Header  home

This Month in Energy - November 2016

21 minutes to read

THIS MONTH IN ENERGY - November 2016

Here’s what happened in the world of energy in November 2016.

GLOBAL

2017 Energy Outlook

Climate policies will continue decreasing fossil fuels’ role as the mainstay of global energy use, despite Donald Trump’s appointment as US president in 2017, according to a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The report expects that while the election of Trump as US president is not likely to halt the gradual transition towards cleaner energy globally, it will nevertheless slow it.

The energy transition at a global level will roll on incrementally, with the EIU forecasting faster growth in renewable energy consumption compared to fossil fuels in 2017. Consumption of renewables, nuclear power and natural gas will continue to outpace that of coal and oil next year.

The report also indicates that oil prices will average higher in 2017, with Brent averaging US$56.50/bbl.

 

Global Gas Security Review

While the rise of the liquefied natural gas market has accelerated the globalisation of natural gas, the energy security imply cations of this transformation have attracted much less attention. Through an extensive analysis of global gas data, a new report from the International Energy Agency seeks to provide more transparency into the LNG market.

There is no doubt that global gas markets are well supplied today. While this is positive for global gas security, the new analysis from the first Global Gas Security Review, released in Tokyo, warns that LNG markets are less flexible than is commonly believed.

A growing share of LNG capacity is offline – mostly because of a lack of enough gas to feed into the system but also because of security and technical problems – meaning the market has less extra capacity than assumed. Between 2011 and 2016, the level of unusable export capacity has doubled, disabling about 65 billion m3 of gas, which is equal to the combined exports of Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s third and fifth largest exporters. A period of low oil and gas prices could further worsen the situation.

 

AFRICA

South Africa has a new energy plan. But will it break the bank?

The release of South Africa’s long-awaited update to the Integrated Resource Plan is certain to inspire renewed debate about the country’s energy future. Once public, consultation has taken place the plan will drive policy decisions on the mix of renewables, nuclear, coal and gas-fired power generation to be added to the grid until 2050.

In briefing the media, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson pointed to a number of factors that had been incorporated in the updated plan. Importantly, it addresses the fundamental shift in South Africa’s electricity demand; the implications of technological innovation in decreasing the costs of renewables; and the addition of new generating capacity that has quickly turned the country’s electricity deficit to surplus.

But one important matter is surprisingly absent in the discussion. Can the county afford the energy plan?

 

Morocco lights the way for Africa on renewable energy

As the host of this year’s COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco has been keen to demonstrate its green credentials and make this COP the “African COP”.

In the past year, Morocco has banned the use of plastic bags, launched new plans for extending the urban tram networks in Casablanca and Rabat, started the process of replacing its dirty old fleet of buses and taxis, launched Africa’s first city bicycle hire scheme, and launched a new initiative – the “Adaptation of African Agriculture” – to help the continent’s farmers adjust to climate change.

But by far the most attention has been on the development of “mega” infrastructure projects in an ambitious plan to transform the country’s energy mix, including the massive The entire Solar Project is planned to produce 580 MW at peak when finished and is being built in three phases and in four parts. Total project expected to cost $9 billion.

Morocco has no fossil fuel reserves so is almost entirely reliant on imports. In 2015 King Mohammed VI committed the country to increasing its share of renewable electricity generation to 52% by 2030, aiming for the installation of around 10 gigawatts (GW). Of that, 14% is expected to come from solar, with plans to install 2GW of new capacity by 2020, as well as increases in wind power and hydraulic dams. Morocco has even opened the door to exchanging electricity produced from renewable sources with Europe.

 

Tired of being in the dark, Africa focuses on renewable energy to power the continent

In a recent piece in The Guardian, Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, describes how “Africa is tired of being int he dark”. “We lose 5% of our potential GDP every year, and African industries cannot be competitive without access to electricity,” says Mr. Adesina. “I believe that’s why we can’t break away from reliance on exporting our raw materials – new industries will only go to where there’s power.” As he spoke on the sidelines of the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, the African Development Bank highlighted its new initiatives on energy for Africa. This includes the New Deal on Energy for Africa that will see investments of $12 billion into the energy sector in Africa.

