Regulation & Policy

The American Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has introduced a three rules. Operators need, among others, reconfirm the material strength of their lines to ensure safe transport of the abundant U.S. natural gas production to LNG export terminals, domestic industry and power generators.

Government auctions aimed at shutting down Germany’s hard coal-fired power plants are estimated to cost the state some 1.2 billion Euros in ‘decommissioning premiums’ by 2030. But these substantial payments will likely not be enough to make operators shut down 13 GW by 2030, as planned.

After months of bickering, the German ruling coalition came together on Friday and agreed to levy a fixed price of 10 Euros per tonne on emissions from transport and the buildings sector starting from 2021, and invest more than 54 billion Euros by 2023 to accelerate the energy transition.

New York-based Con Edison and eight other U.S. utilities have filed a legal challenge against the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The claimants say the rule undermines efforts to curb emissions by investing in renewables and energy efficiency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s planned climate action measures could cost at least 40 billion Euros over the next four years. Protecting the climate is a “challenge for humanity” and needs “a real feat of strength" which will “of course cost money,” she said prior to the government’s launch of a climate package on September 20.

Germany’s nearly simultaneous coal and nuclear exit is jeopardizing the country’s current high power supply security. Unless new flexible gas generators and renewable power sources get built in time, along with sufficient grid infrastructure, Germany is set to miss several key energy transition targets for the year 2020, McKinsey finds.

U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is campaigning to launch a Green New Deal as a 10-year federal “mobilization” that would raise $16.3 million to allow the U.S. to generate 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo is proposing to remove a freeze on fuel and power prices, with the 2020 budget proposing to halve diesel subsidies and allot less for LPG and electricity. Having won the general election, Widodo uses his reaffirmed position to partly reverse his earlier ruling to keep energy prices flat throughout this and last year.

Realism has set in as California regulators start watering down the state’s 100% renewables target by approving the repowering of the Grayson gas power plant. The nearby city of Glendale is at risk of blackouts and fast-ramp gas power units will help prevent this.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her political weight behind the introduction of a price on CO2 emissions in the transport and buildings sector, although her climate cabinet will have the last say on September 20. “I advocate such a price,” Merkel said, stressing new paths had to be tried to reach the country’s climate targets.

Germany’s Council of Economic Experts have urged the government to put a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sector as a quick and easy fix to help meet the country’s climate goals. This unilateral move would work as an interim solution before integrating the sectors into the European Emission Trading System (EU-ETS).

Transforming India to a “gas-based economy” has been President Narendra Modi’s vision for years but the country can ill afford subsidizing LNG imports to reduce fuel costs for power plants. Banks invested some Rs50,000 crores ($7.18bn) in these projects – many unable to repay their debt, leaving Indian public money at risk.

Trump-alley Andrew Wheeler, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has signed a final ruling that roles back Obama-era emission limits for thermal power plants. The new rule gives U.S. states wide discretion in deciding whether coal power plants need efficiency upgrades or retrofits, hence benefiting the local mining industry.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is calling on governments and businesses around the world to increase the use of clean hydrogen not only for power generation but also for transport and heating. There are currently around 11,200 hydrogen-fuelled cars on the road worldwide. Existing government targets call for that number to increase dramatically to 2.5 million by 2030.

Outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to a 2050 emissions target of reducing emissions by 80% to “almost zero”. Massive investment in clean energy generation – renewables, hydrogen, flexible gas power and energy storage – will be needed to achieve this goal, but funding is still uncertain.  

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News in Brief

Norway’s oil fund starts investing in renewables

Dec 11 – The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), traditionally heavily exposed to the oil and gas industry, has been permitted to shift its strategy. Acknowledging heavy losses of the world’s largest pension fund, worth an estimated $1 trillion, the government in Oslo has allowed GPFG fund managers to also invest in unlisted infrastructure, notably renewable energy sources and alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

ENGIE invests in wind energy in Italy and France

Dec 10 – France’s largest energy company ENGIE has completed the acquisition of Renvico from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and KRR. The move contributes to utility’s ambition of boosting its renewable energy assets to 3 GW in Europe and 9 GW worldwide by 2021. The Renvico takeover comprises 329 MW of operating wind farms of which 142 MW in Italy and 187 MW in France. It also includes a 300 MW greenfield portfolio of various fossil power assets.

