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Australian opposition releases nuclear power plan

  • Market: Electricity, Emissions
  • 19/06/24

Australia's main political opposition today laid out its nuclear energy plan. It aims to bring the first government-owned reactors on line as early as 2035-37 if it is elected next year.

The Liberal-National coalition announced seven locations where small modular reactors (SMRs) or large-scale units could be installed, all in sites hosting coal-fired power facilities that have either closed or are scheduled to close, and each of them would have cooling water capacity and transmission infrastructure. A SMR could start generating electricity by 2035, while a larger plant could come on line by 2037, according to the coalition.

"The Australian government will own these assets, but form partnerships with experienced nuclear companies to build and operate them," the opposition's leader Peter Dutton, spokesman for climate change and energy Ted O'Brien and National party leader David Littleproud said in a joint statement on 19 June.

The opposition claims the federal Labor government's "renewables-only approach" is expensive and is "failing", while its target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43pc by 2030 has become "unachievable". The coalition earlier this month said it would not pursue the target, although it declined to set its own 2030 goal for GHG emissions cuts.

Federal energy minister Chris Bowen said the coalition's plan lacked detail, costs or modelling, although the opposition has vowed to engage with local communities while site studies, including detailed technical and economic assessments, take place. The proposed sites are the Liddell and Mount Piper plants in New South Wales; the Tarong and Callide stations in Queensland; the Loy Yang facility in Victoria; the Northern Power station in South Australia; and the Muja plant in Western Australia.

Nuclear power generation is prohibited in Australia under federal and state laws, and the Labor government last year ruled out legalising it because of its high costs. The Australian federal government estimates that replacing Australia's coal-fired plants with nuclear would cost A$387bn ($257bn).

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) late last year said SMRs would not have "any major role" in emission cuts needed in the electricity sector for the country to reach its net zero GHG emissions target by 2050, as costs would be well above those for onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV). Nuclear plants would also take 15 years or more to be deployed because of lengthy periods for certification, planning and construction, CSIRO noted.

CSIRO last month included large-scale nuclear costs for the first time in its annual GenCost report, saying costs would be lower than those for SMRs but still way above renewables. Estimated costs between A$136-226/MWh could be reached by 2040, compared with A$171-366/MWh for SMRs and A$144-239/MWh for coal-fired power with carbon capture and storage (CCS), but only if Australia committed to a "continuous nuclear building programme", requiring an initial investment in a higher cost unit.

"If a decision to pursue nuclear in Australia were made in 2025, with political support for the required legislative changes, then the first full operation would be no sooner than 2040," CSIRO noted.


