Regulation & Policy

Subsidies are not the right approach to encourage investment in new gas-fired power plant projects in Germany, environment minister Peter Altmaier told the business daily 'Handelsblatt' late Wednesday.

Improved energy efficiency measures could reduce the anticipated UK power demand for 2030 by up to 40%, an initial Electricity Demand Reduction Assessment by the British government finds.

The British energy regulator Ofgem will continue to develop detailed proposals on a mandatory power auction "ahead of the autumn" with the aim of increasing market liquidity, Ofgem said in a liquidity update letter.

EMRA, Turkey's Energy Market Regulatory Authority, is considering introducing 'paid-in capital' criteria as a precondition for granting licences to power plant developers. By taking this step the regulator intends to limit so-called 'speculative licence applications', Muhammed Demir, Group Head, at EMRA's Electricity Market Department said in Istanbul today.

Plant operators in the UK are requested to apply for funding under the UK's carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition by July 3, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed. Designed to develop commercial-scale CCS facilities, the competition will make available £1bn in funding to up to four coal or gas-fired CCS projects.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is fine-tuning last details of an upcoming capacity market in the U.K.  "There is currently a lot of discussion about a penalty regime [for delays and non-delivery] and the eligibility of power plants for capacity payments," Neil Bush, Head Energy Economics at DECC told delegates at PowerGen 2012. "More details will be announced in late October," he said in Cologne today.

To close the nuclear gap in Germany's power generation capacity, "more new gas- and coal-fired power plants need to be built than we had estimated," Rainer Brüderle, head of the German liberal party FDP, said over the weekend. "And this may well cost more than we thought," he told the paper "Welt am Sonntag".

The European electricity industry stands by its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, but struggles with investors' lack of confidence and the low carbon price, delegates learned at Eurelectric's Annual Conference. E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen, however, criticized the preferential treatment of renewable energies, which widely profited from generation subsidy schemes across Europe, causing market distortion.

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.

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News in Brief

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.

Gazprom seeks to partner with Fortum

June 27 – The heads of Gazprom and Forum, Alexey Miller and Pekka Lundmark, have met in St. Petersburg to discuss a potential cooperation in the field of power generation. The Finish energy company Fortum owns 29.5% of the Russian power plant TGC-1 as well as a 49.99% share in the German utility Uniper. Through the talks, Gazprom could gain Fortum’s support to expand its firm long-term deliveries of Russian gas to Finland and Germany.