The Bank has launched a New Deal on Energy for Africa, which is hoped will unlock investments of $12 billion into the energy sector in Africa. The program is built on five inter-related and mutually reinforcing principles: (i) raising aspirations to solve Africa’s energy challenges; ii) establishing a Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa; (iii) mobilizing domestic and international capital for innovative financing in Africa’s energy sector; (iv) supporting African governments in strengthening energy policy, regulation and sector governance; and (v) increasing African Development Bank’s investments in energy and climate financing.

 

ASIA

Higher energy standards for refrigerators from December 2017

Energy standards will be raised for refrigerators being sold in Singapore starting next December, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Friday (Nov 25). The Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for the appliance will be raised by between 5 and 13 per cent, depending on the refrigerator category. The number of ticks indicates the relative energy efficiency of the product.

The least energy efficient refrigerator models within the 1-tick band that do not meet the enhanced MEPS will be phased out. These models represent about 15 per cent of all refrigerator models currently available in the market. Sales of the remaining 1-tick models that meet the enhanced MEPS can continue.

 

Philippines president says to open up airwaves, energy and power sectors

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would open numerous economic sectors to foreign investors and move against protectionism. Speaking in New Zealand after a Asia-Pacific summit in Peru, Duterte said he had decided it was time to speed up the "entry of new players" into energy, power and information and communications technology sectors, as well as freeing up the airwaves.

Investors in the Philippines, one of the world's fastest- growing economies, have complained often of regulations that can restrict foreign investment in various areas, among them telecoms and utilities. He said he had also received assurances from his Chinese counterpart that the implementation of a recent slew of investment deals would be speeded up.

 

Energy firms lead Asia markets higher

Energy firms led a rally in most Asia equities markets on Nov 16 after oil prices soared on hopes for a deal by producers to cut output, while the dollar settled back after its latest gains. The advance on trading floors is the latest in a volatile week for global markets after Donald Trump's shock election victory, which has fanned uncertainty for the US and the world economy.

News that the OPEC exporters club and non-member Russia were engaged in a push to agree a deal fuelled a rush back into crude, which has in recent weeks been hit by worries over the chances of a cut as well as a strong dollar. Both main contracts rallied almost six per cent on Tuesday on renewed hopes OPEC can reach a deal before it holds its twice-yearly meeting at the end of the month.

 

EUROPE 

Swiss referendum: Will Swiss say no thanks to nuclear power?

Although Switzerland's government already has a plan to decommission the country's five nuclear plants "at the end of their natural lives", opponents of nuclear power claim the strategy is too vague, and may allow the plants to keep operating indefinitely.

The proposal before voters, brought by the Green party, calls for nuclear plants to be closed after a maximum 45 years in operation, and for a ban on construction of any new plants. This would mean that three of the five plants would have to shut next year, the fourth in 2024 and the last in 2029.

 

Some examples in Europe show that cities running their own energy company can lower the energy bill for citizens

Across Europe, town and city councils are becoming increasingly interested in energy decentralisation, i.e. in producing power closer to where it is consumed. Those municipalities that have already experienced this say the model is one of the best ways of fighting pollution and reducing energy costs for citizens. Heidelberg is one such city in Germany, with its long-running energy company.

The city-owned company is responsible for managing gas, heating, and the water and sewage systems. "The most important issue was that we started our action plan with all the population behind us", states mayor Eckart Würzner. "We have a general strategy to be a city free of fossil fuels by 2050. This is extremely challenging since we are a growing city and therefore we have to switch to renewables in very little time," he points out.

