Regulation & Policy

The scope for gas in Britain’s power mix without carbon capture and store (CCS) is “very limited”, the UK Energy Research Centre finds. The role of gas as a ‘bridge’ fuel will be questioned way before 2025, by when the UK energy minister wants to phase out all unabated coal capacity. UKERC analysts warn that a gap in capacity, caused by the coal exit, cannot simply be covered by new gas generation.

One in four in Germany’s nearly 1,000 municipal utilities, so-called Stadtwerke, face financial woes due to depressed wholesale power prices, reduced runtime hours of their thermal fleet and rising debts. Cash injections by their municipal owners would help, a KPMG study suggests, – but those are far from certain.

The Energy Minister and Secretaries from Canada, Mexico, and the United States have started to share energy information for North America on www.nacei.org. The website can be displayed in English, French, and Spanish and has links to all three countries’ statistical agencies.

Debates surrounding plans to phase out Germany’s lignite power stations, dubbed Kohleausstieg, are heating up as adversaries meet at the E-World energy trade fair in Essen. While the green energy lobby advocate an “orderly exit from coal” to ensure planning security, RWE rebuked such debates as “unnecessary.”

The coal lobby rejoices as the US Supreme Court has surprised market observers by stymying President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is now on hold until a legal challenge is resolved. Proponents stress this verdict would delay, but not derail America’s shift towards more gas generation and renewables.

Econometric modelling of the wider economic impact of energy reforms in non-OECD Asia, carried out by the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, shows a tension between the policy goals of economic growth and consumer welfare. “Variables that are associated with a positive effect on economic growth appear to be associated with a negative impact on welfare indicators,” the authors of the paper state, calling for a renewed thinking for future reforms.

A recent US Supreme Court ruling is set to accelerate demand response (DR) schemes, notably during peak-load, to cover up to 60% of electricity supply across the United States. EIA figures show that industrial offtakes delivered more than half of actual peak demand savings in 2014, in return for incentives of over $9,000 on average.

The ‘gas for electricity deal’ between Iran and Armenia is expanding and the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) eyes a fivefold increase in gas exports to Armenia, provided that the northern neighbour will build a new power interconnector to step up electricity supply in return.

Decentralized power generation is high on the agenda to in Tanzania, with the Rural Energy Agency (REA) pleading support for individuals or companies that intend to supply ‘mini-grid electricity’. This helps to close Tanzania's 1,290 MW power deficit and give more of its rural population access to electricity.

India’s Supreme Court has permitted Gas Authority of India (GAIL) to build the controversial Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline, paving the way for more LNG imports to fuel idled, or underutilized gas-fired power plants in southern India.

Rebuking warnings of a looming gap in Britain’s power supply, the UK energy secretary Amber Rudd has clarified the government was taking long-term decisions “to tackle a legacy of under-investment.” She fell short, though, of specifying these decisions and their effects.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s energy minister is seeking to set up a round table on the future of coal. Major utilities, notably RWE, claimed there would be no need for such a debate. Falling gas prices have, as of late, turned the use of CCGTs for peak-load power profitable again.

Producing more to consume more is accepted, but limits to capital as well as technical innovations for clean energy sources restricts aspired energy transformations. Hence, Frost & Sullivan’s Rajalingam Chinnasamy suggests “the energy landscape in 2030 may very well resemble today’s, or show a minimal shift towards eco-friendly sources.”

Most operators of UK coal power stations have decided to keep their units in the EU’s limited life derogation (LLD) scheme, which restricts runtime hours. Rather than enforcing a unilateral closure of unabated coal generation in the UK by 2025, the energy secretary Amber Rudd is about to launch a consultation in the coming weeks.

Turkey is at the brink of a gas supply shortage, exacerbated by the risk of a cut in Russian supplies. To avoid emergencies, the energy ministry can implement a ‘curtailment procedure’ that requests operators of major CCGTs to halve their gas burn or switch entirely to fuel oil.