Oil- and gas-rich countries in the Middle East are adding coal-fired power plants in a seemingly counterintuitive move. Over the next decade, some 41 gigawatts (GW) of coal power capacity is at a planning stage in countries in and around the Middle East, with Turkey being the heaviest user of coal for power generation among these countries with about 18.5 GW installed capacity, according to EIA figures.

Alstom has confirmed it will exercise its option to exit the Joint Ventures with General Electric on renewable energy, grid and nuclear, created as part of the $10 billion deal that gave GE control of Alstom’s gas turbine operations. This decision requires GE to buy back Alstom’s stakes in the three JVs at an expense of 2.59 billion Euros ($3.1 billion).

Competition is fierce for nuclear power in the United States as energy mix is being transformed by comparatively cheap natural gas, rising supply of renewable energy, and limited growth in overall electricity demand. Sensitivity analysis in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018) show the potential effect on the U.S. nuclear power fleet of different assumption for reactor operating cost, future gas prices and carbon policies.

Dry natural gas production in the United States is forecast to reach a new record of 80.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up from 73.6 Bcf/d in the previous year. According to the EIA’s latest Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO), the rise in US natural gas production will help replenish storage levels from current lows and support increasing natural gas exports, both via pipeline to Mexico and in the form of LNG.

Despite losses at the Power & Gas (PG) unit, Siemens has raised its full-year outlook following first-half results that exceed analyst expectations thanks to solid growth in the company’s software unit. “Our longterm investment in digital leadership is clearly paying off, delivering an overall book-to-bill ratio at 1.11x despite weakness in new business in the power sector," Siemens CFO Dr. Ralf P. Thomas said in an investors’ call today.

About 21 GW of natural gas-fired generators are scheduled to come online in the United States this year out of a total 32 GW of new-built electric capacity. “If these gas generators come online based on their reported timelines, 2018 will be the first year since 2013 in which renewables did not make up a majority of added capacity,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) commented.

Reacting to weakness in the power generation market, Siemens has decided to temporarily shut down its Power & Gas (PG) manufacturing sites around the world. Following intensive talks with trade unions, the German engineering conglomerate on Monday night also reached an agreement on restructuring measures for its PG and Process Industries and Drives Division (PD). “Cost reduction targets are being retained,” Siemens said in a statement today, adding “job cuts are unavoidable.”

Technological challenges are “taking root on the grid,” the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) said with reference to an array of battery storage projects and the first offshore wind project off Long Island. Looking ahead, NYISO expects both baseload and peakload power demand to fall by about 0.14% through to 2028, caused by a rising use of distributed power sources and  energy efficiency measures.

Profit margins of UK’s gas-fired power plants keep improving, boosted by the closure of aging coal power plants and delays in the construction of new nuclear capacity. Consequentially, gas power plants are seen contribute more than half of the UK’s electricity needs in less than 10 years, up from 45% in the previous years, according to Fitch Group affiliate BMI Research.

Allianz, Europe’s largest insurer, has ceased to sell policies to coal companies in an effort to fight climate change. The company said it would immediately pull its coverage from single coal-fired power plants and coal mines, and phase out all coal risks by 2040. Allianz also announced it will stop investing in companies that do not reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which would apply to 664 billion euros of investments.

NRG Energy, Inc. has reported a first quarter 2018 net income of $233 million, saying its Transformation Plan is on track with $80 million in cost savings realized in the first quarter of 2018, and $3 billion in asset sales is still expected to close before the end of this year. In the first quarter, NRG also acquired the retail business XOOM Energy to expand its sales capabilities and presence on the U.S. East Coast.

The world is not on track to meet the global energy targets for 2030 set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). “Real progress” is, however, being made on electrification in some of the least developed countries, and industrial energy efficiency while renewable energy is noted to make “impressive gains in the electricity sector.”

Alike other American electric utilities, Excelon has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 15% by 2022 but their plan do not hinge on a change in the power generation mix. Instead, has chosen to Excelon focus on curbing methane emissions from natural gas distribution equipment.

Use of combustible, or fossil fuels, for power generation has fallen by 1% in OECD countries over the course of 2017, according to a monthly assessment compiled by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In the Americas, the contribution of fossil fuelled power plants decreased 144TWh amid greater renewables deployment. In Europe, by contrast, the use of fossil fuels grew by 80TWh, as natural gas and coal-fired power plants had to compensate for a low-hydro-year and falling nuclear power supply.

Tokyo Gas, the Japanese utility and LNG buyer, is anticipating a slight dip of 0.2% in its fiscal 2018 city-gas sales volume to around 15.54 Bcm, owing to industry deregulation and growing competition in the Japan’s gas and power markets. This trend is in line with the utility's expectations of a decline in commercial and residential gas demand. “Meanwhile, we estimate a rise in operating expenses, primarily reflecting higher resource costs, owing mainly to the impact from the climb in crude oil prices,” Tokyo Gas said in an investors' briefing.

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