Regulation & Policy

Power producers in the United States like American Electic Power, Duke Energy and Southern Co. must abide by federal limits on mercury and other power plant plants, a U.S. appeals court ruled, upholding the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) regulation that was heavily criticized by the industry.

Dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions could be mitigated by replacing existing carbon-intensive coal plants with modern gas-fired combined cycle plants, according to new findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report shows that gas power generation without CCS acts as a bridge technology towards greater renewable energy use with the aim of achieving 450 ppm CO2eq concentrations by 2100.

Japanese ministers voted today to reinstate some of the country's nuclear power plants in a bid to reduce crippling gas import costs for power producers. The government made no comment on how many plants will be restarted, but the new plan is hoped to alleviate the estimated $50 billion losses incurred by nuclear operators as they have been forced to switch to costly fossil fuel imports.

The European Commission's new rule book on what constitutes state aid in the energy sector recognizes a potential need to support conventional capacity to balance intermittent power output from renewables in the EU energy mix.

Cogeneration in Spain could become a causality of current changes in electricity legislation, with an estimated 6 GW at risk of closure. Proposed reductions of the CHP tariff will immediately drive roughly half of the existing capacity into negative gross margins and force them to shut-down, industry association COGEN Spain warns.

The German government and the European Commission have ended a lengthy dispute over exemptions and rebates to industry from paying the full levy charged for subsidizing renewable energy. A compromise allows firms to pay less than the 20% share of the EGG levy which the EC had proposed, German media reported.

A proposed reform of Germany's renewable energy act (EEG) is set to hit manufacturers with substantial extra costs for energy which may lead to closures, the industry warns. The renewables levy will rise to €77/MWh in 2020 from currently €62.40/MWh and the extent of industry exceptions is still uncertain.

 

Reviewing the EU Energy Efficiency Directive by July, the Commission is likely to set more stringent targets after the European parliament voted for 40% improvements in efficiency by 2030. "The parliament is expecting an ambitious energy efficiency target from us," Mechthild Wörsdörfer, Director Energy Policy at DG Energy said in Brussels today.

Warning that the UK Energy Bill may not realise the full potential of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Generation, the British industry association CHPA is calling on policy makers to extend the small scale Feed-in Tariff capacity threshold in addition to the proposed Contracts for Difference (CfD).

U.S. power provider Invenergy is in talks with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to get a waiver approved for its 600MW gas-fired Nelson Energy Center in Illinois. The waiver, if grantedwill allow the facility to sell some of its capacity outside of the Base Residual Auction (BRA) of PJM Interconnection's Reliability Pricing Model (RPM).

Faced with high costs for retrofitting coal-fired power plants to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), operators are keen on developing cost-effective measures to curb emissions, acid gas, toxic metals and mercury.

In a bid to increase the reliability of the U.S. power sector the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered gas and electric providers to create closer ties to improve shipping and dispatch timetables. Providers must “better coordinate the scheduling of natural gas and electricity markets in light of increased reliance on natural gas for electric generation,” according to a FERC statement.

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News in Brief

Orbital signs MSA with Midwestern utility

Dec 3 – Orbital Energy has signed a master service agreement (MSA) with a US Midwestern investor-owned utility. The accord is expected to generate monthly revenues from the fourth quarter and increase revenues by 30% on an annualised basis.

Wärtsilä to use Shell engine oils

Dec 2 – The Finish engine maker Wärsilä has selected Shell as its test oil partner for engines during stress tests and fine-tuning at engine manufacturing sites. Shell’s Mysella, Argina and Gadinia range of engine oils have been developed to provide top class engine cleanliness, enhanced wear protection, long oil life, and high system efficiency.

Hamburg CHP runs fully on hydrogen

Dec 1 – Field testing has started for HanseWerk’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Hamburg to run fully on hydrogen. The converted 1 MW pilot plant, powered by Jenbacher engines, provides district heating equal to 13,000 MWh/year to 30 residential buildings, a sports facility, a daycare center, and the Othmarschen Park leisure centre.

Oil majors in the red

Nov 30 – For most oil majors worldwide, higher prices are needed to get their business out of the red. Breakeven prices for Saudi Arabia are $85 per barrel, around $64/bbl for Iraq, $49/bbl for Kuwait and as little as $40/bbl for Russia. As business confidence plummets, major oil companies have already slashed planned CAPEX spending by almost $89 billion in first quarter of 2020, with further cuts being made throughout the summer and autumn.

