Regulation & Policy

Horizon 2020, an EU innovation, has earmarked €80billion for research and development (R&D) of low-carbon intensive fossil fuels. Industry observers rate this development a "clear victory" for the gas lobby in its effort to attract investment in new gas-fired power plants.

The subsidy criteria for new power plants without CCS-readiness are "very restrictive", the German energy industry association (BDEW) criticises. New EU rules have "effectively stopped plans of the Germany government to sponsor new efficient plants," BDEW head Hildegard Müller said.

Further hesitation or reluctance to undertake much-needed investment in new power generation capacity could threaten Britain's energy security. "Our priority is to rebuilt the power sector. To put it bluntly, we need twice as much investment every year of this decade, as in the last decade," the UK energy minister Charles Hendry said.

The introduction of a capacity payment market is needed to stop German utilities from closing gas-fired power plants due to low profitability, according to the head of the German energy agency Dena, Stephan Kohler.

The long-awaited UK draft energy is expected to favour new gas-fired and nuclear plants over renewables, as the Government is set to introduce new support schemes - including contract for difference -  as a price guarantee for power companies. The Government will propose a new draft law later today.

 Russia's energy minister Anatoly Yanovsky has backed efforts of Gazprom to go downstream by buying gas-fired power generation assets in Western Europe.

The British government is developing a gas generation strategy with the aim of encouraging investment in new gas plants, said Charles Hendry, minister of state for energy in the U.K.

"The role of gas has not been sufficiently clear," Hendry said at a Lloyd's Register press conference late yesterday, voicing support for a growing role of gas in Britain's energy mix. "The earliest we can have a new gas plant is 2019," he forecast.

Representatives of Germany's four biggest utilities have highlighted the need for new conventional power generation capacity to underping the transition of Germany's energy sector at an "energy summit" with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Entso-E, the representative body of European TSOs, is criticizing the lack of investment in power grid expansions to support the massive increase of renewable capacity throughout Europe. Gas-fired power plants are widely used to backstop the intermittency of electricity produced by renewable energy sources.

China's State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) has imposed measures compelling power plant operators to improve coordination of plant dispatchment to meet summer peak demand. To this end, SERC set out measures to enhance stability of the power grid by closer supervision of plant dispatchment and load scheduling.

Eurelectric sees the introduction of capacity remuneration mechanisms as an 'option of last resort'. "Policymakers should only consider introducing capacity remuneration mechanisms, or capacity markets, where the proper functioning of energy-only markets is still not enough to ensure system security," Anne-Malorie Géron, head of Eurelectric's Market Unit, told Gas-to-Power Journal.

The Danish government pledges the country can rely entirely on renewable energy by 2050, however gas-fired power generation and increased interconnection capacity are vital to balance electricity supply and demand. "Gas will be needed as a backup for renewable energies, but we are working on replacing natural gas with biogas and other renewable gases," Marlene Hein Nybroe, gas development and preparedness manager at Energinet DK told Gas-to-Power Journal.

The Spanish Congress of Deputies supports the timely introduction of a new cogeneration tariff, with Acogen, Spain's cogeneration association, calling the congress support a "very positive step". Investment into new CHP plants in Spain has come to standstill, following the decision of Spain's government to enact a temporary halt to new feed-in-tariff contracts for renewable energies starting January 2013.

The share of gas-fired power generation in the U.S. energy mix is set to rise as the first carbon pollution standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entrenches the current cost advantage for natural gas over coal.

The rulemaking only concerns new generating units that will be built in the future, and does not apply to existing units already operating or units that will start construction over the next 12 months, EPA said today.

The majority of Europe's gas-fired power plants will be unready or unable to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology by 2030 without a U-turn in Britain's energy policy, Green Alliance said in a report published late Tuesday. The lobby group warns further delays in CCS will jeopardise the U.K.'s climate goals.

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News in Brief

GE repowers Azito plant in Ivory Coast

May 21 – Azito Energy has contracted GE to deploy its Predix software for two GT13E2 gas turbines and two generators at the Azito III plant site in Ivory Coast. The MXL2 upgrade for the two gas turbines is expected to boost the power plants overall output by 15 MW per turbine which, according to GE, is equivalent power for up to 120,000 homes

ERCOT at risk of brownouts this summer

May 20 – Texans is at risk of power emergency alerts this summer, and even rotating blackouts, as the current electric reserve margin of about 8.6% may prove insufficient to meet strong electric demand growth, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) warned. Power grid operators typically aim for reserve margins of 10% to 15%.

ABB microgrid makes Indian villages energy self-reliant

May 17 – ABB’s MGS100 microgrid is helping some 39,000 homes and shops in remote regions in India to become energy independent, relying solely on renewable power sources and energy storage. Together with Husk Power Systems, ABB developed the MGS100 microgrid using wind and solar power to reduce household energy costs by up to 40% and improve productivity in 85% of factories and small businesses.

J-ENG develops new biofuel engine

May 16 – Japan Engine Corp. (J-ENG) has started to cooperate with Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) to research and development a test engine running on biofuel. The new engine is designed for use in the maritime sector and is likely to be re-calibrated at a later stage for use in small-scale power generation applications.

‘Smarter E-Europe’ conference opens doors in Munich

May 15 – Today, the 2019 “Smarter E-Europe” conference and trade show is opening its doors to visitors in Munich. At the exhibition, Siemens is presenting decentralized energy solutions based on renewables and intelligent energy management systems for buildings, infrastructure and industry. Expert presentations on transforming the energy system, renewable integration and storage technologies can be seen at Siemens’ exhibit at Booth 110 in Hall B2.

