Regulation & Policy

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.

UK Energy Intensive Industries have agreed to extending energy efficiency improvement targets to 2020 as part of the voluntary Climate Change Agreements scheme which provides an extension to the Climate Change Levy. These efficiency improvements are estimated to deliver an overall 11 percent energy efficiency improvement across all industry sectors.

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.

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News in Brief

Orbital signs MSA with Midwestern utility

Dec 3 – Orbital Energy has signed a master service agreement (MSA) with a US Midwestern investor-owned utility. The accord is expected to generate monthly revenues from the fourth quarter and increase revenues by 30% on an annualised basis.

Wärtsilä to use Shell engine oils

Dec 2 – The Finish engine maker Wärsilä has selected Shell as its test oil partner for engines during stress tests and fine-tuning at engine manufacturing sites. Shell’s Mysella, Argina and Gadinia range of engine oils have been developed to provide top class engine cleanliness, enhanced wear protection, long oil life, and high system efficiency.

Hamburg CHP runs fully on hydrogen

Dec 1 – Field testing has started for HanseWerk’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Hamburg to run fully on hydrogen. The converted 1 MW pilot plant, powered by Jenbacher engines, provides district heating equal to 13,000 MWh/year to 30 residential buildings, a sports facility, a daycare center, and the Othmarschen Park leisure centre.

Oil majors in the red

Nov 30 – For most oil majors worldwide, higher prices are needed to get their business out of the red. Breakeven prices for Saudi Arabia are $85 per barrel, around $64/bbl for Iraq, $49/bbl for Kuwait and as little as $40/bbl for Russia. As business confidence plummets, major oil companies have already slashed planned CAPEX spending by almost $89 billion in first quarter of 2020, with further cuts being made throughout the summer and autumn.

EU invests into battery cells

Nov 27 – Germany's EU Council Presidency has pledged Europe should develop an integrated value creation chain for battery cells, starting with the processing of raw materials over battery cell production to recycling. Germany is investing 3 billion Euros into the two projects that foster novel methods of battery production.

Rolls-Royce wins order from Hinkley Point C

Nov 26 – Rolls-Royce has been awarded an order from Hinkley Point C to deliver 140 Bibloc pressure transmitters for the two EPR nuclear reactors currently under construction in Somerset, UK. The transmitters will measure the flow, level and pressure of the Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS).

CHP industry to grow 14.4% through 2025

Nov 25 – The combined heat and power (CHP) market, evaluated at $12.152 billion, is expected to expand nearly 14.4% per year to reach $27.196 million by 2025. Growth is primarily driven by government funding and subsidy schemes. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the country aims to install 40 GW of new, cost-effective CHP to save $10 billion per year, compared to current energy use.

Rolls-Royce opens US customer center

Nov 24 – Rolls-Royce has opened its latest US customer support center in Savannah, Gerogia. The 62,000 square feet facility houses a power plant completion center, a wing services repair unit and a warehouse, all under one roof.

Lithium Werks grows manufacturing

Nov 23 – US-Dutch manufacturer Lithium Werks is growing the output and sales fuel cells and battery modules for use as power, pulse, and stand-by applications. The company’s 26650 Nanophosphate cells are used as single cells, as well as to build cell-packs and modules like Lithium Werks P40-24 battery modules. The Austin and Enschede-based company said it can “produce millions of 18650 and 26650 cells a month in China.”

AGL plans 1,000 MWh battery

Nov 20 – Australian power producer and retailer ALG wants to realise a large grid-connected battery storage unit of up to 250 MW rated output and four hours’ duration of storage, equalling 1,000 MWh. The battery will be built in stages on the site of Torrens Island Power Station in South Australia. AGL vowed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but is currently still operating some 40 GW of coal-fired generation.

Fusion demo plant to be designed in Canada

Nov 19 – Vancouver-based General Fusion has entered a partnership with the architecture firm AL_A to design a demonstration plant, based on magnetized target fusion (MTF). Once operational, the demo plant will showcase MTF technology under power plant-relevant conditions.

Toshiba opens H2One fuelling station

Nov 18 – Toshiba has opened the first ‘H2OneMulti Station’ which fills fuel cell vehicles with green hydrogen and supplies for green electricity at Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture. The station consists of H2One ST Unit and H2One, using hydrogen produced from wind and solar power sources.

Shale gas market grows at 7% rate

Nov 17 – Unconventional gas markets are poised to grow by $41.76 billion through 2024, rising at a rate of almost 7%. According to Technavio, about 87% of the supply growth this year is coming from the Americas.

Agua Blanca pipeline expanded

Nov 16 – Austin-based WhiteWater Midstream and MPLX have completed a 1.8 billion cubic-feet-per-day (Bcf/d) expansion of their joint venture Agua Blanca pipeline system. Christer Rundlof, CEO of WhiteWater CEO, said the expansion will be brought into service ahead of schedule. Testing and commissioning will begin this month, for the new pipeline stretch to be brought into full service in early 2021.

Wärtsilä integrates clean energy

Nov 13 – Finish technology group Wärtsilä strives to integrate variable clean power sources to achieve a 100% renewable energy future. The necessary operational flexibility will come from gas generation assets running on synthetic renewable fuels and by the extended use of energy storage.

First German-Belgium power link to start operation

Nov 12 – The two TSOs Amprion and Elia are preparing to launch the first electric interconnector between Germany and Belgium. The 1,000 MW interconnector stretches between Aachen and Lüttich, from where it links to the Rhineland region and Wallonia. It will go into operation as of 18 November, with intraday capacities to begin trading on 8 December.

Sachsen Energie takes on E.ON and RWE

Nov 11 – A small regional energy provider in Saxony seeks to counter the dominance of E.ON and RWE. Sachsen Energie, set up in a merger between two local utilities, claims it will become "the largest municipal utility in eastern Germany," catering to about one million customers, when it begins operation in 2021.

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