Regulation & Policy

Utilities’ rising use of artificial intelligence (AI) accelerates Europe’s green energy transition. The greatest potential, according to Germany's energy agency (dena) lies in forecasting as well as optimising operations and inventories. dena CEO Andreas Kuhlmann said AI can “drive new business models, accelerate innovation and increase efficiency.”

The German government prepares to launch green ‘twin bonds’ with a volume of eleven billion Euros in a bid to attract investors to sustainable finance and raise funds for emissions reduction projects. From September, investors can swap government bonds with the new green bonds.

High costs of renewable electricity in Germany prevent the realisation of green hydrogen projects, says Nils Aldag, CCO of the Dresden-based startup Sunfire. In Norway, one of Sunfire’s electrolysis plant pays less than a quarter of German prices for using renewable energy as the basis of hydrogen production.

Latest ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ (FES 2020), published by UK’s National Grid strike a more confident tone that enough fossil and new technologies can be deployed to achieve the Government’s Net Zero by 2050 targets. At least two of four scenarios show pathways to accomplish this.

Exelon Corp has accused ISO New England of putting Boston’s power supply security at risk by “hastily” eliminating the out-of-market retention of Mystic Generating Station. Exelon filed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to bar ISO NE from making these changes.

Williams has received approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to move forward with the Leidy South Project. The pipeline expansion will allow for further supplies, produced by Cabot Oil & Gas and Seneca Resources in Marcellus and Utica Shale, to be transported to the Mid-Atlantic region by winter 2021/22.

German Energy Agency dena has advised the Government to support households by lowering the renewable surcharge they pay with their power bills, also known as the EEG levy, to zero by 2021. The resulting lower electricity prices would help stimulate private consumption.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a 90-day public comment period for its 2020 Oil and Gas Sector Standard as momentum to replace fossil fuels is gaining traction. GRI standards focus on sustainability, widely seen as the industry’s “single biggest challenge”.

The German Parliament has adopted a law that ensures the phase-out of coal power by no later than 2038. Several reviews throughout the 2020s will assess progress on the build-out of wind and solar power as the end date for burning lignite could be brought forward to 2035.

Thailand’s oldest industrial conglomerate, the B.Grimm Group, has filed an application for a second LNG import license to the Thai Energy Regulatory Commission. The aim is to increase fuel supplies for the utility's proposed new gas-fired power plants.

German government advisors say a market-driven and quicker than planned coal exit is “necessary” to accelerate the energy transition. Taxes and levies need to be reformed, with industry calling for a steep cut in the renewable energy surcharge in line with the European Green Deal.

Germany’s long-delayed national hydrogen strategy has been approved, with the government placing a large bet on hydrogen made with renewable energies, the so-called green hydrogen. The policy permits, however, the use of grey hydrogen made from natural gas using carbon capture storage (CCS) “on a transitional basis.”

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News in Brief

Howden powers methanol plant

July 29 – Howden will deliver a hydrogen compressor to Johnson Matthey to serve the world’s first methanol plant that harnesses energy from the wind, in Patagonia, Chile. The Haru Oni project will deliver around 900,000 litres per year of e-methanol as early as 2022 and will be scaled up to 550 million litres of e-fuels per year by 2026.

Bloom SOFCs to power micro plant in South Korea

July 28 – California-based Bloom Energy, in cooperation with SK ecoplant, will install solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Donghae City, South Korea. The CHP will provide heat and warm water for the nearby Bukpyung sports center. Construction on the project is slated to start this autumn.

Shanghai Electric to digitalise factories

July 27 – Shanghai Electric has entered a partnership with AI Investment Fund at the WAIC 2021 conference to provide digital solutions to industrial parks and medical institutions. Yang Hong, Vice President of Shanghai Electric said the aim is to help industries to minimise emissions and waste while maintaining low unit costs.

Slow LNG uptake in Africa

July 26 – In Africa, the uptake of LNG imports to new markets has been slow. Both Ghana’s 1.7 million tons per annum (mtpa) Tema LNG and Senegal’s 1.0 mtpa Dakar Powership are still awaiting their first LNG deliveries, though their respective FSRUs Vasant and Karmol LNGt Powership Africa have been in place since June.

