Regulation & Policy

Germany's federal energy network regulator (BNA) should urgently improve compensation for operators of flexible power plants that have to ramp up or down to maintain grid stability, the German energy industry association BDEW told Gas to Power Journal.

Re-elected U.S. president Barack Obama is expected to toughen regulation on producing shale gas, oil and burning natural gas, coal and oil for power generation at an early stage in his second term in office, analysts say.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel by next summer aims to have parliament agreed on some form of market orientated capacity payment to underpin investment in new power generation capacity. A regular leaders' meeting in December and a special meeting in March, dedicated to Germany's Energiewende [energy transition] policy, would specify and build on the progress reached so far, she said.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s support schemes of up to £10 million for offshore wind projects is expected to reinforce the need for backup gas generation.

China has to reform and liberalize its tight power tariff regime for gas-fired power generation to gather momentum and to attract investment in new-builds, says Gavin Thompson, principal consultant for Asia Pacific, Gas & Power at Wood Mackenzie.

"The power tariff is very flat, there is no capacity charge in peak generators and very little regional difference in power prices," Thompson told Gas to Power Journal at the sidelines of the Gas Asia Summit, held as part of the Singapore International Energy Week.

UK utilities and investors with gas to power assets in their portfolios face rising uncertainty in predicting long-term operational cash flows as market interventions as proposed under the UK's Electricity Market Reform have the effect of replacing market risk with political risk, says Dr. Jim Fitzgerald, Associate Partner at The Advisory House.

Are European regulators toothless tigers? Gunnar Streck, regulatory manager at E.on Energy Trading has criticized the "lack of ambition on the regulatory side to enforce rules that could ultimately lead to an integrated European energy market".

UK energy and climate change secretary Edward Davey has today urged the gas industry to step up investment, singling out gas generation with carbon capture storage (CCS) as "vital" to provide backup electricity supply as generation margins are seen dropping to close to zero by 2015/16.

An increasing share of variable renewable energy sources in the grid requires a market push for the development and demonstration of flexible conventional power generation, says Christer Björkqvist, Managing Director of the European Turbine Network (ETN).

Britain's energy regulator Ofgem today said the projected tightening of the spare power generation margin over the next four years would step up the urgency for the upcoming energy reform (EMR) package to encourage investment.

Capacity payment mechanism should not only consist of a lump sum for availability but should include a premium for flexibility, says Edward Nagelhout, Market Development Analyst, Wartsila Power Plants.

To launch a capacity mechanism in Britain is the right approach to incentivise new investment for security of supply, says to Ray Tomkins, founder and director at Economic Consulting Associates.

"We have been lucky that due a combination of circumstances - such as the dash-for-gas, the investment strategy of the vertically integrated oligopoly, and more recently the recession depressing demand- that major blackouts have been avoided as private generators have 'over-invested'," he said. "This cannot be relied on in the future...

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News in Brief

Siemens to service Kalamkas gas turbines

June 4 – JSC Mangistaumunaigaz, one of Kazakhstan’s largest oil and gas producers, has contracted Siemens to service two STG-800 gas turbines at a power plant, designed to meet the entire energy needs of the nearby Kalamkas oil and gas field. The nine-year contract covers turbine maintenance and eventual upgrades as well as remote monitoring of operations.

NamPower to invest $575m on grid expansion

June 3 – Namibia’s state-owned utility NamPower is planning to spend $575 million over the next three years in upgrading and extending its power transmission infrastructure. Namibia imports 60% of its total electrical energy requirement, primarily through bilateral contracts from South Africa’s Eskom and to a lesser extent, the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

UK TSOs call for £900m green gas investment

June 2 – Britain’s five gas network companies – Cadent, National Grid, NGN, SGN and Wales & West Utilities – have urged the Government to unlock over £900 million (€1bn) for new green gas infrastructure. Research by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) shows that if investment into zero-carbon hydrogen infrastructure started today, the UK could save energy bill payers £89 billion (€99.2bn) by 2044 – five years prior to its 2050 net-zero targets.

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.