 

News From Europe’s Ocean Energy Industry

2016 is the take-off year for Europe’s ocean energy sector, with the deployment of the world’s first tidal energy farms in Europe and Canada. These pilot farms set the scene for a much larger projects pipeline, and the creation of a new industrial sector capable of delivering 10% of Europe’s electricity and 400.000 jobs.

Ocean Energy Europe foresees that by 2050, 100GW of ocean energy could be deployed in Europe, a game-changer for Europe’s electricity supply, contributing to Europe’s re-industrialisation, employment creation, energy security, and decarbonisation.

 

NORTH AMERICA

PJM leverages federal rule changes to lead country in energy storage

While energy storage is sometimes perceived as a technology of the future, US’s largest grid operator is already deploying it aggressively, leading to considerable financial savings for ratepayers.

Regional transmission organization PJM responded quickly and effectively to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule changes enabling storage providers to effectively compete in the frequency regulation energy buying market, said Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association (ESA).

 

Why Devon Energy Is a Leading E&P Company in North America

Not long ago, in 2014, crude oil was trading above $100 per barrel. However, in 2016, it’s been struggling to cross above $50 per barrel. This “lower for longer” trend in crude oil prices for the last two years has led WTI crude oil (USO) and natural gas (UNG) (UGAZ) (DGAZ) down by ~58% and 42%, respectively. The trend has also taken its toll on energy producers.

Many upstream companies are predicting that lower and more volatile energy prices will continue. This is not good news for upstream companies, as their operating margins are directly tied to the prices of the underlying commodities that they produce. Many upstream companies like Marathon Oil (MRO), Murphy Oil (MUR), and Denbury Resources (DNR) saw a steep decline in their operating margins in the last two years.

 

Oil and gas companies in North America less green than those in EU

Oil and gas companies in North America are lagging behind their European counterparts in cleaning up their operations, new research has found, with higher greenhouse gas emissions and less investment in clean alternatives. ExxonMobil and Chevron of the US, alongside Canada’s Suncor, ranked lowest in a review conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) of 11 of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies. At the top of the table came Statoil of Norway, Italy’s Eni and the French company Total.

Companies were rated on criteria including their greenhouse gas emissions and their asset mix, which is determined by the hydrocarbons they extract, and the methods used; their climate-related goals, such as investments in renewables and other forms of low-carbon energy, if any; whether they make efforts to capture and use methane, or flare it; their use of water, and whether they are likely to be affected by water shortages; and the efficiency of their operations.

 

Oceania

Electricity from coal should be phased out in Australia – Senate report

A Senate report has recommended that Australia should move completely away from coal-generated electricity, citing economic factors as the primary drivers. It comes about a month after the unplanned closure of Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest coal station, and before the expected unplanned closure of several others around the country.

With the backing of both the Labor and Green members of the committee, the report called for a comprehensive energy transition plan and the development of a mechanism that would ensure coal-fired power stations close in an orderly fashion and with plenty of warning.

 

Kalbarri to host what could be Australia's largest renewable energy grid

A $10 million renewable energy-powered microgrid which has the potential to be the largest in the country will be developed in Western Australia's Midwest.

The coastal town of Kalbarri is currently supplied by a 140 kilometre long rural feeder line, which experiences outages due to environmental factors. The microgrid will combine wind and solar power with a large-scale battery and Energy Minister Mike Nahan said the project will be closely looked at to see how the technology could benefit other towns in WA

"This is a game changer for regional communities who rely on power from a long feeder line, which is subject to environmental factors that can cause outages," Dr Nahan said. "The project, which has the potential to be Australia's biggest renewable microgrid, will consider all generation options and take into account the community's desire for a renewable solution.""Western Power will seek expressions of interest from next month with construction expected to begin in 2017.

 

'The heat is there': is there a future for geothermal energy in Australia?

