Regulation & Policy

While global climate talks in Madrid ended with lackluster results, German lawmakers agreed to raise the entry-level price for CO2 emissions from the buildings and transport sector from 10 Euros to 25 Euros starting from 2021. Thereafter, it will rise to 55 Euros by 2025, with state revenues to be used to lower the renewables levy on consumers' electricity bills.

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has come forward with an ambitious ‘EU Green Deal’ that seeks to outdo the ‘Green New Deal’ proposed by the U.S. Government. The European Green Deal envisages Europe to become “climate-neutral” by 2050, which requires a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, replacing the current 40% goal.

Efforts to develop Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s vast shale reserves in northern Patagonia, have slowed as national energy companies await direction from the incoming President. Alberto Fernández, who will take office on December 10, has yet to decide whether to keep focused on pushing up domestic oil and gas production and LNG exports.

Electricity prices have fallen in the course of Germany's Energiewende while taxes and levies increased substantially. Cheap renewable electricity floods the market, benefiting mainly large and energy-intensive industrial companies because many can source their electricity at wholesale prices.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she disapproves of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) decision to ban funding for natural gas projects by the end of 2021. Speaking in Parliament, Merkel said Germany would rely on gas as a bridging technology as it exits both nuclear and coal.

New EU-wide emission rules for large combustion plants, known as BREF, will take effect in 2021. Rising carbon prices - last seen trading at €25.01 per ton, combined with falling renewable energy costs will likely make European utilities opt for closing coal plants, instead of retrofitting them.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) has listed 17 renewable Power-to-Gas (P2G) projects to be built by 2025, and 19 such projects by 2032. For the first time, ENTSO’s latest development plan includes P2G and acknowledges them as ‘Projects of Common Interest’.

Germany first major climate law passed Parliament on Friday and is now being debated by the Bundesrat. The federal state council needs to give consent to parts of the reforms, notably tax support of energy-efficient modernisation of buildings, the rise in commuter allowance related to a new national CO2 price on transport emissions, and a cut in VAT tax on train tickets.

RWE, Germany’s largest electricity provider, might opt to divest its 70% shareholding the Denizli gas power plant (775 MW) in Turkey, Reuters reported, after the utility posted a 20 million Euro fall in EBIT at its lignite and nuclear business unit in January-September – a start contrast with its 38 million Euro profit a year ago.

The German government has come under pressure from climate lawyers to ban all fossil fuel projects from the list of those eligible for European Investment Bank (EIB) support. Luxemburg-based EIB deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November after Germany had urged the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects.

Payouts of about £1 billion under the GB capacity market scheme are due in November. But this is “likely to prove problematic,” analysts warned, as some suppliers may not have been billing large customers – particularly those on “pass-through” contracts – during the EU’s earlier suspension of the scheme.

Just weeks before the UK goes to the polls on 12 December, the government has suspended fracking as analysts found it is not possible to predict the size and frequency of earthquakes caused by this practice. Activity by Cuadrilla had resulted in a 2.9 magnitude tremor at its site in Lancashire in August.

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News in Brief

Mitsubishi produces methanol in Trinidad

Jan 20 – Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company has launched commercial operations of a methanol and dimethyl ether plant in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant has an annual production capacity of one million tons of methanol and 20,000 tons of dimethyl ether, which can be used as an alternative fuel for cars and power generation.

First 8-cylinder B36:45 engine delivered

Jan 19 – Rolls-Royce has delivered the first 8-cylinder variant of its Bergen B36:45 gas engine to a tomato producer in Belgium. The medium speed genset is planned for delivery this spring and will drive an onsite power plant that generates 4700 kW electricity and 5520 kW heat. The new engine offers a 20% increase in power per cylinder and will replace an existing Bergen 12-cylinder B35:40 genset.

Moody’s upgrades Enel to Baa1

Jan 18 – Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Enel’s long-term rating to Baa1, with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects Enel’s progress in reducing its risk profile, analysts said, pointing at the Italian utilities ongoing investment in networks and renewables, growing geographical diversification and focus on centralised financing.

GE sues Siemens Energy

Jan 15 – General Electric has sued its German rival Siemens Energy over the alleged use of stolen trade secrets to win gas turbine contracts worth several billion dollars. GE told the US district court in Virginia that Siemens received the secret information from a Dominion Energy employee.

