Low-cost of natural gas has allowed it to stay the dominant source of power generation in the United States for the second year in a row. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that gas-fired power plants covered an average of 32% of total U.S. electricity needs in 2017, compared with 30% from coal power plants.

Action in terms of demand-side response is essential to ensure a smooth and timely clean energy transition. Globally, the theoretical potential of demand-side response today is nearly 4,000 TWh per year, or more than 15% of total electricity demand, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

More than three months after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory on September 20, over 1.5 million Puerto Ricans remain without stable electricity supply. Hard-pressed to revamp the island’s power grid, the island’s energy commission has now proposed to emphazise new wind and solar power projects, next to fast-ramp gas peaking plants.

Cost competition between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources is intensifying and will be won by the latter by 2020. Technology advances by that time will enable solar PV and onshore wind to generate electricity below $30/MWh, according to projections by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The Moroccan energy ministry is preparing to launch a tender for gas upstream projects worth $4.6 billion with most of the gas production earmarked for domestic power generation. The Moroccan government has already selected financial and technical consultants for the venture.

Natural gas is set to become the Middle East’s “top source for power generation,” accounting for 60% of the region’s power supply, while renewables will triple their market share to 20.6%, according to Siemens ‘Middle East Power: Outlook 2035’. To meet rising demand, utilities in the Middle East are anticipated to add 267 GW, or 66% of installed capacity, by 2030.

Mazut, a heavy low-quality fuel oil, has been the basis for generating 45% of Iran’s electricity needs but the government now said it wants to replace the “econ-unfriendly fuel” with natural gas by March 2018. Burning mazut to produce electricity has already declined to 8%, and plans are to  end the use of this fuel “in the shortest possible time,” said Arash Kordi, the managing director of Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir).

Conflicting agendas add to the confusion on the future role of LNG in South America, and even the direction of LNG trades”, given that three countries – Argentina, Brazil and Chile – were importing LNG while “in parallel, some countries harbour future ambitions to join Peru as LNG exporters when (or if) their national production permits.”

Gassco, the Norwegian pipeline operator, delivered 117.4 Bcm of natural gas in 2017 to European and British buyers, a solid 8% rise year-on-year. Frode Leversund, Gassco CEO, said this record performance demonstrated the key role of Norway’s gas exports which currently covers about a quarter of Europe’s gas consumption.

Most of the planned retirements of US power plants through 2020 will be coal-fired plants and natural gas steam turbine units, based on information reported to EIA. From 2008 through 2017, coal-fired units accounted for 47% of all retired utility-scale power stations, followed by gas steam turbines with a 26% share.

Spurred by rising gas demand from the electric power sector, industry and LNG exporters, US dry natural gas production is forecast to rise by an average of 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up 6.9 Bcf/d or 9.3% on the 2017 level which would be the highest increase on record, according to EIA figures. A more moderate 3.2% rise of 2.6 Bcf/d is expected for 2019.

Freezing temperatures have crippled the energy infrastructure in New England for the past 10 days, sending prices for natural gas and fuel oil soaring. After a winter storm brought down a large nuclear plant, gas prices skyrocketed and operators turned on some oil-fired power stations. Managing the region’s power system “continues to be challenging,” the ISO New England grid operator warned, noting that some oil-fired generators were “quickly depleting their fuel supply”.

Ramping up Egypt’s giant Zohr offshore gas field as well as the West Nile Delta gas projects will transform the Middle Eastern country from an importer to an exporter of natural gas and LNG. Cheap domestic supply will also advance the role of gas-fired power plants in Egypt’s energy mix.

A rebound in crude oil and petroleum product prices has caused a 16% rise of the spot energy index in the Standard and Poor's (S&P) Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) at year-end, after the index fell nearly 20% in the first half of the past year. 

Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) has issued a Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) with the aim of securing its first LNG supply deal to source fuel for a proposed 2,600-MW gas-fired power plant. Taipower stated it is seeking to purchase between 1.8 mtpa and 2.4 mpta over a 15-year period, starting from 2023.

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