Regulation & Policy

Unless new efficient policy measures are implemented, about 40 percent of Spain's installed Combined Heat and Power (CHP) capacity is at risk of being shut-down in 2015, Javier Rodríguez Morales, Director General of Spain's Cogeneration Association (Acogen) told Gas to Power Journal. "At the moment, there is a moratorium in place to install new cogeneration capacity since 2012, as well as uncertainty about the actual regulatory framework reform and new energy taxes applied since 2003 which are deeply impacting CHP," he said.

Selling heat in addition to electricity has made new combined-cycle power plants (CCPPs) economically feasible in Germany, Norbert Wenn, Director of Sales Support and Product Line Management at Siemens told Gas to Power Journal at this year's COGEN Europe annual conference in Brussels. "The renewed German CHP law and incentive scheme has made a business case of the Lausward plant currently being built in Düsseldorf, which would have never happened had it been planned as a pure condensing plant," he said.

Long-term regulatory stability is key for helping make new cogeneration developments more attractive for European industry, Dave Brownell, Refinery Manager at ExxonMobil told Gas to Power Journal at this year's COGEN Europe annual conference in Brussels. "In Europe, we're looking for stability in the rules of the game; stability in terms of regulations. A large cogen plant is an investment of hundreds of millions of euros, typically takes four to six years of project development and the operational life of the unit exceeds 30 years," he said.

The EU's 2004 CHP Directive has played an important part in the encouragement and recent introduction of CHP incentives across several member states, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report on Cogeneration and District Energy. The Directive establishes general principles for CHP policy but leaves detailed implementation to member states.

The introduction of Capacity Payment Mechanisms (CPMs) as suggested under the UK Electricity Market Reform may solve immediate problems of renewable output increasing revenue volatility for operators of coal- and gas-fired power plants, but could introduce many more, says James Marshall, Senior Consultant, Pöyry Management Consulting. "Conventional generation must expect to rely on a smaller number of hours to cover fixed and capital costs, with the timing largely determined by weather patterns with only short-term predictability," he told Gas to Power Journal.

Stricter emissions regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could make many of the country's coal-fired power plants just as expensive to run as gas-fired plants, even at much higher prices for natural gas, Lincoln F. Pratson, professor at Duke University told Gas to Power Journal, commenting on a study under his lead from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Low gas prices, state incentives, environmental regulations and the retirement of old power plants helps fuel rising investment in combined heat and power (CHP) installations in the US, according to a Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report.

President Barrack Obama supports an initiative to expand the currently installed capacity of 82GW by another 40GW by the end of 2020.

District heating and cooling (DHC) cogeneration currently provides 1.6 million households in 26 South Korean areas – mostly in greater Seoul – with power and heat, after an array of new installations came online in the wake of the 1999 Integrated Energy Supply (IES) Act. The latest report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on cogeneration and district energy highlights the Korean IES regulation as an example of CHP best practice.

Lord Deighton, the UK Olympics boss and former Goldman Sachs banker, has been appointed by the government to start negotiations with France's EDF Energy on bringing new nuclear power stations to the UK. Talks are held with the aim to swiftly increase power generation capacity to avoid a supply gap.

Stricter regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency on SO2, particulate matter, NOx and mercury could make nearly two-thirds of the country's coal-fired power plants just as expensive to run as gas-fired plants. The cost of complying with these regulations will accelerate the trend of power producers shifting from burning natural gas instead of coal, a study from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment finds.

Smaller combined heat and power (CHP) installations are experiencing growth in many EU member states but the sector is also under pressure from the effects of the economic crisis, electricity market issues and ongoing fluctuations in the price of fuel, according to COGEN Europe's 2013 Snapshot Survey of the Cogeneration sector in Europe.

Fuel prices will continue to favour baseload coal-fired power generation over gas-fired generation in the UK through the summer months and beyond, according to the National Grid's Summer Outlook Report. This is despite the application of a carbon price support (CPS) of £4.94/ton on April 1 for the 2013-2014 financial year.

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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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