Baltic States' electricity and gas connections with Europe

For historical reasons, the Baltic States' electricity grid is still being operated in close connection mode with the Russian and Belorussian systems. The synchronisation will bring closer a fully functioning and connected internal energy market and increase energy security of the Baltic States by 2025. The same type of “energy integration with the West is designed for the Baltic States’ gas system.

European Commission continued efforts to provide political support to the Baltic States in achieving independence in terms of electricity supply security and operation of their electricity grids. At the end of 2017, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič and Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete met energy ministers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to advance the synchronisation process of the Baltic States' electricity grid with the rest of Europe.

For historical reasons, the Baltic States' electricity grid is still being operated in close connection mode with the Russian and Belorussian systems. The synchronisation will bring closer a fully functioning and connected internal energy market and increase energy security of the Baltic States.

European energy union is aimed at ensuring secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy for the member states. Wiser energy use and combating climate change is both vital for creating new jobs, supporting growth and an investments.

Note: more information about the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) see in: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/infrastructure/baltic-energy-market-interconnection-plan; on the European Energy Union see: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/energy-union-and-climate_en

 

Baltic energy-interconnection plan

The primary objective of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan, BEMIP is to end energy isolation, achieve an open and integrated regional electricity/gas market among the EU states within the Baltic Sea region. The BEMIP’s initiative “unites” European Commission, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, and Sweden; Norway participates as an observer.

The first Memorandum of Understanding, MoU on BEMIP was signed in June 2009 and focused on electricity and gas markets, infrastructure and power generation. In June 2015, a new MoU was signed extending the initiative’s scope to security of supply, energy efficiency, renewable energy and integration of the Baltic States' electricity network into the continental European network, including their synchronous operation. Several working groups (e.g. on infrastructure, markets, gas and electricity security of supply, synchronisation, renewables and energy efficiency) analysed specific measures necessary for achieving the initiative's objectives and targets.

As part of the implementation of BEMIP, a number of cross-border and domestic infrastructure projects have been completed across the Baltic Sea region to further their integration with the Nordic electricity market. The completion of key electricity infrastructure projects such as Estlink, Nordbalt and the LitPol Link (connecting the three Baltic states with Finland, Sweden and Poland respectively) will significantly improve the Baltic countries' integration into the EU energy market, and their security of supply.

The Baltic States are now among the best interconnected regions of Europe, with an interconnection level of 23%. Nevertheless, further efforts are needed to complete remaining electricity and gas infrastructure projects, develop a regional gas market, and make the most of the region's energy efficiency and renewable energy potential.

The three Baltic states' electricity grid is still connected to Russian and Belorussian systems. A special BEMIP Working Group steers work on achieving the synchronisation of the Baltic's grid with the continental European network by 2025.

Source: EU solidarity and regional cooperation: Integration of the Baltics into the European electricity grid, Published on 15 December 2017.

 

Gas system in the Baltic States

Major gas projects in the Baltic States include “Gas Interconnector Poland”, Lithuanian (GIPL), the Balticconnector*) project, and the development of infrastructure between the Baltic states.

*) About gas pipeline “Balticconnector" between Estonia (77 km offshore and 54 km onshore) and Finland (152 km offshore and 21 km onshore). See more in: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/pci_factsheet_balticonnector_2017.pdf

The GIPL aims to connect the Baltic States and Finnish gas networks with the continental European gas network by the end of 2021 and the Balticconnector will provide an important gas link between Finland and Estonia. The latter will connect the Finnish gas network with the continental European Network, ending Finland's gas isolation from the rest of mainland Europe. The project will allow Finland and the Baltic States to diversify their gas sources, providing alternative routes and increasing the security of gas supply and energy market integration in the region. This will foster competition on the market and ultimately provide consumers with a cheaper and more stable gas supply.

Source: Commission press release “Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan”, 15.xii.2017, in: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/infrastructure/baltic-energy-market-interconnection-plan

Sectoral Commissioners’ reaction was quite positive: vice-president Maroš Šefčovič underlined that the Baltic States electricity grids’ synchronization with the rest of the EU signifies creation of a true European energy security system. By uniting markets and ending energy isolation, the Baltic States will strengthen their own electricity stability.

Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete added that the EU political decision on united European energy market will be supported by Union’s financing means. Political and financial resources form “an important milestone in the EU-wide energy market and improve security of supply in the Baltic States”.

