Regulation & Policy

Distributed energy sources will be tested as a way to restart of electricity supplies under a £11.7 million project, partly funded by the UK energy regulator Ofgem. The project will see National Grid, SP Energy Networks and TNEI explore how distributed gensets can be put to use to get the grid up and running again, should a ‘Black Start’ event occur.

German authorities want to test the country’s resilience to a severe natural gas shortage with a large-scale emergency drill held over two days, the energy regulator BNetzA and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs & Energy (BMWi) announced. “Germany’s gas supply is very secure and reliable,” said BNetzA head Jochen Homann. “However, it is prudent to be also prepared for unlikely emergencies.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has extended the deadline for a much-awaited report from the country’s coal exit commissions. Elections in three coal states in eastern Germany in 2019, as well as lobbying from utilities prompted her to effectively axe the opportunity of having a report on pre-2020 action ready before the COP24 climate meeting in Poland in early December.

Leaked drafts of a report of Germany’s coal commission show the country’s coal exist will likely be delayed to 2022, rather than starting in 2020. The pathway of the coal exit is now in focus, rather than the exit date. Forced plant closure should be avoided, the commission said, stressing shut-downs need to agreed with operators who will claim compensation.

Flexible gas power plants will have to fill the capacity gap after Toshiba abandoned its £15 billion Moorside nuclear power venture in Cumbria, and will start to wind up NuGen in January. Moorside could have covered 7% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2025 – a share that now needs to be filled by fossil fuels, notably natural gas.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) has alerted state regulators about plans to retire four coal-fired power units by 2023, and another one by 2028. The utility’s latest Integrated Resource Plan details NIPSCO’s efforts to produce 65% of its electricity from renewables and at least 25% of its output from natural gas.

Weakened by losses in state elections in Hesse and Bavaria, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to give way for a new leader of her conservative CDU party. Merkel’s decision could help the ruling coalition regain focus and make important decisions on energy, climate and other key areas. Uncertainty abounds about the timeline for Germany's coal exit.

India's Prime Minister Narenda Modi has voiced concerns over excessive delays in joint venture projects with Sri Lanka. The neigbouring island nation is expected to fast-track a LNG-fuelled power plant after a coal power project was halted, just when the Indian JV was about to start construction. Despite approval for a $250 million LNG import terminal near Colombo, the Indian-Japanese JV has not yet followed through with the project.

Siemens and General Electric, two rival global engineering companies, are at loggerheads over a multi-million dollar power generation deal in Iraq. The Trump administration now intervened and put severe pressure on the Iraqi government to award part of a $15 billion contract – first discussed and pre-arranged with Siemens – to GE Power & Gas.

Though China’s energy market reform has made progress, and over 80% of gas consumed by industry is now being sold on market-orientated prices, leading economists are calling for further steps that reform the entire gas-value chain. “China could open the natural gas upstream and downstream markets and regulate the midstream pipeline transport market,” said ZhongXiang Zhang Professor at the Ma Yinchu School of Economics, Tianjin University.

Tender documents have been posted by the Public Gas Corporation of Cyprus (DEFA) in search for a counterparty that will supply and install a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) at the port of Vassilikos. The LNG import project comes at a cost of €300 million, with the imported volumes set to underpin the conversion of an oil-fired power station to run on natural gas.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Williams’ request to place its Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project into full service. Operations commenced as of Saturday, October 6, 2018, increasing design capacity of the Transco pipeline for natural gas from Marcellus Shale by 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), or approximately 15%, to 15.8 Bcf/d.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party, has set out plans to transform the British energy market and “kickstart a green jobs revolution” that is meant to create over 400,000 jobs. At his party’s annual conference, he also pledged to double the number of onshore wind farms, if Labour comes to power in case of a UK snap election.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has openly confronted Russia over its energy politics by claiming the Gazprom-led Nord Stream-2 project would distort European energy market. Perry said Nord Stream extension project “would concentrate two-thirds of the imports of Russian gas to Europe in a single pipeline, creating a choke point [exposed to potential] disruption."

At the UK's first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, Prime Minister Theresa May has committed £106 million for R&D in green vehicles, new batteries and low carbon technology. May said the Britain will “lead from the front” on zero-emission cars to meet a target for UK roads to be free of petrol and diesel cars by 2050.

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News in Brief

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.

Regulators approve £300m Belfast power project

March 28 – Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has approved plans for a £300 million gas-fired power project in Belfast. The 480 MW power station, developed by Belfast Power Holdings, will be situated in the city's Harbour Estate and provide energy to about 500,000 homes and businesses.