EU invests into battery cells

Nov 27 – Germany's EU Council Presidency has pledged Europe should develop an integrated value creation chain for battery cells, starting with the processing of raw materials over battery cell production to recycling. Germany is investing 3 billion Euros into the two projects that foster novel methods of battery production.

Rolls-Royce wins order from Hinkley Point C

Nov 26 – Rolls-Royce has been awarded an order from Hinkley Point C to deliver 140 Bibloc pressure transmitters for the two EPR nuclear reactors currently under construction in Somerset, UK. The transmitters will measure the flow, level and pressure of the Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS).

CHP industry to grow 14.4% through 2025

Nov 25 – The combined heat and power (CHP) market, evaluated at $12.152 billion, is expected to expand nearly 14.4% per year to reach $27.196 million by 2025. Growth is primarily driven by government funding and subsidy schemes. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the country aims to install 40 GW of new, cost-effective CHP to save $10 billion per year, compared to current energy use.

Rolls-Royce opens US customer center

Nov 24 – Rolls-Royce has opened its latest US customer support center in Savannah, Gerogia. The 62,000 square feet facility houses a power plant completion center, a wing services repair unit and a warehouse, all under one roof.

Lithium Werks grows manufacturing

Nov 23 – US-Dutch manufacturer Lithium Werks is growing the output and sales fuel cells and battery modules for use as power, pulse, and stand-by applications. The company’s 26650 Nanophosphate cells are used as single cells, as well as to build cell-packs and modules like Lithium Werks P40-24 battery modules. The Austin and Enschede-based company said it can “produce millions of 18650 and 26650 cells a month in China.”

AGL plans 1,000 MWh battery

Nov 20 – Australian power producer and retailer ALG wants to realise a large grid-connected battery storage unit of up to 250 MW rated output and four hours’ duration of storage, equalling 1,000 MWh. The battery will be built in stages on the site of Torrens Island Power Station in South Australia. AGL vowed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but is currently still operating some 40 GW of coal-fired generation.

Fusion demo plant to be designed in Canada

Nov 19 – Vancouver-based General Fusion has entered a partnership with the architecture firm AL_A to design a demonstration plant, based on magnetized target fusion (MTF). Once operational, the demo plant will showcase MTF technology under power plant-relevant conditions.

Toshiba opens H2One fuelling station

Nov 18 – Toshiba has opened the first ‘H2OneMulti Station’ which fills fuel cell vehicles with green hydrogen and supplies for green electricity at Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture. The station consists of H2One ST Unit and H2One, using hydrogen produced from wind and solar power sources.

Shale gas market grows at 7% rate

Nov 17 – Unconventional gas markets are poised to grow by $41.76 billion through 2024, rising at a rate of almost 7%. According to Technavio, about 87% of the supply growth this year is coming from the Americas.

Agua Blanca pipeline expanded

Nov 16 – Austin-based WhiteWater Midstream and MPLX have completed a 1.8 billion cubic-feet-per-day (Bcf/d) expansion of their joint venture Agua Blanca pipeline system. Christer Rundlof, CEO of WhiteWater CEO, said the expansion will be brought into service ahead of schedule. Testing and commissioning will begin this month, for the new pipeline stretch to be brought into full service in early 2021.

Wärtsilä integrates clean energy

Nov 13 – Finish technology group Wärtsilä strives to integrate variable clean power sources to achieve a 100% renewable energy future. The necessary operational flexibility will come from gas generation assets running on synthetic renewable fuels and by the extended use of energy storage.

First German-Belgium power link to start operation

Nov 12 – The two TSOs Amprion and Elia are preparing to launch the first electric interconnector between Germany and Belgium. The 1,000 MW interconnector stretches between Aachen and Lüttich, from where it links to the Rhineland region and Wallonia. It will go into operation as of 18 November, with intraday capacities to begin trading on 8 December.

Sachsen Energie takes on E.ON and RWE

Nov 11 – A small regional energy provider in Saxony seeks to counter the dominance of E.ON and RWE. Sachsen Energie, set up in a merger between two local utilities, claims it will become "the largest municipal utility in eastern Germany," catering to about one million customers, when it begins operation in 2021.

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