US Supreme Court decision opens Clean Power Plan to legal challenges
A decision by the US Supreme Court has put President Obama’s climate policy in limbo for at least a year – until after the president leaves office. The finding of the court was that the federal government could no longer enforce deadlines related to the Clean Power Plan, which limit CO2 emissions from power generation. In consequence, legal challenges to the Plan must be heard before any further progress is made with the regulations, a major blow to the Obama administration. However, a White House spokesman said that the administration was “confident that we’re going to prevail on the merits, when the Clean Power Plan rule gets its full day in court,” and that the US’s greenhouse gas emissions cuts targets would still be met. EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete is to meet with Todd Stern, the US climate envoy, next week to discuss possible implications of the court decision. As the Financial Times reports, the decision is a product of the route Mr Obama chose to take to institute his climate policy – through regulation under existing legislation rather than passing new legislation through congress. Future challenges to the Clean Power Plan are likely to revolve around Section 111 of a 1990 revision to the Clean Air Act, which a professor of law quoted by the FT described as “a mess”.
BP chief economist lays out his long-term expectations for energy
The chief economist for BP, Spencer Dale, has written a piece for the Financial Times looking at the longer-term prospects for energy over the next 10-20 years. After remarking that it seems the oil market will begin to ‘balance’ towards the end of this year, he sets out three themes he expects (with some uncertainty) will shape the longer-term future. The first is increasing global energy demand, mainly through the developing world; the second is the changing energy picture after the Paris Climate Conference, with more renewables and more gas-firing. Mr Dale sees coal being the major loser in this changing picture, especially as China gradually moves away from firing the fuel. The third theme is really a consequence of the second, being a slowing in the growth of carbon emissions (though energy efficiency will also contribute). However, Mr Dale believes that additional policies related to carbon pricing will be required to deliver on the pledges of the Paris conference. Overall, it is a picture that would be relatively advantageous to BP.
EdF and Glasgow Caledonian University to develop power station monitoring technology
EdF has joined with Glasgow Caledonian University in a £116,000 (€149,000/$US 168,000) research partnership to improve safety and reliability of high-voltage equipment in power stations. The research will be a continuation from previous work into monitoring the condition of cabling and motors, which has resulted in a portable monitoring system which allows detection and locating of partial discharges. The new research will focus on developing a system to measure cable degradation on-line (rather than during planned shutdowns), as shutdowns are generally too infrequent for optimal monitoring. GCU will be recruiting a PhD student to undertake the research over three years under the supervision of Professor Chengke Zhou and Dr Donald M Hepburn.
Engie to close Rugely plant in Staffordshire, UK, citing lower electricity prices and higher carbon costs
Another UK coal-fired power plant is to shut down, with Engie’s 1,000 MW plant at Rugely in Staffordshire to close in the northern hemisphere summer, the company has announced, citing falling power prices and increased carbon costs, concluding that “there is no prospect of the power station recovering its future operating costs.” Commenting on the closure, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the UK government, along with the National Grid and regulator Ofgem, has already taken steps to ensure the closure does not affect the continued provision of electricity to homes and businesses. Nevertheless, the closure must come as something of a headache for energy planners, who have seen the standby capacity cost to consumers rise from £0.50 per consumer per year for the present year to £2.00 next year. It will also be a serious blow for the 150 staff employed at the plant.
Andritz to install pulp line for Russian pulp and paper mill
Andtriz has announced that it has successfully started-up a semi-chemical pulp line for the JSC Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill in Russia. The line produces 1000 t/d of pulp and features Andritz’s green liquor technology for pulp cooking, refining, and washing, which Andritz typically applies to hardwoods, such as the birch and aspen in this case. The green liquor technology makes chemical recovery easier and reduces wastewater volumes.
Valmet to provide automation and monitoring equipment to Turkish plant
Valmet is to supply automation equipment Turkey’s Hamitabat Elektrik Üretim, one of the country’s largest utilities, for a new 1,200 MW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in the north-west of Turkey. The automation equipment will incorporate Valmet’s DNA technology and a plant information and performance monitoring system. It is to be installed by August this year as the plant readies to start generating electricity in 2017. Valmet suggests the value of the order is in the range of €1-3 million ($US 1.13-3.38 million).
Beijing Enterprises buys German waste-to-energy company with view of building 300 new plants in Beijing
German private equity group EQT has sold its waste-to-energy group, EEW Energy, to Chinese firm Beijing Enterprises for €1.44 billion ($US 1.62 billion). Beijing Enterprises is controlled by the Beijing city government, while EEW Energy was previously part-owned by E.ON, and has advanced emissions filtering technology. It operates in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, burning 4.7 million tonnes of waste annually. The move is a practical one, with the city of Beijing planning to build 300 new waste-to-energy plants in the next three years to deal with its enormous quantity of stockpiled waste, which is described as the city’s “seventh ring” (after six ring roads). At the same time, the acquisition is another marker of China’s desire to invest in Europe, after state-owned ChemChina made a $US 43.8 billion (€38.9 billion) bid for Swiss agribusiness Syngenta earlier this month.
Outotec named third most sustainable company worldwide
Finnish metals company and IFRF Member Organisation Outotec has been named the third in the Global 100 Index by Corporate Knights, a Canadian advisory company. The index incorporates considerations of transparency, resource productivity and other social and governance indicators. Separately, Outec has been given a Silver Class distinction for sustainability by RobecoSAM’s annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment. The IFRF wishes to congratulate Outec on the achievements.
Vattenfall reveals ‘Yeti Men’
Vattenfall has released details of its rather innovative and striking means to reduce copper theft from its operations. Known as the “Yeti Men”, they are camouflaged detectives equipped with night-vision goggles, thermal imaging cameras and torches, deployed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week at sites such as open mines and cable storage locations in order to catch thieves red-handed and report them to security forces in order to detain the thieves. The unusual move has been prompted by the large amounts of money that the company was losing through copper theft – €750,000 ($US 843,000) last year, for instance. The images of the Yeti Men given by Vattenfall are well worth seeing.