In July 2010, the Australian government took a $32m gamble on geothermal energy, investing in Australia’s first demonstration of geothermal electricity generation. Six years later, the wells in South Australia’s Cooper Basin have been filled with concrete and abandoned, and the geothermal exploration company involved – Geodynamics Limited – has announced it is rebranding and pivoting to biogas, solar photovoltaic, battery storage and hybrid solutions.

Although geothermal energy is a mainstay of electricity generation in countries such as Iceland and El Salvador, the ancient, slumbering strata of Australia presents a more challenging landscape. Since 2009 the federal government has funded seven geothermal projects at a cost of more than $40m. Only one is still active.

“We’re looking at heat that’s effectively created by depth, and because we’re doing this in sedimentary basin settings, three to four kilometres is usually the depth you need to get the temperatures required,” says Dr Rowan Hansberry, a post-doctoral researcher at the South Australian centre for geothermal energy research.

 

souTH AMERICA

Latin America and the Caribbean are turning to renewable energy, lowering carbon emissions

Countless of climate change conferences or talks have been held and they have since encouraged the world to turn to renewable energy sources. The most recent one is the climate talk in Morocco this month, which discussed on how to implement the Paris accord, signed by 200 countries. Lots of experts are still questioning how each nation can move to low-carbon energy to avoid the devastating effect of climate change. South America region is facing some challenges in curbing energy emissions, such as an increase in car ownership. However, the region now manages to utilize its renewable energy sources, thanks to its partnership with Chinese energy firms, as reported by the Fifth Column News.

Uruguay, for example, now is powered 100% by renewable energy, after installing more than 316 MW in 2015. While Chile's energy source mostly comes from solar energy and Argentina is cooperating with Chinese firms in investment in renewable energy sectors. Argentina is one of the most lucrative markets in the alternative energy industry. The country has offered 17 electric power generation projects from renewable sources, with a total capacity of  1,109 MW.   The total required  investment  is around at USD 1.8 billion for 12 wind power projects, one biogas, and four solar photovoltaic projects.

 

Energy transition in Latin America

Thanks to Chinese energy companies, Latin America is increasingly exploiting its renewable energy potential as historic laggards like Argentina get on board with the region’s energy transition. New wind and solar projects are under construction across the region as partnerships with Chinese deliver affordable finance and materials to local governments and businesses.

Along with Costa Rica, Uruguay is now running on almost 100% renewable energy.  In 2015, the country installed more than 316 MW, meaning its total installed capacity is now 845 MW. Now several others are following in their footsteps. Chile generates the most power from solar energy, while neighboring Argentina has just completed the bidding process for 1,100 MW of renewable energy. “China has begun to broaden its interests globally,” says Carlos Saint James, managing director of consulting firm Santiago & Sinclair and former president of Argentina’s Renewable Energies Chamber (CADER). “Initially, they secured the food sector, then natural resources and now they are going after energy. Given their growing industry and current oversupply of products, Latin America offers attractive markets”.

 

Tesla's Powers, Run an Entire Island of America on Solar Energy

Tesla's shows its real power in the form of solar energy gifted to Ta'U island, now this island is completely running on solar energy. This island is located in the unincorporated territory of The United States in the South Pacific. Previously, this island was completely dependent on diesel generators for electricity,. In SolarCity/blog post, Tesla has revealed that Ta'U island is completely running on solar energy grid that can cover nearly 100 percent of electrical needs for this island individuals.

Tesla announced that they have covered entire Ta'u island to solar power (Solar City) through massive microgrid project. Ta'U is a17 square-mile island is located more than 2400 miles from The United States west coast. This island has near about 785 residents.

Now Ta'U island is fully covered with solar energy provided by Tesla, Tesla solar energy microgrid storage (with 5328 photovoltaic panels and storage plant made up of 60 Tesla lithium-ion battery) can store solar energy and it can serve continuously for three days in the cloudy weather (without sunlight) for the entire island. As per local resident statement earlier, they used to use diesel for their every need and on a day, they were spending 300 gallons of diesel during importing diesel and it's travel cost.