Regulation & Policy

Lord Deighton, the UK Olympics boss and former Goldman Sachs banker, has been appointed by the government to start negotiations with France's EDF Energy on bringing new nuclear power stations to the UK. Talks are held with the aim to swiftly increase power generation capacity to avoid a supply gap.

Stricter regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency on SO2, particulate matter, NOx and mercury could make nearly two-thirds of the country's coal-fired power plants just as expensive to run as gas-fired plants. The cost of complying with these regulations will accelerate the trend of power producers shifting from burning natural gas instead of coal, a study from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment finds.

Smaller combined heat and power (CHP) installations are experiencing growth in many EU member states but the sector is also under pressure from the effects of the economic crisis, electricity market issues and ongoing fluctuations in the price of fuel, according to COGEN Europe's 2013 Snapshot Survey of the Cogeneration sector in Europe.

Fuel prices will continue to favour baseload coal-fired power generation over gas-fired generation in the UK through the summer months and beyond, according to the National Grid's Summer Outlook Report. This is despite the application of a carbon price support (CPS) of £4.94/ton on April 1 for the 2013-2014 financial year.

UK Energy Intensive Industries have agreed to extending energy efficiency improvement targets to 2020 as part of the voluntary Climate Change Agreements scheme which provides an extension to the Climate Change Levy. These efficiency improvements are estimated to deliver an overall 11 percent energy efficiency improvement across all industry sectors.

Ofgem is to fine SSE £10.5 million for misselling electricity to consumers in breach of Standard Licence Conditions. The fine – the largest ever to be imposed on a UK energy supplier – relates to numerous breaches of SSE's obligations relating to telephone, in-store and doorstep sales activities. Ofgem says that SSE consistently failed to provide clear and accurate information on prices and potential savings to customers about whether or not to switch suppliers.

Japan has decided to revamp its electricity industry by obliging utilities to split their power generation and distribution segments into separate businesses. The move – approved on Tuesday by the Prime Minister's cabinet – is intended to help foster competitiveness, and encourage innovation and modernisation in the country's electricity sector. A bill based on the cabinet's decision is to be submitted to parliament "around 2015."

The gas market is not yet fully liberalized and things still needs time, but as the government we are committed to duplicating the efforts made when we liberalized the power market, Turkey's deputy minister for energy and natural resources, Hasan Murat Mercan, told a conference in Istanbul organized by Gas to Power Journal.

Keen to fast-track the liberalisation process of the Turkish energy market, the government has set a timeline for divestment of state-owned power generation assets.

"We hope to finish the privatization of Turkey's thermal power plants by 2015," Atif Kir, Head of Project Group, at the Turkish Ministry of Privatization Administration (OIB) told Gas to Power Journal in an interview.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has admitted that her Liberal party had made a "political decision" to cancel two under construction gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 provincial election. The Oakville and Mississauga plants were to have an installed capacity of 900MW and 280MW, respectively.

Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc., has released plans calling for a decrease in coal and an increase in natural gas and renewable energy sources in its future power plant portfolio. The company currently generates about 80 percent of its power from coal but envisions a long term target of one third coal, one third renewable, and one third natural gas and other power generating capacity.

Los Angeles will stop using electricity generated from coal-fired power plants by 2025, pledged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "In a couple of weeks, I will be signing agreements to get completely out of coal by 2025," he said at an event sponsored by the UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

A decrease in the use of coal and an increase in the use of gas for electric power generation due to cheaper natural gas prices has played a significant role in reducing US SO2 and NOx emissions in recent years, according to the US Energy Administration (EIA). Between 1990 and 2012, SO2 emissions from electrical power generation fell from over 15 million short tons to about 3 million short tons, while COx emissions dropped from about 6 million short tons to less than 2 million short tons.

The emergence of a harmonised pan-European capacity market design is "unlikely" and efforts may come "too late", says Håkan Feuk, Chairman of TF Market Design for Renewable Energy Integration at Eurelectric, adding that some common denominators for national CRM schemes need to be established to ensure a level playing field for investors and consistency with the integration process of European energy markets.

The oil and gas-fired Dhuvaran power station (534 MW) in the Indian state of Gujarat was shut down following a severe shortfall in gas requirements. Gas supply allocated by the central government covered only 46.71 percent of its total gas needs in 2011-12.

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News in Brief

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.

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – 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.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.