Regulation & Policy

Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are preparing to hit European investors in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with a new set of sanctions in an effort to derail the project. Uniper, Winterhall, Engie, OMW and Shell are invested in the Baltic Sea interconnector, and the sanctions could come as soon as February or March.

Concerns over China’s gas demand grow after the government said it would hand out ‘force majeure’ certificates to domestic companies if they cannot fulfill their offtake obligations. Beijing apparently tries to mitigate potential losses of state-owned gas companies though the impact on LNG imports is still unclear.

Spain’s new government has revised the 2021-2030 Energy Plan, speeding up the country’s coal exit and stepping up solar PV targets. Coal-fired power units will “cease to be competitive by 2030,” the plan reads, given that CO2 prices in Europe are likely to rise to €35 per ton and considering the relative price of gas.

The German renewables energy surcharge (EEG) has swept a record payout into the coffers of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower producers. Proceeds totaled 27.5 billion Euros 2019, triple the amount paid in the previous year which sparked anger amongst end-users who have to pay the EEG surcharge with their electricity bills.

Utilities, trade unions and Germany’s federal and regional policy makers have agreed a landmark €40 billion deal to phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2038. The latest coal exit adds to the earlier agreed nuclear exit, under a scheme to compensate electric utilities, workers and coal-mining regions.

Self-reliance of German electric vehicle produces needs to increase substantially, according to government advisors. "If the need to import battery cells and e-cars grows in line with the roll-out, effects on the employment would be significant," analysts noted. Under the most pessimistic scenario, there could be up to 410,000 fewer jobs in the sector by 2030.

Germany’s second largest utility RWE could receive up to two billion Euros in compensation for closing its lignite power station under a coal exit agreement currently drawn up by the economy ministry. The Czech energy holding EPH, however, is asking for significantly more compensation for its power assets in eastern Germany than the government is willing to pay.

Adani Power and NTPC, two of India’s largest power producers, have pleaded to the government in Delhi to extend the deadlines of retrofitting coal power stations by two to three years. High costs for retrofits and India’s continued reliance on cheap thermal coal now needs to be weighed up against rampant air pollution.

The stark gap between government pledges to reduce emission and the lack of far-reaching actions heralds a growing regulatory risk. According to Fitch Ratings, energy-intensive industries, thermal power producers and the transport sector can be hit by a sudden rise in more stringent climate rules.

‘Wider Access’ – the latest project launched by National Grid ESO to increase accessibility to the UK balancing  mechanism – is already attracting new market entrants. Aggregated power units, notably hybrid and battery-based units, are increasingly being dispatched in this regulated market, providing the grid operator with much-needed flexibly.  

While global climate talks in Madrid ended with lackluster results, German lawmakers agreed to raise the entry-level price for CO2 emissions from the buildings and transport sector from 10 Euros to 25 Euros starting from 2021. Thereafter, it will rise to 55 Euros by 2025, with state revenues to be used to lower the renewables levy on consumers' electricity bills.

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has come forward with an ambitious ‘EU Green Deal’ that seeks to outdo the ‘Green New Deal’ proposed by the U.S. Government. The European Green Deal envisages Europe to become “climate-neutral” by 2050, which requires a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, replacing the current 40% goal.

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News in Brief

MAN to maintain power plant in Benin

Oct 23 – PrimeServ, the after-sales brand of MAN Energy Solutions, has signed a service agreement with BWSC for the Maria Gleta power plant near the city of Cotonou, Benin. The 127 MW plant is powered by seven MAN 18V51/60DF engines. The ten-year contract covers the supply of spare parts and the provision of technical services for scheduled maintenance.

Gas saves Virginia over $14bn

Oct 22 – Virginia’s businesses and families saved more than $14.2 billion between 2008 and 2018 thanks to low-cost natural gas and expanded energy infrastructure, according to a new Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) report. Almost 60% of power generation relies on natural gas and a third of its households use gas for home heating.

Energy storage for LNG-powered vessels

Oct 21 – Louisiana-based Harvey Gulf has asked Wärtsilä to retrofit its energy storage system (ESS) on four LNG-fuelled platform support vessels. Once upgraded in early 2022, all vessels will be of full tri-fuel operation.