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19/07/24

Von der Leyen faces new Green Deal challenges

Von der Leyen faces new Green Deal challenges

The president promises a ‘clean industrial deal', but will need to make compromises over climate policy, writes Dafydd ab Iago Brussels, 19 July (Argus) — Ursula von der Leyen's re-election by the European Parliament as president of the European Commission on 18 July promises to see a doubling down on climate and energy policy, with her 2024-29 mandate stipulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts of at least 90pc by 2040 compared with 1990. "I have not forgotten how [Russian president Vladimir] Putin blackmailed us by cutting us off from Russian fossil fuels. We invested massively in homegrown cheap renewables and this enabled us to break free from dirty Russian fossil fuels," von der Leyen says, promising to end the "era of dependency on Russian fossil fuels". She has not given an end date for this, nor specified if this includes a commitment to ending Russian LNG imports. Von der Leyen went on to detail political guidelines for 2024-29. She has pledged to propose a "clean industrial deal" in the first 100 days of her new mandate, albeit without giving concrete figures about how much investment this would channel to infrastructure and industry, particularly for energy-intensive sectors. The clean industrial deal will help bring down energy bills, she says. Von der Leyen told parliament that the commission would propose legislation, under the European Climate Law, establishing a 90pc emissions-reduction target for 2040. Her political guidelines also call for scaling up and prioritising investment in clean technologies, including grid infrastructure, storage capacity, transport for captured CO2, energy efficiency, power digitalisation and a hydrogen network. She plans to extend aggregate demand mechanisms beyond gas to include hydrogen and critical raw materials, and notes the dangers of dependencies and fraying supply chains — from Putin's energy blackmail to China's monopoly on battery and chip raw materials. Majority report Passing the necessary legislation to implement her stated policies will now require approval from EU states and parliament. Unless amplified by Germany's election next year, election victories by far-right parties in France and elsewhere appear not to threaten EU state majorities for specific legislation. Parliament's political centre-left S&D and liberal Renew groups, as well as von der Leyen's own centre-right European People's Party (EPP), have elaborated key policy requests. These broadly call for the continuation of the European Green Deal — a set of legislation and policy measures aimed at 55pc GHG emissions reductions by 2030 compared with 1990. A symbolic issue for von der Leyen to decide on — or compromise on — is that of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. EPP wants to stick to technological neutrality and revise the current mandate for sales of new ICE cars to be phased out by 2035, if they cannot run exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The EPP wants an e-fuel, biofuel and low-carbon fuel strategy. Von der Leyen's guidelines reflect the need to gain support from centre-right, centre-left and greens. She says the 2035 climate neutrality target for new cars creates investor and manufacturer "predictability" but requires a "technology-neutral approach, in which e-fuels have a role to play". She has not mentioned carbon-neutral biofuels. It will be impossible for von der Leyen to satisfy all demands in her second mandate. This includes policy requests put forward by the EPP, ranging from a "pragmatic" definition of low-carbon hydrogen and market rules for carbon capture and storage, to postponing the EU's deforestation regulation. EU member states are expected to propose their candidates for commissioners in August, including for energy, climate and trade policy, with von der Leyen's new commission subject to a final vote in parliament in late October. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Trump vows to target 'green' spending, EV rules


19/07/24
News
19/07/24

Trump vows to target 'green' spending, EV rules

Washington, 19 July (Argus) — Former president Donald Trump promised to redirect US green energy spending to other projects, throw out electric vehicle (EV) rules and increase drilling, in a speech Thursday night formally accepting the Republican presidential nomination. Trump's acceptance speech, delivered at the Republican National Convention, offered the clearest hints yet at his potential plans for dismantling the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. Without explicitly naming the two laws, Trump said he would claw back unspent funds for the "Green New Scam," a shorthand he has used in the past to criticize spending on wind, solar, EVs, energy infrastructure and climate resilience. "All of the trillions of dollars that are sitting there not yet spent, we will redirect that money for important projects like roads, bridges, dams, and we will not allow it to be spent on the meaningless Green New Scam ideas," Trump said during the final night of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump and his campaign have yet to clearly detail their plans for the two laws, which collectively provide hundreds of billions of dollars worth of federal tax credits and direct spending for renewable energy, EVs, clean hydrogen, carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuel, biofuels, nuclear and advanced manufacturing. Repealing those programs outright could be politically difficult because a majority of spending from the two laws have flowed to districts represented by Republican lawmakers. The speech was Trump's first public remarks since he was grazed by a bullet in an assassination attempt on 13 July. Trump used the shooting to call for the country to unite, but he repeatedly slipped back into the divisive rhetoric of his campaign and his grievances against President Joe Biden, who he claimed was the worst president in US history. Trump vowed to "end the electric vehicle mandate" on the first day of his administration, in an apparent reference to tailpipe rules that are expected to result in about 54pc of new cars and trucks sales being battery-only EVs by model year 2032. Trump also said that unless automakers put their manufacturing facilities in the US, he would put tariffs of 100-200pc on imported vehicles. To tackle inflation, Trump said he would bring down interest rates, which are controlled by the US Federal Reserve, an agency that historically acts independently from the White House. Trump also said he would bring down prices for energy through a policy of "drill, baby, drill" and cutting regulations. Trump also vowed to pursue tax cuts, tariffs and the "largest deportation in history," all of which independent economists say would add to inflation. The Republican convention unfolded as Biden, who is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, faces a growing chorus of top Democratic lawmakers pressuring him to drop out of the presidential race. Democrats plan to select their presidential nominee during an early virtual roll-call vote or at the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. By Chris Knigh t Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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US gas producers may struggle to meet LNG demand


