Global Insights: 13th June 2018

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Global Insights: 13th June 2018


ATA and ENA show all electric is cheaper than dual fuel

A report released this week by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and funded by Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) show that new homes, with efficient appliances, LED lighting, heat pump hot water systems and split system air-conditioning combined with a 5kW solar PV system could save the household between $900-$1,600 annually compared to dual fuel.  The report calls for education within the building industry to show the benefit of the all-electric home.  It also calls for a review of policies and programs that have been subsidising or supporting the expansion of the gas network.

CER requests small scale battery information

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) in conjunction with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) are requesting that registered installation agents should provide battery information.  The move is a preliminary measure by AEMO before creating a national register for DER to enhance visibility of behind the meter generation and storage.  Current policy for DER is the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).  SRES certificates are produced for new renewable generation by solar PV, wind or hydro and for the energy displaced by a solar water heater or heat pump over the course of a designated period. This allows installers to aggregate small installations to receive a small-scale technology certificate per 1MWh which are redeemed by the energy retailers.  This then gives AEMO visibility of the location and density of solar PV on the electricity network but, up until now, not whether the PV system is also connected to storage.  The register will allow AEMO to better forecast the effect of DER, and calculate the potential benefits DER could produce for system reliability.


New RMI Modelling shows clean energy portfolios out-compete gas

A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) warns that there is already a lot of gas build locked-in which could be very costly to US consumers and lock out the more cost effective renewables and batteries to get a foothold in the market. They argue that the gas rush will likely continue if regulators and lawmakers do not provide new incentives and market rules to encourage battery storage and demand management.

FERC regulators advise against federal intervention for coal and nuclear

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have criticised the federal government’s order to bail out coal and nuclear generators due to the negative effect it would have on the wholesale market.  Originally the order from the Trump administration was to secure grid reliability and resilience but FERC advised that there was no justification in the order as there is no reliability emergency.  Since then the federal government has changed the dialogue and is suggesting that the coal and nuclear plants should be saved for their national security value.  This argument has also been rejected by FERC.


German coal commission launched

After several delays the BMU finally launched Germany’s Coal Commission on 6th June and announced the full 31 person membership. Officially called the ‘Special Commission on Growth, Structural Economic Change and Employment’ the commission brings policymakers, industry, labour unions, residents from coal mining areas, and environmental NGOs together to decide on a roadmap and end date for phasing out coal. The commission will first meet on 26 June and report by the end of 2018.

German coalition government agrees on change to wind-power auctions

A last-minute change to the rules for onshore wind tenders has been agreed which aims to ensure commercial projects posing as citizens’ initiatives don’t dominate the next rounds of auctions. The government fast-tracked the most pressing change after the SPD-led environment ministry and CDU-led energy ministry were unable to settle differences over more far-reaching reform.

European Commission rules that 2012-13 German exemption of large electricity users from network charges was illegal

The European Commission has concluded that an exemption for certain large electricity users in Germany from network charges in 2012-2013 was against EU State aid rules. Germany now has to recover these charges from the large users. Between 2011 and 2013, certain electricity users that had an annual consumption above 10 gigawatt hours were fully exempted from paying network charges under German law. In 2012, thanks to this provision, these users avoided paying an estimated €300 million in network charges. These costs were instead financed by a special levy imposed on final electricity consumers.

Following the receipt of a number of complaints from consumer associations, energy companies and citizens, the Commission opened an investigation to determine whether this exemption amounts to State aid and if it can be justified under EU State aid rules. Germany abolished the exemption in 2014, since then large users with a stable consumption can request their network charges to be calculated on the basis of the costs that they individually cause to the network. This new regime was not part of the Commission’s investigation.

EDF buys into hydrogen specialists

Following on from last week’s announcement of France’s hydrogen strategy, news comes that EDF has bought a stake in France’s electrolysis pioneer McPhy and injected capital. McPhy is probably the European leader in building hydrogen filling stations and this week also announced that it had opened a refuelling point for Engie’s fleet of maintenance vans in southern Paris. EDF said its purchase of new McPhy shares represents a first step that will enable EDF to speed up its expansion into this burgeoning new market of hydrogen-based mobility’. It added that it sees hydrogen ‘as an essential energy vector for the decarbonisation of both industry and mobility’.

Demand side response being de-rated in Capacity Markets

In March this year, Scottish Power put forward a proposal that demand side response using batteries behind the meter should be de-rated in the GB capacity market. Now, in Ireland the Single Electricity Market Committee has ruled that Demand Side Units (DSUs) in the Irish Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) with a limited duration for their demand reduction of less than or equal to 6 hours will be hit with the same de-rating factors used for energy storage. Fears have been expressed that this move will discourage DSR providers from participating in the CRM.


World Renewable Energy Status Report

The annual report from the REN21 network reveals the status of the renewable energy sector in 2017.  Highlights of the report include:

  • There are 179 countries with national/state/provincial renewables energy targets, including 57 countries that have 100% renewable electricity targets.
  • Renewable power generating capacity saw its largest annual increase ever in 2017, raising total capacity by almost 9% over 2016. Overall, renewables accounted for an estimated 70% of net additions to global power capacity due in large part to continued improvements in the cost-competitiveness of solar PV and wind power.
  • Installed capacity of solar PV is now 402 GW and wind 539 GW, while hydro capacity is 1114 GW.
  • China remains the dominant force globally, top of the additional investment for hydro-power, solar PV, wind and solar water heating.
  • However, in terms of installation volume per capita, the top countries for solar are: Germany, Japan, Belgium, Italy and Australia, while for wind they are, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Portugal.
  • During 2017, more than 3 GW of pumped storage capacity was commissioned, for a year-end total of 153 GW and about 0.5 GW of non-pumped utility-scale energy storage capacity became operational leading to 5.9 GW.
  • Half of the residential solar PV systems installed in Germany in 2017 were combined with storage capacity; By the end of 2017, Germany had nearly 80,000 behind-the-meter installations, mainly in the residential sector.
  • Australia installed an estimated 20,800 battery storage systems in 2017, tripling the number of systems added in 2016


Japanese utilities using AI to customer churn

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that Japanese utilities are capitalising on new technologies, to enable family members to monitor the electricity consumption of another – often elderly – relative.  This will require the two customers to use the same power supplier with this new offering designed to slow the drift of consumers away from the traditional power suppliers.  By the end of September 2017, 5.1 million consumers (about 8% of the total) had switched their supplier since the introduction of liberalisation in April 2016.   As a result, new entrances now have 12% of the retail market.

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