Growth in turbine air filtration tops 3%

July 22 – The turbine air filtration market is expected to grow 3.27% annually from $1.92 billion in 2020 to reach $2.29 billion in 2026. Demand from the oil & gas industry and electric utilities had plunged during the corona crisis and subsequent economic downturn, but the latest trend towards clean energy is driving robust growth for turbine air filtration which can be widely and easily applied in the power sector.

US oil exports stay high

July 21 – Despite volatile prices, U.S. crude oil exports reached a record high in 2020 and remained strong this year, averaging 3.51 million barrels per day (b/d). Expanded ports at Houston and Corpus Christi allow for oil to be exported from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Basin.

CVEC to be converted to hydrogen

July 20 – Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC) is taking steps to run the  combined-cycle plants on hydrogen. Works to convert the plant will be carried out by GE and are scheduled to start in late 2022. One of three GE 7F.05 gas turbines at CVEC will be introduced to a 5% hydrogen blend with natural gas.

MAN ETES labelled solar impulse efficient

July 16 – MAN Electro-Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) was attributed the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label by independent auditors. In January, the German manufacturer supplied to ETES heat pumps to DIN Forsyning for a heat and power plant in the Danish port city Esbjerg.

Electricity sales to US industry rebounds

July 14 – Economic recovery has caused a 5.1% rise electricity sales to US industry this year, dwarfing 2.8% more retail sales and a 2.1% rise in the commercial sector as many office workers continue working from home. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) acting administrator, Steve Nalley, called the rebound in electricity sales to industry a “strong sign of rising levels of economic output as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes.”

Solar PV to triple in Asia by 2030

July 13 – Asia Pacific solar photovoltaic capacity could triple to 1,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie estimates, China will add 619 GW of mainly utility-scale capacity while most other nations in Asia prefers distributed solar due to land constraints. Solar PV tends to be backed up by flexible gas gensets and energy storage, forming hybrid power units.

Kinder Morgan closes on Stagecoach assets

July 12 – US energy infrastructure major Kinder Morgan has closed its acquisition of Stagecoach Gas Services. The deal include 4 gas storage facilities with a 41 bcf working gas capacity and a transmission network with multiple interconnects to major interstate pipelines, including Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The Stagecoach assets add to Kinder Morgan’s approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines and 144 terminals.

Dortmund cancels electrotechnik fair

July 9 – The elektrotechnik fair, planned for 29 September to 1 October 2021, will now not be taking place in Dortmund due to requests from the industry. The next trade fair for building, industrial, energy and lighting technology will now open its doors again in spring 2023.

Hitachi to change name of ABB Power Grids

July 7 – Hitachi ABB Power Grids will become Hitachi Energy in October. The Japanese manufacturer bought a controlling stake in ABB’s grid business a year ago and is about to fully take the name of the merged company while expanding its direction towards e-mobility and data centres.

Tapping wind energy for hydrogen

July 6 – Spanish utility Naturgy and the gas grid operator Enagás are evaluating the use of 350 MW offshore and onshore wind capacity to produce green hydrogen. The fuel will be used to decarbonise the steel industry and shipyard in northwest Spain.

EU seeks to expand Green Deal to Africa

July 5 – The European Green Deal should be expanded to also include African states as partners, the German development minister Gerd Müller said. Green hydrogen production in Africa, in his view, should be a “cornerstone for economic cooperation with the Europe.”

Decom Engineering updates PCR

July 2 – Northern Ireland-based Decom Engineering has invested more than £700,000 to develop tools for repurposing and clean decommissioning of energy infrastructure. Through updated Pipe Coating Removal (PCR) equipment, decommissioned or surplus pipelines can be cleaned of multiple coatings, so they can be repurposed for used on other projects.

Cummins buys half of Momentum Fuels

July 1 – Cummins has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 50% equity interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies from Rush Enterprises. The transaction is expected to close before year-end, and the combined venture will produce Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America.

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