Australia’s Origin to keep Eraring coal plant on line

  • Spanish Market: Coal, Electricity
  • 23/05/24

Australian utility firm Origin Energy and the New South Wales (NSW) state's Labor government have agreed to keep the nation's largest single power facility open for at least two more years.

The deal involves Origin shelving plans to close the 2,880MW Eraring coal-fired power plant near the NSW city of Newcastle next year, and operating the generator until 19 August 2027 and potentially until April 2029.

A generator engagement project agreement has been signed, under which Origin will receive compensation covering the cost of running the 40-year old plant, while aiming for the plant to generate at least 6TWh for the two additional fiscal years it will run. Eraring produced 12.15TWh last year, Origin's 2023 annual report showed.

The firm must decide by 31 March in 2025 and 2026 whether it will enter the underwriting arrangement for the following financial year. If Origin profits from its Eraring plant during these years it will pay NSW 20pc of the proceeds, capped at A$40mn/yr ($26.5mn/yr), but no compensation will be paid after 30 June 2027.

Origin can claim no more than 80pc of Eraring's financial losses each year from NSW and the compensation is to be capped at A$225mn each year, if it does opt in. Origin spent A$147mn for generation maintenance and sustaining capital on Eraring in 2023, with A$69mn owing to costs associated with the facility's ash dam.

Eraring provides around 20pc of NSW's delivered electricity and was scheduled to be replaced by the 2,200MW pumped hydro scheme known as Snowy 2.0 — which has experienced significant delays and will not be on line until 2029 — and the 750MW Kurri Kurri gas-fired power station also being developed by federal government-owned Snowy Hydro, which is to be commissioned later this year.

Coal-fired power generation

The viability of coal-fired generators has been declining for some time as Australia's renewable power generation grows to nearly 40pc of the total grid capacity. Widespread rooftop solar is driving electricity prices into negative territory during daylight hours and disrupting the profitability of large-scale generators.

Origin has committed to a 460MW battery energy storage system (BESS) at the site of Eraring, which it says will provide two hours of firming capacity to the national electricity market. Australia's Clean Energy Council said the announcement must be backed by measures to integrate new renewable generation and storage into the NSW grid with "clear signals and support" to rapidly transition to renewables.

Planning issues and rising costs have stymied the federal and state governments' plans to increase Australia's dependence on large-scale wind, solar, pumped hydro and BESS projects to replace coal generators. Canberra is aiming for an 82pc renewables share for Australia's electricity production by 2030.

Coal-fired generation increased on the year for January-March because of a warmer-than-average summer and increased availability.


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14/06/24

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

Cape Town, 14 June (Argus) — South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) political parties today agreed to form a government while the first sitting of the new parliament was underway. The agreement, which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), paves the way for ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa to be re-elected president. The parties will assume various positions in government broadly in proportion to their share of seats. The government of national unity (GNU) agreement is the result of two weeks of intense negotiations after the ANC lost its long-held majority in the national election on 29 May. It secured 40.2pc of the vote, and the centre-right, pro-market DA retained its position as the official opposition with 21.8pc. The deal scuppers the possibility of an alliance between the ANC and the two largest left-wing parties, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which credit ratings agency Fitch warned could pose risks to macroeconomic stability . MK party unseated the EFF in the election to come third, winning 14.6pc of the vote. The EFF secured 9.5pc, and the IFP came a distant fifth with 3.85pc. The MK and EFF are populist parties that campaigned on agendas including wide-scale land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of economic assets — including mines, the central bank and large banks and insurers — halting fiscal consolidation and aggressively increasing social grants. The GNU parties agreed the new administration should focus on rapid economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development and fiscal sustainability. Other priorities include building a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service, as well as strengthening law enforcement agencies to address crime and corruption. Through a national dialogue that will include civil society, labour and business, parties will seek to develop a national social compact to enable South Africa to meet its developmental goals, they said. The GNU will take decisions in accordance with the established practice of consensus, but where no consensus is possible a principle of sufficient consensus will apply. By Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japan steps up effort to lower floating wind power cost


