Just prior to the first meeting of Germany’s newly installed ‘climate cabinet’ this week, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has tabled his vision of the country’s energy transition. In his ‘Energy Concept 2038’, Scholz urges the government to show “more commitment for climate action” and focus on electricity supply and grid stability.
The German government is evaluating the launch of CO2 pricing across various emission-intensive economic sectors, including transport. So far, no proposal for a CO2 tax has been included in the German Transport Ministry’s official recommendations because the Conservative CDU/CSU alliance prefers to expand the scope of the European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) instead.
The CEO of German regional utility EnBW, Frank Mastiaux, has forecast Germany will see a significant number of new gas-fired power stations being built over the coming years. Flexible combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity, in particular, is deemed vital to guarantee cost-efficient supply of electricity and grid stability as the country exits coal and nuclear energy.
China has chosen April 1 as the date when two-digit reductions in Value-Added Tax (VAT) will have to be implemented by key industries, including electric power producers, in bid to lower fuel costs and ultimately reduce electricity prices. Manufacturing companies will benefit from 13% to 16% VAT cuts, while construction and transport firms will pay around 10% less VAT and industrial users of thermal coal, including power producers will see VAT drop by 3%.
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.
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.