ISOs Jointly Oppose EPA Rules // US-Saudi Deal Includes Nuclear Energy // Ghana Commits to Mining Green Minerals
Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: power industry pressure against the EPA continues with grid operators joining the fray, a burgeoning US-Saudi deal includes nuclear energy, Ghana goes for lithium, and more.
ISOs Jointly Oppose EPA Rules
Several of America’s grid operators joined the chorus of power industry pressure against the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The new rules require large natural gas plants operating continuously to either capture 90 percent of their emissions by 2035 or primarily utilize low-carbon hydrogen by 2038, while setting onerous carbon capture requirements on coal plants.
MISO, ERCOT, PJM, and SPP joined in a comment on the new rules by raising alarms about what they could do to grid reliability.
“As the penetration of renewable resources continues to increase, the grid will need to rely even more on generation capable of providing critical reliability attributes. With continued and potentially accelerated retirements of dispatchable generation, supply of these reliability attributes will dwindle to concerning levels,” the ISOs explain. They’re concerned that the “needed technologies” to shift away from baseload coal and natural gas “are not widely commercialized in time to balance out large amounts of retirements.”
Specifically, the Joint ISOs want the rules to be amended to give allow more time and flexibility to manage retirements as carbon capture and storage and “green hydrogen” aren’t yet ready for deployment at scale. Forcing existing generation offline with new emissions standards would hazard grid reliability in an already increasingly fragile system.
Together, these ISO’s cover an area of approximately 2 million square miles, in 30 states plus the District of Columbia and provide service to 154 million Americans.
US-Saudi Deal Includes Nuclear Energy
As the United States and Saudi Arabia negotiate their relationship, US-led nuclear energy development in the country has been put on the table.
“Negotiators have now moved to discussing specifics, including addressing Saudi requests that the U.S. help them develop a civilian nuclear program and offer iron clad security guarantees,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The Saudis are also seeking significant concessions from Israel that would help promote the creation of a Palestinian state. In return, the U.S. is pressing Saudi Arabia to impose limits on its growing relationship with China.”
Israel is unhappy with both Saudi’s interest in a Palestinian state and its quest for nuclear energy. Israel sees Saudi civilian nuclear power as a stepping for the development of nuclear weaponry, of which Israel is the sole possessor in the region. And Mohammed Bin Salman has publicly stated that he will pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets the bomb.
But negotiations are only just starting to congeal. “There’s a work plan to explore the elements of what this would be and test the boundaries of what’s possible,” a senior U.S. official told WSJ.
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Ghana Commits to Mining Green Minerals
The Ghanian cabinet approved a policy aimed at greater lithium mining exploration and exploitation.
“It’s expected to be passed by parliament before the end of the year, and will provide clear guidelines and a fiscal regime for mining so-called green minerals in a manner that ensures Ghana derives as much benefit as possible from its resources,” reports Bloomberg.
“Ghana is seeking to operate at a level that makes the best out of the resource as much as practical,” Lands and Natural Resources Minister Samuel Jinapor said. “Ghana’s Green Minerals Policy as approved by cabinet demands that not a single volume of lithium produced in this country will be allowed to be exported in its raw state.”
Ghana is joining the wave of lithium nationalism that’s begun to spread across the $3 trillion market as the West pursues its commitment to renewable energy and electric vehicles. Chile, the world’s second largest lithium producer, wants to parlay lithium profits into funding schools and hospitals. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has voiced his conviction that lithium has become too strategic a commodity to leave to the private sector alone.
This trend figures into the global pivot towards greater state-involvement in the energy sector brought on by green policy agendas.
The Dominican Republic is looking into building a refinery in Guyana. “Guyana and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on recruiting companies to build a 50,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Guyana that would tap the country's oil wealth,” reports Reuters. “Any project would be at least 51% owned by the Dominican Republic government, according to the terms of the preliminary agreement, which was seen by Reuters. The pact was signed by Guyana President Irfaan Ali and Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader during Ali's trip to Santo Domingo. The Guyanese government has expressed no interest in participating as a shareholder.”
Pakistan to rely on more power from Iran. “Pakistan will buy more electricity from neighbouring Iran, a finance ministry statement said on Tuesday. The decision was taken at an Economic Coordination Committee chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar,” reports Reuters. “Energy-starved Pakistan already has contracts to purchase electricity from Tehran for its border regions, especially for China-backed development projects on Gwadar port.”
Canada considers selling pipeline stake to indigenous tribes. “Canada plans to sell a stake in the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to indigenous groups through a special-purpose vehicle that will allow individual communities to buy into the enterprise,” reports Bloomberg. “The government will provide the groups with access to capital so they don’t have to risk any of their own money to participate, according to a letter from Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office that was obtained by Bloomberg. The communities’ equity interest in Trans Mountain will provide them with cash flows and allow them to jointly exercise governing rights, according to the letter, which was dated Aug. 2.”
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