Dominion issues Scammer Alert

Dec 9 – Dominion Energy Ohio has reminded customers they will begin receiving the next U.S tax credits automatically, beginning in April 2020, in their monthly bills. Customers were warned not to provide banking details to scammers who claim such data is required to receive the federal tax credits.

BOL finances entire 220 MW plant in Nassau

Dec 6 – Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has agreed to cover the entire costs to build a 220 MW power plant at the Clifton Pier site in Nassau, and transfer the assets to Shell North America. BPL and Shell had agreed to jointly develop a 220 MW power plant plus LNG regas terminal, but the Bahamas state utility later signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a 132 MW engine-driven power plant at the same site.

Kepco to operate CCGT in Uruguay

Dec 5 – Kepco KPS has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the recently commissioned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Punta del Tigre, Uruguay. Under the O&M contract, Kepco said it expects to earn 17 billion Won in sales every year, for a maximum eight years.

Siemens to create thermal twin for Bajaj Energy plant

Dec 4 – Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd (LPGCL), part of Bajaj Group, has contracted Siemens to create a complete twin for its fossil power plant in Uttar Pradesh, India. The thermal twin, powered by thermodynamic analysis and machine learning, allows power plant operators to diagnose performance gaps for every asset in the cycle in real time.

Talks between Gazprom and Naftogaz continue

Dec 3 – Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have continued difficult negotiations about an extension of Russian gas supplies and transit after the current contract expires on December 31, 2019. The two state-run companies are embroiled in a legal dispute that still needs resolving, however, they confirmed talks are underway and focus on the technical aspects of transiting Russian gas to Europe from 2020 onwards.

Asia seen add 400 GW by 2030

Dec 2 – Asian nations are expected to add more than 400 gigawatts (GW) of electrical capacity to the grid over the next decade — equaling about twice the installed capacity of Germany. Much of the new capacity will be renewables, backed up by some 140 GW of dependable gas-fired capacity, according to GE Energy findings. Hence, the U.S. turbine manufacturer decided to invest up to US$60 million to convert its Singapore repair center into a HA engineering and development center.

Total starts up hybrid plant with energy storage

Nov 29 – Total Quadran has started up the largest hybrid power plant combined with energy storage to harness the ample solar power potential of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. With an installed capacity of 16 MW-peak, the plant also features a 10 MW lithium-ion energy storage system. Combining of hybrid solar PV units and possibly gas-powered generator sets with energy storage balance out supply swings and enhances the reliability of the electricity grid.

Rolls-Royce, AVK partner on standby gensets

Nov 28 – AVK, Britain’s largest supplier of critical power solutions for data centres and the financial sector, has partnered with Rolls-Royce’s MTU brand for standby gensets in UK and Ireland. The deal covers MTU Series 2000 and 4000 diesel systems in a range from 825 to 4,000 kVA. In the past 30 years, AVK has developed into the largest solutions provider in the UK’s critical power market and has to date supplied gensets equipped with MTU engines with a total capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

Golar suffers setback amid restructuring

Nov 27 – Golar LNG, owner of a fleet of 27 vessels, has seen operating revenues plunge 20% to $98.67 million, in the first nine month of this year, while net losses amounted to over $236 million. Bermuda-registered Golar in May 2019 announced plans to spin off its LNG carrier fleet with the aim of becoming a gas project developer. It recently won a contract for the Barcarena power project (605 MW) in northeastern Brazil.

Burckhardt buys remaining share of Arkos

Nov 26 – Burckhardt Compression’s subsidiary in North America has purchased the remaining 60% of Arkos Group. The US has the world’s largest installed base of reciprocating compressors, and the integration of Burckhardt and Arkos Field Services, will turn the company into the only independent one-stop provider for equipment and service in the upstream, midstream and downstream business.

Gazprom’s exports to Austria reach fresh record

Nov 25 – Supplies of Russian gas to Austria and transits to Western Europe have already exceeded record levels set last year. From January 1 through November 21, 2019, Gazprom delivered over 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas – 33.5% more than in the same period in 2018. Austria’s OMV imports Russian gas under a long-term contract that was recently extended until 2040.

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.