Global Insights: 22nd May 2018

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on May 22, 18 • posted by

Global Insights: 22nd May 2018


New Rule for retailers prevents over-inflated discounts

The AEMC have made a new rule this week that will stop energy retailers claiming larger discounts than are actually available.  The rule states that no discount can be given for any product that would be higher than the standing offer if the discount was not available.   The rule has been bought about to decrease the confusion around energy bills and the numerous discounts that are available which have made switching energy supplier confusing for consumers.

Energy Networks under tax review from the AER

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released an issues paper this week to invite submissions on its approach to estimating tax for the regulated energy networks.  This follows advice from the Australian Tax Office that identified discrepancies between the tax allowances set by the regulator and the tax payments received by the Tax Office.  Costs, which are passed onto consumers, have been estimated at around Au$600m per year.

Energy Networks Australia releases its 2018 report card

A year after the publishing of the Energy Networks Australia’s (ENA) Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap, the ENA has released a report card of its progress to date.  The advances have been in the work of the new Energy Security Board and the Australian Energy Market Operator  in its Integrated System Plan and the co-design with the ENA of an ’open energy networks model’.  The report card notes that there has been limited progress in smarter and fairer pricing for consumers.

AGL rejects bid for Liddell

AGL has rejected a bid for the Liddell coal-fired generator which is due to close in 2022.  The Coalition government had shown its approval of  the joint bid by Atlinta Energy and Chow Tai Fook which was comprehensively rejected by AGL.  AGL has released plans previously to replace the Liddell power station with a combination of Solar PV, storage and gas generation to provide flexibility and a more reliable service.


CA Building Energy Code 2019, to be in place for 2020

The California Energy Commission approved the 2019 Building Energy Code requiring renewable energy access for all new residential homes in the state starting in 2020. The code includes incentives for energy storage while mandating that the construction of new homes include advanced energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar. All told, the new code is meant to save Californians a net $1.7 billion on energy bills, while advancing the state’s efforts to build-out renewable energy, the commission said.

Solar and EE reducing peak load for ISO New England

The ISO in New England has reported that they expect to see a reduction in peak load due to an increase in energy efficiency and distributed resources.  This is spite of predicted electricity use growing by 0.9% overall.  The use of solar will turn what would have been an increase of 0.8% annually, under normal summer weather conditions, to a decrease of 0.4%.  The New England ISO estimated that on one day in April distributed solar was producing 2,309MW at 12.30pm, the grid has a nameplate capacity of 2.4GW.


100-percent renewable energy system possible – new German-led study 

A new study, led by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has indicated that 100% renewable energy systems are not only feasible, but already economically viable, with cost decreasing every year. The study responds to an earlier paper which claimed that many studies of 100% renewable electricity systems do not demonstrate sufficient technical feasibility and highlights that established and cost effective technological solutions exist to deal with the challenges of a 100% renewable system (such as delivering ancillary services and meeting peak load during extreme weather events). The authors conclude by suggesting that claims that a 100% renewable world would require a ‘re-invention’ of the power system are exaggerated with only a directed evolution of the current system required to guarantee affordability, reliability and sustainability.

No energy efficiency gains in German building sector since 2010

A report by the German Energy Agency (DENA) has indicated that the energy consumption of buildings in Germany has plateaued since 2010. Prior to this, between 2002 and 2010, there was a trend of improving energy efficiency with consumption dropping by 20%. Heating and power consumption in buildings accounts for over a third of total energy demand in Germany and the head of DENA suggested that further efforts are needed on energy efficiency if climate targets are to be met.

Ecotricity partner with Germany’s Next Kraftwerke on virtual power plant development 

Ecotricity has entered into a partnership with Germany’s Next Kraftwerke to help deliver its plans for a virtual power plant (VPP). Ecotricity will be the first utility to implement Next Kraftwerke’s NEMOCS software service which will enable distributed generation, storage and other flexibility assets to be operated in a networks and optimised way and offer grid balancing services.

Grid-scale batteries provide grid balancing services in Belgium

In a development symptomatic of the rapid expansion of grid scale storage for balancing and ancillary services markets, REstore (a Centrica subsidiary) has opened a 32 MW distribution connected battery park in Belgium on the site of an old coal mine. Built using Tesla Powerpacks, it forms part of a ‘virtual power plant’ along with industrial and commercial demand-side response selling into primary frequency regulation markets across the coupled Primary Control Reserve mechanism that now spans Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France. The project took only 6 months from inception to operation.

Denmark and Scotland cooperate on district heating

Scotland has adopted a target of reducing energy consumption in buildings by 15% by 2032, and is looking to Denmark to tap into the latter’s long standing experience with district heating. Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, recently signed an agreement for expertise, services and technology with the Danish Minister of Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Lilleholt. The Scottish Government expects to connect 40,000 households to district heating by 2020. Den skotske organisation Heat Network Partnership har vurderet, at der frem mod 2020 vil blive investeret 200-440 mio. The Scottish organization Heat Network Partnership has estimated that up to £440 million will be invested to realize the target.

Siemens Gamesa push for hybrid wind-storage solutions

According to GreenTechMedia, the conglomerate recently formed from the merger of German engineering giant Siemens and Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa is to focus increasingly on hybrid systems that can overcome the challenge of intermittency of wind output. This includes battery-based systems, but also other technologies that can provide baseload or flexible power over longer time frames, but that can also offer gigawatt hour scale at lower cost.


IEA Look at Offshore Energy

The International Energy Agency has published a review of offshore energy, looking at the prospects for oil, gas and wind.   The report highlights that a quarter of global oil and gas production is undertaken offshore, with a 50% increase in gas production since the turn of the century.  Large growth has also been seen in offshore wind, although its contribution to the world’s electricity supply is still extremely small, at just 0.2%.

The costs of offshore wind are currently about 150% higher than for onshore and 50% higher than utility scale solar, so there is still someway to go.  However, the recent round of auctions in Europe have seen rapid falls in expected costs, described by the IEA as a ‘step change’, based on predicted falls in technology prices.   This is in part due to larger and larger turbines which can now exceed 8 MW with 12 MW units under development.

The decarbonisation of the global power sector is expected to require the deployment of significant levels of offshore wind, and the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario assumes by 2040 350 GW of installed capacity, up from the currently deployment 14 GW.   Meeting this target would obviously require massive finance and create new engineering challenges.   The IEA conclude that this growth could require new synergies with the fossil fuel offshore industry, such as the combined use of electricity and gas infrastructure and overlapping competences for operating in harsh environments, especially if wind moves further offshore.

What to make of Saudi Arabia’s  Solar Ambitions ?

At the end of March Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the head of Japan’s Softbank Masayoshi Son, signed a preliminary agreement that aims to see 200 GW of solar, at an estimated cost of €200 billion, enough to power 150 million homes,  built in the Kingdom by 2030.

The proposed deal made headlines around the world because of the players involved.  Masayoshi Son, is said to the one of Japan’s richest men and has, post Fukushima, been a prominent advocate of renewable energy.  While Saudi Arabia, is a cash and solar rich country, with a strong economic intensive to reduce domestic consumption of fossil fuels – on the short term to enable their continual export.

However, Saudi Arabia, has had a history of announcements of ambitious renewable and solar PV targets. In 2013, a target was set for 16 GW of solar by 2032, which was changed to 41GW by 2040 in 2015.   The target is currently 9.5 GW by 2023.   Despite this as of the end of 2017 there were only 50 MW in the Kingdom.  But progress has been made in 2018, with ACWA Power announced as the winning tender by Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry for the construction of a 300 MW project.

However, media reports suggest that the Memorandum made between the Crown Prince and Softbank was undertaken without the involvement of the country’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO).  This has raised concerns over the confidence of even short-term projects.  A researcher at GTM,  was reported as saying that the  memorandum had  “injected a massive amount of uncertainty into the Saudi market, likely limiting participation in the 3.3 gigawatts of REPDO tenders scheduled to take place in 2018,”

The construction of large scale Solar in the Middle East would represent an important opportunity for the region and open up a new market,  fuelling global manufacturing and further driving down the manufacturing costs.  However, the solar sector must be careful not to overpromise, to maintain its credibility.

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