Regulation & Policy

More and more investor-owned utility companies in the United States have conceded to suspend disconnections of customers who do not pay their bills during the coronavirus pandemic. American Electric Power, Dominion, Duke Energy and PG&E are among twelve utilities who agreed relief measures for homeowners and businesses to help avert bankruptcies.

Far-reaching measures taken in Germany and across Europe to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus do not compromise the security of energy supply. The German association of local utilities (VKU) stressed that „energy supply currently is neither in danger nor impaired.”

Contingency measures to contain the coronavirus have slowed industrial output and transport throughout Europe and might help Germany reach its 40% emission reduction targets. Power sector emissions fell substantially as cheap gas accelerated fuel switching, but critics warned the “corona effect could obscure the need for change,” notably for road traffic.

German research minister Anja Karliczek is calling for a “clear schedule and a clear target” for a transition to green hydrogen, made with renewable energy. The minister dismissed blue hydrogen, made with natural gas using carbon capture and storage (CCS), as “a distraction.” Berlin will decide on a hydrogen strategy on March 18.

Germany's policy push to reach 2030 climate targets is “insufficient,” two government-commissioned studies find. Despite the agreement on a coal phase-out, the introduction of a CO2 price and several other measures, emissions will likely exceed the target by around 70 million tonnes in a decade, mainly due to shortcomings in transport and the heating sector.

The European Commission has allocated 877 million Euros of its ‘Just Transition Fund’ to support structural change in German coal mining regions that are hardest hit by an coal exit by 2035. Germany receives the second largest handout, after Poland, from the 7.5 billion Euros fund.

The California Energy Commission has withdrawn the license for the Palmdale Energy Project, just north of Los Angeles, after the developer Palmdale Energy signaled it was unable to secure a customer for the gas-fired plant. Attitudes in California have changed as consumers favour carbon-neutral power generation over fossil fuels.

Vietnam’s vibrant economy is facing severe energy shortages from 2021 as construction of new power plants cannot keep up with rising electricity demand. The government in Hanoi hence set out guidelines to boost generating capacity from currently 54 GW to 125 GW by 2030.

Germany must exit coal-fired power generation much faster than planned to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) finds. To meet climate goals, a coal phase-out would have to be completed by 2030, or better before.

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, has singled out natural gas as the “only credible route for pursuing an energy transition.” To enact his gas-led energy policies, the PM seeks to double gas production in New South Wales which hinges on Santos going ahead with the Narrabri gas project.

As Germany exits both nuclear and coal generation simultaneously over the next few years, more flexible gas-fired generating capacity and energy storage will be required to balance the grid. The gas industry hence urges the Government to introduce regulation to launch capacity markets to incentivize enough new-build gas power units by 2030.

Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are preparing to hit European investors in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with a new set of sanctions in an effort to derail the project. Uniper, Winterhall, Engie, OMW and Shell are invested in the Baltic Sea interconnector, and the sanctions could come as soon as February or March.

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News in Brief

SDG&E accelerates drive towards Net Zero by 2045

Oct 20 – San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has set a new sustainability strategy, outlining new and accelerated goals to help meet its pledge to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2045. SDG&E it now seeks to operate a 100% zero emissions vehicle fleet by 2035 – five years earlier than planned.

B&W develops biomass-to-hydrogen plant in Australia

Oct 19 – B&W's Renewable segment and Port Anthony Renewables Ltd have started to develop a biomass-to-hydrogen energy project in Victoria, Australia, based on B&W’s BrightLoop technology. When completed, the plant is expected to be part of the largest green hydrogen hub in south-eastern Australia.

LNG prices rise faster than oil

Oct 18 – Liquefied natural gas and pipeline supplies have experienced an even sharper increase in prices in 2021 than oil, driven by a combination of circumstances that included a strong recovery in demand in North Asia, southeast Asia and Europe, unseasonal weather and planned and unplanned capacity outages.

Wärtsilä shaft gensets to power two LNG carriers

Oct 14 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to supply four shaft generators to provide electricity take-off from the main engines of two LNG carriers. The ships are being built at the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Korea on behalf of the Capital Gas Ship Management of Greece.