Marubeni buys stake in U.S. distributed energy firm

May 14 – Japan's Marubeni Corp. has invested an undisclosed sum to buy an equity stake in GridMarket, a U.S.-based provider of development services to distributed energy resources (DER). Using proprietary analytics and machine learning, GridMarket’s distributed energy project platform helps utilities by recommending best-fit solutions like battery storage, solar PV, fuel cells and combined heat and power. By cooperating with GridMarket, Marubeni expects to identify cost-effective projects and source best-fit technologies for its own DER network in North America and Japan.

Global RES additions stall after 20-year growth

May 13 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported an “unexpected flattening of growth trends” in the deployment of renewable energy sources (RES) deployment that raises concerns about meeting long-term climate goals. After two decades of strong annual growth, renewable energy developers around the world added as much net capacity in 2018 as they did in 2017.

RWE cancels €1.5bn coal power project

May 10 – The German utility RWE has decided to no longer invest in any coal-fired power projects and has cancelled a planned €1.5 billion ($1.68bn) lignite-fired power plant in Niederaussem, Germany. Instead, the utility is accelerating its transformation to renewables, energy storage and gas-fired generation through an asset swap with Europe’s largest utility, E.ON.

China’s CPECC to process gas from Iraq’s Halfaya oilfield

May 9 – Iraq and China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation (CPECC) have signed a $1.07 billion deal to build and operate facilities to process natural gas extracted alongside crude oil at Iraq’s giant Halfaya oilfield. CPECC, an affiliate of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), will process around 300 million standard cubic feet per day (mcf/d) of natural gas extracted from the field alongside crude oil, the oil ministry said.  Halfaya, operated by PetroChina, is Maysan Oil Company’s largest oilfield, producing 370,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the company’s total output of around 510,000 bpd.
Iraq continues to flare some of  gas extracted alongside crude oil but the Iraqi oil minister Thamer Ghadhban told Reuters Iraq is in talks with international oil companies to build a 300 mcf plant to process gas from the West Qurna 2 and Majnoon oilfields.

Chiyoda to get large cash injection

May 8 - Following losses of nearly $1 bill on an liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant project in Louisiana, Japanese construction company Chiyoda is to get a $1.4 bill cash injection. The company suffered a $953 mill loss in the six months to 30th September, 2018 after costs spiralled on the $10 bill Hackberry LNG plant in Louisiana, largely, due to escalating labour costs, it was claimed. Chiyoda was expected to record a net loss of about $1.4 bill for the fiscal year to March. Mitsubishi Corp, which owns a 33.4% stake in Chiyoda, and the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, have agreed to provide capital while the company implements a rescue strategy, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Siemens, TÜV SÜD partner on digital energy security

May 7 – Siemens and the German technical verification association TÜV SÜD have come together to address the growing risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, notably in the energy sector. The companies will digitally asses industrial control systems in both the oil and gas and power generation sectors (nuclear applications excluded). All tests will be vendor-agnostic.

UK ‘can cut emissions to net-zero’ by 2025

May 6 – Advisors to the British government have urged the Cabinet to “set and vigorously pursue” a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ levels by 2050, replacing the current target of an 80% reduction against 1990 levels. The the Committee on Climate Change, which published the report, believes the new target could be achieved within the same cost-framework as the current more lenient goals.

Iraq’s gas imports from Iran bound to rise in June

May 2 – Iraq has no alternative to importing more Iranian gas to meet peak summer demand, the country’s electricity ministry said. He specified that halting imports would cost Iraq’s power grid 4,000 MW per day. Some 14 GW of Iraq’s installed capacity is run on domestic gas, and supplies from Iran keep an additional 4GW operational. “Until now, we have no alternatives to Iranian gas,” a spokesman of the energy ministry said, adding imports from Iran are expected to increase in June from currently 28 million cubic metres per day to 35 MMcm/d.

Waukesha gas engines delivered to CHP in East Germany

May 1 – INNIO’s authorized partner, S&L Energie-Projekte, has provided four packages of INNIO’s Waukesha VHP 9394GSI gas engines for a CHP, operated by the municipal utility of Lutherstadt Wittenberg in eastern Germany. The modernized district heating plant is claimed to achieve an overall efficiency above 95%.

Burns & McDonnell oversee commissioning of fast-ramp plants in Michigan

April 30 – Two quick-ramp gas power plant projects in Michigan, overseen by Burns & McDonnell, are now commissioned and in full commercial operation. Both the F.D. Kuester and A.J. Mihm generating stations are powered by 18-MW, gas-fueled Wärtsilä 18V50SG reciprocating engines. The two plants have a combined 180 MW in generating capacity.

Gazprom advances start of ‘Power of Siberia’ link

April 29 – Russia’s Gazprom is preparing to start injecting natural gas into the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline to China in Q3-2019. Preparations are “going according to schedule”, Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller told CNPC chairman Wang Yilin at a working meeting in Beijing.

Siemens to focus on energy transition at OTC 2019

April 26 – “Navigating the new normal” in the oil and gas industry - against the backdrop of the global energy transition - is in focus of Siemens’ exhibit at the 50th annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). The event will be held in Houston, Texas, on May 6-9.