Regulation & Policy

An increasing share of variable renewable energy sources in the grid requires a market push for the development and demonstration of flexible conventional power generation, says Christer Björkqvist, Managing Director of the European Turbine Network (ETN).

Britain's energy regulator Ofgem today said the projected tightening of the spare power generation margin over the next four years would step up the urgency for the upcoming energy reform (EMR) package to encourage investment.

Capacity payment mechanism should not only consist of a lump sum for availability but should include a premium for flexibility, says Edward Nagelhout, Market Development Analyst, Wartsila Power Plants.

To launch a capacity mechanism in Britain is the right approach to incentivise new investment for security of supply, says to Ray Tomkins, founder and director at Economic Consulting Associates.

"We have been lucky that due a combination of circumstances - such as the dash-for-gas, the investment strategy of the vertically integrated oligopoly, and more recently the recession depressing demand- that major blackouts have been avoided as private generators have 'over-invested'," he said. "This cannot be relied on in the future...

As Germany's power grid operators are busy negotiating with power plant operators over the amount of available cold reserves, the federal network regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNA) confirmed that Germany will need over 2,000 MW of capacity reserve to guarantee supply security in during the upcoming winter.

The autumn statement of the UK finance ministry, set for 5 December, will impact on the timing of the Government's update on the Electricity Market Reform (EMR), JP Morgan Cazenove said today. As both the EMR and the gas generation strategy paper need to be consistent with the Government's fiscal targets, the papers are „only likely to be published once the fiscal targets are known in December,"  says Edmund Reid, analyst at the bank.

Nigeria's federal government has spent about $8 billion on power intervention projects since 1999, to support the construction of 10 power plant projects with a combined capacity of 4,774 MW, James Olotu, owner of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), said in Lagos.

InterGen, a global power producer with a total installed capacity of 7,686 MW worldwide, has applied for generation licences in the UK for 1,800 MW of new gas-fired capacity, the British industry regulator Ofgem said on Monday.

Germany's energy industry association BDEW on behalf of its members has submitted a discussion paper to the Ministry of Economics (BMWi) pushing for a deal to compensate operators for refraining from carrying out planned closures of fossil power plants to guarantee supply security during the upcoming winter period.

The German government has abandoned plans to help finance up to 15 percent of the investment costs of new coal-fired power plants, with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The lack of public support for storing carbon underground could shift political support towards gas generation.

German utilities E.on and RWE  have spoken out in favor of a strategic reserve as a quick solution to resolve a capacity squeeze in southern Germany in the coming winter. The debate over capacity markets, by contrast, would take years and the scheme is believed to proof counterproductive to energy-only-markets.

Turkey's Privatization Administration (OIB) will launch a tender to sell the 1,200-MW gas-fired Hamitabat power station in Tekirdag, in the north-western region of Turkey.

Doubts on the effectiveness of the energy bill have been raised by the industry. The reform "comes too late" and regulations are "unclear", is the verdict of some investors: "We have long been pushing for greater clarity on the detailed design of the EMR proposals, and greater expediency in the process as a whole," Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower said in a statement to Gas to Power Journal.

Facing up what it calls the "Red Tap Challenge", the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced it will scrap unnecessary regulation with the aim of stipulating 100 billion pounds of investment in the electricity sector.

The complexity of proposals to establish a Feed-in Tariff with a Contract for Difference (CfD) under the UK's draft energy bill is freezing new investment. "The proposal has now arguably become unworkable," the Common's energy and climate change select committee warned today.

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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.