US EPA releases new carbon rules for existing power plants
The US Environmental Protection Agency has released proposed new rules for carbon emissions from existing fossil-fuel fired power plants, with an overall goal of cutting emissions to 70% of their 2005 level by 2030 (a cut of 30%). Under the rules, each US state would be responsible for ensuring it meets the 30% reduction target, and would have flexible means with which to achieve it, being able to choose from options such as switching to gas-firing from coal, increasing energy efficiency, using low/zero-carbon power generation sources, or instituting carbon cap-and-trade schemes. The EPA estimates that NOx and SOx emissions will fall by around 25% as a result of the CO2 reductions, given that NOx and SOx are usually emitted more heavily from coal-firing. The CO2 reduction target is somewhat easier than it first appears, considering that nationally, US emissions are already 10% lower than they were in 2005. However, assuming it is implemented, it would be central to meeting the Obama administration’s pledge to reduce US carbon emissions by 17% by 2020, and therefore has international significance as climate-change mitigation agreements are negotiated. The cost of the rules, according to the EPA, will be up to $US 8.8 billion (€6.5 billion), while the benefits, mainly through prevented medical costs, are estimated as between $US 55-93 billion. There are sure to be legal challenges to the proposed new rules, meaning their implementation, once finalised, is likely to be some time away.
Fortum CEO urges better European energy market integration
Fortum CEO and President Tapio Kuula has spoken at Eurelectric’s Annual Conference in London to urge a more integrated European energy market, with fewer overlapping regulations, arguing that it would lead to cheaper energy prices for industry and consumers. The comments were made in view of the coming transition to new personnel directing policy for the European Commission, with Mr Kuula hoping to influence the new EC. His chief recommendations are to end subsidies for renewable energies, upgrade transmission networks to remove bottlenecks between EU countries, and to provide the regulatory environment to enable a single European energy market. Though the calls to remove subsidies for renewables may seem an attack on renewables as a whole, this does not appear to be Mr Kuula’s objective, as he acknowledged the need to transition rapidly to a low-carbon economy without waiting for better financial times. Instead, he stressed that the emissions trading scheme should be the only instrument used to drive the power sector to lower emissions. “As we have learned, overlapping targets and measures [such as production subsidies] tend to water down the effectiveness of each other and should be avoided in the future.”
Chile launches new energy policy
The Financial Times has carried a piece on the launch of a new four-year energy policy in Chile. With the country importing 60% of its primary energy, and transmission infrastructure poor, electricity prices are high, with Chilean miners paying twice the amount their Peruvian counterparts do. The four-year plan includes building a third LNG import terminal, uniting Chile’s two electricity grids by building a connection across the Atacama Desert, and opening up the power sector to greater competition. Longer-term goals have also been set, including a target that 45% of new domestic generation capacity built up to 2025 will be from non-conventional renewable energy sources (NCREs), such as geo-thermal (Chile has volcanoes) and tidal power (with the country’s long coastline). The policy has been generally well received by industry.
Israel to pipe gas to Egypt and Jordan; Woodside backs out of project
Two reports, also in the Financial Times, have covered developments in the exploitation of Israel’s offshore natural gasfield, Leviathan. Two years ago, the intention was to turn the gas into LNG for export, and Australian company Woodside looked likely to buy a $US 2.7 billion (€1.98 billion), 25% stake in the project, being LNG specialists. However, with political shifts in Egypt, the two lead investors in the Leviathan project, US-based Nobel Energy and Israel’s Delek, see the supply of gas regionally via pipeline as a better commercial prospect, and as a result, Woodside have pulled out of the project. With the political instability in Egypt over the last three years, the country has gone from being an important gas exporter (including to Israel) to considering imports from Israel, and Jordan, which used to receive gas from Egypt, is another likely customer of the Leviathan fields. There is already a deal in place with the Palestinian Authority for Leviathan to supply gas to a planned new power plant in the West Bank, and Turkey and Cyprus are other potential customers.
Laborelec, TU Delft, TU Chalmers, RWTH Aachen amongst KIC-Climate partners to research CO2 exploitation
Mid-May saw the announcement that Imperial College London, GDF Suez, Delft University of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Laborelec, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, RWTH Aachen, TU Berlin, and AkzoNobel are to join together, under the project management of Bayer MaterialScience, to work on the KIC-Climate EnCO2re program, which aims to find means of industrially exploiting CO2. KIC-Climate (Knowledge and Innovation Centre Climate) is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), headquartered in London but with a presence in 13 European countries, and funded by the European Union. The KIC-Climate EnCO2re is one of four programs being run by KIC-Climate, with the total funding for the four programs being €100 million ($US 136 million). Laborelec’s role is to categorise different CO2 streams and to analyse different treatment and purification technologies.
Major explosion at Kosovo A plant kills three and injures 14
An explosion of a hydrogen tank in the electrolysis unit at Kosovo’s second largest power plant, Kosovo A, has resulted in the deaths of three people and injuries to 14. The coal-fired plant, rated at 345 MW, has been shut down, and an investigation has been launched. The blast could be heard 10 km away in the capital, Pristina, and a column of smoke was also visible. Kosovo has long suffered power shortages, but plans to build a new power plant so that the 40-year old, heavily-polluting Kosovo A could be retired have been delayed for several years, though last year saw international donors pledge €154 million ($US 210 million) to assist with the cost of a new plant. While Kosovo A, which usually provides 25% of the country’s electricity, is down, imports from neighbouring countries have increased, with Albania providing 50 MW of the additional 200 MW being imported.
TeaM Energy appoints Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Daelim Industrial to upgrade Pagbilao plant in Philippines
TeaM Energy Corp., a joint venture between Marubeni Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Corp., which operates the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant in Quezon, Philippines, has announced that an expansion of the plant will go ahead. A 420 MW coal-fired unit is to be added to the two existing 350 MW units at the plant as demand for electricity continues to grow quickly in the Philippines. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Daelim Industrial have been appointed the contractors for the engineering, procurement and construction of the addition unit, which is expected to commence this month and be completed by November 2017. Mitsubishi Hitachi will be responsible for the unit’s major components, such as the boiler, turbine and generator, while Daelim will be responsible for other equipment and civil works.
ANDRITZ to supply flue gas cleaning equipment to Jyväskylä Energy Group
ANDRTIZ has announced that it has received an order from Jyväskylä Energy Group to supply flue gas cleaning equipment for, and to modernise the bubbling fluidized bed boiler of the Rauhalahti plant in central Finland. The flue gas cleaning equipment will consist of a flue gas scrubber and an electrostatic precipitator, and there will be a focus on recovering waste heat from the scrubber for use elsewhere in the plant. The work has been prompted by stricter environmental regulations under the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive, which comes into effect in 2016. The work is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2015.