Source: Commission's website at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/eu-solidarity-and-regional-cooperation-integration-baltics-european-electricity-grid-2017-dec-15_en?pk_campaign=ENERNewsletterJanuary2018.

 


Ineos launch ‘desperate’ legal challenge to overturn fracking ban

Grangemouth petrochemical giant Ineos is taking legal action against the Scottish Government’s decision to ban fracking.

The company stated it had “serious concerns” over the legitimacy of the government’s decision in October last year to effectively ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is better known.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs last year the moratorium, enforced via planning powers, which dated as far back as 2015 would continue “indefinitely” after consultations showed “overwhelming” opposition to fracking from the public.

Labour and the Greens called for the ban to be put down in legislation, but Mr Wheelhouse stated the existing method was “sufficiently robust”.

At the time Ineos, which holds fracking exploration licences across 700 square miles of Scotland, said the government’s decision was “a major blow to Scottish science and the engineering industry”.

Now Tom Pickering, Ineos operations manager, said the company had “no option” but to raise a legal challenge.

He said: “We have serious concerns about the legitimacy of the ban and have therefore applied to the court to ask that it review the competency of the decision to introduce it.

“Ineos and other operators have invested significantly in unconventional development over the years, against a supportive regulatory and planning backdrop. If Scotland wants to continue to be considered as a serious place to do business, then it cannot simply remove the policy support that attracted that investment in the first place without proper procedures being followed and without the offer of appropriate financial compensation.”

The decision to appeal against the ruling was met with disappointment.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “This is an extremely disappointing action from Ineos – people across Scotland made perfectly clear that they don’t want fracking to happen and it was right for the Scottish Government to take the action it did to implement a ban.

“I’m sure that my disappointment in this decision by Ineos will be shared by the majority of people in Falkirk district and across Scotland.”

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, added: “This is a desperate attempt by Ineos to overthrow a decision by the Scottish government which enjoyed widespread public support.

“The UK government’s latest figures have shown that the amount of electricity generated by burning gas is expected to half by 2025, and by then renewables will have overtaken gas as Britain’s main power source.

“Fracked gas has no place in our energy future, especially in a country like Scotland that’s a world leader in renewable energy.”


UK Coal Phase-Out Plan — Good News Tinged With Timidity

Air Quality

Published on January 9th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley

January 9th, 2018 by


The UK government announced last week that it expects all of the 8 remaining coal powered generating stations in the country to be shuttered permanently by 2025, the result mostly of economic pressure on coal being ratcheted up as the UK carbon tax makes coal more expensive compared to other fuels.

coal fired generating plant

That’s good news. Greenpeace hailed the announcement, calling it “significant progress on making coal history in the birthplace of the industrial revolution,” according to The Guardian. Environment group WWF praised the government for “hitting this dirty industry where it hurts.” However, other climate activists fear the government’s plan is too timid.

Environmental group ClientEarth worries about replacing coal with another fossil fuel. “We are concerned that the door is left wide open for investments in new, long-term gas capacity, locking us into another generation of fossil fuel power,” said Sam Bright, a CleanEarth attorney. Alan Whitehead, shadow energy minister for the UK Labour Party applauded the coal plant closures but said, “The government’s lackluster support for renewables and scrappage of a number of green schemes has left it on course to miss its own climate targets.”

The government is reserving the right to keep the coal plants open longer if an emergency shortfall in electricity supplies occurs. “We consider it prudent for the secretary of state to retain provisions to act in emergency situations, as a last resort, where there might be a shortfall in electricity generation, or risk of one, and that suspension would wholly or partially mitigate that risk,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

By 2025, UK coal plants will need to meet tougher emissions standards, which will require them to be retrofitted with expensive carbon capture systems. In the meantime, the government will shovel carloads of cash to coal plant operators by way of subsidies to keep those last generating stations going for another 7 years, with UK utility customers ultimately paying the price for keeping them open.

Critics suggest the country is not doing enough to promote renewable energy. If a new generation of gas-fired or nuclear plants get built, they will still be providing electricity until 2050 and beyond, delaying the clean energy revolution by at least a generation. The news from the UK is good, but is it good enough?


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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.




UK downgrades forecasts for new gas power capacity amid renewables surge

BEIS has halved its projections for new gas power capacity by 2035 compared to its forecasts last year, according to analysis by Carbon Brief

The government has downgraded its forecasts for new gas power capacity coming online between now and 2035, and is predicting renewables and nuclear power will increase their dominance of the electricity mix, a new analysis has found.

