Regulation & Policy

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.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a resolution on ordering California's three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) - Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric - to finalise the contract with Calpine Corporation's Sutter Energy Center within the next 30 days.

India's Central Electricity Agency (CEA) has spoken out against the construction of any new gas-fired power plant in the country until 2015-16, as restrained domestic production of natural gas is hampering reliable gas supply for power generation.

Operators of gas-fired plants should be allowed to resell natural gas hubs back to virtual trading hubs as a way of offering demand-side responses on balancing platforms, Eurelectric said in a gas strategy paper today.

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News in Brief

Wärtsilä launches ‘Expertise Centre’ in Singapore

Nov 15 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has chosen Singapore as the location for its latest Expertise Centre (EC) that provides operational support and dynamic maintenance planning, both for marine and energy business customers. All of Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres combined currently monitor some 900 installations with more than 2,000 engines around the world.

U.S. storage injection hits record high

Nov 14 – Near-record volumes of natural gas have been placed into storage in the United States in the current injection season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of gas held in storage in 2019 surged from a relatively low value of 1,155 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the beginning of April to 3,724 Bcf at the end of October.

SaskPower proceeds with Moose Jaw project

Nov 13 – Canadian utility SaskPower has taken a significant step towards realizing a 350 MW gas power plant at Moose Jaw. The project was first proposed in 2017, but in the Canadian federal government June last year introduced new regulations for gas generation coming online after January 1, 2021, which stalled the plans. Having completed its regulatory review, Sask Power was now granted permission to proceed from the municipality of Moose Jaw. Major Fraser Tolmie said “this $700-million investment into the city of Moose Jaw, will ensure we have base-load power in the province of Saskatchewan and to maintain our power independence.”

Sembcorp powers up first BESS unit in the UK

Nov 12 – Sembcorp Energy UK, part of Singapore-based Sempcorp Group, has started to operate the first 60 MW unit of its battery energy storage system (BESS) fleet, supplied by GE. Combined, the three storage units in Leicestershire and Cheshire will bring Sembcorp Energy UK’s total energy portfolio to 973 MW.

Global gas glut may clear in 2021

Nov 11 – Economics of exporting American liquefied natural gas to Europe no longer add up. With Henry Hub spot prices around $2.7/MMBtu, moving LNG cargoes from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe is “not workable,” BP analysts said, indicating that production shut-ins could help clear the massive supply overhang towards the end of 2021.

Gazprom reassures Germany of Ukraine gas transits

Nov 8 – Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, has been trying to reassure the German government commissioner Georg Graf Waldersee that Russia was ready to signing a new transit contract with Naftogaz if both companies mutually waive claims. Before gas flows can proceed, however, Ukraine will have to create an independent gas transmission operator by January 1, 2020.

GE makes gains in wind power

Nov 7 – GE Power is gradually turning away from its loss-making fossil power segment to focus on the fast-growing renewable business. This week, GE struck a deal for its new Haliade-X turbines to be used at Dogger Bank Wind Farms. The three 1.2 GW Dogger Bank projects, situated offshore the UK’s Yorkshire coast, are expected to trigger approximately £9 billion of capital investment between 2020 and 2026.

PetroVietnam eyes LNG-to-Power project

Nov 6 – PetroVietnam has signed an agreement with B.Grimm Power Public Company (BGRIM) to jointly study the development of an integrated LNG import and power generation project. The aim is to build a 3,000 MW gas-fuelled power plant and an adjacent LNG import terminal. The location of the project has not been disclosed.

ABB launches ‘Smart City’

Nov 5 – Electrification specialists of the Swiss manufacturer ABB have designed an interactive ‘Smart City’ that contains smart buildings, e-mobility, energy management and data centers. The use of smart technologies and digitalization are encouraged by the United Nations as a way to help decarbonize cities around the world.

Gazprom, BASF cooperate on sulfur separation

Nov 4 – The Russian major Gazprom and the German chemical company BASF have agreed to devise a comprehensive solution for separation of sulfur from natural gas. The aim is to  enhance eco-efficiency of the Astrakhan gas processing plant and improve operational efficiency of BASF’s amine gas treatment units at the Orenburg gas-fired power plant.

Germany’s emission fall ‘markedly’

Nov 1 – Germany is headed for second consecutive year of substantial reductions in carbon emissions, amid a sharp drop in coal-burn in the power sector and an overall decline in energy use in 2019. If this trend continues, the country could get much closer to its 2020 climate target than widely anticipated.

Exmar to refinance Tango FLNG

Oct 31 – Exmar, the Belgian shipping company, is trying to refinance the Tango FLNG vessel, moored offshore Argentina on behalf of YPF. The aim is to generate around $60 million in additional capital, Exmar said, suggesting a deal will likely be struck in the first months of 2020.

Petronet doubles net profit

Oct 30 – Indian LNG importer Petronet has nearly doubled its net profits in the third quarter although revenues fell by 13%. Net profits came in at 1,089 crore rupees ($153.6m), an increase of 90% on the same period in 2018 as the company benefited from India’s lower corporate tax rates. Third-quarter revenues, in contrast, fell to 9,449 crore rupees ($1.33 billion).

Wildfires spread around LA

Oct 29 – Thousands of Los Angeles residents have been evacuated as wildfires spread fast around the metropolis and power outages brought life close to a standstill. The risk of fires caused by overland transmission lines prompted Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to prolong precautionary blackouts that could last up to three days.

Dominion embraces solar & storage

Oct 28 – Dominion Energy South Carolina has signed contracts for more than 1,000 MW of solar capacity. About half of that capacity has entered service. To complement intermittent solar energy supply, Dominion earlier announced several energy storage projects.

Wärtsilä downgrades outlook for its energy business

Oct 25 – Wärtsilä has downgraded the outlook of its Energy Business from “soft” to “weak” amid low equipment demand, although the its services activity “remains sound.” The current order book for 2019 deliveries is 1,708 million Euros, comprised mainly of equipment deliveries, Wärtsilä stated today when posting mixed Q3 results. Looking ahead, the company said its operating result for full-year 2019 will be approximately 100 million Euros lower than in the 2018 result of 577 million Euros.

Siemens names new CIO

Oct 24 – Hanna Hennig will be appointed as new Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Siemens starting from January 2020. The change at Siemens’ IT organization supports the execution of the company’s Vision 2020+.