Regulation & Policy

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) has listed 17 renewable Power-to-Gas (P2G) projects to be built by 2025, and 19 such projects by 2032. For the first time, ENTSO’s latest development plan includes P2G and acknowledges them as ‘Projects of Common Interest’.

Germany first major climate law passed Parliament on Friday and is now being debated by the Bundesrat. The federal state council needs to give consent to parts of the reforms, notably tax support of energy-efficient modernisation of buildings, the rise in commuter allowance related to a new national CO2 price on transport emissions, and a cut in VAT tax on train tickets.

RWE, Germany’s largest electricity provider, might opt to divest its 70% shareholding the Denizli gas power plant (775 MW) in Turkey, Reuters reported, after the utility posted a 20 million Euro fall in EBIT at its lignite and nuclear business unit in January-September – a start contrast with its 38 million Euro profit a year ago.

The German government has come under pressure from climate lawyers to ban all fossil fuel projects from the list of those eligible for European Investment Bank (EIB) support. Luxemburg-based EIB deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November after Germany had urged the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects.

Payouts of about £1 billion under the GB capacity market scheme are due in November. But this is “likely to prove problematic,” analysts warned, as some suppliers may not have been billing large customers – particularly those on “pass-through” contracts – during the EU’s earlier suspension of the scheme.

Just weeks before the UK goes to the polls on 12 December, the government has suspended fracking as analysts found it is not possible to predict the size and frequency of earthquakes caused by this practice. Activity by Cuadrilla had resulted in a 2.9 magnitude tremor at its site in Lancashire in August.

Striving to meet China’s hunger for gas, the government in Beijing is stepping up subsidies to boost domestic production and reduce the country’s dependency on imported pipeline gas and LNG. New incentives are set for producing gas from tight formation through to 2023.

Taking action against air pollution, South Korea has decided to suspend some of the county’s most polluting power stations in the upcoming winter. Up to 27 coal-fired power station will be taken offline from December 2019 until March 2020, and diesel cars could also be banned from the streets.

Germany’s renewable energy levy (EEG surcharge) that consumers pay with their electricity bills will rise up by 5% to 6.756 cents per kilowatt hour (ct/kWh) in 2020. It could be the surcharge’s last increase as the government promised to reduce the levy and other taxes on power prices from 2021.

At times of negative power prices in Germany, when production exceeds demand, only a small fraction of conventional power plants would need to keep running, the energy regulator BNetzA found. To reduce costly oversupply, utilities are advised to invest in flexibility and energy storage.

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has been urged by the Californian energy regulator to guarantee stable gas deliveries to utility customers. SoCalGas is required to inject more gas into storage to mitigate the risk of fuel shortages for power generation in the upcoming winter.

The American Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has introduced a three rules. Operators need, among others, reconfirm the material strength of their lines to ensure safe transport of the abundant U.S. natural gas production to LNG export terminals, domestic industry and power generators.

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News in Brief

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.