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Regulation & Policy

The UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published a draft delivery plan for Contract for Differences (CfDs) and the reliability standard of the future Capacity Market to guide how much capacity is auctioned in 2014 for delivery in 2018 to 2019.

British consumers will be hit with rising energy bills as utilities are passing on the costs for power grid updates allowing greater volumes of intermittent renewable energy, warned RWE Npower, one of the UK's Big Six power producers.

With about 10 GW of offshore wind power expected to come on the system in the UK by 2020, balancing the additional intermittent capacity, mostly through gas-fired plants, will "not pose a major challenge," Dong Energy's UK country manager, Benji Sykes said in an evening debate in Westminster on 'Cutting the costs of Carbon'.

Impending reforms of Spain's electricity market will reduce Red Electrica's regulated revenues by up to 100 million euros this year from 1,628 million euros, the TSO said with the aim of limiting downside risk for investors.

The European Commission will open a state aid infringement case against Germany on Wednesday to investigate alleged state aid for the energy-intensive under the country's renewable energies act (EEG), a report in Der Spiegel states today.

Plans to allow more natural gas exports from the US will become more difficult in two years once the proposed emissions restrictions on existing power plants come into effect, Juscelino Colares, law professor at Case Western Reserve University told Gas to Power Journal.  

"Power plants are subject to regulations that are designed to turn them towards fewer emissions, and the way they are meeting them is by switching to [cleaner burning] natural gas," he said calling the process "a very dramatic transformation in the history of the US in the past 6-7 years."

Development banks with a combined annual lending pot of $166 billlion (€130 billion) should stop to support fossil power generation projects, the European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard has urged.

Robert Bradley, CEO of The Institute for Energy Research (IER), has denounced the US President's Climate Action Plan for its subsidies for clean coal. "The new proposal would throw good money after bad," he said. "Not only is taxpayer money being wasted, businesses are being enticed into investments that are costing their shareholders dearly as real-world experience shows."

Diminishing price spreads between peak and off-peak load, and a flattening seasonal profile of price differentials have emerged in Germany as a consequence of the expansion of renewables, says Dr. Kathrin Thomaschki, Vice Chair of the Ruling Chamber 6, Access to Electricity Grid at the German Federal Energy Regulator (BNetzA).

Competition in Europe's energy sector is shrinking and investment has stalled amid growing regulatory intervention in the market, Olga Mikhailova, Advisor Market Units at Eurelectric warned at Gas to Power Journal's conference in Düsseldorf. 

"The European energy sector is unable to invest, as credit rating of utilities is deteriorating and most generation assets are valued at close to zero by financial investors," she said, suggesting regulatory risk has become the main cause of concern, overtaking market risk.

The political tide in Berlin is turning in favour for a strategic reserve, ideally implemented on a regional level, though there is no sense of urgency as reserve margins are healthy until 2018/19, Franzjosef Schafhausen, Head of Department for Energy at the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) said in a keynote speech at Gas to Power Journal's conference in Düsseldorf. "What we need is an evolution, not a revolution towards a capacity mechanism."

Capacity auctions in the UK are due to be launched in 2014 to bring forward investment for new projects that will start operations in 2018 or 2019. However, this is "not fast enough" to avert the risk of blackouts amid tightening reserve margins, Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer at Scottish Power warned.

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News in Brief

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

Central Hudson links solar farms to VPP

July 9 – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp has established its distributed generation program within the broader context of New York State’s energy plan. Together with Sensus and their Remote Telemetry Module (RTM-III), the Central Hudson will monitor decentralized solar PV backed up by flexible gas gensets.

Siemens and GREEN Solar turn German town CO2-free

July 8 – GREEN Solar and Siemens Energy are jointly developing a concept for making Herzogenrath CO2-free. The plan is to provide an energy-efficient and economical combination of solar power plants, wind turbines, batteries, CHP and combined cycle power plants, as well as heat and hydrogen storage. The hybrid system will be built on the grounds of Nivelsteiner Sandwerke and will be large enough to cover the city’s entire energy demand with zero CO2 emissions by 2030.

Denmark paves the way for Nord Stream 2

July 7– Denmark on late Monday gave the Nord Stream 2 consortium permission to utilize pipe-laying vessels with anchors in Danish waters, paving the way for the Gazprom-led consortium to complete the interconnector. Construction of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline is nearly complete, except for a final stretch of about 120-kilometers in Danish waters. The project was halted in December when the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying company Allseas suspended works over threats of U.S. sanctions.

EPRI tests early warning system

July 6– The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting trial tests with multiple utilities across the United States of an early warning system. It can detect an off-gassing event as a precursor to thermal runaway up to 30 minutes prior to a cascading failure. This gives plant operators time to mitigate the problem or shut down the system.

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

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