Regulation & Policy

Unfavourable market conditions and persistent policy uncertainty has reversed growth in the Dutch Combined Heat and Power (CHP) sector following a period of rapid growth in the 1990s, industry association COGEN Europe said in a report published today.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has modified a settlement reached in the Duke Energy Indiana case, setting a hard cost cap for the utility's new integrated gasification combined cycle facility (IGCC) in Edwardsport at $2.595 billion.

Investment in US wind power is expected to plunge this year in spite Congress agreeing to a one-year extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC), analysts warn. Gas power generation at record low costs and a flurry of wind capacity start-ups in Q4-2012 is set to put a lid on new projects.

"Disruptive changes" such as slowing electric load growth, falling peak-load power prices due to demand response mechanisms and expanding distributive generation are challenging power producers in the US. "We as an industry have to meet the challenge and embrace these trends. If we don't, they are going to run over us," says Jon Wellinghoff, chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Flexible rather than conventional gas generation could save Britain between £380 million to £550 million by 2020 and up to £1.54 billion by 2030 alone through reduced balancing costs incurred by National Grid, research commissioned by Wärtsilä through Redpoint Energy and Imperial College London shows. The modelling is based on replacing 4.8GW of conventional CCGTs with 4.8GW of gas-fired Smart Power Generation.

E.ON, Germany's largest utility by market value, will take legal action before December 20 against Germany's energy regulator BNA over compensation levels for power plant re-dispatch, it confirmed today.

The launch of capacity markets may come too late, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has acknowledged, and decreasing generation margins are threatening Europe's energy trading market. "Decc may well find that once they intervene, find they have to intervene again which causes the risk that we will go back to a regulated energy market," says Jim Fitzgerald, associate partner at The Advisory House.

A 'dash for gas' scenario, unveiled by UK Chancellor George Osborne as part of the Gas Generation Strategy, may threaten the country's climate targets, critics warn. As one of three proposed scenarios, the 'dash for gas' case calls for 37 GW of new gas-fired power plant capacity, or up to 40 plants, by 2030 and implies a rewrite of a draft law that sets out Britain's carbon emissions reduction goals by the mid-2020s.

Prospects of a carbon floor price, introduced as part of the UK Electricity Market Reform (EMR), could render coal uneconomic compared with gas generation which may led to plant closures, says David Brewer, director general of the confederation of UK Coal Producers (CoalPro).

Up to 40 gas-fired power plants will have to be build across the UK by 2030, raising the need for new gas generation capacity to 37 GW - up from current estimates of 20 GW, according to the Gas Generation Strategy. 

Britain's Chancellor George Osborne has put his political weight behind realising new gas-fired capacity to provide baseload electricity beyond 2030, rather than using it merely as backup capacity for renewables. The Chancellor will use his Autumn Statement on December 5 to unveil the much-awaited Gas Generation Strategy.

The UK energy bill, unveiled today, does not specify details on 'strike prices' – the financial support levels to be available to low-carbon generation. Strike prices are of central importance under the planned contract for difference (CfD) regime, aimed at incentivising new-build capacity by guaranteeing operators a steady return of the plant's lifetime. 

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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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