Tuesday , May 26 2020
Home / Siobhan Hall

Siobhan Hall

Articles by Siobhan Hall

Insight from Brussels: Taxing times for diesel in Europe

November 27, 2019

Ending tax breaks for fossil fuels like diesel is a key policy pledge for the incoming EU commissioners, as part of the drive to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.
This is set to be a major test of national governments’ commitment to reducing fossil fuel use, as fuel tax changes are very visible to voters.
Any tax changes, if eventually imposed, could have a major impact on demand for diesel, gasoline, biofuels, natural gas and electricity in transport, by changing the relative cost of various fuels.
The European Commission has estimated that excise duty revenues on electricity and energy products collected across the EU total around €225 billion ($249 billion) per year. The importance of these revenues to national budgets varies from 1.1% to 3.2% of GDP, so individual governments as well

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: EU gas sector pins hopes on ‘green tags’ to face low-carbon future

August 15, 2019

Trading tags guaranteeing renewable or low-carbon properties could be a key way to secure the EU gas industry’s long-term future in a decarbonized energy system.
The EU will soon consider enshrining a 2050 net-zero emissions goal into law, after the European Commission’s president-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, promised to propose this by early 2020.

A net-zero commitment is a step up from the current EU goal to cut emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels. Von der Leyen promised to focus on decarbonizing energy demand from transport and buildings – both sectors where renewable and decarbonized gases could contribute to emission cuts.
Setting up an EU-wide guarantees of origin (GO) system for such gases would be an efficient way to promote them, according to energy traders and gas industry

Read More »

US promotes ‘freedom gas’ but prices, not politicians, drive LNG flows

June 5, 2019

The US is describing its growing LNG exports as “freedom gas”, giving America’s allies “a diverse and affordable” clean energy source, but prices, not politicians, will decide where that LNG flows.
The message about diversified supplies plays particularly well in Europe, where the European Commission wants to ensure dominant gas supplier Russia faces credible competition across all markets, not just at the developed hubs in the northwest.

Russia’s planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to Germany has drawn criticism from both the US and the EC. They argue that it undermines Ukraine’s role in transiting Russian gas and does not diversify supplies.
The US Department of Energy is doing what it can to enable “molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world,” assistant

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: EU aims to become powerhouse of battery production and recycling

May 2, 2019

The EU plans to invest billions of euros developing a “green label”, sustainable electric vehicle battery industry in a bid to challenge Asia’s market dominance.
The EU battery market could be worth up to €250 billion ($282 billion) in 2025, with global demand for electric vehicles forecast to reach up to 900 million by 2040, the European Commission said in an update to its 2018 strategic action plan on batteries in April.

This means EU demand for lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite as battery raw materials will grow significantly in the next decade, creating potential security-of-supply issues as production is concentrated in just a few countries outside Europe.
The EC wants to see the EU fully exploiting its own battery raw material resources to mitigate this supply risk,

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: Start of Russian gas flow via Nord Stream 2 hangs on Danish permit

April 4, 2019

planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 gas link to Germany has prompted heated
political debates, changes in EU law and threats of US sanctions, but its fate in
the end may be decided by Danish civil servants enforcing local planning rules.

The latest
development is that the Danish Energy Agency has asked the Nord Stream 2
project company to provide information on a third possible route for the Danish
section of the two 1,200 km parallel pipelines, while it is still assessing two
pending permit requests for other routes.

The problem
for Nord Stream 2 is that it cannot complete the pipe-laying without a permit
from Denmark, and there is no legal deadline for approving or rejecting such
permits, creating uncertainty about when gas will start flowing through it.


Read More »

Insight from Brussels: Renewables win in new EU power market design

February 5, 2019

Renewables are the big winners in the European Union’s new power market rules, which are designed to help the grid cope with ever increasing shares of variable sources such as wind and solar.
This is part of the EU’s long-term push to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fossil fuel imports.
At the end of 2018 it adopted a binding target to source at least 32% of its final energy demand, including heating and transport, from renewables by 2030.
That translates into sourcing more than half its electricity from renewables by 2030, up from around 30% today, and that upwards trajectory will only continue as the EU seeks to decarbonize its economy by 2050.
The EU’s new power market design regulation, which is expected to become binding in 2019, aims to create a flexible, responsive and

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: Russia’s WTO win fails to derail EU’s gas diversification push

January 8, 2019

Russia’s recent win at the World Trade Organization against the EU’s efforts to diversify its gas supplies has come too late to stop Eastern Europe gaining access to non-Russian supplies, even if the EU loses its appeal against it.
The EU will likely have time to adopt a fourth “projects of common interest” list, due in late 2019, before any final WTO ruling requiring it to change its selection rules becomes binding.
This fourth list would be in force for two years, and the EU expects all the security of gas supply projects on it that help diversify Eastern European gas supplies will be completed by 2021.
The EU has appealed against the WTO panel report finding that using “diversifying supplies” as a criteria to select projects in markets where Russia is the dominant supplier impinges

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: Gas sector looks to P2G technology to survive low-carbon future

November 7, 2018

Could using low-carbon electricity to turn water into hydrogen and other gases keep the EU’s gas industry relevant in an increasingly CO2-constrained future?
The EU gas and power sectors are certainly interested in testing such technology at scale, as it could help them both with their different challenges going forward.
Natural gas and LNG suppliers are facing an expected dramatic decline in demand for their fossil fuels as the EU works to decarbonize its energy sector by 2050, while gas grid operators could see their assets stranded.
At the same time the power sector will have to integrate ever-increasing shares of renewable power, mostly variable wind and solar, creating huge demand for flexibility options to keep the grid balanced.
Coupling the two sectors through power-to-gas

