Regulation & Policy

The UK Government's Energy Bill which includes contracts to develop low carbon generation and market-wide capacity contracts is expected to pass through the House of Commons "within the next month or two", Tim Lord, Security of Supply Team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told a conference organised by Gas to Power Journal in London today.
"We expect the first capacity auction to be held in 2014 for a delivery year of 2018/19," he said.

Scottish Powers' Director of Regulation, Rupert Steele has called on the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) policy to "maintain momentum" to deliver a workable scheme for a Capacity Mechanism and Contracts for Differences (CfDs) in 2014, though he strongly opposed a Carbon Floor Price.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted the country's clean-energy prone needs an overhaul, including a cut in subsidies for renewables paid by consumers via the EEG levy, to ensure that state-of-the-art gas fired power plant can operate at a profit.

The European Commission has warned Ireland that it must fully transpose the Electricity Directive of the third energy package into law or face referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The directive contains provisions for the proper functioning of European Union electricity markets such as rules on the unbundling of networks, rules strengthening the independence and powers of national regulators and rules on the improvement and functioning of retail markets.

Germany's 'green' energy policies are failing to provide their intended emissions reductions , says John Rhys, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), arguing that phasing out nuclear will continue to increase coal use significantly. "Germany does not promote CCS (...) and it is also foregoing gas," he said in an opinion piece published by the Institute, claiming "Germany's simultaneous capitulation to anti-nuclear prejudice and willingness to compromise on cheap high CO2 emissions coal is therefore a disappointment to British supporters of EU ambitions to lead on climate change".

A coalition of 10 US states and 5 cities lead by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a court brief urging the US Supreme Court at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and reverse a lower court decision that invalidated an EPA rule requiring substantial cuts in the interstate transport of air pollution.

Gas-fired distributed power projects in the UK will benefit from specific support schemes, including capacity mechanisms, which are forthcoming as part of a new regulatory package stipulated under the Electricity Market Reform, says Dr. Jim Fitzgerald, Associate Partner at The Advisory House.
"Contracts for Difference (CfD) will differentiate on technology, with different auction prices for each low carbon technology. We expect a specific capacity mechanism to be put in place to enhance support available for distributed gas fired power generation projects," he told Gas to Power Journal in an interview.

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.

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News in Brief

Italy’s power exports Montenegro surge

Jan 22 – Italian electric power exports increased by 28% in 2020, largely driven by flows to Montenegro which surged 26% to 8.6 TWh. In contrast, domestic power demand fell 6% last year to 271.6 TWh with electricity sales from conventional plants down nearly 9% to 140.5 TWh, figures by the Italian energy exchange GME show.

US considers new nuclear

Jan 21 – The new US President Joe Biden has said his country could construct new nuclear power plants and reiterated plans to “swiftly rejoin” the Paris Climate Agreement swiftly. Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, called it illusionary to believe that newer, smaller reactors will be a technology of the future.

Mitsubishi produces methanol in Trinidad

Jan 20 – Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company has launched commercial operations of a methanol and dimethyl ether plant in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant has an annual production capacity of one million tons of methanol and 20,000 tons of dimethyl ether, which can be used as an alternative fuel for cars and power generation.

First 8-cylinder B36:45 engine delivered

Jan 19 – Rolls-Royce has delivered the first 8-cylinder variant of its Bergen B36:45 gas engine to a tomato producer in Belgium. The medium speed genset is planned for delivery this spring and will drive an onsite power plant that generates 4700 kW electricity and 5520 kW heat. The new engine offers a 20% increase in power per cylinder and will replace an existing Bergen 12-cylinder B35:40 genset.

Moody’s upgrades Enel to Baa1

Jan 18 – Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Enel’s long-term rating to Baa1, with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects Enel’s progress in reducing its risk profile, analysts said, pointing at the Italian utilities ongoing investment in networks and renewables, growing geographical diversification and focus on centralised financing.

