Regulation & Policy

Almost half of Europe's energy consumption is used for industrial processes and to heat and cool building, but policy makers at the European Commission are dragging their feet to assess how heat-related policies could help meet Europe's energy efficiency objectives and climate goals, criticised industry group COGEN Europe. 

Allowing European energy companies to bid into the UK's upcoming capacity auctions with electricity delivered by undersea interconnections could help reduce costs and save up to £1 billion, analysis from Policy Exchange suggests. "By opening up the capacity market to overseas participation, the government can ensure the widest possible pool of bidders. This will increase competition with gas generators for capacity contracts, and as a result should help lower the cost of delivering the policy." said Simon Moore, senior research fellow at the energy think tank

Projections of power sector CO2 emissions are sensitive to policy changes and natural gas supply, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said when drawing up five cases to gauge possible future emission cuts just days after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to slash emission of existing fossil plants.

Edging closer to finalising a strategy to keep conventional power capacity operational in the future, the German government is aiming for a transnational solution: "We have to develop a capacity [remuneration] mechanism but this has to be developed in a synchronised way with our neighbours. We need an overall system," Uwe Beckmeyer, parliamentary state secretary in the economy and energy ministry said.

Europe needs greater alignment and clarity in policy to support gas-fired power generation and boost the role of capacity markets, Matthius Hartung, chief executive of RWE power generation told delegates at the Power-Gen Europe conference today. “For us political reforms are absolutely necessary, capacity markets have to be open to all types of technology and need to be free from discrimination and organised uniformly across Europe,” he commented.

Proposing the biggest ever cuts in U.S. carbon emissions, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gina McCarthy on Monday unveiled a draft rule that mandates power plant operators to reduce their carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 from levels seen in 2005. 

UK energy regulator has revised legislation governing the use of biogas in non-domestic power generation. The UK’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) published the changes which increase biogas capacity limits for on-site combustion at scales above 200 kW, large biomass projects and biomass combined-heat-and-power (CHP).

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday will unveil his plans to cut carbon emission by up to 25% over the next six years, using its executive authority and regulation written by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose a stringent Carbon Rule he could not get through Congress.

Policy makers in the European Union are drawing up more stringent energy efficiency targets for 2030 to achieve a reduction in energy use between 30 and 35%, measured against 1990 levels, as part of a new energy security strategy.

The federal government of Nigeria has set up an emergency committee tasked with ensuring the country receives 6,000 MW of power supply by December. Nigeria has a total nameplate capacity of over 13,000 MW, of which 70% is gas-fired, however, supply shortages mean that actual power output in 2013 was only 3,563 MW.

The German government will debate the terms for a future capacity market after implementing a reform of its Renewable Energy Act (EEG) this summer. By August 1, flexible caps on clean power investment will be introduced while renewable operators need to directly market their green energy.

New emission rules for existing power plants in the U.S. are set to be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the start of next month. The rules, written as part of the Clean Air Act, should be "ready by June 2", the agency's head Gina McCarthy said.

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News in Brief

Denmark paves the way for Nord Stream 2

July 7– Denmark on late Monday gave the Nord Stream 2 consortium permission to utilize pipe-laying vessels with anchors in Danish waters, paving the way for the Gazprom-led consortium to complete the interconnector. Construction of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline is nearly complete, except for a final stretch of about 120-kilometers in Danish waters. The project was halted in December when the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying company Allseas suspended works over threats of U.S. sanctions.

EPRI tests early warning system

July 6– The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting trial tests with multiple utilities across the United States of an early warning system. It can detect an off-gassing event as a precursor to thermal runaway up to 30 minutes prior to a cascading failure. This gives plant operators time to mitigate the problem or shut down the system.

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

New England power prices down 40%

June 15 – Spot electricity prices in New England (NE) has fallen since winter 2019/20 when it stood at an average $28/MWh, down 40% from an average $47/MWh in the previous winter. Low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures, lower loads, and reduced needs to run expensive peakload generators were the cause for the substantial drop in NE’s winter electricity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds.