Regulation & Policy

Bowing to industry pressure, the British government has indicated it will make a direct investment of public money into the much-contended Wylfa nuclear project in north Wales, backed by Hitachi. Critics dismiss this move as state aid, a reversal of 40 years of UK energy sector privatisation, and unfair prioritisation of nuclear power to the detriment of renewables and new gas-fired power projects.

Energy industry stakeholders have unanimously condemned U.S. President Trump’s latest market interference by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to stop, what he calls, “impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities.” Rebuking the move, several energy industry associates called the action “misguided” as it would be effectively subsidizing “failing coal and nuclear plants.”

Improving power system flexibility is vital for cost-effective management of variability and uncertainty in both supply and demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Hence the agency calls for a proactive response from regulators and policy makers to help manage today’s fundamental a transformation of energy markets.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will unify China’s residential and industrial city-gate natural gas pricing systems from June 10 to better reflect rising demand and costs. The new mechanism will allow gas prices to rise by no more than 20% from a benchmark price, NDRC stated, which is “more flexible” than the existing one which since 2010 kept a ceiling on residential gas prices at at 1.4 yuan (about $0.22) per cubic metres.

Canada’s current policies, combined with energy efficiency investment, could deliver final energy savings of 1.9% per year on average through 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Sectors with the greatest energy savings potential would be buildings (28%), followed by transport (25%), oil and gas extraction (21%) and industry (12%).

Dirty king coal is no longer vital for Germany’s security of power supply. In fact, about half of the country’s coal-fired power generation capacity could be shut down over the coming years if planned grid extension and the additional gas-fired plants start operating according to schedule, said Jochen Homann, head of the German energy regulator.

Deployment of electric vehicles so far has fallen short of expectations hence penalizing policy measures, like London’s new Emissions Surcharge, or T-Charge, have been introduced to spur growth. Penalising offending vehicles is one part of the solution, finds Jacob Klimstra, Senior Energy Consultant and Member of the Advisory Board for Electrify Europe. He highlighted plans by the Dutch government for all new cars to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030 – others, including Paris, are already following suit.

Chicago-based Exelon has approached the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), suggesting it would keep operating two gas-fired power plants and the LNG import facility in Everett between 2022 and 2024, if it gets permission to collect about $1 per month from all electricity customers in New England. The Mystic gas-fired power plants are some of the largest generators in New England, but they are not economical in the current market environment.

Painting a bleak picture of the planet’s climate, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned if countries limit their clean energy efforts to their  nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in the Paris Agreement, this will set us on a path consistent with about 2.7°C warming by 2100. Yet, as the adage goes, “that which is measured, improves,” says IEA Climate Change Policy Analyst, Caroline Lee, so there is hope that natural gas and renewables will help turn the tide towards more sustainable electricity supply.

Beginning June 1, New England will become the first US grid operator to fully integrate demand-response (DR) resources into its daily energy dispatch and reserve processes. The ISO estimates that about 408 MW of DR will be available which will participate in real time in the energy markets. Pay-for-performance incentives will be in effect starting June 1.  With this instrument, the ISO is confident to meet peak summer demand. 

Federal financial interventions and subsidies in U.S. energy markets have been in a steep decline over the past five years. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), federal monies spent in energy markets nearly halved in the period 2013-16, falling from $29.3 billion in the 2013 fiscal year to $15.0 billion in FY2016.

Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has approved DTE Electric’s certificates of necessity filing to build a 1,100 Gigawatt gas-fired power station in St. Clair County at a cost of nearly $1 billion. Construction will now start in early 2019, DTE said, aiming to get the plant commissioned by 2022.

Page 17 of 76

News in Brief

Growth in turbine air filtration tops 3%

July 22 – The turbine air filtration market is expected to grow 3.27% annually from $1.92 billion in 2020 to reach $2.29 billion in 2026. Demand from the oil & gas industry and electric utilities had plunged during the corona crisis and subsequent economic downturn, but the latest trend towards clean energy is driving robust growth for turbine air filtration which can be widely and easily applied in the power sector.

US oil exports stay high

July 21 – Despite volatile prices, U.S. crude oil exports reached a record high in 2020 and remained strong this year, averaging 3.51 million barrels per day (b/d). Expanded ports at Houston and Corpus Christi allow for oil to be exported from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Basin.

CVEC to be converted to hydrogen

July 20 – Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC) is taking steps to run the  combined-cycle plants on hydrogen. Works to convert the plant will be carried out by GE and are scheduled to start in late 2022. One of three GE 7F.05 gas turbines at CVEC will be introduced to a 5% hydrogen blend with natural gas.

