UK energy minister Ed Davey has written to the chief executive of Ofgem, the market watchdog, urging for tougher regulation of Britain’s big 6 energy companies and suggested a future break-up of British Gas and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE). “This might lead to more contracting in the wholesale market, so greater liquidity across the power market, but the intent of the split would be to make the retail end more competitive,” Trevor Skiroski, analyst at Energy Aspects told Gas to Power Journal.
The growth of the gas industry is under threat from a worldwide skills shortage, delegates at GE’s Oil & Gas annual meeting were told this week. “We are running out of capable people – technicians, field service support through to engineers in this particular space. We need to develop a competency base dramatically higher than it what it is now,” said Erik Bonino, vice president of project & engineering services at Shell.
In a move to maximise production from the UK’s estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of shale gas, the government has announced generous tax breaks to producers and promised local councils 100% of fees from resultant business rates. Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predict that widespread UK shale gas production could reduce the implied price of dispatchable gas-fired power generation to around £50/MWh.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published revised limits for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants today, for the first time providing separate rules for coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. The new proposal outlines a limit for coal-fired plants with attached carbon capture and storage (CCS) of 1,100 lb CO2/MWh.
Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) finds that new gas-fired power on the island will improve air quality. The environmental impact assessment, compiled by consultants ERSLI, states that the proposed 215-megawatt power plant at Delimara will contribute towards a "substantial reduction" in air pollution.
The European Commission has been urged to consider renewed support for industrial combined heat and power (CHP) plants by parliamentary vice-president, Alejo Vidal-Quadras. "Current national energy market policies could lead to decreasing use of CHP in a number of countries because of growing investor uncertainty and a lack of clearly-defined long term policy structures," he warned, commenting on the EU's current regulatory environment.
The leader of German's Social Democrats (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, will head a new combined Economics and Energy Ministry after his party voted over the weekend to enter a grand coalition with the Conservatives (CDU/CSU). Gabriel said he will focus on finalising the Energiewende without threatening the Germany's attractiveness for industrial production.
Political haggling continues over new US greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing power plants, due to be imposed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2014. Calling for "sensible regulations" based on proven technology, Paul Bailey, senior VP for Federal Affairs and Policy, ACCCE said "Performance Standards should be based on what is achievable... and states should have flexibility to implement them."
The UK parliament rejected plans for tougher regulation on coal-fired power on Wednesday, giving older coal plants a longer lease of life and raising further uncertainty over the shape of proposed capacity markets. "The government is already worried about peak capacity issues given the loss of the LCPD plant and losing more would have meant that the UK would really have struggled to keep the lights on," Trevor Skiroski, analyst at Energy Aspects told Gas to Power Journal.