Regulation & Policy

The British government has published proposals to "dramatically reduce" electricity demand across the whole economy with a view to reducing the need for new power generation capacity.

The Beijing government has stepped back from interfering with pricing of coal as a fuel for power stations, adopting a hands-off approach following a 25 percent drop in the price of the fuel. This move may herald a liberalisation in the tight electricity tariff regime which would prompt investment in more gas generation for peak-load power demand.

A strike, called by the French union CGT for Wednesday, is meant to halt production at E.on's French coal- and gas-fired power plants with a combined output of 3,000 MW, according to union officials.

The British government has published details of its long-awaited Energy Bill, postponing setting a carbon target until 2016. Power producer were given the green light to charge household customers an extra £7.6 billion, to go towards low-carbon electricity infrastructure by 2020.

A strategic alliance aimed at creating a European energy market based on the complementary use of renewable energy and gas has been founded by GE and Dong Energy alongside with Alpine Energie, First Solar and Shell.

Angered by a delay in the UK energy bill amid rows within the coalition over policies on gas, wind and decarbonisation targets, Tim Yeo, the Tory chairman of the energy select committee, has called the conundrum which hampers investment and risks raising bills "a laughable plot".

German's largest utility Eon has confirmed it will shut-down 1,037 MW of gas-fired power generation capacity, mothballing both it the 622 MW Staudinger 4 plant unit and the 415 MW Irsching 3 unit by the end of this year. The plants will operate as winter reserve, once E.on has transferred responsibility to the regulator BNA.

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.

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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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