Regulation & Policy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has held its 2nd Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Paris last week, attended by business executives and senior government officials from around the world, including all G20 countries. Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director pointed out that only 30% of energy use is subject to efficiency standards. “This means there is huge room for improvement.”

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) focus on financing infrastructure in India’s lagging states helped promote inclusive economic growth, spurred the development of some power generation projects to help increase electrification rates. During the year 2016-17, total energy availability increased by 4.1% over the previous year and the peak met increased by 5.7%, according to India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has approved construction of the Lake Charles Power Station, a 994-MW combined-cycle gas power plant in Westlake. Entergy Louisiana called the Lake Charles CCGT is a “key element of its plan to provide the clean, efficient energy” – the operator also said expects to issue full notice to proceed to construction by August 1.

Wasteful flaring of natural gas is meant to be a thing of the past, yet the wasteful burning of gas at wellhead increased over the past few years – notably in the United States during the rush to tap hydrocarbon-rich shale rock formations. ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ is the explicit aim of the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) initiative – but there is a risk that funding for gas-gathering initiatives runs dry because this goal is losing political traction under the Trump Presidency.

Pulling the plug on the Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power project, the Mississippi state energy regulator has passed a motion instructing its legal counsel to propose a solution that would end the Mississippi Power’s gasification project following years of delays and cost overruns. The watchdog encouraged Mississippi Power, however, to re-license the plant and produce electricity based on natural gas instead.

Enel, Europe’s biggest utility by market value, is about to shut down two large coal power plants in Spain by 2018, following through with a decision by CEO Francesco Starace to close the company’s entire coal and lignite generation by 2030. His new strategy shows the impact of new EU pollution limits, particularly the revised Best Available Techniques Reference Document, known as BREF.

The US state of California has teamed up with several German states in the ‘Under2Coaltion’ to tackle climate change. Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California said US President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement underscored the “significance of subnational actors.” California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, is adamant to pursue its clean energy targets and, together, with several German federal states, aims to provide strong leadership in the COP23 climate talks in Bonn this November.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s top scientist and author of a prominent energy market review, has urged the Government to set a clean energy target that does not be put any fuel-type at a disadvantage. His modelling work shows a scenario under which power prices could fall, if Australia’s stringent emission targets are lowered.

Ambitious plans, set out by South Korea’s newly instated Government, herald a U-turn away from coal and nuclear towards cleaner-burning natural gas and renewables. Responding to public concern over air pollution the administration of President Moon Jae-in, who took office in early May, is considering a construction stop for several coal and nuclear projects – a move poised to cause electricity prices spikes and medium-term capacity shortages.

Despite U.S. President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and his open support for fossil fuels, Energy Aspects forecasts his move is “unlikely to halt the transition towards cleaner energy globally, although it is likely to slow it.” The EU, but also largest emitters like India and China are expected to follow through on their clean energy policies.

Dealing a blow to concerted multi-national efforts of mitigating emissions from the energy and transport sector to help prevent global, the U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburg, not Paris,” he said, indicating that he will put US business interests first.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has singled out Norway’s large hydropower generation as a “valuable asset” for European electricity markets at a time when renewable energy supply is growing. More interconnectors will allow for hydropower to balance regional variations in demand and supply, the IEA said, but it called on Nordic countries to better coordinate their renewable energy incentives.

As mankind enters a period of change akin to the last industrial revolution, Rudy Koenig, Principal at QENIQ Advisory and POWER-GEN Europe, discusses three trends – digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation. Peter Terium, CEO of Innogy, called attention to these mega-trends last year. Koenig examines the three Ds through the prism of Germany as a key industrial nation, and suggests they will shape the power generation industry for years to come.

Risk of power cuts in Britain seems unheard of for most electricity customers. But if coal power capacity comes off the grid more quickly than in 7 to 10 years’ time, subsidy-free renewables expand, and less interconnectors get built in the wake of Brexit – fast-ramping gas generator sets are best placed to fill the supply gap, Phil Grant partner at Baringa consultancy told industry stakeholders at the Finish embassy in London.

The cleanest and safest power plant is the one you don’t have to build thanks to higher energy efficiency, says Noé van Hulst, OECD ambassador of the Netherlands and IEA board chairman. Dubbed the “hidden fuel”, energy efficiency is demand-side driven, meaning it lacks the headline-grabbing milestones of big power plant projects, or other energy supply infrastructure. And through the energy efficiency trend accelerates, “progress on a global scale is still happening too slowly.”

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News in Brief

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.

Regulators approve £300m Belfast power project

March 28 – Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has approved plans for a £300 million gas-fired power project in Belfast. The 480 MW power station, developed by Belfast Power Holdings, will be situated in the city's Harbour Estate and provide energy to about 500,000 homes and businesses.