New BEIS energy and emissions forecasts that were analysed by the Carbon Brief website yesterday suggest the Department has cut its projections for the amount of new gas plants needed by 2035 by more than half since publishing its previous forecasts last year.

It suggests a significant downgrading in the government's appetite for new fossil fuel infrastructure, with low carbon sources of electricity expected to overtake gas as the UK's single largest source of power as soon as 2020.

Moreover, the forecasts show BEIS now expects twice as much renewable energy capacity to come online by 2035 as it did in 2015, as well as twice as much battery storage capacity as it projected just a year ago, the analysis suggests.

"Following a sharp fall in coal fired generation in 2016, the DDM [BEIS's forecast model] projects a further gradual decline in fossil fuel based generation out to 2035," the BEIS document states. "This is displaced by more renewables and eventually nuclear based generation with increased imports (via interconnectors) until new nuclear capacity reduces the need for this in the 2030s."

However, Carbon Brief said details of the methodology behind the government's projections are "relatively opaque", even if further information on how the projections were developed is expected to be released later this year.

The figures also show there still remains a gap in the overall CO2 cuts needed to meet statutory carbon reduction targets from 2023 onwards.

While the government still expects to meet the second and third carbon budgets, for the fourth carbon budget - 2023 to 2027 - UK emissions "are currently projected to be greater than the cap set by the budget, so a shortfall remains against this target", the BEIS document states.

The government's Clean Growth Strategy, published in October, had also conceded a gap currently exists, but suggested future innovation and policy changes could help make up the shortfall.


NEC Energy Solutions Commissions 50 MW of Grid Energy Storage Facilities in UK for VLC Energy

WESTBOROUGH, Mass., Jan 08, 2018 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- NEC Energy Solutions (NEC ES), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, announced today it has completed the commissioning of a total of 50 MW of energy storage projects in the UK with VLC Energy, a joint venture between Low Carbon, a renewable energy investment company, and VPI Immingham, owner of one of the largest combined heat and power plants in Europe and part of the Vitol Group.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180108005525/en/

The 50MW portfolio, which is now fully operational and includes a 40 MW facility in Glassenbury in Kent and a 10 MW installation in Cleator in Cumbria, represents the largest portfolio of utility-scale battery energy storage systems connected to the UK grid. The Cleator and Glassenbury sites secured two contracts with National Grid in August 2016 for battery energy storage systems to provide Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) to the UK system operator.

NEC ES provided turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services which included its GSS® end-to-end grid storage solution, and was contracted to operate the sites to provide the EFR service directly to National Grid. Energy storage operation for EFR will be handled by an automated operating mode designed specifically for the UK frequency response service, and is part of the AEROS® controls system, NEC’s proprietary energy storage control software. NEC ES will also provide warranty service and maintenance for ten years to maintain all required operating capabilities to satisfy the terms of the EFR contracts.

Justin Thesiger, Operations Director at Low Carbon, said: “The two new battery parks at Glassenbury and Cleator will ensure stability within the local grid and that the electricity demands of residents can be consistently met, including at times of high demand. Sites such as these are fundamental to our energy security and also to realizing the full potential of renewable electricity generation that hit record levels earlier this year.”

“We are thrilled to be a part of these two exciting projects with VLC Energy,” said Steve Fludder, chief executive officer of NEC Energy Solutions. “In addition to providing our GSS® grid storage systems, VLC Energy has entrusted us to provide the EFR service directly to National Grid. This is a true testament to the quality of our products, our people and our reputation.”

About NEC Energy Solutions

NEC Energy Solutions designs, manufactures, and integrates smart energy storage solutions for the electric grid and applications with critical power needs. Its megawatt-scale energy storage and control systems provide greater stability to the grid while maximizing renewable generation, while in telecom, datacenter, and other industrial applications, its high performance lithium-ion battery systems provide better value than traditional lead-acid batteries in tough, critical power applications. Learn more at www.neces.com.