GE sues Siemens Energy

Jan 15 – General Electric has sued its German rival Siemens Energy over the alleged use of stolen trade secrets to win gas turbine contracts worth several billion dollars. GE told the US district court in Virginia that Siemens received the secret information from a Dominion Energy employee.

Orbital Energy launches Eclipse

Jan 14 – Nasdaq-listed Orbital Energy Group has launched a new subsidiary, Eclipse Foundation, a drilled shaft construction company. The new company specialises in providing services for power transmission and substations, communication tower and a disaster restoration through emergency power.

S’Korean coal and LNG imports slide

Jan 13 – South Korea’s imports of thermal coal and LNG have fallen 12% and 11%, respectively, as the government cracks down on fossil fuel usage to curb air pollution. Customs data shows that coal imports amounted to 10.2 million tons in December, down 1.4 million tons from the same month last year but up from November’s imports of 9.5 million tons.

SMC builds 1.7 GW CCGT in Batangas

Jan 13 – Excellent Energy Resources, part of SMC Global Power Holdings, is building a 1,700 MW combined cycle gas power plant in Barangay Dela Paz and Ilijan in Batangas City with investments of about 67.863 billion Philippine Pesos ($1.41bn). The project is estimated to be completed in 36 to 40 months.

UK’s National Grid issues supply warning

Jan 12 – Natural gas prices in the UK surged as National Grid issued warnings on supply deficit as LNG cargoes are being diverted to North Asia. Prices at the British NBP gas trading hub soared to the equivalent of $8.95 per MMBtu, while the JKM price for North Asian spot LNG cargoes for February 2021 was last at $19.700 per MMBt.

Fortistar invests in hydrogen

Jan 11 – Fortistar, a privately-held fund, has joined an equity investment of up to $157 million in hydrogen producer BayoTech. Cottonwood Technology Funds and the New Mexico State Investment Council also participated in the latest financing round. BayoTech’s systems produce local hydrogen close to the application, serving end users in the industrial gas and petrochemical segment as well as those who use of hydrogen to power fuel cells.

Ashtead appoints new CFO

Jan 5 - Ashtead Technology has appointed a chief financial officer (CFO) and five managers for newly created roles across its international team. The appointments are meant to cement the company’s position in the offshore energy market, including offshore wind and decommissioning of thermal power plants

NFE secures LNG for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua

Dec 23 – New Fortress Energy (NFE) has agreed to purchase Henry-Hub-indexed LNG for its integrated gas and power businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. The New York-based project developer said it now has covered 80% of its expected needs throughout Latin America, thus reducing its need for spot purchases and its exposure to changes in the market price for LNG.

China and Korea mandate coal-to-gas switch

Dec 22 – The Chinese government has launched a coal-to-gas boiler switching programme, targeting 7.1 million homes, which makes gas demand more weather-sensitive this winter. Similarly, South Korea mandated the closure of 15 coal-fired plants since the start of December in an effort to reduce air pollution. Analysts expect this will accelerate the drawdown of LNG terminal inventories going into Q1-2021.

GE repowers oil field in Brazil

Dec 21 – GE Power Conversion has been awarded a contract by Sulzer Pumps UK to supply motors for four water injection pumps of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The 8,000 kW, two pole motors will run at 3,600 rpm with a limitation of the starting current at 300%, enabling the oil and gas field operator to optimise the generator which supplies electricity on the FPSO.

VELO distributes Sapphire Metal 3D-Printers in the US

Dec 18 – California-based VELO3D has formed a distribution partnership with GoEngineer for Flow pre-print software, Sapphire metal AM printer, and Assure quality assurance and controls. GoEngineer will be VELO’s only distributor in the United States.

Indian electric boats to achieve zero emissions

Dec 17 – Cochin Shipyard, India’s largest shipbuilder, has asked Siemens Energy to equip India’s first fleet of 23 boats with electric propulsion drive train, integrated with batteries and vessel automation. Combining the electric propulsion drive trains, energy storage, and automation systems is expected to significantly reduce fuel consumption.

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