Regulation & Policy

Burning wood pellets is deemed “carbon neutral” under new EU policy rules, and so-called “biomass energy” is also increasingly popular in Japan and Korea. But some scientists dismiss the policy as “shortsighted” or outright damaging, given that is leads to old forests being chopped down in rural parts of the U.S. and in Eastern Europe.

By mid-June, the German government will receive a comprehensive report on the effects of a carbon price compared with the option of allowing sectoral pathways to reduce emissions. “Transport, buildings and agriculture so far have no form of [carbon] pricing but just some more or less effective mix of measures,” Chancellor Angela Merkel remarked as her cabinet is divided on how to meet Germany’s 2030 climate targets.

Johannes Teyssen, CEO of the European energy giant E.ON, is supporting plans for a CO2 price to be levied on all sectors of the German economy: power generation, transport and housing. “We propose a cross-sector CO2 tax of 30 Euros starting from next year, which could be gradually increased to 35 Euros,” he told German media.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed her new Climate Cabinet is seeking ways for the country to reach climate neutrality. Should the ministers find a “sound” way to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Germany would be able to join France and Sweden, in drafting a long-term EU climate strategy, said Merkel at the 10th Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

The Nigerian government has announced plans to implement a new gas pricing regime on May 29 in an effort to reduce chronic supply shortfalls and subsequent electric power cuts. Payment issues, and problems with debt collections, have so far made it difficult to enforce domestic gas supply obligations for critical infrastructure such as power stations.

“The path towards a de-carbonised future is unstoppable,” claims David Ledesma, Energy & Strategy Consultant and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES). The industry must, therefore, develop long-term strategies as to what it will do to achieve the European carbon emission targets and set out what additional costs will be incurred and who will pay them.

The French government has decided to put a cap on carbon emissions from its coal-fired power plants starting from 2022. The measure is meant to ensure that “they are forced out of the market,” energy minister Francois de Rugy said when announcing the new draft law.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states – will be able to auction their emission allowances on the common EU Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) starting from June. The European Energy Exchange (EEX) said it is about to publish an auction calendar that includes the EFTA states volumes.

The UK Shale Gas Commissioner Natascha Engel has resigned after just six months in office, stating she quit over “ridiculously low” tremor limits which effectively prevent fracking. Under current law, the fracking process must be halted every time a 0.5 magnitude tremor occurs. Opposing these stringent rules, Ms Engel said this cautious approach had created a ‘de-facto ban on fracking’.

The UK Government has been urged by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee that it needs to do more, and act quicker, on vital clean energy technology such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Committee calls for firm targets for storing CO₂, and to deploy CCS sooner and in more places than government’s current plan.

South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has released a briefing note, detailing the nation’s ambition to move away from coal and towards renewable energy. If realized, these policies are expected to significantly reduce Korea’s coal imports from Australia. Analysts see significant implications for KEPCO’s Bylong Coal mine proposal.

“Enormous efforts” still have to be made if Germany wants to reach its climate and energy targets in the transport and buildings sectors. Government calculations show that renewables will cover more than their target share but energy use in transport keeps growing and is likely to exceed 2005 levels next year and in 2030.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to expand the reach of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for stationary combustion turbines. Lifting a 15-year stay on NESHAP standards, the environmental watchdog is now working on a long overdue residual risk and technology review (RTR). New rules will impact lean pre-mix and diffusion flame gas combustion turbines.

Lawmakers in the U.S. state of Colorado are debating a bill that proposes the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should consider the ‘social cost of carbon emissions’ before issuing permits for new fossil power plants. The concept seeks to put a price on harms caused by emissions and, if enacted, the new carbon tax would be $46/ton of CO2 emitted, starting from 2020.

Just prior to the first meeting of Germany’s newly installed ‘climate cabinet’ this week, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has tabled his vision of the country’s energy transition. In his ‘Energy Concept 2038’, Scholz urges the government to show “more commitment for climate action” and focus on electricity supply and grid stability.

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News in Brief

Norway’s oil fund starts investing in renewables

Dec 11 – The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), traditionally heavily exposed to the oil and gas industry, has been permitted to shift its strategy. Acknowledging heavy losses of the world’s largest pension fund, worth an estimated $1 trillion, the government in Oslo has allowed GPFG fund managers to also invest in unlisted infrastructure, notably renewable energy sources and alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

ENGIE invests in wind energy in Italy and France

Dec 10 – France’s largest energy company ENGIE has completed the acquisition of Renvico from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and KRR. The move contributes to utility’s ambition of boosting its renewable energy assets to 3 GW in Europe and 9 GW worldwide by 2021. The Renvico takeover comprises 329 MW of operating wind farms of which 142 MW in Italy and 187 MW in France. It also includes a 300 MW greenfield portfolio of various fossil power assets.