Orbital Energy launches Eclipse

Jan 14 – Nasdaq-listed Orbital Energy Group has launched a new subsidiary, Eclipse Foundation, a drilled shaft construction company. The new company specialises in providing services for power transmission and substations, communication tower and a disaster restoration through emergency power.

S’Korean coal and LNG imports slide

Jan 13 – South Korea’s imports of thermal coal and LNG have fallen 12% and 11%, respectively, as the government cracks down on fossil fuel usage to curb air pollution. Customs data shows that coal imports amounted to 10.2 million tons in December, down 1.4 million tons from the same month last year but up from November’s imports of 9.5 million tons.

SMC builds 1.7 GW CCGT in Batangas

Jan 13 – Excellent Energy Resources, part of SMC Global Power Holdings, is building a 1,700 MW combined cycle gas power plant in Barangay Dela Paz and Ilijan in Batangas City with investments of about 67.863 billion Philippine Pesos ($1.41bn). The project is estimated to be completed in 36 to 40 months.

UK’s National Grid issues supply warning

Jan 12 – Natural gas prices in the UK surged as National Grid issued warnings on supply deficit as LNG cargoes are being diverted to North Asia. Prices at the British NBP gas trading hub soared to the equivalent of $8.95 per MMBtu, while the JKM price for North Asian spot LNG cargoes for February 2021 was last at $19.700 per MMBt.

Fortistar invests in hydrogen

Jan 11 – Fortistar, a privately-held fund, has joined an equity investment of up to $157 million in hydrogen producer BayoTech. Cottonwood Technology Funds and the New Mexico State Investment Council also participated in the latest financing round. BayoTech’s systems produce local hydrogen close to the application, serving end users in the industrial gas and petrochemical segment as well as those who use of hydrogen to power fuel cells.

Ashtead appoints new CFO

Jan 5 - Ashtead Technology has appointed a chief financial officer (CFO) and five managers for newly created roles across its international team. The appointments are meant to cement the company’s position in the offshore energy market, including offshore wind and decommissioning of thermal power plants

NFE secures LNG for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua

Dec 23 – New Fortress Energy (NFE) has agreed to purchase Henry-Hub-indexed LNG for its integrated gas and power businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. The New York-based project developer said it now has covered 80% of its expected needs throughout Latin America, thus reducing its need for spot purchases and its exposure to changes in the market price for LNG.

China and Korea mandate coal-to-gas switch

Dec 22 – The Chinese government has launched a coal-to-gas boiler switching programme, targeting 7.1 million homes, which makes gas demand more weather-sensitive this winter. Similarly, South Korea mandated the closure of 15 coal-fired plants since the start of December in an effort to reduce air pollution. Analysts expect this will accelerate the drawdown of LNG terminal inventories going into Q1-2021.

GE repowers oil field in Brazil

Dec 21 – GE Power Conversion has been awarded a contract by Sulzer Pumps UK to supply motors for four water injection pumps of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The 8,000 kW, two pole motors will run at 3,600 rpm with a limitation of the starting current at 300%, enabling the oil and gas field operator to optimise the generator which supplies electricity on the FPSO.

VELO distributes Sapphire Metal 3D-Printers in the US

Dec 18 – California-based VELO3D has formed a distribution partnership with GoEngineer for Flow pre-print software, Sapphire metal AM printer, and Assure quality assurance and controls. GoEngineer will be VELO’s only distributor in the United States.

Indian electric boats to achieve zero emissions

Dec 17 – Cochin Shipyard, India’s largest shipbuilder, has asked Siemens Energy to equip India’s first fleet of 23 boats with electric propulsion drive train, integrated with batteries and vessel automation. Combining the electric propulsion drive trains, energy storage, and automation systems is expected to significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Terna BESS auction six times oversubscribed

Dec 16 – A pilot auction, held by the Italian TSO Terna, for battery energy storage systems (BESS) to provide reserve grid services has been six times oversubscribed. The auction was held with an expectation that around 230 MW would be on offer, but Terna received 1,327 MW worth of bids and eventually awarded contracts for 249.9 MW.

New £150m link to UK’s Easington terminal

Dec 15 – National Grid has completed a gas pipeline under the River Humber, build in 18 months and at a cost £150 million, as new link to the import terminal at Easington. Following commissioning, the pipeline is now operational and can now transport between 70 to 100 million cubic metres - around a quarter of Britain's gas needs.

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