About Low Carbon

Low Carbon is a privately owned investment company committed to the development and operation of renewable energy power production. Low Carbon invests into both renewable energy developers and projects across a range of renewable energy technologies including solar PV, wind, anaerobic digestion, combined heat and power, concentrated solar power, energy efficiency, waste to energy and energy storage. Low Carbon has a strong management team with a proven track record in the development, construction, financing and management of renewable energy assets. Low Carbon remains involved in the projects for the long term with a dedicated asset management team that manages assets on balance sheet and for third parties (unlisted and listed). www.lowcarbon.com

About VPI Immingham

VPI Immingham is a combined heat and power (CHP) plant near Immingham, on the South Bank of the river Humber. It is one of the largest CHP plants in Europe, capable of generating 1,240 MW – about 2.5% of UK peak electricity demand and up to 930 tonnes of steam per hour, which is used by nearby oil refineries to turn crude oil into products such as gasoline.

It is part of the Vitol Group, an energy and commodities company. Vitol’s primary business is the trading and distribution of energy products globally – it trades over six million barrels per day of crude oil and products and, at any time, has 200 ships transporting its cargoes.

Vitol’s clients include national oil companies, multinationals, leading industrial and chemical companies and the world’s largest airlines. Founded in Rotterdam in 1966, today Vitol serves clients from some 40 offices worldwide and is invested in energy assets globally including; circa 15.5mm3 of storage across six continents, 390kbpd of refining capacity and Shell-branded downstream businesses in 16 African countries, as well as Australia. Revenues in 2015 were $168 billion. www.vitol.com

NEC is a registered trademark of NEC Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Other product or service marks mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

©2018 NEC Corporation

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180108005525/en/

SOURCE: NEC Energy Solutions

Press:
For all inquiries regarding NEC Energy Solutions
Roger Lin, +1-508-497-7261
rlin@neces.com

Copyright Business Wire 2018


UK Produced More Electricity From “Low Carbon” Sources Than Coal & Gas In 2017 (1st Time) … But Will Need To Invest More In Cleantech To Meet Climate Change Goals (Carbon Brief)

Biomass

Published on January 7th, 2018 | by James Ayre

January 7th, 2018 by


If the UK is to meet its climate change and greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals, then it will need to invest more in so-called clean energy and cleantech. That’s the takeaway of a new analysis and report from Carbon Brief, which utilized data provided by Imperial College London.

This is despite the achievement in 2017 of the first year in the UK where “low carbon” power plants and installations provided the majority of the country’s electricity.

I put “low carbon” in quotes as biomass represented 9% of that figure, and I remain skeptical of the low-carbon credentials of much of what goes on in the large-scale biomass prospect sector.

Wind energy had a pretty solid year in the UK in 2017, though, having provided around 15% of the country’s electricity during the year. That figure was eclipsed by the 21% figure held by nuclear energy, though.

“Even though there’s been good progress so far, there isn’t enough new low-carbon generation that we know of to meet the UK’s targets,” summarized Simon Evans, the policy editor at Carbon Brief, in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Here’s more from that coverage: “Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 42% since 1990, meaning it is half way toward meeting a legally binding target to cut these emissions by 2050 to 80% below 1990 levels.

“It is investing in projects to support new nuclear technology, cut the cost of renewables and encourage people to buy low-emission vehicles, as Britain’s aging coal and nuclear plants are due to close in the 2020s. But initiatives to fund technology to capture carbon emissions from power plants and industry and store them underground have yet to produce a commercial-scale project.”

And are unlikely to ever do so … to throw in my two cents. Hence the need to focus on the fast phaseout of heavily polluting old coal power plants.

As it stands, though, most of the UK’s electricity is coming from gas-fired power plants — with the generation modality having possessed a 40% market share in 2017, according to Carbon Brief.

“New nuclear costs are far higher than anticipated and carbon capture hasn’t even got off the ground yet,” explained Tom Jennings, a policy director at the Carbon Trust. “The big challenges are low carbon transport — such as investment in electric vehicles — and heat.”

To elaborate on that, emissions from the transportation and building sectors are actually mostly rising — cuts in emissions in recent times have mostly been on the backs of the power and waste sectors.

While building sector emissions are likely to flatline and/or decline before too long (presuming that a recession arrives as one would expect within the next few years), transportation sector emissions reductions are a bit more complicated. To truly achieve meaningful reductions, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle use will likely have to be greatly penalized or banned before too long.


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About the Author

James Ayre’s background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.




End Highlands energy ‘rip-off’, MSP urges May

Theresa May is being urged to end the “energy rip-off” that means customers in the Highlands face higher bills.

