Regulation & Policy

Environmental lawyers have launched legal action after Bulgarian authorities permitted a coal-fired power plant to burn petrochemicals, biomass and waste alongside lignite – a dirty, highly inefficient lignite coal. The first hearing in the Brikel case is scheduled for early October.

California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has issued two new reliability must-run designations to support grid reliability in the face of imminent power plant retirements near Los Angeles. NRG California South had notified the ISO it will retire its Ellwood, Etiwanda and Ormond Beach generating stations by October 2018.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), developer of the $4.3-billion Rover Pipeline, has accused the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of attempting to delay the project’s completion. By raising this claim, ETP is trying to fight back against a regulatory notice over low-level contamination.

More than 45,000 businesses across Europe are at risk of being fined up to €1 million ($1.1m) if they fail to comply with the new EU Energy Efficiency Directive, the registrar DNV GL warned. The clock is ticking – deadline for compliance is 5 December 2019 in most countries.

Taking bold steps to curb air pollution, China’s State Council has extended the reach of the three-year 'blue sky defence' action plan to cities in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces. The target area now includes ‘2+26’ cities and prioritizes switching from coal to gas for winter heating and power generation, as well as renewables. Accelerating air pollution now affects a region with 37% of China's population and contributes to 41% of the GDP.

Agreements reached by EU Institutions over the past fortnight on energy efficiency, energy governance and renewables “fall well short of a comprehensive approach,” according to COGEN Europe. The headline target of 32.5% energy efficiency by 2030 will be missed, the lobby group warns, in the absence of an “actionable framework”.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) no longer warns of an imminent gas shortage in southern and eastern Australia after government pressure has made LNG exporters commit to divert some cargoes to the local market. "No supply gaps are forecast before 2030,” AEMO said when releasing its annual gas outlook – a stark contrast to the body’s earlier concerns about shortages starting from mid-2018.

Dealing a blow to the industry, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has significantly reduced solar subsidies by setting new on-grid power tariffs that range between $7.8-11c/kWh, effective June 1. Distributed projects are capped at 10 GW and all utility-scale projects are mandated to set power prices through competitive auctions.

Bowing to industry pressure, the British government has indicated it will make a direct investment of public money into the much-contended Wylfa nuclear project in north Wales, backed by Hitachi. Critics dismiss this move as state aid, a reversal of 40 years of UK energy sector privatisation, and unfair prioritisation of nuclear power to the detriment of renewables and new gas-fired power projects.

Energy industry stakeholders have unanimously condemned U.S. President Trump’s latest market interference by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to stop, what he calls, “impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities.” Rebuking the move, several energy industry associates called the action “misguided” as it would be effectively subsidizing “failing coal and nuclear plants.”

Improving power system flexibility is vital for cost-effective management of variability and uncertainty in both supply and demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Hence the agency calls for a proactive response from regulators and policy makers to help manage today’s fundamental a transformation of energy markets.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will unify China’s residential and industrial city-gate natural gas pricing systems from June 10 to better reflect rising demand and costs. The new mechanism will allow gas prices to rise by no more than 20% from a benchmark price, NDRC stated, which is “more flexible” than the existing one which since 2010 kept a ceiling on residential gas prices at at 1.4 yuan (about $0.22) per cubic metres.

Canada’s current policies, combined with energy efficiency investment, could deliver final energy savings of 1.9% per year on average through 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Sectors with the greatest energy savings potential would be buildings (28%), followed by transport (25%), oil and gas extraction (21%) and industry (12%).

Dirty king coal is no longer vital for Germany’s security of power supply. In fact, about half of the country’s coal-fired power generation capacity could be shut down over the coming years if planned grid extension and the additional gas-fired plants start operating according to schedule, said Jochen Homann, head of the German energy regulator.

Deployment of electric vehicles so far has fallen short of expectations hence penalizing policy measures, like London’s new Emissions Surcharge, or T-Charge, have been introduced to spur growth. Penalising offending vehicles is one part of the solution, finds Jacob Klimstra, Senior Energy Consultant and Member of the Advisory Board for Electrify Europe. He highlighted plans by the Dutch government for all new cars to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030 – others, including Paris, are already following suit.