14/06/24
14/06/24

Japan steps up effort to lower floating wind power cost

Osaka, 14 June (Argus) — Japan is stepping up efforts to lower overall costs for offshore floating wind power generation, which can play a key role in boosting the country's renewable energy supplies. Japan's trade and industry ministry Meti and state-owned research institute Nedo said on 11 June that they have decided to support two pilot projects that will seek to bring down the overall costs for offshore floating wind power generation. Nedo plans to provide around ¥85bn ($539.8mn) from its green innovation fund over seven fiscal years from April 2024 to 31 March 2031. A consortium of nine Japanese companies led by Marubeni Offshore Wind Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese trading house Marubeni, has won a public tender to set up a project around 25km offshore south of Akita prefecture. The consortium plans to install two floating wind power facilities with capacity of over 15MW, targeting for operations to begin around autumn of 2029. Another consortium of five Japanese firms led by engineering firm C-Tech, a group company of utility Chubu Electric Power, is planning to build a floating power generator with over 15MW of capacity offshore Aichi prefecture. The projects assume relatively large capacity deployments of more than 10MW and aim to establish commercial technology for offshore wind to become globally competitive cost-wise by 2030. The project winners should set a cost target, referencing the US' cost target of $0.045/kWh by 2035, according to the government's wind power auction guidelines. This cost reduction is needed to accelerate a rollout of floating wind power facilities and help Japan achieve its 2050 net zero emission goal. Japan's purchase cost for electricity generated by offshore floating power facilities is set at ¥36/kWh for the April 2024-March 2025 fiscal year under the country's feed-in-tariff and feed-in-premium schemes. This can be compared with the lowest contract price of ¥3/kWh for bottom-fixed offshore wind projects in the latest public auction in December 2023, with the auction having secured a total of around 1.8GW bottom-fixed offshore wind capacity. Japan is aiming to install 23.6GW of wind power capacity by 2030, including 5.7GW offshore and 17.9GW onshore. It is eyeing the development of offshore wind farms, especially by promoting floating technology, given the country's geographical constraints. Tokyo aims to have offshore wind projects of 10GW by 2030 and 30-45GW by 2040. Tokyo has agreed to new legislation that will allow wind power facilities to be built in its exclusive economic zone, beyond its territorial and internal waters regulated under current laws, while striving to protect the marine environment. It is aiming to pass the amended legislation in an ordinary parliament session that will end on 23 June. Japan is under pressure to boost renewable power capacity to spur decarbonisation because the future of its nuclear industry is still unclear. But rising intermittent output from renewables will also prompt the country's power producers to secure sufficient thermal power capacity, including gas and coal, to help adjust power imbalances. Tokyo aims to generate 41pc of its electricity from thermal fuels in the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, which is higher than 36-38pc for renewables, under its current basic energy policy, which is due for a review this year. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project


14/06/24
14/06/24

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project

Tokyo, 14 June (Argus) — Japanese upstream firm Inpex has decided to invest in a hybrid solar and battery project in the Australian state of New South Wales, aiming to boost its renewable energy business abroad. Inpex reached a final investment decision on the Quorn Park Hybrid project in Australia, a joint venture project with Italian utility Enel's wholly-owned Australian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power Australia (EGPA), the Japanese firm announced on 14 June. The project consists of solar farm construction and power generation with a photovoltaic and battery system. Batteries are usually a necessary back-up power source to stabilise power grids that utilise renewable energy. The project aims to produce around 210GWh/yr from solar power with around 40MWh/yr from battery storage, according to EGPA, with an operational capacity of around 98MW for solar and 20MW for battery. The firms plan to start construction during the second half of 2024, before it starts commercial operations during the first half of 2026, according to an Inpex representative that spoke to Argus . The Japanese firm did not disclose the investment amount but the investment value for construction of the project is estimated at "over $190mn", according to EGPA's website. Inpex bought a 50pc stake in EGPA in July 2023, with an aim of expanding its renewable generation portfolio. The firm regards Australia as a "core area" for boosting its renewable energy business, according to Inpex. By Yusuke Maekawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy


13/06/24
13/06/24

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy

London, 13 June (Argus) — The two main UK political parties have set out their plans, including on energy and climate change, with just three weeks until the general election. Energy security and the cost to consumers is a recurring theme for both, but the manifestos present some marked differences in approach to the energy transition. Both the incumbent Conservative and opposition Labour parties doubled down on existing positions in their respective manifestos. The Conservative party said that it remains committed to the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target, but promises a "pragmatic and proportionate" route. The party's manifesto guarantees "no new green levies or charges while accelerating the rollout of renewables". The UK's net zero goal is legally-binding, and was passed with significant cross-party support under a Conservative government in 2019. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, and fielded five prime ministers in that time. Recent polling data show a substantial lead for Labour, which performed well at local elections in May. Labour placed strong focus on the opportunity the transition offers, saying that it would place the UK at the "forefront of climate action by creating the green jobs of the future at home and driving forward the energy transition on the global stage". The party has committed to zero-carbon power by 2030, although it would "maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply", it said. The Conservative manifesto reiterates the party's plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The party had previously committed to a decarbonised power grid by 2035, in line with a G7 pledge, although that is not mentioned in its manifesto. The two main parties clearly diverge on their approaches to North Sea oil and gas production. The Conservatives aim to keep the windfall tax — which effectively results in a 75pc rate — on oil and gas producers in place "until 2028-29, unless prices fall back to normal sooner". Labour confirmed plans to lift the rate to 78pc and run the tax until the end of the next parliament, which is likely to be mid-2029. Labour is also clear that it "will not revoke existing licences" in the North Sea, but it will not issue any new licences — for oil, gas or coal. The Conservatives restated the party's aim to legislate for annual North Sea licensing rounds . Both parties back nuclear energy, including small modular reactors — though those are unlikely to be operational until after 2030. And both pledge to cut planning bureaucracy and tackle grid connections. Labour's plans to "double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030" would result in installed capacity of 31GW, 48GW and 59GW, respectively, from a baseline of end-2023. The Conservatives' target to triple offshore wind by the end of the next parliament would put installed capacity at 44GW in 2029 — below the 50GW target for 2030 set in 2022 — while it said it supports solar and onshore wind in some circumstances. Finance in focus Both parties are keen to pull in private-sector investment, while Labour took up an original Conservative pledge to "make the UK the green finance capital of the world". And both pledge to address the cost of energy for consumers — Labour through local power generation projects and home insulation upgrades, and the Conservatives by ruling out any further "green levies". The latter plans to reverse London's expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone — originally planned by Conservative then-mayor and later prime minister Boris Johnson. Labour said that it would restore a phase-out date of 2030 for new internal combustion engine cars — which prime minister Rishi Sunak in September pushed back to 2035 . On an international level, both parties mention climate leadership at summits such as UN Cops. The Conservatives pledged to "ring-fence" the UK's climate finance commitments, while Labour committed to restore development spending to 0.7pc of gross national income "as soon as fiscal circumstances allow". By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Forecast heatwave for Japan’s Tohoku to boost power use


13/06/24
13/06/24

Forecast heatwave for Japan’s Tohoku to boost power use

Osaka, 13 June (Argus) — An unusual heatwave may hit north Japan's Tohoku region in the second half of June, which would encourage utilities in the area to maximise available thermal power units to meet expected increased electricity demand for cooling. The Japan Meteorological Agency on 13 June published its forecast that the Tohoku area, along with south Japan's Okinawa region, will experience extremely high temperatures for this time of the year over 19-27 June with more than a 30pc probability of this occurring. The short-term outlook follows Tohoku having already faced tighter electricity supplies this week because of hotter than normal weather and the absence of nearly 5GW of thermal power capacity, comprising 2.85GW of coal-fired and 2GW of gas-fired capacity, for maintenance checks and repairs. The reduced coal-fired capacity includes the unexpected and extended shutdown of the technical problem-affected 1GW Haramachi No.2 unit, which is expected to be off line over 21 May-29 July, according to a power plant operational status notice by the Japan Electric Power Exchange (Jepx). Tohoku utilities lifted coal-fired generation to an average of 4.08GW during 10-12 June, up by 3pc from a week earlier, according to nationwide transmission system operator the Organisation for Cross-regional Co-ordination of Transmission Operators (Occto). Gas-fired output rose by 9pc to average 4.03GW, while oil-fired generation increased by 25pc to average 138MW during the period. Utilisation of coal-fired and gas-fired generation units reached an average of 78pc and 65pc respectively across 10-12 June, with oil-fired units at 23pc, according to an Argus survey based on Occto output data and operational power capacity provided by Jepx. Occto has ordered the Tepco Power Grid to supply electricity to the Tohoku Electric Power Network to avoid possible outages in the Tohoku area. Tohoku plans to secure up to 550MW for 3.30-5pm and 500MW for 5-8pm Japan time on 13 June. This followed Occto's similar order to Tepco to send to Tohoku up to 300MW for 6-7pm on 11 June and 300MW for 5.30-7pm on 12 June. The power reserve level in the Tohoku area was 2.82pc for 5.30-6pm on 13 June, below a minimum 3pc level necessary for any emergencies such as a spike in peak power demand and an unexpected shutdown of power plants. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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