Regulation & Policy

US government approval for the Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, Texas to export LNG to countries with which the US does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have brought Japan a step closer to realising cheaper supplies of natural gas for power generation. Osaka Gas and Chubu Electric have already signed liquefaction tolling agreements with Freeport LNG, back in July 2012, to each acquire a 2.2mtpa production capacity of the first train at Freeport, potentially as early as in 2017.

The EU's Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard has called on the European Council and Parliament to approve the proposed back-loading of 900 billion carbon emission allowances (EUAs) in emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). Back-loading would reduce the surplus of emissions in the ETS, and the subsequent rise in carbon prices would encourage power producers to favour gas over coal.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has called for fast tracking the adaptation of nine network codes as a way to improve the operation of Europe's interconnected transmission networks. The association earlier criticised national initiatives to implement capacity mechanisms, calling for an integrated European approach.

The Belgian energy regulator CREG has dismissed government plans to subsidise proposed new combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants as "state aid", calling the move a "bad idea" that might lead to market distortions.

National Grid is tasked to provide analysis and modelling on the government's Electricity Market Reform (EMR) delivery plan, assess eligibility and the allocation of Contracts for Difference (CfD), and will run auctions for planned capacity mechanisms. In June, National Grid will deliver its final modelling report to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to be appended to DECC's July Delivery Plan, Mark Ripley, Project Director EMR at National Grid told Gas to Power Journal.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has gone on record as opposed to proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants. In a letter to the EPA, the five members of the PSC called for a withdrawal of proposed rules for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which they said would be particularly harmful to coal-fired power generation.

Promoting flexible generation and demand side response is likely to be more effective in helping the EU cope with three energy policy challenges – security of supply, decarbonisation and affordability – than capacity mechanisms, Simon Skillings, Senior Associate at Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) told Gas to Power Journal in an interview. "If you make sure you really roll out cost effective demand response and if you have procured sufficient flexibility, the idea that you have then got a generation adequacy problem seems extremely unlikely," he said.

Capacity payments from the UK's planned capacity mechanism need to be brought forward from their expected 2018/19 date in order to help keep existing plants operational, Keith MacLean, Policy and Research Director at SSE said at a conference organised by Gas to Power Journal in London. "The most important factor is not just seeing the auction run in 2014 but we need to see the payments available early in order to keep existing plants on the system," he said, stressing that "another four or five years of high ongoing costs and low or negative earnings is just not sustainable."

The UK Government's Energy Bill which includes contracts to develop low carbon generation and market-wide capacity contracts is expected to pass through the House of Commons "within the next month or two", Tim Lord, Security of Supply Team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told a conference organised by Gas to Power Journal in London today.
"We expect the first capacity auction to be held in 2014 for a delivery year of 2018/19," he said.

Scottish Powers' Director of Regulation, Rupert Steele has called on the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) policy to "maintain momentum" to deliver a workable scheme for a Capacity Mechanism and Contracts for Differences (CfDs) in 2014, though he strongly opposed a Carbon Floor Price.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted the country's clean-energy prone needs an overhaul, including a cut in subsidies for renewables paid by consumers via the EEG levy, to ensure that state-of-the-art gas fired power plant can operate at a profit.

The European Commission has warned Ireland that it must fully transpose the Electricity Directive of the third energy package into law or face referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The directive contains provisions for the proper functioning of European Union electricity markets such as rules on the unbundling of networks, rules strengthening the independence and powers of national regulators and rules on the improvement and functioning of retail markets.

Germany's 'green' energy policies are failing to provide their intended emissions reductions , says John Rhys, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), arguing that phasing out nuclear will continue to increase coal use significantly. "Germany does not promote CCS (...) and it is also foregoing gas," he said in an opinion piece published by the Institute, claiming "Germany's simultaneous capitulation to anti-nuclear prejudice and willingness to compromise on cheap high CO2 emissions coal is therefore a disappointment to British supporters of EU ambitions to lead on climate change".

A coalition of 10 US states and 5 cities lead by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a court brief urging the US Supreme Court at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and reverse a lower court decision that invalidated an EPA rule requiring substantial cuts in the interstate transport of air pollution.

Gas-fired distributed power projects in the UK will benefit from specific support schemes, including capacity mechanisms, which are forthcoming as part of a new regulatory package stipulated under the Electricity Market Reform, says Dr. Jim Fitzgerald, Associate Partner at The Advisory House.
"Contracts for Difference (CfD) will differentiate on technology, with different auction prices for each low carbon technology. We expect a specific capacity mechanism to be put in place to enhance support available for distributed gas fired power generation projects," he told Gas to Power Journal in an interview.

