 0.3 million tons of LNG for use in 19 small-scale power plants, operated by the state-owned utility EGAT. Hin Kong Power Holding, 49% owned by Gulf Energy, also won a license to import 1.4 mtpa of LNG, bringing the total to 1.7 mtpa.

Europe’s two largest economies, Germany and France, stand united in stressing the role of a sustainable stimulus package for the trade bloc’s recovery. The EU Green Deal accelerates a shift to green power sources and energy storage as both states aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Germany regulator has turned down Gazprom’s application to exempt the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline (55 Bcm per year) from common EU market rules that stipulate the unbundling of gas producer and supplier. Under EU rules, Nord Stream-2 would also need to open up to third party suppliers.

German research minister Anja Karliczek has called on the government not to “waste any more time debating” and come to a prompt decision on a national hydrogen strategy. The latest draft focuses on green hydrogen from renewable energy, as well as blue hydrogen, produced via carbon capture storage (CCS).

Green stimulus packages, fiercely debated in Germany, could be instrumental to reset the economy on a more climate-friendly path as the country gradually phases out both nuclear and coal power. However, calls from the industry to loosen emission regulations to boost economic activity are growing louder.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the nationwide lockdown until May 3 but allows some graded relaxations. The restart of selected manufacturing after April 20 is seen to be critical to the country’s economic stability and the shape of near-term energy demand.

Carmakers are calling for a two year delay of Germany's national CO2 price in the transport and heating sector to help businesses stay afloat. Covid-19 lockdowns greatly reduce emissions, so the industry claims this would "make further climate policy measures unnecessary for the time being."

More and more investor-owned utility companies in the United States have conceded to suspend disconnections of customers who do not pay their bills during the coronavirus pandemic. American Electric Power, Dominion, Duke Energy and PG&E are among twelve utilities who agreed relief measures for homeowners and businesses to help avert bankruptcies.

Far-reaching measures taken in Germany and across Europe to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus do not compromise the security of energy supply. The German association of local utilities (VKU) stressed that „energy supply currently is neither in danger nor impaired.”

Contingency measures to contain the coronavirus have slowed industrial output and transport throughout Europe and might help Germany reach its 40% emission reduction targets. Power sector emissions fell substantially as cheap gas accelerated fuel switching, but critics warned the “corona effect could obscure the need for change,” notably for road traffic.

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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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