Regulation & Policy

The Trump administration is adamant about dismantling former President Obama’s signature plan to reduce emissions from power plants. Rather than mandating states to change their energy mix by imposing emission quotas, President Trump is expected to give utilities some guidance on how to operate their power plants more efficiently.

Crops for bioenergy are the only renewable source able to produce heat, power as well as liquid and gaseous fuels. Planting second generation non-food bioenergy crops could, according to the Energy Technology Institute (ETI), not only helps electrify Britain, but also created new jobs in the farming and forestry sectors, post Brexit.

Commentators have openly rebuked US Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal for a bailout of coal and nuclear power plants. In a letter to FERC, Perry had directed the regulator to set up a rule, offering plants that can store 90 day’s worth of fuel onsite some extra compensation. Critics dismissed this plan as “nuts” as it would interfere in America’s unregulated wholesale power market, effectively reducing the price of electricity generated from burning coal.

Black-yellow-green: a Jamaica coalition between the Conservatives, Liberals and the Green Party is now the sole option for Germany’s new government – after the Social Democrats decided for the opposition. With the Greens participating, the time is ripe for a fierce debate in parliament in about the feasibility of phasing out coal-fired power plants; in close succession to Germany’s nuclear exist.

Persistently high power prices and energy shortages along the East Coast of Australia could be solved by a trans-continental gas pipeline that connects the resource-rich Northwest to existing infrastructure in central Australia, says Colin Barnett former premier of Western Australia. Though the 3,000km interconnector costs an estimated $5billion, he stressed expenses need to be put in context with $49 billion spent for a national broadband project.

Southern Co. has rejected a revised offer on rates for the Kemper County power plant. The offer would have enabled Mississippi Power to collect an additional $100 million in assets. After abandoning efforts to complete the Kemper gasifier, Southern had to take up nearly $6 billion in losses on the $7.5 billion project – but the regulator say some of the costs it now wants to recoup are “unjustified.”

A draft policy paper published by South Korea’s energy ministry this week signals a strategy of adding between 5-10 GW to the county’s installed capacity, mostly from LNG-to-power projects and renewables. The envisaged new clean energy plants would expand Korea’s installed capacity by about 10%.

The UK government plans to publish the long-delayed £50 billion hydrogen strategy to clean up emissions from the country’s heat, transport and industrial sectors within weeks. Jon Slowe, a director at Delta-ee, singled out decarbonising heat as “the biggest challenge in reducing carbon emissions.”

“Market designs may be inadequate” to keep “traditional” power generation online, cautions a long-awaited report by the Department of Energy (DoE) on the security of the U.S. power grid. To alleviate risks, the study calls on regulators to facilitate easier permitting for coal, nuclear and hydropower plants.

Taiwan’s recent massive blackout raises questions of the government’s wider energy policy which, according to Dr. Guo Yu, principal Asia analyst at Maplecroft, “does not pose an immediate threat to government stability.” However, it may determine the political fortunes of President Tsai and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party as we approach the next election cycle in 2020.

Turning his back on former President Obama’s clean energy aspirations, the new FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee calls for coal to be “properly compensated” for baseload power and “recognized as an essential part of the fuel mix.” Asserting his commitment to the “resilience and reliability” of the US electric system, he said in a podcast released by FERC this week that ensuring security of supply would merit keeping even uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants operational. “These are essential to national security,” he claimed.

The European Commission is to crack down on all Large Combustion Plants (LCPs), mandating that they conform with best practice. It adopted an implementing act to introduce "Best Available Technique" (BAT) conclusions for some 3,500 power plants of 50 MW or larger, irrespective of their fuel. Stricter emission standards for all LCPS are meant to be in place by mid-2021.

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News in Brief

Supercapcitors to replace batteries

Sept 25 – The global market for supercapacitors was valued at over $487 million last year and is forecast to top $1,570 millio by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 21.8%. Supercapacitor, an emerging technology for energy storage systems, can offer higher power density than batteries was may soon replace the latter.

Atos, Siemens expand digital partnership

Sept 24 – Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, has expanded its strategic partnership with Siemens AG for five years, helping the latter with data driven digital, cloud transformation and cybersecurity. The extension comes in the context of 5-year total €3 billion agreements which were separately signed with Siemens AG, Siemens Energy and Siemens Healthineers.

Rotterdam Port to store CO2 beneath the North Sea

Sept 23 – The Porthos project, a joint venture between the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gasunie and EBN, seeks to transport CO2 from industry in the port to empty gas fields beneath the North Sea. In its early years, the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) will be able to store approximately 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year with plans to be operational by 2024.