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News in Brief

BOL finances entire 220 MW plant in Nassau

Dec 6 – Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has agreed to cover the entire costs to build a 220 MW power plant at the Clifton Pier site in Nassau, and transfer the assets to Shell North America. BPL and Shell had agreed to jointly develop a 220 MW power plant plus LNG regas terminal, but the Bahamas state utility later signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a 132 MW engine-driven power plant at the same site.

Kepco to operate CCGT in Uruguay

Dec 5 – Kepco KPS has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the recently commissioned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Punta del Tigre, Uruguay. Under the O&M contract, Kepco said it expects to earn 17 billion Won in sales every year, for a maximum eight years.

Siemens to create thermal twin for Bajaj Energy plant

Dec 4 – Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd (LPGCL), part of Bajaj Group, has contracted Siemens to create a complete twin for its fossil power plant in Uttar Pradesh, India. The thermal twin, powered by thermodynamic analysis and machine learning, allows power plant operators to diagnose performance gaps for every asset in the cycle in real time.

Talks between Gazprom and Naftogaz continue

Dec 3 – Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have continued difficult negotiations about an extension of Russian gas supplies and transit after the current contract expires on December 31, 2019. The two state-run companies are embroiled in a legal dispute that still needs resolving, however, they confirmed talks are underway and focus on the technical aspects of transiting Russian gas to Europe from 2020 onwards.

Asia seen add 400 GW by 2030

Dec 2 – Asian nations are expected to add more than 400 gigawatts (GW) of electrical capacity to the grid over the next decade — equaling about twice the installed capacity of Germany. Much of the new capacity will be renewables, backed up by some 140 GW of dependable gas-fired capacity, according to GE Energy findings. Hence, the U.S. turbine manufacturer decided to invest up to US$60 million to convert its Singapore repair center into a HA engineering and development center.

Total starts up hybrid plant with energy storage

Nov 29 – Total Quadran has started up the largest hybrid power plant combined with energy storage to harness the ample solar power potential of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. With an installed capacity of 16 MW-peak, the plant also features a 10 MW lithium-ion energy storage system. Combining of hybrid solar PV units and possibly gas-powered generator sets with energy storage balance out supply swings and enhances the reliability of the electricity grid.

Rolls-Royce, AVK partner on standby gensets

Nov 28 – AVK, Britain’s largest supplier of critical power solutions for data centres and the financial sector, has partnered with Rolls-Royce’s MTU brand for standby gensets in UK and Ireland. The deal covers MTU Series 2000 and 4000 diesel systems in a range from 825 to 4,000 kVA. In the past 30 years, AVK has developed into the largest solutions provider in the UK’s critical power market and has to date supplied gensets equipped with MTU engines with a total capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

Golar suffers setback amid restructuring

Nov 27 – Golar LNG, owner of a fleet of 27 vessels, has seen operating revenues plunge 20% to $98.67 million, in the first nine month of this year, while net losses amounted to over $236 million. Bermuda-registered Golar in May 2019 announced plans to spin off its LNG carrier fleet with the aim of becoming a gas project developer. It recently won a contract for the Barcarena power project (605 MW) in northeastern Brazil.

Burckhardt buys remaining share of Arkos

Nov 26 – Burckhardt Compression’s subsidiary in North America has purchased the remaining 60% of Arkos Group. The US has the world’s largest installed base of reciprocating compressors, and the integration of Burckhardt and Arkos Field Services, will turn the company into the only independent one-stop provider for equipment and service in the upstream, midstream and downstream business.

Gazprom’s exports to Austria reach fresh record

Nov 25 – Supplies of Russian gas to Austria and transits to Western Europe have already exceeded record levels set last year. From January 1 through November 21, 2019, Gazprom delivered over 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas – 33.5% more than in the same period in 2018. Austria’s OMV imports Russian gas under a long-term contract that was recently extended until 2040.

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

COP25 urged to step up climate efforts

Nov 18 – The COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid is urged to enshrine greater commitments from the world's industrialised nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. “Europe will have to play a key role in this regard,“ environment minister Svenja Schulze said, adding Germany's recently announced climate package marks a "restart" in the country's climate policy.

Wärtsilä launches ‘Expertise Centre’ in Singapore

Nov 15 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has chosen Singapore as the location for its latest Expertise Centre (EC) that provides operational support and dynamic maintenance planning, both for marine and energy business customers. All of Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres combined currently monitor some 900 installations with more than 2,000 engines around the world.

U.S. storage injection hits record high

Nov 14 – Near-record volumes of natural gas have been placed into storage in the United States in the current injection season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of gas held in storage in 2019 surged from a relatively low value of 1,155 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the beginning of April to 3,724 Bcf at the end of October.