VoltH2 gets green light for large hydrogen plant

Oct 13 – Vision Hydrogen Corp has announced that its affiliate VoltHe has received building and environmental permits to realise its first large-scale hydrogen plant at the Dutch North Sea Port of Vlissingen. The 5 MW hydrogen plant is located near existing high voltage power and gas infrastructure as well as large wind power assets. Once operational, it will produce around 3,500 tons of green hydrogen per year and will be scalable to 100 MW or 14,000 tons.

Tesla overtakes German e-cars

Oct 12 – Sales of Tesla in Germany has overtaken that of leading German carmakers. In September, more electric Tesla Model 3s were registered in the country than leading domestic models, such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class combined.

EnerMech spends £500k on crane training tech

Oct 11 – EnerMech has invested £500,000 in new crane simulator training systems at its Luanda (Angola), Doha (Qatar) and Great Yarmouth (UK) facilities. The British company recently formed a joint venture with 3t Energy Group to bring the KraneSIM-6000 equipment to both Qatar and Angola and offer in-country training across client organisations globally.  

Germany finances green hydrogen projects abroad

Oct 8 – The German government has agreed to support green hydrogen projects in other countries with up to €350 million by 2024, the economy ministry said when publishing a directive with relevant guidelines. Moreover, financial support is given to projects that produce and process green hydrogen for storage, transport and use in countries outside the EU through investment grants worth up to €15 million each.

UK e-car sales surge 186%

Oct 6 – Sales electric cars in the UK have surged 186% to a total of 108,000 in 2020 during the pandemic, up from just 38,000 in the previous year. Latest statistics show there were nearly 300,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of August 2021, and more than 600,000 plug-in models if including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

FogHorn deploys AI software at Chugoku Electric Power in Japan

Oct 4 – FogHorn, developer of Edge AI software, has deployed its Internet of Things (IoT) software at the Chugoku Electric Power hydroelectric power plant. The AI solutions will make the power gen process more efficient and enhances workplace safety. Chugoku Electric Power employs nearly 9,200 workers across 114 power units in the western part of Honshū, the largest island of Japan.

Rolls-Royce supplies MTU engines for ferry propulsion

Oct 1 – Rolls-Royce's new MT engines, automation system, and MTU Go! tool for remote service have future-proofed the high-speed catamaran Avemar Dos, run by the Spanish operator Balearia. Four MTU 20V1163 M84 units replaced the previous 1163 units, taking the vessel to a "new level of ecological soundness," the manufacturer says.

GES appoints former Puma Energy Chairman as NED

Sept 30 – Global Energy Storage (GES) has appointed the former Puma Energy Chairman, Graham Sharp, as an NED. Graham will support GES on its ‘new energies’ strategy for the energy transition, focusing on hydrogen fuels and hydrogen carriers space.

Aggreko reaches 2 GW of live power gen capacity

Sept 29 – Aggreko has today announced it has reached 2GW of live global gas power capacity and growth in flare gas to power and stranded gas projects. This new record follows a milestone of exceeding 1GW of delivered flare gas power projects in 2020.

Wärtislä renews O&M agreement with Lafarge Africa

Sept 28 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has renewed a long-term Operation & Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Lafarge Africa, a large producer of building materials in Nigeria. The agreement covers the 100 MW Lafarge Ewekoro power plant, which provides a dedicated supply of electricity to the company’s concrete and cement manufacturing processes.

Rolls-Royce supplies MTU engines to Sanlorenzo

Sept 27 – Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems will become one of the leading engine suppliers for Sanlorenzo, delivering MTU 10V, 12V and 16V 2000 yacht engines with a compact IMO 3 solution. A framework contract from 2022 through 2024 has been signed at the Monaco Yacht Show.

Shell exits Permian Basin

Sept 24 – Royal Dutch Shell has sold all its upstream interested in US Permian Basin to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion in cash. Shell’s assets in the Permian include around 225,000 net acres with a current production of around 175,000 barrels per day equivalent.

Global biogas market tops $88bn in 2030

Sept 22 – The global biogas market is set to expand at a rate of 8.4% annually and reach $88.47 billion in 2025. According to ResearchAndMarkets, the main growth drivers are small-scale power generators that use biogas derived from municipal or agricultural waste through anerobic digestion.  Europe was the largest region in the biogas market in 2020, though Asia Pacific recorded the fastest growth.

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