Regulation & Policy

Analysts reckon Germany could still meet its 40% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020, if several lignite-fired power plants are shut-down immediately and others curtailed in use, a study by the Fraunhofer Institute shows. “The technical possibilities aren’t lacking – only the political will,” commented Greenpeace energy expert, Anike Peters.

Environmental lawyers have launched legal action after Bulgarian authorities permitted a coal-fired power plant to burn petrochemicals, biomass and waste alongside lignite – a dirty, highly inefficient lignite coal. The first hearing in the Brikel case is scheduled for early October.

California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has issued two new reliability must-run designations to support grid reliability in the face of imminent power plant retirements near Los Angeles. NRG California South had notified the ISO it will retire its Ellwood, Etiwanda and Ormond Beach generating stations by October 2018.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), developer of the $4.3-billion Rover Pipeline, has accused the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of attempting to delay the project’s completion. By raising this claim, ETP is trying to fight back against a regulatory notice over low-level contamination.

More than 45,000 businesses across Europe are at risk of being fined up to €1 million ($1.1m) if they fail to comply with the new EU Energy Efficiency Directive, the registrar DNV GL warned. The clock is ticking – deadline for compliance is 5 December 2019 in most countries.

Taking bold steps to curb air pollution, China’s State Council has extended the reach of the three-year 'blue sky defence' action plan to cities in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces. The target area now includes ‘2+26’ cities and prioritizes switching from coal to gas for winter heating and power generation, as well as renewables. Accelerating air pollution now affects a region with 37% of China's population and contributes to 41% of the GDP.

Agreements reached by EU Institutions over the past fortnight on energy efficiency, energy governance and renewables “fall well short of a comprehensive approach,” according to COGEN Europe. The headline target of 32.5% energy efficiency by 2030 will be missed, the lobby group warns, in the absence of an “actionable framework”.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) no longer warns of an imminent gas shortage in southern and eastern Australia after government pressure has made LNG exporters commit to divert some cargoes to the local market. "No supply gaps are forecast before 2030,” AEMO said when releasing its annual gas outlook – a stark contrast to the body’s earlier concerns about shortages starting from mid-2018.

Dealing a blow to the industry, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has significantly reduced solar subsidies by setting new on-grid power tariffs that range between $7.8-11c/kWh, effective June 1. Distributed projects are capped at 10 GW and all utility-scale projects are mandated to set power prices through competitive auctions.

Bowing to industry pressure, the British government has indicated it will make a direct investment of public money into the much-contended Wylfa nuclear project in north Wales, backed by Hitachi. Critics dismiss this move as state aid, a reversal of 40 years of UK energy sector privatisation, and unfair prioritisation of nuclear power to the detriment of renewables and new gas-fired power projects.

Energy industry stakeholders have unanimously condemned U.S. President Trump’s latest market interference by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to stop, what he calls, “impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities.” Rebuking the move, several energy industry associates called the action “misguided” as it would be effectively subsidizing “failing coal and nuclear plants.”

Improving power system flexibility is vital for cost-effective management of variability and uncertainty in both supply and demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Hence the agency calls for a proactive response from regulators and policy makers to help manage today’s fundamental a transformation of energy markets.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will unify China’s residential and industrial city-gate natural gas pricing systems from June 10 to better reflect rising demand and costs. The new mechanism will allow gas prices to rise by no more than 20% from a benchmark price, NDRC stated, which is “more flexible” than the existing one which since 2010 kept a ceiling on residential gas prices at at 1.4 yuan (about $0.22) per cubic metres.

Canada’s current policies, combined with energy efficiency investment, could deliver final energy savings of 1.9% per year on average through 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Sectors with the greatest energy savings potential would be buildings (28%), followed by transport (25%), oil and gas extraction (21%) and industry (12%).

Dirty king coal is no longer vital for Germany’s security of power supply. In fact, about half of the country’s coal-fired power generation capacity could be shut down over the coming years if planned grid extension and the additional gas-fired plants start operating according to schedule, said Jochen Homann, head of the German energy regulator.

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News in Brief

Shell Energy ordered to refund overcharged UK customers

June 17 – UK energy regulator Ofgem has ordered Shell Energy Retail to refund around 12000 customers who were overcharged after the Government’s cap on gas and electricity prices came into force in January. Shell Energy Retail s agreed to refund these customers by paying £29,000 in compensation (£5 per fuel), and also pay an additional £200,000 into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund.

BASF enters battery market

June 14 – German chemical company BASF is using NGK Insulators’ sodium sulfur batteries as its entry point into the energy market. The Japanese manufacturer NGK is currently the only maker of the large-scale sodium sulfur (NAS) batteries, capable to store several hours of energy. A joint project in northern Germany uses NAS batteries that store energy for five hours, while a recently completed project in Abu Dhabi using 108MW / 648MWh of the systems with a full six hours storage duration.

CNPC boosts domestic gas production

June 13 – China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the largest Chinese oil and gas company, has announced plans for domestic natural gas output to reach 55% of overall domestic supply by 2025. Last year, CNPC managed to boost production by 5.9% to reach 138.02 billion cubic metres, while also increasing imports of pipeline gas and LNG.

