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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

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

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.

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