Magued Eldaief answers your questions – Part Two

In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Magued Eldaief, the head of GE’s UK energy business, answers your questions.

In this post, he discusses subsidies for carbon capture and storage, legislation to curb emissions and the future of smart metering.

Earlier, he answered questions on the future for nuclear power in northern Europe, wind power in the developing world and whether it is better to back small- or large-scale power generation projects.

Next in the hotseat is Iam Simm, chief executive of Impax Asset Management. He will be answering your questions next Friday, January 28th. Send in your questions for consideration by the end of Sunday, January 23rd to energysource@ft.com.

But for now, over to Magued:

CCS subsisidies

Which form of subsidy do you think is most appropriate to support wide scale deployment of carbon capture and storage (for example, a carbon price floor or capital grant)?
Brendan Cronin, senior consultant, Poyry Energy Consulting

CCS can make an important contribution to UK efforts to decarbonise and currently represents over 30 per cent of the UK energy mix. Deployment of CCS projects requires a mix of incentives to be competitive and ensure there is a long-term price signal against which long-term investments can be assessed.

The most significant barriers to CCS at present are upfront cost, technology and regulatory uncertainty surrounding issues of planning, CO2 liability and public acceptance. Without appropriate incentives to address these risks investors won’t have confidence that the cost of their investment can be recovered.

The UK has agreed to develop four CCS demonstration projects, and up to 12 further projects across Europe could receive funding from the set aside from earmarked allowances from the EU. The demonstration of CCS is the only way to prove these technologies at a commercial scale and, to this end, GE supports the Government’s current aim to fund demonstration projects through a CCS levy; prohibiting the development of new coal plants without a CCS demonstration; and the requirement for all new fossil-fuelled power stations to be “capture ready”.

Hatfield project

GE Energy has been involved in the project at Hatfield UK with Powerfuel since 2006 when work on developing the 900MW station commenced. We see the project as one of the most advanced of its kind and one of the leading large scale commercial clean coal developments in the world, demonstrated by the award of EU funding for the only UK CCS project.

The project at Hatfield, in our opinion, is not only probably the most technically well-defined pre-combustion CCS project in Europe, but also in the most advanced stage of readiness to deploy, having completed all necessary front-end engineeering design studies and having obtained planning consents, grid connections and water abstraction commitments.  Hatfield is also a potential “anchor project” in the UK’s most promising CCS cluster in the Yorkshire-Humber area.

There also needs to be credible strategy for managing the transition from the demonstration phase to commercial deployment of CCS. In the absence of visibility of a market for CCS technologies, competitive supply chains for CCS components are unlikely to be developed, and there will be no incentive for suppliers beyond those involved in the demonstrations projects to invest in technology development.

Emissions legislation

How could potential CO2 emission legislation influence customers’ choice of generation technology?
Peter Daniel Wood

Putting a price on emissions will result in investments in technologies and other actions to reduce them. However, some activities that reduce emissions cost-effectively do not respond to this price signal: so-called market barriers prevent or impede them.

Long-term sustainable financial support mechanisms are needed to promote deployment of low carbon technologies. For example, the government has introduced feed-in tariffs for small-scale onsite low carbon and renewable energy technologies – also known as micro generation –  which has seen a growing number of  installations in the UK –that generate heat and/or electricity on site.

These help to cut out distribution losses and offer ways of producing energy from renewable, low carbon and carbon-neutral sources.

Smart meters

How do you see the future of technology solutions to inform energy users and reduce overall consumption?
John Vercoe, principal consultant, Environment International

Smart grids will enable networks to be managed in real-time, electricity to flow in both directions between producers and consumers and will help integrate intermittent energy sources. The first step is smart meters, which give consumers up-to-the-minute information on their energy use.

There are tangible gains to be made by focusing on the habits and choices of energy users. A key driver in the deployment of low-carbon technologies and the move towards a green economy is consumer choice. It also makes both environmental and economic sense – by reducing consumer bills.

There are tangible gains to be made by focusing on the habits and choices of energy users

Greener homes make better use of energy with smarter appliances that can use energy at off-peak times, making our energy production and consumption more efficient. Greener homes will also be able to integrate newer, cleaner sources of energy, like solar and wind power.

GE has recently acquired a UK-based smart metering company, whose software and hardware technologies allow consumers and utilities to better monitor and manage their energy usage. It is hoped that combining UK smart metering expertise with GE’s worldwide metering, manufacturing and smart grid leadership will expedite the rollout of this important technology.

GE last year opened the UK’s first Smart Grid Demonstration Centre, based at our office in Bracknell. This is designed to show how end-to-end smart grid solutions are available today and it is already helping utilities and consumers work together to meet the energy and environmental challenges facing the UK.

Turbine servicing profits

How will the operating margins for gas turbine aftermarket services be this year?
Jon Hassel Lien, analyst, ODS-Petrodata

GE does not make forward looking statements of this nature.

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