Regulation & Policy

Power shortages in South Australia’s heavily wind-reliant electricity market have highlighted the urgency of developing backup capacity, the grid operator warned. Prices had surged tenfold to hit $14,000/MWh amid severe supply shortages, prompting policy makers to plea for the restart of a mothballed gas power station.

ACEEE’s 2016 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard has ranked Germany as the frontrunner for energy efficiency, followed by Italy and Japan (tied for second place), France and the UK. Though Germany scored highest for ‘national efforts’, ‘buildings’ and ‘industry’, it was overtaken by India, Italy and Japan in the ‘transport’ category. 

Importing cheap hydropower from Norway and Denmark is deemed a ‘quick fix’ for Britain’s capacity shortage as investment in new large power projects is hard to come by. Yet, Britain’s vote to leave the EU is jeopardizing the future use of interconnectors in the UK capacity market scheme. Demand-side response and power storage are some of the options left.

Uncertainty over the future operation of Britain’s energy market, rising financing costs and post-Brexit challenges to include interconnectors in the UK’s capacity market are expected to “add a risk premium into all forward capacity auctions,” Cornwall Energy says. Higher clearing prices at auction could add over £360 million to consumers’ energy bills.

Theresa May, the new UK Prime Minister, has shut down the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and moved responsibilities to the newly created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, led by Greg Clarke. Critics in Whitehall voiced concerns that the new government places less importance on closing Britain's power gen capacity gap as main attention lies on Brexit.

US consumer watchdog has warned the California Independent System Operator (CASIO) against introducing a ‘Western Power Grid’ that would strengthen links between eight states and facilitate more electricity exports to Mexico. Critics warn this would be “burdening consumers with higher costs [of generation] to benefit investors,” while proponents say an interregional grid would help save nearly $1 billion over the next decade.

Over two-thirds of households in Myanmar still lack access to electricity, so new centralised gas power plants – like the Sembcorp’s 225 MW Myingyan combined-cycle gas power project – are deemed “vital” to supply much-needed electricity to the grid.

A flurry of power plant closures this spring has spurred the UK government to buy more electricity generation capacity and buy it earlier. Up to 53.8 GW of capacity for delivery in 2017/18 will be procured in an ‘early auction’ next January, while the volume of the T-4 auction in December for 2020/21 delivery was raised by around 6 GW to now 52 GW.

An $18 million program to install a state-wide micro grid, powered by distributed gas-fired turbines, is underway in the US costal state of Connecticut. Deployment is fast-tracked in response to hurricane Sandy, with $18 million in funding made available through the ‘DEEP Microgrid Pilot Program’.

Daily electricity generation in Nigeria has reached another low point, plummeting to just over 2,520 MW on Friday – a far cry from estimated peak demand of 17,720 MW. Yet in the face of a domestic gas supply crisis, flaring of associated gas continues and foreign private investment in domestic power & gas projects is hard to come by.

Following the abrupt withdrawal of £1 billion CCS funding by the UK treasury, Whitehall now has to set out its ‘Carbon Plan’ to explain how it will meet targets set in the Paris Agreement without capturing carbon from fossil power plants. Today, CSSA detailed ‘36 lessons-learned’ from UK CCS programmes – a retrospective.  Scotland’s SCCS warned any alternative climate action might cost even more dearly.

Uncertainty abounds after Britain voted for Brexit amid concerns over implications on foreign direct investment, not least in the UK energy sector. The very future of the Hinkley Point nuclear power project is up in the air, as observers warn that the departure of UK prime minister David Cameron might give EDF a pretext to pull the plug on financing.

Cross-border electricity flows need better TSO coordination, as do capacity measures set by national policymakers, if Europe wants to achieve its energy security policy objectives. As Fabien Roque, senior vice president for Compass Lexecon Energy put it: “We will only be able to address issues of coordination in capacity markets if we can deal with simultaneous scarcity situations.”

Unsubsidized renewable spot prices in many markets are now equal to or below gas power prices, prompting substantial changes in generation requirements. “We are in the midst of transition to a new energy paradigm and this implies consequences for traditional generation. The first need is a much higher efficiency for all plants along with greater flexibility,” Enrico Viale, Enel Group’s head of global thermal generation said at the opening of Power-Gen Europe in Milan today.

Implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will accelerate the growth of renewable generation and the phase out of coal power plants throughout the United States. Wind and solar power is set to will overtake coal-fired generation by 2029, while gas power capacity will exceed coal-fired plants by 2022, according to EIA projections.

Page 18 of 54

News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.