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

US gas producers may struggle to meet LNG demand

New York, 18 July (Argus) — US natural gas producers looking to become the primary suppliers to increasingly dependent overseas markets may still need to overcome tight pipeline capacity, volatility in oil markets and even growing competition from the US power sector. Large producers such as EQT and Chesapeake Energy are banking that the rapid buildout of LNG export capacity will connect the US to higher-priced markets and provide an outlet for a glut of US supply. At the same time, European buyers are depending on US gas to help wean the continent off Russian supplies since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in 2022. But questions remain about the ability of US producers to feed the rapid expansion. The US already leads the world in LNG exports and is on pace to double that capacity later this decade. US baseload LNG export capacity was forecast to increase to 21.1 Bcf/d by the end of 2027, about one fifth of today's total lower-48 US gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). By 2030, Shell expects US LNG production will meet about 5pc of global gas demand and 30pc of global LNG demand. But to satisfy a world that much more reliant on US shipments of gas, US producers have to significantly grow output and build the pipelines needed to connect subterranean shale basins to the US Gulf coast, where almost all the US liquefaction capacity will be located. East Daley Analytics director Jack Weixel said regulatory challenges to permitting those pipelines threaten the US' ability to rapidly boost its LNG exports regardless of who is elected president in November. Growing pains There are unique challenges to raising production in all three of the US' biggest gas-producing formations — the Appalachian basins, the Permian basin of west Texas and southeast New Mexico, and the Haynesville shale of east Texas and northern Louisiana. In Appalachia, developers have almost entirely lost faith in their ability to secure the permits necessary to build new interstate pipelines, so incremental LNG demand will probably not be met by Appalachian gas. The Permian is the US' most prolific oil field, making it an unreliable associated gas producer; a dim outlook for crude prices would mechanically slash gas output. And in the less mature Haynesville, there are "a lot of open questions on how deep that inventory is and how much (it) can actually grow," Citi equity analyst Paul Diamond said. The threat to building new pipelines is not solely the domain of regulators, either, but can even come from within the industry itself, as US midstream giant Energy Transfer has shown over the past year by trying to block several new pipelines out of the Haynesville. Some of Energy Transfer's opponents have warned the legal dispute could hamper the gas production growth needed in the Haynesville to meet the US' coming LNG boom. Permitting aside, some analysts consulted by Argus expressed concern about the integrity of the US gas pipeline network itself, whether due to accidents or ransomware attacks, such as that which targeted the Colonial oil products pipeline in May 2021, disrupting fuel deliveries into the eastern US. Powerful competition Meeting booming LNG demand could be even harder if domestic gas needs exceed expectations. Gas producers and power generators eager to serve data centers running emergent artificial intelligence software have indicated that might be the case. EQT, the largest US gas producer by volume, in its most aggressive data center build-out scenario envisioned an 18 Bcf/d (510mn m³/d) increase in gas demand to generate electricity through 2030, while US gas pipeline operator Kinder Morgan forecast an increase between 7-10 Bcf/d. Goldman Sachs and consultancy Enverus forecast more modest increases of 3.3 Bcf/d and 2 Bcf/d, respectively. The US power sector consumed a record-high 35.4 Bcf/d of gas in 2023, the EIA said. About 43pc of US utility-scale electricity was generated by gas. EQT may be biased. But if its forecast is accurate, US gas producers may not be able to meet all that new demand while also exporting double what the US is exporting today, FactSet analyst Connor McLean said. In that case, a high-demand scenario like EQT's could leave the US gas market undersupplied, boosting US gas prices and closing the spot price arbitrage between US pipeline gas and global LNG, which has mostly been wide open for years. In response to elevated prices at the US gas benchmark, Henry Hub, overseas buyers might find themselves canceling US cargoes — if their supply contracts allow for it — eating the requisite liquefaction fee and taking delivery of a cargo from Qatar or Russia instead. Not so fast The caveat to risks of an undersupplied US gas market is that official timelines of when LNG export terminals are expected to enter service on the US Gulf coast may be overly optimistic. Texas' planned 18.1mn t/yr Golden Pass LNG delaying first LNG on the heels of its lead contractor going bankrupt is just one recent example of this. "All that does is give producers a little bit more time to get production to where it needs to be," Weixel said. By Julian Hast Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC

London, 18 July (Argus) — The UK increased the rate at which it reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions last year, but "urgent action" is needed for the country to meet its targets in 2030 and beyond, independent advisory body Climate Change Committee (CCC) said in its progress report published today. The report assesses the UK's progress towards its net zero goals against policy set out by the previous Conservative government. The new Labour government, which has been in power since 5 July, has already set the scene for a stronger decarbonisation agenda , but it "will have to act fast to hit the country's commitments", the report says. The committee tracked progress on 28 key indicators. Of the 22 that have a benchmark or target, only five are assessed as being "on track". The UK's GHG emissions last year stood at 393mn t/CO2 equivalent (CO2e), down on the year by 5.4pc, or 22mn t/CO2e, provisional data show. This estimate excludes contributions from international aviation and shipping, as these are not included in the UK's 2030 target of a 68pc cut in GHG emissions from a 1990 baseline. And last year's reduced emissions resulted primarily from a drop in gas demand, the CCC says. Combined gas demand in 2023 averaged 156mn m³/d, down from nearly 175mn m³/d a year earlier. While progress has been made, the previous administration "signalled a slowing of pace and reversed or delayed key policies", the report says. The reduction in emissions last year is "roughly in line with the annual pace of change needed" to reach the 2030 target, but the average annual rate over the previous seven years is "insufficient", the committee says. The new government has placed strong focus on decarbonising electricity in its first days in office, but this is "not enough on its own", CCC acting chief executive James Richardson said. The average annual rate of GHG reduction outside the electricity supply sector over the previous seven years was 6.3mn t/CO2e, but this will need to more than double until 2030 if the UK is to meet its targets, the CCC says. In order to reach targets, "annual offshore wind installations must increase by at least three times, onshore wind installations will need to double and solar installations must increase by five times" by 2030. By comparison, oil and gas use should be "rapidly" reduced and the expansion of the production of fossil fuels should be limited, according to the report. The CCC also recommended that about 10pc of UK homes will need to be heated by a heat pump by 2030, in comparison with about 1pc today. The committee criticised the exemption of 20pc of properties from the 2035 phase-out gas boiler plan, saying it is "unclear" how the exemption would reduce costs as fewer consumers would have to pay to maintain the distribution grid. Gas-fired power generation in recent months has dropped on the back of high wind output and brisk power imports. Power-sector gas burn was 25mn m³/d in March-June, roughly half of the three-year average for the period. But if UK power demand increases with electrification, gas-fired power generation could maintain its role in the country's power mix, particularly if it is combined with carbon capture, use and storage technology, for which fast development and scale-up will need to happen this decade, the CCC says. "Biases" towards the use of natural gas or hydrogen must be removed where electrification is the most economical decarbonisation solution in an industry sector. Power prices need to be reduced "to a level that incentivises industrial electrification". Oil, gas industry to meet climate goals The UK's oil and gas sector "is on track to meet its own climate goals and is not slowing down", offshore industries association OEUK said today in reaction to the CCC's report. The UK needs a plan for reducing oil and gas demand and cutting its reliance on imports, according to OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse. "We should be prioritising our homegrown energy production," he said. The sector reduced its emissions by 24pc in 2022 from 2018, meaning it met its target to reduce emissions by 10pc by 2025 early. The industry halved its flaring and venting and cut methane emissions by 45pc in 2022 compared with 2018, Whitehouse said. OEUK plans to reduce emissions by a quarter by 2027 and by half by 2030 against 2018 levels. And it aims to achieve net zero by 2050. By Georgia Gratton and Jana Cervinkova Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president

