Regulation & Policy

Houshang Falahatian, Iran’s deputy energy minister, has announced plans to boost the efficiency of the country’s gas-fired power plants to 45% or even 47% over the next three years. Turning open-cycle into combined-cycle plants - without raising fuel needs - is meant to do the trick.

EU leaders reckon that Nord Stream-2 contradicts efforts to reduce Europe's energy dependency and undermines Poland and Ukraine’s role as gas transit countries. The pipeline extension is meant to transport another 55 Bcm of Russian gas to Germany, but there is little need for additional volumes as long as CCGT profit margins stay negative.

German electric utility provider E.ON has acquired Italian on-site power and heat generator Heat & Power. Headquartered in Tortona, Northern Italy, Heat & Power is specialised in developing power plant solutions for a range of commercial and industrial customers.

European countries need to work harder to encourage interconnection and develop more mature gas trading mechanisms if price discrepancies for gas power operators are to be reduced, according to a new report from the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES).

The second UK capacity market auction, held by National Grid, has secured 46.345 GW at a clearing price of £18/kW – over £1 cheaper than last year. This price is far below the £35/kW that some industry observers deem necessary to advance investment in new, large-scale gas power plant projects.

The second UK capacity auction is underway, with the Government seeking to procure 44.7 GW for delivery in 2019/20. Criticism has been mounting over the 57 GW of pre-qualified capacity as well as the inclusion of interconnectors, which is feared to drive down the clearing price.

Moscow has shelved Turkish Stream, a 63 Bcm gas pipeline through the Black Sea, as tensions with Ankara escalate following the downing of a Russian fighter jet. Aleksandr Novak, the Russian energy minister said talks are suspended and construction start on the pipeline, scheduled for July 2016, has been called off. Progress on the Akkuyu nuclear power station, built by Rosatom, may also be hit by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions.

Struggling to contain hazardous air pollution, China seeks to reduce emissions by 60% before 2020 through “major upgrades” of the country’s coal-fired power plants, a state official pledged as COP21 climate talks are underway in Paris.

In a blow to Obama’s green energy policy, the Republican-dominated Congress has passed two resolutions that block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s more stringent emission rules for US power plants. This move undermines Obama’s stance at the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

Britain’s balancing body of gas and electricity networks, National Grid, could be broken up as DECC plans to transfer its role as system operator to an independent entity. National Grid, meanwhile, would focus on pinpointing much-needed grid investments to accommodate new nuclear and more wind power capacity.

On the eve of the COP21 talks getting underway, world-wide protest marches were staged to demand decisive moves to combat climate change. Protests in Paris turned violent after it became clear that not all of the climate accords to be struck in the coming 12 days will be legally binding.

Shale gas from the US has been brand marked as ‘a new rival’ by the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) as it undermines the alliance’s strategy on pricing and production volumes. Leaders of Russia and Iran, whose countries hold 44% of global gas reserves, have forged closer ties at the side-lines of latest Gas OPEC meeting in Tehran.

Amber Rudd, the UK energy secretary, is willing to hold a consultation on plans to close all unabated coal-fired power stations by 2025 and restrict their use from 2023. This may water-down her initial proposal, although Rudd is adamant about the urgency of more gas power generation.

The UK treasury confirmed that following Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement, the £1bn ring-fenced capital budget for the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Competition is “no longer available.” Cuts on CCS development come in a stark contrast to new research commitments on small nuclear reactors.

Reacting to Russian warnings of a halt in gas and coal supplies to Ukraine, workers in Kherson Oblast have started repairing one of four sabotaged pylons that carry power lines to the Crimean peninsula.