Regulation & Policy

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.”

Page 18 of 70

News in Brief

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.

U.S inventories at record highs

May 4 – Inventories for crude oil and natural gas have reached a new record high in the United States, as fuel demand declines both for transport and the electric power sector. From March 13 – when a national emergency was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to April 24, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 74 million barrels, or 16%, according to government figures. The acute scarcity of crude storage on April 20 led to a sell-off of future contracts at negative prices.

Wärtsilä to service Argentinean power plant

May 1 – Wärtsilä has signed a 10-year maintenance and service agreement with one of Argentina’s upstream companies. Under the deal, Wärtsilä provides a guaranteed performance for a 57.6 MW onsite power plant in the southern part of Argentina, with excess power sold to the national grid.

Zink-Air batteries for NY

April 30 – Zinc8 Energy Solutions has entered a cooperation with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to install a zinc-air battery energy storage, backed by $2.55 million in state funding over a three year period. The Zinc8 ESS units can deliver power in the range 20-50 MW, with capacity of 8 hours of storage duration. The project will help New York State achieve its goal of installing 3 GW of energy storage by 2030.

UK again ‘coal-free’

April 29 – The UK continues to break its coal-free record as thermal coal-fired power plants currently remain off the system, according to National Grid data. Faltering demand due to the pandemic and high renewable energy supply radically altered the energy mix in many developed countries, with power in-feed from solar PV reaching 10 GW in Britain at the start of this week. “Coal is due off the system by 2025 and renewables have shown they are cost competitive with a viable route to market,” Delta-EE director Andy Bradley commented.

China’s fuel demand to rebound in Q2

April 28 – China’s demand for refined fuel is forecast to rebound in the second quarter, nearly reaching year-ago levels, as lockdowns to contain the coronavirus get lifted. Analysts at SIA Energy in Beijing expect second quarter demand for the three main transportation fuels to increase by 1.1 million barrels per day compared with the first quarter of 2020.