Read More »

Insight from Brussels: Europe’s Nord Stream 2 opponents now looking to ‘plan B’

July 24, 2018

US President Donald Trump may not like it, but Russia still plans to bring its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany online by the end of 2019.
Neither the threat of US sanctions nor legal efforts by the European Commission have succeeded so far in derailing the 55 Bcm/year project. At this stage it looks like only Russian President Vladimir Putin has the power to stop it being built, and it’s difficult to see what would persuade him to do that.
The European Commission’s complaints are that Nord Stream 2 will concentrate too much Russian gas into one import route to Europe, and significantly reduce Russian gas transit through Ukraine. Russia disagrees on the supply security point and is very clear that it wants to reduce transit through Ukraine.
Its state-owned gas company Gazprom

Read More »

Nord Stream 2, other disputes fail to dent Russian natural gas flows to EU

May 2, 2018

Russia’s Gazprom continues to supply high volumes of natural gas to the EU despite long-running disputes over pipelines, competition and Ukraine, the latest S&P Global Platts guide to EU-Russian natural gas relations shows.
Flows via its 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany hit a record high of 51 Bcm in 2017, helped by increased access to the onshore OPAL gas pipeline, at first just in January and then continuously from August.
The European Commission’s decision in October 2016 to allow Gazprom to access up to 12.8 Bcm/year of extra OPAL capacity through public auctions was intended to settle that particular dispute, running since 2013.
But state-owned Polish gas company PGNiG gained an interim court order to suspend the decision, causing the interruption in capacity sales from

Read More »

European Commission throws book at Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas link

November 1, 2017

The European Commission, watchdog of the EU treaties, is throwing everything it has at Russia’s planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany in its efforts to keep Russian natural gas transit flows to the EU through Ukraine a viable option.
It plans to propose in November revised legislation that aims to apply the EU’s internal energy market rules — known as the third energy package — to offshore gas pipelines to the EU. These rules include allowing third-party access to pipelines, unbundling pipeline operators from parent energy supply companies, setting non-discriminatory tariffs and requiring more transparent operations.
But speculation over whether forcing Nord Stream 2 to apply third-party access rules would prompt an end to Russian state-owned Gazprom’s

Read More »

Brexit lights slow fuse under EU energy goals

July 26, 2016

There’s a video doing the rounds on social media that explains how the UK’s foreign policy toward Europe hasn’t changed in 500 years. It’s from a political sitcom written more than 30 years ago but still sounds plausible.
Sadly the writers didn’t imagine how the UK leaving the EU would go, so the current UK government will have to figure that out for itself. At the moment it looks like it will take at least a couple of years to get any real certainty on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be.
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual from the EU side on energy issues. Fears that the UK might miss out on EU funding for energy projects are so far unfounded. The UK benefited from two EU grants for electricity infrastructure post-Brexit vote in July – Eur14.82 million for the Viking Link between Denmark and the UK, and Eur8.28 million for the UK’s compressed air energy storage project at Larne in Northern Ireland.
Both of these projects are part of the EU’s Northern Seas offshore wind grid priority corridor, intended to link all the countries in the region to smooth out demand and supply variations.
As a net importer of gas and also increasingly of electricity, the UK needs these links to other countries, as we show in this video.

Read More »

How do you solve a problem like the EU power market?

March 11, 2016

The hills are alive with the sound of wind turbines, as the push to decarbonize the EU power sector by 2050 starts to bite. The success of renewable electricity — a record €26 billion was invested in new wind power capacity alone in the EU in 2015 — is having profound impacts on the rest of the market.
Wind power is now the EU’s third-largest generation source by installed capacity, with 142 GW or a 15.6% share, overtaking hydropower for the first time, according to the latest figures from the European Wind Energy Association. Gas and coal still dominate for now with 192 GW and 159 GW respectively, but the growth is all in renewables.
The share of renewable energy, including for heat, grew in 24 of the 28 EU countries in 2014, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, and the EU is on track to meet its binding 2020 target to source 20% of its final energy demand from renewables. That’s likely to mean an estimated 35% share for renewables in electricity, rising to around 50% by 2030, when the EU wants to source at least 27% of its final energy demand from renewables.
This is a success story in that national governments chose to support renewables with national state aid to ensure they would — most of them — meet their binding 2020 national renewables targets.

Read More »

Data downpour to reveal all in EU gas and power markets

September 16, 2015

EU energy regulators are about to find out what really goes on in the wholesale gas and electricity markets, as a new trade reporting obligation starts on October 7. This is a huge step toward more transparent markets, but what will regulators do with the data?

Not as much as they would like, given their current staffing levels, according to the director of EU energy regulatory agency ACER, Alberto Pototschnig. ACER is tasked by an EU regulation known as REMIT to collect and analyze the trade data, looking for anomalies that might indicate market abuse.
If it finds something suspicious, it sends it on to the relevant national regulators among the EU’s 28 countries to investigate further.
To give a sense of scale, more than 6 million records of standard contracts and orders to trade have been submitted to ACER during the last six months as part of testing its new IT system.
As at mid-September there were 2,702 entities registered as market participants – a requirement in order to comply with the reporting obligation. There were 24 approved registered reporting mechanisms – companies able to report trades to ACER on behalf of third parties — with hundreds more in the pipeline.

Read More »