• Combustion Industry News

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

IEA report shows there is now more global renewable power generation capacity than coal

The latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report has documented a milestone: the total global power generation capacity of renewable energies is now greater than that of coal. The total installed capacity of renewables grew by 153 GW (or 15%) in 2015, 66 GW being through wind and 49 GW through solar photovoltaics. Because of the intermittent nature of renewables, coal still produced the most power last year, 39% of the world’s total, while renewables (including hydro power) accounted for 23%. The EIA has revised upwards its predictions for the future growth of renewables, due to their falling costs and increased policy support for them. Dr Fatih Birol, executive director, said “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets.” As has been the pattern in recent years, the developing world is expected to grow its generation capacity at the fastest rate, split relatively evenly between fossil-fired capacity and renewables, while the developed world will grow its sector more slowly, but with a weighting more towards renewables.

BP chief warns of difficulty for oil and gas sector to attract bright young workers

Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP, has told the Oil & Money Conference in London that it is becoming increasingly difficult for oil and gas companies to attract bright young workers. Mr Dudley cited a study by consultants McKinsey (referencing PwC data), which found a record 14% of the millennial generation say they would not work for the oil and gas industry solely because of its negative image, a proportion that is worse than defence and insurance (12%), government and chemicals (11%), forestry (10%) and banking (9%). (Energy, mining and utilities came in at 6%.) As the Financial Times observed, the industry’s poor image was demonstrated in real time by a protest group operating outside the conference venue, holding placards declaring a “climate crime scene”. Inside, Mr Dudley said that by committing to low-carbon power solutions the oil and gas industry could recover its image and thereby attract bright young talent.

UNICEF says one in seven children exposed to high outdoor pollution

The United Nations Children’s Fund has stated that one in seven children in the world is living in an area with high outdoor air pollution. Of these 300 million children, 220 million live in South-East Asia. The statement was released in the lead up to the climate change talks being held in Morocco between 7 and 18 November, and accompanied by a call for a swifter transition away from fossil fuel firing and to cleaner renewable energies. UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake emphasised the health dimension of the problem, saying “Pollutants don’t only harm children’s developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures.”

Global CCS Institute holds European Forum

A blog post on the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre website has covered the October meeting of the Global CCS Institute European Forum. One key speech was from the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, outlining its support for front-end engineering design for three CCS-related projects: Norcem AS, to assess the possibility of capturing carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a cement factory; Yara Norge AS, to assess capture options at an ammonia plant; and a project to assess capture at a waste-to-energy plant. There was discussion of clustering capture sites to share a single storage location, and also a focus on how much CCS development and deployment needs to be ramped up to meet the needs under the Paris Climate Agreement. Economics and the need to make CCS systems more economic was a key theme, including the role of CCS in the wider economy (for instance in making hydrogen), and policy support for the development and deployment of CCS. The blog notes that politicians present understood the benefits that CCS could bring, but stresses the need to find politicians to champion CCS, probably by providing them with successful demonstrations. There was also an interesting suggestion that a market needs to be made in order to make CCS economic in the medium term, and that this would be assisted by the qualification of more suitable storage sites, and perhaps by public-private partnerships. There was also discussion of development priorities and EU funding streams.  The blog makes interesting reading.

Japanese joint venture to build “most advanced coal-fired power plants in the world”

A joint venture of Japanese companies has announced its plans to build the most advanced coal-fired power plants in the world, to be located in Fukushima. Environmental approvals are already in place for the two planned plants, which are expected to come at a cost of more than 300 billion yen (US$2.9 billion/€2.6 billion). Each plant is to be 540 MW and use integrated coal gasification combined cycle technology, with an estimated thermal efficiency of 48%. One, Nakoso IGCC Power GK, is to open in 2020 and the other, Hirono IGCC Power GK, in 2021. The joint venture partners are Mitsubishi Corporation Power, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and Joban Joint Power Co, and along with financial contributions from each company, finance will be provided by a range of five Japanese banks, one of the largest ever domestic financing deals in Japanese history. The joint venture partners hope the projects will help to revitalise the Fukushima area following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Polish oil and gas company threatens to sue EU over Gazprom

PGNiG, the oil and gas company owned by the Polish state, has warned the European Commission that it may sue over the EC’s decision not to fine Gazprom for anti-competitive behaviour. In late October, Gazprom and the EC agreed a deal in which Gazprom would escape fines, and also have increased access to the OPAL pipeline in Germany, in return for agreeing to a range of measures about how it sells gas in Europe. PGNiG is of the opinion that the deal breaches the EU treaty and market rules, and says it is ready to sue on that basis.

Engie announces closure of Australian lignite plant Hazelwood

The 1,600 MW, lignite-fired Hazelwood Power Station in the Australian state of Victoria is to be closed in March next year, the owners of the plant, Engie and Mitsui & Co, have announced. Citing the need to spend hundreds of millions of Australian dollars to upgrade the plant to make it modern and safe, the owners said that, after looking at options to convert Hazelwood to fire gas or biomass, the conclusion reached was that no option was economically viable. The plant was opened in 1971, and provides 22% of Victoria’s electricity; its closure is expected to raise power prices in Victoria by 4-8% as more expensive electricity (from black coal and renewables) is imported – with the closure of Hazelwood, Victoria will switch from being a net exporter of electricity to a net importer. Along with its associated mine, Hazelwood directly employs around 750 people, around 250 of whom will be kept on for a further six years after closure to manage the rehabilitation of the site. News of the closure of Australia’s most polluting power station has been welcomed by environmental groups and lamented by workers and locals. The chief councillor of the Climate Council of Australia, Professor Tim Flannery, said “I suppose one of the saddest things for me about this decision is it’s been made effectively in France rather than in Australia.” Engie has also announced it will appoint a financial advisor to sell off its Loy Yang B power station, another Victorian lignite-fired power station.

China Light and Power planning Indian plant

Hong Kong-based China Light and Power is planning to build a 2,000 MW power plant in the Indian state of Gujurat, according to Business Standard. A feasibility study is currently being undertaken based on the plant being coal-fired, with CLP believing that “affordable gas availability is constrained.” The CEO, Richard Lancaster, has also said that the company is interested in solar and wind projects in India.

Nebras Power to purchase majority of Engie’s stake in PT Paiton Energy

Reuters has reported on the moves by Qatari-owned Nebras Power to acquire most of Engie’s 40.5% stake in PT Paiton Energy, Indonesia’s largest non-governmental power producer. Nebras is seeking to buy 35.5% of the ownership of PT Paiton from Engie by the end of the year, the price not being disclosed. For Engie, it would be another step away from fossil-fired power generation while paying down debt, and for Nebras it would join neatly with Qatar’s export of LNG. Nebras is also looking at investing in a 500 MW gas-fired power plant in Indonesia, as well as a project in Senegal.