MAN ETES labelled solar impulse efficient

July 16 – MAN Electro-Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) was attributed the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label by independent auditors. In January, the German manufacturer supplied to ETES heat pumps to DIN Forsyning for a heat and power plant in the Danish port city Esbjerg.

Electricity sales to US industry rebounds

July 14 – Economic recovery has caused a 5.1% rise electricity sales to US industry this year, dwarfing 2.8% more retail sales and a 2.1% rise in the commercial sector as many office workers continue working from home. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) acting administrator, Steve Nalley, called the rebound in electricity sales to industry a “strong sign of rising levels of economic output as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes.”

Solar PV to triple in Asia by 2030

July 13 – Asia Pacific solar photovoltaic capacity could triple to 1,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie estimates, China will add 619 GW of mainly utility-scale capacity while most other nations in Asia prefers distributed solar due to land constraints. Solar PV tends to be backed up by flexible gas gensets and energy storage, forming hybrid power units.

Kinder Morgan closes on Stagecoach assets

July 12 – US energy infrastructure major Kinder Morgan has closed its acquisition of Stagecoach Gas Services. The deal include 4 gas storage facilities with a 41 bcf working gas capacity and a transmission network with multiple interconnects to major interstate pipelines, including Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The Stagecoach assets add to Kinder Morgan’s approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines and 144 terminals.

Dortmund cancels electrotechnik fair

July 9 – The elektrotechnik fair, planned for 29 September to 1 October 2021, will now not be taking place in Dortmund due to requests from the industry. The next trade fair for building, industrial, energy and lighting technology will now open its doors again in spring 2023.

Hitachi to change name of ABB Power Grids

July 7 – Hitachi ABB Power Grids will become Hitachi Energy in October. The Japanese manufacturer bought a controlling stake in ABB’s grid business a year ago and is about to fully take the name of the merged company while expanding its direction towards e-mobility and data centres.

Tapping wind energy for hydrogen

July 6 – Spanish utility Naturgy and the gas grid operator Enagás are evaluating the use of 350 MW offshore and onshore wind capacity to produce green hydrogen. The fuel will be used to decarbonise the steel industry and shipyard in northwest Spain.

EU seeks to expand Green Deal to Africa

July 5 – The European Green Deal should be expanded to also include African states as partners, the German development minister Gerd Müller said. Green hydrogen production in Africa, in his view, should be a “cornerstone for economic cooperation with the Europe.”

Decom Engineering updates PCR

July 2 – Northern Ireland-based Decom Engineering has invested more than £700,000 to develop tools for repurposing and clean decommissioning of energy infrastructure. Through updated Pipe Coating Removal (PCR) equipment, decommissioned or surplus pipelines can be cleaned of multiple coatings, so they can be repurposed for used on other projects.

Cummins buys half of Momentum Fuels

July 1 – Cummins has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 50% equity interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies from Rush Enterprises. The transaction is expected to close before year-end, and the combined venture will produce Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America.

Gazprom evaluates cost of grey hydrogen

June 30 – Scientific studies by Gazprom and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) seek to solve technical challenges in producing grey hydrogen through steam reforming in the most cost-efficient way, as well as transporting the fuel to end-users. The findings of the studies will be factored into Gazprom's sustainable development scenarios up to 2050.

Redox about to overtake Li-ion batteries

June 28 – Li-ion batteries have dominated the energy storage field, but are expected to lose their leading role in stationary applications. According to IDTechEx findings, Redox flow batteries are gaining traction and are likely to overtake the installed Li-ion battery energy capacity before the end of 2030.

B&W proceeds with waste-to-energy projects

June 25 – Babcock & Wilcox’s (B&W) renewable segment has received limited notice to proceed for a waste-to-energy project in Europe as it finalizes terms for a $24 million contract with the customer. Ohio-based B&W said it looks to capitalize on an estimated addressable market of more than $7 billion in Europe over the next three years.

Japan’s gas-burn on the rise

June 24 – LNG imports for power generation in Japan have rebounded with steady volumes from the Middle East and Australia and higher cargo numbers from Russia and the US, though LNG deliveries were outpaced by thermal coal shipments. The May 2021 LNG shipments amounted to 4.95 million tonnes, or around 73 cargoes, a 8.2% rise on volumes received in May 2020, according to trade figures by the Japanese finance ministry.

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