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News in Brief

Norway’s oil fund starts investing in renewables

Dec 11 – The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), traditionally heavily exposed to the oil and gas industry, has been permitted to shift its strategy. Acknowledging heavy losses of the world’s largest pension fund, worth an estimated $1 trillion, the government in Oslo has allowed GPFG fund managers to also invest in unlisted infrastructure, notably renewable energy sources and alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

ENGIE invests in wind energy in Italy and France

Dec 10 – France’s largest energy company ENGIE has completed the acquisition of Renvico from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and KRR. The move contributes to utility’s ambition of boosting its renewable energy assets to 3 GW in Europe and 9 GW worldwide by 2021. The Renvico takeover comprises 329 MW of operating wind farms of which 142 MW in Italy and 187 MW in France. It also includes a 300 MW greenfield portfolio of various fossil power assets.

Dominion issues Scammer Alert

Dec 9 – Dominion Energy Ohio has reminded customers they will begin receiving the next U.S tax credits automatically, beginning in April 2020, in their monthly bills. Customers were warned not to provide banking details to scammers who claim such data is required to receive the federal tax credits.

BOL finances entire 220 MW plant in Nassau

Dec 6 – Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has agreed to cover the entire costs to build a 220 MW power plant at the Clifton Pier site in Nassau, and transfer the assets to Shell North America. BPL and Shell had agreed to jointly develop a 220 MW power plant plus LNG regas terminal, but the Bahamas state utility later signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a 132 MW engine-driven power plant at the same site.

Kepco to operate CCGT in Uruguay

Dec 5 – Kepco KPS has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the recently commissioned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Punta del Tigre, Uruguay. Under the O&M contract, Kepco said it expects to earn 17 billion Won in sales every year, for a maximum eight years.

Siemens to create thermal twin for Bajaj Energy plant

Dec 4 – Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd (LPGCL), part of Bajaj Group, has contracted Siemens to create a complete twin for its fossil power plant in Uttar Pradesh, India. The thermal twin, powered by thermodynamic analysis and machine learning, allows power plant operators to diagnose performance gaps for every asset in the cycle in real time.

Talks between Gazprom and Naftogaz continue

Dec 3 – Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have continued difficult negotiations about an extension of Russian gas supplies and transit after the current contract expires on December 31, 2019. The two state-run companies are embroiled in a legal dispute that still needs resolving, however, they confirmed talks are underway and focus on the technical aspects of transiting Russian gas to Europe from 2020 onwards.

Asia seen add 400 GW by 2030

Dec 2 – Asian nations are expected to add more than 400 gigawatts (GW) of electrical capacity to the grid over the next decade — equaling about twice the installed capacity of Germany. Much of the new capacity will be renewables, backed up by some 140 GW of dependable gas-fired capacity, according to GE Energy findings. Hence, the U.S. turbine manufacturer decided to invest up to US$60 million to convert its Singapore repair center into a HA engineering and development center.

Total starts up hybrid plant with energy storage

Nov 29 – Total Quadran has started up the largest hybrid power plant combined with energy storage to harness the ample solar power potential of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. With an installed capacity of 16 MW-peak, the plant also features a 10 MW lithium-ion energy storage system. Combining of hybrid solar PV units and possibly gas-powered generator sets with energy storage balance out supply swings and enhances the reliability of the electricity grid.

Rolls-Royce, AVK partner on standby gensets

Nov 28 – AVK, Britain’s largest supplier of critical power solutions for data centres and the financial sector, has partnered with Rolls-Royce’s MTU brand for standby gensets in UK and Ireland. The deal covers MTU Series 2000 and 4000 diesel systems in a range from 825 to 4,000 kVA. In the past 30 years, AVK has developed into the largest solutions provider in the UK’s critical power market and has to date supplied gensets equipped with MTU engines with a total capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

Golar suffers setback amid restructuring

Nov 27 – Golar LNG, owner of a fleet of 27 vessels, has seen operating revenues plunge 20% to $98.67 million, in the first nine month of this year, while net losses amounted to over $236 million. Bermuda-registered Golar in May 2019 announced plans to spin off its LNG carrier fleet with the aim of becoming a gas project developer. It recently won a contract for the Barcarena power project (605 MW) in northeastern Brazil.

Burckhardt buys remaining share of Arkos

Nov 26 – Burckhardt Compression’s subsidiary in North America has purchased the remaining 60% of Arkos Group. The US has the world’s largest installed base of reciprocating compressors, and the integration of Burckhardt and Arkos Field Services, will turn the company into the only independent one-stop provider for equipment and service in the upstream, midstream and downstream business.

Gazprom’s exports to Austria reach fresh record

Nov 25 – Supplies of Russian gas to Austria and transits to Western Europe have already exceeded record levels set last year. From January 1 through November 21, 2019, Gazprom delivered over 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas – 33.5% more than in the same period in 2018. Austria’s OMV imports Russian gas under a long-term contract that was recently extended until 2040.

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.