Regulation & Policy

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.”

Mexico has published a preliminary schedule for a third power auction and is calling for bids, with the winners set to sign long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for clean energy supply, the energy secretariat SENER and the state energy control centre CENACE stated.

The spread of policy drivers, as well as falling costs of solar and wind power, will ensure the de-carbonisation of the energy system continues globally, according to projections made by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Analysts cautioned however that the extent to which Mr Trump reverses the momentum of the Obama administration on green issues, and whether he will pull out of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, will be a key development to watch.

Nigeria has approached the World Bank for a $5.2 billion loan to expand power generation capacity and help the West African nation recover from its first recession in over two decades. Observers doubt, however, that the government in Abuja can reach its goal to triple Nigeria’s installed electric capacity by 2025.

In the run-up to the 2017 UK General Election, Theresa May has promised to impose a cap on standard variable power tariffs in the Tory manifesto to end what she calls the “injustice” of rising energy costs. Under the proposed plan, the energy regulator Ofgem would set a limit for the standard variable tariffs that customers move to by default after their existing deals run out. This measure is meant to save about 17 million customers up to £100 a year.

Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, is reviewing incentive schemes for small gas, diesel-fired power plants – a withdrawal of subsidies could make developers scrap 2,000 MW of planned capacity. Operators of larger combined-cycle gas power plants argue, however, that payments to distributed gensets have led to a ‘market distortion’ which discourages investments in CCGTs.

Decentralized power generation is high on the agenda in Tanzania, with the Rural Energy Agency (REA) pleading support for individuals or companies that intend to supply ‘mini-grid electricity’. This initiative is meant to help close Tanzania's 1,290MW power deficit and give more of its rural population access to electricity.