Regulation & Policy

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party, has set out plans to transform the British energy market and “kickstart a green jobs revolution” that is meant to create over 400,000 jobs. At his party’s annual conference, he also pledged to double the number of onshore wind farms, if Labour comes to power in case of a UK snap election.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has openly confronted Russia over its energy politics by claiming the Gazprom-led Nord Stream-2 project would distort European energy market. Perry said Nord Stream extension project “would concentrate two-thirds of the imports of Russian gas to Europe in a single pipeline, creating a choke point [exposed to potential] disruption."

At the UK's first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, Prime Minister Theresa May has committed £106 million for R&D in green vehicles, new batteries and low carbon technology. May said the Britain will “lead from the front” on zero-emission cars to meet a target for UK roads to be free of petrol and diesel cars by 2050.

Construction on a disputed 303-mile stretch of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is proceeding after the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has modified its stop-work order and permitted works to resume. Next Era Energy and ConEdison Transmission, co-developers of the 2 Bcf/d interstate pipeline, now aim to have the overall project built and in service by late 2019.

Rebuking the Trump administration’s plan to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown called the proposal a "a declaration of war against America and all of humanity." Trump’s EPA new proposal gives states more freedom to set their own emissions standards at plants - a barely disguised favour for the coal industry.

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.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.