Xinhua News has quoted outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as saying “We will show the world with our actions that China will never seek economic growth at the expense of its ecological environment and public health” in a report about the Chinese government’s determination to pursue a low-carbon future. Amongst the major planned initiatives is to institute nationally a carbon emissions trading system using the learning from seven municipalities and provinces that have already experimented with localised systems.
The Wall Street Journal is cautiously optimistic about the financial prospects of German power utilities. Profits for E.ON were up in the last financial year, and RWE expected earnings to be stable for the next two years, a major factor for both being cost savings. However, threatening the power utilities are the growth of and government preference for renewables, and the desire on the part of the government to encourage more competition in the sector. In addition, the push for energy efficiency is a threat to the financial performance of the businesses. The report also mentions the trend for the big two to sell their grid infrastructure to concentrate on power generation and gas production, which currently offer higher profit margins. Yet this, an analyst claims, means more volatile profits as fuel prices react to demand from India and China.
A separate WSJ report notes that coal-fired power generation in the US is currently in a bleak period, with cheap gas, tightening environmental regulation and lower electricity prices hitting hard. The share of power generation from coal-fired power plants is at the lowest since 1979.
A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report has predicted that fossil fuels will provide 85% of the future energy mix by 2050 if more ambitious climate policies are not adopted. Renewables, including biofuels, would account for around 10% of supply and nuclear 5%. The global economy would be four times larger than today and consume 80% more energy. Greenhouse gas emissions would rise by 70%, resulting in a 3-6 oC average global temperature rise, far above any ‘acceptable’ level.
Xinhua News reports that China plans to produce 6.5 billion cubic metres of shale gas by 2015, according to the National Energy Administration. It would concurrently aim to develop green energy technologies. China has 25.08 trillion cubic metres of shale gas reserves, according to the report.
Legislation and Regulation
The Wall Street Journal reports on Poland’s efforts to gain the support of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania to halt a European Commission proposal to reduce CO2 emissions by between 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050. The proposal, according to Polish environment minister Marcin Korolec, includes a 70% cut to emissions from transportation, and all cars being electrically powered. Poland is rich in coal and currently generates more than 90% of its electricity from it, meaning the proposal would be a stiff economic challenge to the country.
Great Southern have been awarded a contract to build a flameless crude heater for Coffeyville Resources Refining and Marketing at their refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas, USA. A recent EPA consent decree outlined the environmental performance requirements of the flameless heater, which Great Southern are able to meet. A first heater will be operational by 31 December, 2012, with a second to be up and running by 31 December, 2016. Great Southern welcome any enquires in regards to their flameless heaters.
The wood pellet stores at the UK’s first dedicated biomass power plant, RWE npower’s 750 MW plant at Tilbury, caught fire in late February. No one was injured. It took around 120 firefighters to put out the blaze using high expansion foam, which the firefighters had switched to after concerns the water they were using was causing the pellets to swell and risk the structural integrity of the hoppers. The plant was originally commissioned as a coal-fired power plant in 1969, and is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015.
Keeping with biomass power plants, Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has granted permission to E.ON Climate and Renewables to build a 150 MW dedicated biomass boiler in the Port of Bristol, Somerset, UK. The expected fuel is a mix of virgin wood, ‘energy crops’ and waste wood, as announced on 12 March.
Indian giant Tata Power and mining company Exxaro Resources have announced a joint venture, Cennergi, to develop electricity generation projects in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, with an initial focus on renewables. Cennergi aims to be the largest electricity provider in Southern Africa. It is to launch in April 2012.
Enel have announced their intention to pursue the Latin American and renewables markets to counter dampened electricity demand in Italy and Spain. Enel’s Green Power group plans to build wind farms in Romania and Brazil amongst others. They see the Spanish renewables sector as relatively mature, not presently allowing further growth.
Mississippi Power, owned by Southern Co, had an approval for their $US 2.8 billion integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plant overturned on 15 March by Mississippi Supreme Court. The approval had been granted in 2012 by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, and work had already commenced on the 582 MW plant. The reason for the overturning was that the planning for the plant had not proven a benefit to customers – in short, it was too expensive.
China’s largest cement manufacturer, Anhui Conch Cement, is to build a $US 400 million cement plant in South Kalimantan, Indonesia, with construction set to start later this year. The plant will include a 60 MW power plant. Indonesia is seen as a growth market for cement manufacturing, as its annual per capita consumption is 171 kg, whereas in Thailand and Vietnam the figures are 394 and 564 kg, respectively.
Jizhong Energy Group has begun building what will become China’s largest plant to convert coke oven gas to natural gas. The company produces 800 million cubic metres of coke oven gas from coking coal each year, and the plant is designed to convert the entirety of this amount to 300 million cubic metres of natural gas, reducing emissions of CO2 by 600,000 tonnes and SO2 by 2,300 tonnes annually.