Regulation & Policy

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.

Keen to fast-track the liberalisation process of the Turkish energy market, the government has set a timeline for divestment of state-owned power generation assets.

"We hope to finish the privatization of Turkey's thermal power plants by 2015," Atif Kir, Head of Project Group, at the Turkish Ministry of Privatization Administration (OIB) told Gas to Power Journal in an interview.

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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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