Regulation & Policy

Ofgem is to fine SSE £10.5 million for misselling electricity to consumers in breach of Standard Licence Conditions. The fine – the largest ever to be imposed on a UK energy supplier – relates to numerous breaches of SSE's obligations relating to telephone, in-store and doorstep sales activities. Ofgem says that SSE consistently failed to provide clear and accurate information on prices and potential savings to customers about whether or not to switch suppliers.

Japan has decided to revamp its electricity industry by obliging utilities to split their power generation and distribution segments into separate businesses. The move – approved on Tuesday by the Prime Minister's cabinet – is intended to help foster competitiveness, and encourage innovation and modernisation in the country's electricity sector. A bill based on the cabinet's decision is to be submitted to parliament "around 2015."

The gas market is not yet fully liberalized and things still needs time, but as the government we are committed to duplicating the efforts made when we liberalized the power market, Turkey's deputy minister for energy and natural resources, Hasan Murat Mercan, told a conference in Istanbul organized by Gas to Power Journal.

Keen to fast-track the liberalisation process of the Turkish energy market, the government has set a timeline for divestment of state-owned power generation assets.

"We hope to finish the privatization of Turkey's thermal power plants by 2015," Atif Kir, Head of Project Group, at the Turkish Ministry of Privatization Administration (OIB) told Gas to Power Journal in an interview.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has admitted that her Liberal party had made a "political decision" to cancel two under construction gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 provincial election. The Oakville and Mississauga plants were to have an installed capacity of 900MW and 280MW, respectively.

Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of ALLETE Inc., has released plans calling for a decrease in coal and an increase in natural gas and renewable energy sources in its future power plant portfolio. The company currently generates about 80 percent of its power from coal but envisions a long term target of one third coal, one third renewable, and one third natural gas and other power generating capacity.

Los Angeles will stop using electricity generated from coal-fired power plants by 2025, pledged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "In a couple of weeks, I will be signing agreements to get completely out of coal by 2025," he said at an event sponsored by the UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

A decrease in the use of coal and an increase in the use of gas for electric power generation due to cheaper natural gas prices has played a significant role in reducing US SO2 and NOx emissions in recent years, according to the US Energy Administration (EIA). Between 1990 and 2012, SO2 emissions from electrical power generation fell from over 15 million short tons to about 3 million short tons, while COx emissions dropped from about 6 million short tons to less than 2 million short tons.

The emergence of a harmonised pan-European capacity market design is "unlikely" and efforts may come "too late", says Håkan Feuk, Chairman of TF Market Design for Renewable Energy Integration at Eurelectric, adding that some common denominators for national CRM schemes need to be established to ensure a level playing field for investors and consistency with the integration process of European energy markets.

The oil and gas-fired Dhuvaran power station (534 MW) in the Indian state of Gujarat was shut down following a severe shortfall in gas requirements. Gas supply allocated by the central government covered only 46.71 percent of its total gas needs in 2011-12.

Unless Germany introduces measures to curb the costs of renewable feed-in-tariffs, the price tag for its energy transition policy (Energiewende) may amount to up to €1 trillion by the end of the 2030s , German environment minister Peter Altmaier warned.

The UK government will make best use of new powers in the Energy Bill to enforce energy regulator Ofgem's retail market reforms, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday.

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News in Brief

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.

U.S inventories at record highs

May 4 – Inventories for crude oil and natural gas have reached a new record high in the United States, as fuel demand declines both for transport and the electric power sector. From March 13 – when a national emergency was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to April 24, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 74 million barrels, or 16%, according to government figures. The acute scarcity of crude storage on April 20 led to a sell-off of future contracts at negative prices.

Wärtsilä to service Argentinean power plant

May 1 – Wärtsilä has signed a 10-year maintenance and service agreement with one of Argentina’s upstream companies. Under the deal, Wärtsilä provides a guaranteed performance for a 57.6 MW onsite power plant in the southern part of Argentina, with excess power sold to the national grid.