Brussels, 18 July (Argus) — The European Parliament today approved Ursula von der Leyen's re-election as president of the European Commission. Nominated by EU states in June, von der Leyen received 401 votes, by secret ballot, from parliament's 720 newly elected members. Von der Leyen called for continuing climate and energy policy in her 2024-29 mandate to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) cuts of at least 90pc by 2040 from 1990 levels. "I have not forgotten how [Russian president Vladimir] Putin blackmailed us by cutting us off from Russian fossil fuels. We invested massively in homegrown cheap renewables. And this enabled us to break free from dirty Russian fossil fuels," said von der Leyen, promising to end the "era of dependency on Russian fossil fuels". She did not give an end date for this, nor did she specify if this includes a commitment to end Russian LNG imports. Von der Leyen went on to detail political guidelines for 2024-29. In the first 100 days of her new mandate, she pledged to propose a "clean industrial deal", albeit without giving concrete figures about how much investment this would channel to infrastructure and industry, particularly for energy-intensive sectors. The clean industrial deal will help bring down energy bills, she said. Von der Leyen told parliament the commission would propose legislation, under the European Climate Law, establishing a 90pc emission-reduction target for 2040. Her political guidelines also call for scaling up and prioritising clean-tech investment, including in grid infrastructure, storage capacity, transport infrastructure for captured CO2, energy efficiency, power digitalization, and deployment of a hydrogen network. She will also extend aggregate demand mechanisms beyond gas to include hydrogen and critical raw materials. Her political guidelines note the dangers of dependencies or fraying supply chains, from Putin's "energy blackmail" or China's monopoly on battery and chip raw materials. Majority report Passing the necessary legislation to implement her stated policies will now require approval from EU states and from parliament. Unless amplified by Germany's election next year, election victories by far-right parties in France and elsewhere appear not to threaten EU state majorities for specific legislation. Parliament's political centre-left S&D and liberal Renew groups, as well as von der Leyen's own centre-right EPP, have elaborated key policy requests . These broadly call for the continuation of von der Leyen's Green Deal, the set of legislation and policy measures aimed at 55pc GHG emission reduction by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. A symbolic issue for von der Leyen to decide, or compromise on, is the internal combustion engine (ICE). Her EPP group wants to stick to technological neutrality and to revise the phase-out, by 2035, of new ICE cars if they cannot run exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The EPP wants an EU e-fuel, biofuel, and low-carbon fuel strategy. Von der Leyen's guidelines reflect the need to gain support from centre-right, centre-left, and greens. For the ICE phase-out, she said the 2035 climate neutrality target for new cars creates investor and manufacturer "predictability" but requires a "technology-neutral approach, in which e-fuels have a role to play." She made no mention of carbon-neutral biofuels. It will be impossible for von der Leyen to satisfy all demands in her second mandate. That includes policy asks put forward by the EPP, ranging from a "pragmatic" definition of low-carbon hydrogen, market rules for carbon capture and storage, postponing the EU's deforestation regulation, to catering more for farmers, even by scrapping EU wildlife protection for wolves and bears. EU member states are expected to propose their candidates for commissioners in August, including those responsible for energy, climate, and trade policies. When parliament has held hearings for candidates in late October, von der Leyen's new commission would then be subject to a final vote. By Dafydd ab Iago Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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