Dominion issues Scammer Alert

Dec 9 – Dominion Energy Ohio has reminded customers they will begin receiving the next U.S tax credits automatically, beginning in April 2020, in their monthly bills. Customers were warned not to provide banking details to scammers who claim such data is required to receive the federal tax credits.

BOL finances entire 220 MW plant in Nassau

Dec 6 – Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has agreed to cover the entire costs to build a 220 MW power plant at the Clifton Pier site in Nassau, and transfer the assets to Shell North America. BPL and Shell had agreed to jointly develop a 220 MW power plant plus LNG regas terminal, but the Bahamas state utility later signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a 132 MW engine-driven power plant at the same site.

Kepco to operate CCGT in Uruguay

Dec 5 – Kepco KPS has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the recently commissioned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Punta del Tigre, Uruguay. Under the O&M contract, Kepco said it expects to earn 17 billion Won in sales every year, for a maximum eight years.

Siemens to create thermal twin for Bajaj Energy plant

Dec 4 – Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd (LPGCL), part of Bajaj Group, has contracted Siemens to create a complete twin for its fossil power plant in Uttar Pradesh, India. The thermal twin, powered by thermodynamic analysis and machine learning, allows power plant operators to diagnose performance gaps for every asset in the cycle in real time.

Talks between Gazprom and Naftogaz continue

Dec 3 – Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have continued difficult negotiations about an extension of Russian gas supplies and transit after the current contract expires on December 31, 2019. The two state-run companies are embroiled in a legal dispute that still needs resolving, however, they confirmed talks are underway and focus on the technical aspects of transiting Russian gas to Europe from 2020 onwards.

Asia seen add 400 GW by 2030

Dec 2 – Asian nations are expected to add more than 400 gigawatts (GW) of electrical capacity to the grid over the next decade — equaling about twice the installed capacity of Germany. Much of the new capacity will be renewables, backed up by some 140 GW of dependable gas-fired capacity, according to GE Energy findings. Hence, the U.S. turbine manufacturer decided to invest up to US$60 million to convert its Singapore repair center into a HA engineering and development center.

Total starts up hybrid plant with energy storage

Nov 29 – Total Quadran has started up the largest hybrid power plant combined with energy storage to harness the ample solar power potential of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. With an installed capacity of 16 MW-peak, the plant also features a 10 MW lithium-ion energy storage system. Combining of hybrid solar PV units and possibly gas-powered generator sets with energy storage balance out supply swings and enhances the reliability of the electricity grid.

Rolls-Royce, AVK partner on standby gensets

Nov 28 – AVK, Britain’s largest supplier of critical power solutions for data centres and the financial sector, has partnered with Rolls-Royce’s MTU brand for standby gensets in UK and Ireland. The deal covers MTU Series 2000 and 4000 diesel systems in a range from 825 to 4,000 kVA. In the past 30 years, AVK has developed into the largest solutions provider in the UK’s critical power market and has to date supplied gensets equipped with MTU engines with a total capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

Golar suffers setback amid restructuring

Nov 27 – Golar LNG, owner of a fleet of 27 vessels, has seen operating revenues plunge 20% to $98.67 million, in the first nine month of this year, while net losses amounted to over $236 million. Bermuda-registered Golar in May 2019 announced plans to spin off its LNG carrier fleet with the aim of becoming a gas project developer. It recently won a contract for the Barcarena power project (605 MW) in northeastern Brazil.

Burckhardt buys remaining share of Arkos

Nov 26 – Burckhardt Compression’s subsidiary in North America has purchased the remaining 60% of Arkos Group. The US has the world’s largest installed base of reciprocating compressors, and the integration of Burckhardt and Arkos Field Services, will turn the company into the only independent one-stop provider for equipment and service in the upstream, midstream and downstream business.

Gazprom’s exports to Austria reach fresh record

Nov 25 – Supplies of Russian gas to Austria and transits to Western Europe have already exceeded record levels set last year. From January 1 through November 21, 2019, Gazprom delivered over 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas – 33.5% more than in the same period in 2018. Austria’s OMV imports Russian gas under a long-term contract that was recently extended until 2040.

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.