Currently Highland customers face a 2p electricity surcharge which leaves them paying more – despite the region facing some of the highest rates of fuel poverty.

The region is also a key generator of renewable energy.

SNP MSP Kate Forbes said: “Highland Scotland is energy-rich, with huge potential as a green energy powerhouse.

“The SNP’s commitment to establishing a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company will ensure that the public have greater choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.

“But residents in the Highlands face a completely unfair surcharge on their bills, despite the region facing amongst the highest rates of fuel poverty and being most exposed to extreme weather.

“If Theresa May is serious about tackling high electricity bills, it’s time for her to end the Highland energy rip-off and tackle this surcharge as part of her price cap.”

There are 14 regions across the GB electricity market, which means suppliers charge different prices depending on geographical issues associated with transporting energy.

A ScottishPower spokesman said: “We seek to offer competitive prices across all areas of Britain, reflective of the costs associated with distributing electricity in different regions. We have worked hard with our own customers to get the majority on to our best products and off standard variable prices, well ahead of the other large suppliers.”

A spokesman for the department of business, energy and industrial strategy said: “As Ofgem’s analysis showed, a single national charge would see 16 million households’ energy bills increase. While we do not support a move away from the current system, we do welcome Ofgem’s work to introduce tougher price controls.”


Concerns over Westfield plans

Concerns have been expressed that the masterplan for the regeneration of the Westfield site have been “compromised”.

A plan to transform the former open-cast site, which could create up to 2500 jobs, was approved in October.

However, just days after the plan was approved, a separate application for ten gas engines, not included in the masterplan, was submitted for the site.

David Taylor, secretary of Cardenden Community Council, said the masterplan had been “compromised”, adding: “This makes a complete mockery of the master plan and posses another question – does anyone really know what’s going on?

“Meantime, Fife Council’s planning committee needs to withhold planning permission for these applications, until a full understanding of the situation is established.”

Hargreaves Services Ltd., which submitted the proposals, says the ten gas engines are needed to bring utilities to the site.

Iain Cockburn, from Hargreaves, said: “We will be delaying the gas engine project and engaging in further community consultation in the New Year.

“If the engine application does not progress after further consultation and consideration, the overall master plan will still be valid and we will continue to work to deliver that re-development

“We strongly refute that we have acted cynically or that the proposed engines are inconsistent with the renewable energy theme – we have been open with the Council and are not deviating from the overall masterplan objectives.”

Iain also said that Hargreaves had no plans to make an application for a biomass facility on site.

Chris Smith, lead officer for major business and customer service at Fife Council, said: “Fife Council considers that the planning application for the installation of up to 10 small gas turbines housed within standard shipping container units would not significantly compromise the wider masterplan agreed by the planning committee.”


Hydrogen fuel continues to gain momentum in Scotland

Scottish Cities Alliance will continue to work toward developing smart cities and embracing hydrogen fuel

The Scottish Cities Alliance has reaffirmed its partnership through the next four years. The coalition is comprised of the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling. It focuses on supporting economic growth throughout Scotland. With commitment to the partnership being secured, the Scottish Cities Alliance intends to focus heavily on the promotion of “smart cities” as well as the use of hydrogen fuel and fuel cell systems.

New technology can help improve life in Scottish cities

Smart cities take a variety of forms, but many of these cities make use of renewable energy rather than fossil-fuels to generate the power they need. Last year, the Scottish Cities Alliance unveiled several plans aimed at making cities more efficient and environmentally friendly. The organization also aims to collect data to determine how to best use clean technology and how to improve the quality of life of residents. To this end, the Scottish Cities Alliance has made significant progress in the clean transportation field, particularly with its plans concerning hydrogen fuel.

New fuel cell buses will be coming to Scotland

The coalition has been working with the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, hoping to successfully commercialize hydrogen fuel. Scotland has been working to develop a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure that is capable of supporting a new generation of vehicles equipped with fuel cells. Several fuel cell buses have also come to the country. Aberdeen, in particular, aims to have 10 new hydrogen-powered buses in operation in 2018.

Hydrogen fuel continues to gain traction

Hydrogen fuel is quickly becoming a top priority for countries like Scotland that are interested in renewable energy. Cities throughout Scotland are beginning to turn to this form of clean power to make transportation more environmentally friendly. Such endeavors have won government support and even support from organizations in other European countries. In order for fuel cells to find continued success, however, a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure must be established.