Regulation & Policy

Though burning coal for generating electricity is cheap, and Japan is home to supercritical high-efficiency coal power stations, key ministers warned that if all proposed coal-fired capacity got built this would put Japan’s emission reduction targets in jeopardy. "It doesn't matter if they are highly efficient or not, power stations using coal are seen outdated as EU and other countries are moving away from them," environment minister Kouichi Yamamoto said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has held its 2nd Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Paris last week, attended by business executives and senior government officials from around the world, including all G20 countries. Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director pointed out that only 30% of energy use is subject to efficiency standards. “This means there is huge room for improvement.”

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) focus on financing infrastructure in India’s lagging states helped promote inclusive economic growth, spurred the development of some power generation projects to help increase electrification rates. During the year 2016-17, total energy availability increased by 4.1% over the previous year and the peak met increased by 5.7%, according to India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has approved construction of the Lake Charles Power Station, a 994-MW combined-cycle gas power plant in Westlake. Entergy Louisiana called the Lake Charles CCGT is a “key element of its plan to provide the clean, efficient energy” – the operator also said expects to issue full notice to proceed to construction by August 1.

Wasteful flaring of natural gas is meant to be a thing of the past, yet the wasteful burning of gas at wellhead increased over the past few years – notably in the United States during the rush to tap hydrocarbon-rich shale rock formations. ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ is the explicit aim of the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) initiative – but there is a risk that funding for gas-gathering initiatives runs dry because this goal is losing political traction under the Trump Presidency.

Pulling the plug on the Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power project, the Mississippi state energy regulator has passed a motion instructing its legal counsel to propose a solution that would end the Mississippi Power’s gasification project following years of delays and cost overruns. The watchdog encouraged Mississippi Power, however, to re-license the plant and produce electricity based on natural gas instead.

Though Centrica CEO Ian Conn told the BBC this morning that closure of its 3.4 Bcm Rough gas storage facility will not destabilize Britain’s gas supply – given the possibility to import LNG and source gas from Norway and the EU through several interconnectors – some analysts see it differently. Commenting on Centrica’s move, Wood Mackenzie analyst Graham Freedman said the decision not reopen Rough storage comes as “no surprise” and makes “good commercial sense” for Centrica. However, he believes the implications on the UK's future security of gas supply “will no doubt lead to a UK Government review of its position, particularly in light of current Brexit negotiations.”

Enel, Europe’s biggest utility by market value, is about to shut down two large coal power plants in Spain by 2018, following through with a decision by CEO Francesco Starace to close the company’s entire coal and lignite generation by 2030. His new strategy shows the impact of new EU pollution limits, particularly the revised Best Available Techniques Reference Document, known as BREF.

The US state of California has teamed up with several German states in the ‘Under2Coaltion’ to tackle climate change. Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California said US President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement underscored the “significance of subnational actors.” California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, is adamant to pursue its clean energy targets and, together, with several German federal states, aims to provide strong leadership in the COP23 climate talks in Bonn this November.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s top scientist and author of a prominent energy market review, has urged the Government to set a clean energy target that does not be put any fuel-type at a disadvantage. His modelling work shows a scenario under which power prices could fall, if Australia’s stringent emission targets are lowered.

Ambitious plans, set out by South Korea’s newly instated Government, herald a U-turn away from coal and nuclear towards cleaner-burning natural gas and renewables. Responding to public concern over air pollution the administration of President Moon Jae-in, who took office in early May, is considering a construction stop for several coal and nuclear projects – a move poised to cause electricity prices spikes and medium-term capacity shortages.

Despite U.S. President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and his open support for fossil fuels, Energy Aspects forecasts his move is “unlikely to halt the transition towards cleaner energy globally, although it is likely to slow it.” The EU, but also largest emitters like India and China are expected to follow through on their clean energy policies.

Dealing a blow to concerted multi-national efforts of mitigating emissions from the energy and transport sector to help prevent global, the U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburg, not Paris,” he said, indicating that he will put US business interests first.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has singled out Norway’s large hydropower generation as a “valuable asset” for European electricity markets at a time when renewable energy supply is growing. More interconnectors will allow for hydropower to balance regional variations in demand and supply, the IEA said, but it called on Nordic countries to better coordinate their renewable energy incentives.

As mankind enters a period of change akin to the last industrial revolution, Rudy Koenig, Principal at QENIQ Advisory and POWER-GEN Europe, discusses three trends – digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation. Peter Terium, CEO of Innogy, called attention to these mega-trends last year. Koenig examines the three Ds through the prism of Germany as a key industrial nation, and suggests they will shape the power generation industry for years to come.