Gazprom taps new gas deposits for Nord Stream 2

June 12 – Gazprom is fast-tracking hydrocarbon production in northwest Russia to boost reserves for export through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (55 Bcm/y), currently being built through the Baltic Sea. At a meeting with Nord Stream shareholders, Gazprom noted that its Yuzhno-Russkoye field has yielded about 276 Bcm of natural gas, including 0.9 Bcm of hard-to-recover Turonian gas, since the start of operations. Turonian gas reserves, consisting of about 99% methane with no heavy residues, lie at a depth of 800–850 meters in reservoirs with low permeability. Commercial production at the Turonian deposit is scheduled to start in late 2019.

PG&E turns off electricity to avoid wild fires

June 11 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has turned off electricity for some Californian communities at risk of a wildfire during the lastest heat wave. The authorized blackout started on Saturday in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, with electricity being gradually restored over the course of Monday. Approximately 16,000 customers have been affected.

Gazprom to build power plants in Serbia

June 10 – Gazprom Energoholding has signed an Agreement of Intent (AoI) to build an upgrade several gas-fired power plants in Serbia. Together with Novi Sad, Gazprom Energoholding is already building a CCGT with some 200 MW capacity near a refinery in the Serbian town of Pancevo.

U.S. fund splashes out $4bn to buy El Paso Electric

June 7 – Infrastructure Investment Fund (IIF), a private investment vehicle within J.P. Morgan Inc., has agreed to acquire the U.S. utility El Paso Electric Co for $68.25 per share in a cash transaction. The enterprise value on the transaction is estimated at $4.3 billion. El Paso Electric customers will receive a total $21 million in bill credits over three years.

Caterpillar gensets back up Finnish data center

June 6 – The Swedish telecom giant Telia has ordered 12 Caterpillar gensets to provide standby emergency power to back up operations at its new data center in Helsinki. The Cat dealer Witraktor figured a system which includes eight Cat 3516B and four 3516E generator sets. The Telia Helsinki Data Center is the largest such facility in Finland, and its primary electric power supply comes from a combination of wind, hydroelectric and biomass.

Capstone wins orders in Iraq

June 5 – Micro-turbine producer Capstone has secured an order for two C600 Signature Series microturbines to provide 1.2 MW of energy to power a triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration facility near Basra, in southern Iraq. The contract also includes Capstone’s new self-cleaning pulse filtration system, allowing the turbines to better withstand hot and sandy conditions with minimal maintenance.

Gas to supply record 43% of US power needs

June 4 – This summer, natural gas is forecast to cover between 40% and 43% of 2019 peak electricity demand in all U.S. states except Texas, according to projections by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas demand soared to nearly 10,700 billion cubic feet (Bcf) last summer, a 16% rise from 2017 levels. Should there be another heat wave this year, that record may well be broken. Capacity wise, natural gas is on course to top its 45% share in the U.S. power mix.

Lukoil to upgrade CHP at Krasnodar

June 3 – Russia’s oil and gas company Lukoil has received government approval to modernize and expand three combined heat and power units in Krasnodar. The gas-fired CHP units have more than 400,000 hours and ran an average 74% utilization rate, the operator said. The upgrade will add 150 MW of power generation capacity and Lukoil said it expects the revamped power plant to be ready for commissioning as early as 2022.

GE commissions Al-Qudus CCGT in Iraq

May 31 – GE Power has installed and commissioned a new 9E gas turbine at the Al-Qudus combined-cycle gas power plant, run by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity’s (MoE). The CCGT was previously capable of generating up to 1,125 MW and the turbine upgrade adds another 125 MW of capacity.

Groundbreaking takes place for Ohio CCGT project

May 30 – This Thursday morning, groundbreaking will take place for the $500 million Long Ridge Energy Generation Project in Hannibal, Ohio. Long Ridge, a 485 MW combined-cycle power project, is being developed by Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors (FTAI). It will create up to 350 construction jobs and some 25 permanent jobs. The CCGT is expected to open in 2021.

Asia to spend more on renewables than oil & gas by 2020

May 29 – Utilities in Asia-Pacific region will invest more in renewables than on oil and gas exploration by 2020. Total capital expenditure in renewables will rise above $30 billion in the region by 2020, according to forecast of the consultancy Rystad Energy. India, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea will led the way in Asia’s green energy transition.

Ichthys LNG looses court claim against power sub-contractor

May 28 – JKC Australia LNG consortium, developer of the US$34 billion Inpex-built Ichthys LNG plant near Darwin, has lost a US$1.9 billion court case claim against a power station sub-contractor. Construction of the power station was subcontracted to UGL-led group which CIMIC took over in 2016 and subsequently cancelled the Ichthys power contract. The Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth now dismissed an application by JKC Australia LNG for upfront payment of damages. The power plant’s five gas turbines have already been handed over to Inpex, and KBR aims for the plant to be ready for commissioning this autumn.

San Miguel Energy claims $6.19bn subsidy for Ilijan plant

May 24 – South Premier Power Corp. (SPPC), San Miguel Energy’s development vehicle for the 1,200-MW Ilijan gas power project, has claimed that it already paid $6.19 billion in subsidies to state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (PSALM) for its financial obligations as independent administrator. The build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for the Ilijan plant will expire in 2022; and by that time, SPPC will get ownership of the plant.

Evolve approved as energy storage for VPPs

May 23 – Eguana Technologies’ new Evolve system has been officially approved as an energy storage system for Simply Energy’s Simply Extra VPP (virtual power plant) offer in South Australia. Customers who purchase an Evolve system can sign up for the Simply Extra VPP offer and receive up to $5,100 in VPP Access Credits. These credits will be calculated on a daily basis at $3.49 per day to a maximum of A$5,100, credited over a five year period.