Regulation & Policy

German research minister Anja Karliczek is calling for a “clear schedule and a clear target” for a transition to green hydrogen, made with renewable energy. The minister dismissed blue hydrogen, made with natural gas using carbon capture and storage (CCS), as “a distraction.” Berlin will decide on a hydrogen strategy on March 18.

Germany's policy push to reach 2030 climate targets is “insufficient,” two government-commissioned studies find. Despite the agreement on a coal phase-out, the introduction of a CO2 price and several other measures, emissions will likely exceed the target by around 70 million tonnes in a decade, mainly due to shortcomings in transport and the heating sector.

The European Commission has allocated 877 million Euros of its ‘Just Transition Fund’ to support structural change in German coal mining regions that are hardest hit by an coal exit by 2035. Germany receives the second largest handout, after Poland, from the 7.5 billion Euros fund.

The California Energy Commission has withdrawn the license for the Palmdale Energy Project, just north of Los Angeles, after the developer Palmdale Energy signaled it was unable to secure a customer for the gas-fired plant. Attitudes in California have changed as consumers favour carbon-neutral power generation over fossil fuels.

Vietnam’s vibrant economy is facing severe energy shortages from 2021 as construction of new power plants cannot keep up with rising electricity demand. The government in Hanoi hence set out guidelines to boost generating capacity from currently 54 GW to 125 GW by 2030.

Germany must exit coal-fired power generation much faster than planned to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) finds. To meet climate goals, a coal phase-out would have to be completed by 2030, or better before.

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, has singled out natural gas as the “only credible route for pursuing an energy transition.” To enact his gas-led energy policies, the PM seeks to double gas production in New South Wales which hinges on Santos going ahead with the Narrabri gas project.

As Germany exits both nuclear and coal generation simultaneously over the next few years, more flexible gas-fired generating capacity and energy storage will be required to balance the grid. The gas industry hence urges the Government to introduce regulation to launch capacity markets to incentivize enough new-build gas power units by 2030.

Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are preparing to hit European investors in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with a new set of sanctions in an effort to derail the project. Uniper, Winterhall, Engie, OMW and Shell are invested in the Baltic Sea interconnector, and the sanctions could come as soon as February or March.

Concerns over China’s gas demand grow after the government said it would hand out ‘force majeure’ certificates to domestic companies if they cannot fulfill their offtake obligations. Beijing apparently tries to mitigate potential losses of state-owned gas companies though the impact on LNG imports is still unclear.

Spain’s new government has revised the 2021-2030 Energy Plan, speeding up the country’s coal exit and stepping up solar PV targets. Coal-fired power units will “cease to be competitive by 2030,” the plan reads, given that CO2 prices in Europe are likely to rise to €35 per ton and considering the relative price of gas.

The German renewables energy surcharge (EEG) has swept a record payout into the coffers of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower producers. Proceeds totaled 27.5 billion Euros 2019, triple the amount paid in the previous year which sparked anger amongst end-users who have to pay the EEG surcharge with their electricity bills.

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News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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