Regulation & Policy

Gas-fired power plants in Spain may be in line for government subsidy to prevent further closure of facilities. The government is understood to be in private negotiation with power providers in a bid to reduce the countries €30 billion electricity deficit.

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has disclosed final aspects of the much discussed Capacity Market design ahead of the first auction being held in December this year, subject to state aid clearance. Capacity should then be in place by the winter of 2018.

UK chancellor George Osborne today announced that he would abandon any further increases in the Carbon Price Floor (CPF) in a bid to help reduce costs for fossil fuel based power producers. As part of his 2014 budget the chancellor announced a freeze at £18 per tonne from 2016 for the rest of the decade, up from currently around £16/t, and highlighted the need for lower energy prices to make British manufacturing more competitive globally.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled this week that it was not feasible to replace output from the retired San Onofre nuclear plant without including new natural gas-fired plants as part of the plan. Opponents had been pushing for a renewable-only option but this latest ruling will ensure that gas-fired power is included in the mix.

Keen to block tough new regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on new coal-fired power generating capacity Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have voted through a bill aimed at thwarting the rules. The vote in the Republican-controlled House passed by 229 to 183 but commentators are sceptical it will make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Security at power plants in the United States is under threat from cyber-attacks, according to a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). “Evidence collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests that cyber-attacks on key energy infrastructure—and on the electricity system in particular—are increasing, both in frequency and sophistication,” said Margot Anderson, lead author of the report and director at the BPC.

Republicans in the U.S. have tabled a bill in the House of Representatives in an attempt to block pending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that require new coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture which opponents claim would effectively ban new coal projects. In a debate this week Congressman Ed Whitfield challenged EPA rulings that are due to come into force next year and called for representatives to overturn the “latest threat by the Obama administration”.

The anti-competition regulator in Australia has ruled against a proposed purchase power generation assets worth $1.35 billion by AGL Energy. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a statement blocking the sale on the grounds that it would “substantially lessen” competition in the electricity market.

The Nigerian government is to sell off a further 10 gas-fired power plants in the Niger Delta on March 7th as part of its privatisation plans. Starting from Friday, the bid will be assessed for the assets on sale that have a combined power output of 5,000MW although not all are fully constructed yet.

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) has called on the European Commission to identify and propose "practical and quantifiable milestones" for carbon capture and storage as well as funding instruments as part of the new 2030 climate and energy framework.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has heard testimony suggesting that a 30 day shutdown of key gas-fired power plants was orchestrated by a cartel of operators. “It appears there were power plants that violated the real time dispatch (RTD) and must-offer rule (MOR),” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said, commenting on the case.

The state of California is considering relaxing environmental regulations in order to allow older gas-fired power plants to continue operating and meet supply shortages. Commenting on a recent debate over the state's future energy mix, California Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller said that there was a case "for extending the lives of some of these units".
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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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