Regulation & Policy

Reacting to blackouts during Australia’s latest heatwave, the federal government is proposing to underwrite and partially fund new fossil power generation capacity. On the cards are large-scale fossil generators as well as decentralized hybrid plants, consisting of wind and solar plus energy storage.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the city’s municipal utility, has abandoned plans to retrofit three gas-fired power plants from water- to air-cooling. Instead, the utility will phase out the Scattergood, Haynes and Harbor gas-fired power units by 2029, and invest renewables to lower its carbon footprint.

Though EU member states decided to tighten unbundling rules on gas interconnectors, parliamentarians agreed to a French-German compromise for the €9.5 billion Nord Stream-2 pipeline. The deal places the controversial project “under European control”, but with Germany as the lead negotiator with Russia's Gazprom.

General Electric will have to pay a €50 million fine to the French government after creating just 25 out of a promised 1,000 jobs in the country in connection with the Alstom takeover.

The German ‘coal commission’ has reached a historic decision over the weekend to shut down all of the country’s lignite- and hard coal-fired power plants in less than 20 years. By 2038, at the latest, no more electricity will be generated from coal and Germany’s coal-dependent federal states will get €40 billion in compensation.

Exiting coal – in addition to nuclear – is likely to propel up Germany’s energy costs by up to €54 billion, industry leaders warn. About 10 GW of coal-fired capacity could be taken off the grid by 2022, in a political move that would make the cost of gas-fired power generation a critical factor for the Germany’s economic competitiveness.

Energy-intensive industries in Germany are pressing the government to limit the cost burden of the country’s green energy transition for their businesses. The much-discussed ‘coal exit’ will favour flexible gas power plants, but industries fear it could push up wholesale power prices by up to 50%.

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, 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.

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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.