German power sector to reach net zero in 2040s

Sept 22 – Revisions to Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) stipulate the power sector should become greenhouse-gas neutral in the early 2040s. Despite the gradual electrification of heating and transport, the German energy ministry is so far sticking to its estimate of 580 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power consumption in 2030 – close to current levels.

B&W to supply superheaters to Lumiant

Sept 21 – Babcock & Wilcox’s thermal segment has been contracted to design, manufacture and supply new superheater components for a high-efficiency boiler at Luminant’s Oak Grove Power Plant near Franklin, Texas. Material delivery to Oak Grove is scheduled for February 2021.

EC targets 55% emission cut by 2030

Sept 17 – The European Commission’s latest 2030 Target Plan stipulates a 55% cut in emissions by 2030, compared to 1990-levels. The lobby group COGEN Europe stressed the importance of combined heat and power generation (CHP) to reach that goal, calling for more stable policies and supportive regulation.

Rolls-Royce may sell ITP Areo

Sept 17 – Britain’s prime manufacturer Rolls-Royce confirmed it is looking to strengthen its balance sheet, possibly by disposing of ITP Aero which his hoped to generate proceeds of more than £2bn over the next 18 months. Further cost cutting is meant to deliver £1 billion and revamping of the company’s Civil Areospace business should save another £1.3 billion.

China’s GDP may grow 1.8%

Sept 16 – China’s GDP is forecast to grow 1.8% this year as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. The government slashed electricity tariffs to support manufacturing but the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns of mounting credit risk for banks. Fiscal revenue pressure also intensifies as 1.5% of China’s GDP growth in the first half of 2020 was based on bond-funded investment by local governments.

Zeebrugge goes for green hydrogen

Sept 15 – Colruyt Group (Eoly), Parkwind and Fluxys aim to spend up to 35 million Euros to develop a green hydrogen plant in Zeebrugge, Belgium, by 2023. The plan is to convert off-shore wind energy into green hydrogen which can then be injected in the high-pressure natural gas transmission grid.

Shale gas market to top $41bn

Sept 14 – Global markets for unconventional gas, mostly developed by shale fracking, is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 7% to reach $ 41.76 billion by 2024. According to Technavio, the Americas region will remain dominant with an 87% market share as hydraulic fracturing technologies evolve. Top players in the market are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, PetroChina, Gazprom, Shell, Santos, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., and YPF.

SNAM, Saipem join forces on hydrogen

Sept 11 – Two Italian energy companies, SNAM and Saipem, have agreed to develop initiatives for green hydrogen production and transport, as well as for carbon dioxide capture, transport and reuse or storage (CCRS). The move supports the European Commission’s Hydrogen Strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

MAN, Wasco to drive Power-to-Gas Tech in Asia

Sept 10 – MAN Energy Solutions and Wasco have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote and commercialize Power-to-X (PtX) projects in South-East Asia. The technology in question converts electricity into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, gas or liquid, for use as a clean, carbon-neutral energy source.

Romgaz, GSP to realise 200 MW gas and solar project

Sept 9 – Romania’s state gas company Romgaz has agreed to build 200 MW power generation capacity with the privately-owned Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) which is controlled by the local businessman Gabriel Comanescu. The project entails a 150 MW gas-fired power plant and a 50 MW solar photovoltaic park, to be built on the site of a disused coal power plant in southern Romania.

Alaska uses twice as much energy for transport as NY

Sept 8 – More energy is used per person for transportation in U.S. states with low population density. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA), people in geographically large states with small populations, such as Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota, are useing twice as much energy for transportation than the U.S. average on a per capita basis. That’s in stark contrast to states with higher population density, such as Rhode Island and New York.

Hydrogen Council launched in Kobe/Kansai area

Sept 7 – Mitsubishi Power, part of MHI, and various Japanese energy companies have set up the so-called ‘Kobe/Kansai Hydrogen Utilization Council’ to develop new utilization methods and establish a regional hydrogen supply chain. The aim is to help Japan shift to a carbon-free, hydrogen-powered society by 2030.

B&W sets up Asia-Pacific HQ in Perth

Sept 4 – Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) has setup new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Perth, Australia, and named Nick Carter as managing director of the region. Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, the engineering company is also establishing or expanding operations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China and India.

Germany boosts RES targets

Sept 3 – Striving to meet 2030 emission targets, the Germany government is increasing its renewable energy targets while adjusting the grid to accommodate a greater influx of fluctuating power supply. The draft reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) stipulates raising the solar photovoltaic capacity to 100 GW (up from 52 GW today), onshore wind capacity to 71 GW (from 55 GW), offshore wind to 20 GW and biomass to 8.4 GW.

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