Mott McDonald starts construction on ALCP6

Oct 20 – US construction firm Mott McDonald has started building the ALCP6 waste to energy project in Krabi province, southern Thailand. The plant will incinerate 144,000 tonnes per year of municipal solid waste, and the heat obtained will be converted into 6 MW of electricity to be exported to the Thai national grid.

Brace for EU sustainable finance rules

Oct 19 – Sustainable finance practices, drawn up by the European Commission, could create a "bureaucratic monster" that smaller companies and energy investors would find overbearing, the Munich-based Institute for Economic Research (ifo) warned. The regulation should hence prioritise closer scrutiny of large and listed companies.

UK could become net power exporter

Oct 16 – Increased interconnection could provide a route for excess offshore wind power in Britain to be consumed elsewhere in Europe. National Grid Interconnector Register shows up to 16 GW of interconnection could be operational by 2025 and up to 25.4 GW by 2030.

Wärtsilä to deploy GridSolv in US city

Oct 15 – AEP OnSite Partners has contracted Wärtsilä to deploy its GridSolv Quantum energy storage in the city of Martinsville, Virginia. The system includes an UL9540A limiting 2-hour battery firewall and will help lower the city’s energy costs.

Rolls-Royce spends $13.9m in Mankato

Oct 14 – Britain’s engine maker Rolls-Royce has decided to invest nearly $14 million in its Power System business to build a new R&D centre at its MTU manufacturing plant in Mankato, Minnesota, US. The expansion will see 28,000 square foot added to the facility’s existing hall, making room for the production of high-power MTU gas gensets, enhanced product testing and the creation of 20 new manufacturing positions.

Clarke commissions Vitalait power unit in Tunisia

Oct 13 – Clarke Energy and INNIO Jenbacher have completed the commissioning of an onsite power plant of a milk producer in Tunisia. The installation of another Jenbacher gas engine has increased the plant’s output to 4 MW of electricity as well as 1,100 kW of hot water and 800 kW of steam.

Secondary battery market to top $55bn

Oct 12 – Technavio expects the secondary battery market to grow by $55.62 billion through 2024, rising at an 11% rate over the forecast period. Falling costs for lithium-ion batteries as well as growing demand in Asia Pacific allowed the market to grow 2.01% this year, despite adverse effects of the pandemic. Top battery suppliers are Tesla, Clarious, Exide, LG Chem, GS Yuasa and Samsung.

Shift to sustainable tech

Oct 9 – Three quarters of utilities, surveyed by EIT InnoEnergy, are considering adopting sustainable technology over the next 12-18 months. However, over one third of the respondents found it hard to recruit the skills they need.

Generator rentals slow

Oct 8 – The rental market for power generators has slowed down due to the pandemic, with genset rentals from the oil and gas industry forecast to grow by just $153.87 million this year. However, Technavio expects the market will return to a 3% annual growth rate by 2024.

GE upgrades Italian CHP

Oct 7 – GE has completed an axial fuel staging upgrade on its 9E gas turbine at an onsite combined heat and power (CHP) plant at the Milazzo refinery in Sicily. The entire electricity needs of the refinery, over 780 GWh in 2019, will soon be supplied by the upgraded and more flexible gas turbine.

Operating assets ‘from anywhere’

Oct 6 – GE Digital’s latest software gives electric utilities remote and mobile control over their power stations for remote start-up, external monitoring and operational fine-tuning. The goal is to safe cost through autonomous operation from any location.

Chart wins order from New Fortress Energy

Oct 5 – Chart Industries has secured a second leasing order, worth $7.7 million, for ISO containers for LNG applications from New Fortress Energy for a project in the Caribbean. The US equipment maker sees double digit near-term growth in its repair, service and leasing business, notably from growing demand for LNG equipment for infrastructure.

Siemens energises Togo

Oct 2 – Siemens Energy has delivered a SGT-800 gas turbine and other components for the Kékéli Efficient Power plant project. Located in the Togolese capital Lomé, the 65 MW plant will cover almost 40% of country’s expected electricity demand.

Batteries get cheaper

Oct 1 – Cost for battery production is falling rapidly as manufacturers bring large Gigafactories on-line. By 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance anticipates battery pack prices to drop to $73 per kilowatt-hour, down from a current volume-weighted average of below $270/kWh.

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