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    ZE is attending LARTC 2021

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    September 21, 2021

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    ZE is attending 37th Asia Pacific Petroleum

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    September 27, 2021

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    Global Tech Summit 2021

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    ZE in the News

    We're making headlines. Here's what you hear about ZE and ZEMA in the news.

    ZE PowerGroup Inc. Recognized as EnergyRisk Data House of the Year Thrice in a Row

    ZE PowerGroup Inc. (ZE) is delighted to win the EnergyRisk’s Data House of the Year award yet again. The data management global leader has bagged the award for a third year in a row and has been a persistent winner in this category since its inception. ZE has earned an excellent reputation for providing unbeatable […]

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    ZE PowerGroup Partners with Spark Commodities to Bring Critical LNG Freight Pricing to a Wide Range of Energy and Financial Customers

    ZE PowerGroup Inc. (ZE), a firm known for providing world-class data management and analytics services, announces a partnership with Spark Commodities to provide customers with easy access to LNG freight pricing. This partnership will enable customers to understand a critical part of the LNG value chain with the leading LNG freight provider. ZE has earned […]

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    ZE PowerGroup Partners with MRC to Further Expand Data Ecosystem

    ZE PowerGroup Inc.(ZE), a global leader in data integration and analytics, has joined hands with the Market Report Company (MRC) to provide customers with greater choice in petrochemical and energy market data. The company boasts an exceptional global reputation and caters to the unique needs of organizations across industries by introducing new data sources every […]

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    Q & A: An Interview with Ian Gordon, Director of Business Development, European Markets, ZE PowerGroup Inc.

    A Virtual Fireside Interview on data trends, data management pain points and solutions for the Energy and Commodities Industry Sector

    Introduction

    With over 25 years worth of experience in technology and sales, ZE PowerGroup’s Ian Gordon is no stranger to innovation. His areas of expertise include the energy and commodities markets, with a special focus on renewable energy as of late. He also has knowledge of Finance and Insurance companies. Throughout his career as a Director of Business Development, Ian has taken industry trends such as the use of big data and the establishment of cloud as a deployment model in stride. By doing so, he has helped solidify ZEMA as a significant player within the energy and commodities sectors outside of North America.

    In this interview learn about Ian’s understanding of the pain points and trends that companies in the energy and commodities markets face. Also discussed is how ZEMA can help business professionals such as traders and risk managers.

    Industry and Pain Points

    Q: Hello Ian, can you start by telling me about what you do on a day-to-day basis, and what industries you work the most closely with as a Director of Business Development?

    A: On a day-to-day basis, my goal is to identify and work with energy and commodities companies to help them get the data they need to make the best possible business decisions. As using renewables such as hydroelectricity will become the norm within the next 5 years, many of our clients have been focusing on using ZEMA™ for data on these topics. I also work with finance companies who have a presence in the commodities space, and insurance companies.

    Q: As someone who is in close contact with companies in these sectors, what would you say the most common pain points companies are facing here?

    A: As you know, one of the biggest trends and will continue to grow is the use of data such as big data and market data. Companies are always requesting more data and more information in order to stay competitive. This becomes more complex when you consider that the data needs to be relevant, timely and accurate. Therefore, an immense pain point that companies face is how to manage it—eventually, there isn’t a financial return on hiring more people. The other frequently mentioned pain point is that it can be challenging to analyze data when it’s coming from multiple sources and in multiple formats.

    Q: What are the implications these pain points have on companies?

    A: Most of our clients have risk exposure to the market for pricing. They need to be able to purchase at the right time, in order to be prepared to sell to their clients. Without hedging and building the right information, the data will not be as accurate or timely for their needs. As data continues to get more complex, the quality of data, and the ability to manage it properly, becomes imperative for success in the markets.

    Q: What are some of the ways that companies are trying to adapt in order to resolve these pain points?

    A: This answer can be summed up in four words: Single Source of Truth. By having all of a company’s prices and data come from one place, even if there are several downstream sources, it is less likely to have discrepancies, and more likely to be efficient and reliable. Data governance is a significant part of that within an organization.

    How ZEMA Helps

    Q: Now that we’ve covered data in the industry as a whole, can you describe what ZEMA is? Who is it helpful for and why is it important?

    A: ZEMA is a cloud-based platform that provides a service to the marketplace—it allows companies to manage data, run complex analytics, and make better informed decisions. It allows our clients to use, store and transform multiple sources of data (internal and external) in one environment. For traders, risk managers and market analyst ZEMA’s forward curve and workflow automation module gives them ownership, integrity, and transparency of data in support of their business operations.

    Q: What sets ZEMA apart from its competitors?

    A: ZE’s key differentiator is the level of customer service we provide to our clients, which we put considerable effort into providing them as part of the overall solution, and we very much view our clients as long-term partners in responding to their requirements. Additionally, ZEMA works closely with multiple data vendor partners in supporting more than twelve thousand data sources, with the speed of adding new data sources a strong part of the value proposition. This in turn allows clients to free up resources to focus on creating value elsewhere.

    Q:  A final question for you: if there’s one key takeaway people should have from this blog post, what should it be?

    A: The new sources and volumes of data that companies need to consume to support their business operations continually grows, the challenge is keeping on top of this demand.  ZE as a company has economies of scale because we are adding, delivering and supporting many of the same data sources for similar companies every day. Individual companies doing this themselves, have to commit resources fulltime to meet these data requirements without adding much value. Simply put, it’s more efficient and cost effective to outsource this function to a company dedicated to it as its core competency.

    About Ian Gordon, Director of Business Development, European Markets, ZE PowerGroup Inc.

    Ian is an experience executive with more than twenty-five years in the software solutions and information services sector to the Investment banking and energy and commodities markets. Having set up and developed the UK based business for Fame Software a Citibank NA subsidiary in 1993, Ian helped build it into a global business through setting up sales and account management operations across EMEA. With Fame’s then acquisition by VC’s Ian was involved in the rapid growth of the business through its’s acquisition and integration of a number of companies during that time. On its’ acquisition by Sungard, Ian went on the run the Fame Energy business at Sungard. Ian joined ZE in 2009 starting its’ European business and is actively involved in its’ continued growth.

    For more information about how ZEMA can help your company satisfy its data needs, be sure to visit the solutions section of our website!

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    Europe’s energy transition commits to a green hydrogen future

    Europe’s transition to a zero-carbon future is well underway. Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 20% since 2005, according to World Bank data, and the EU is now targeting net zero emissions by 2050.

    The largest share of emissions globally is generated by the power sector, and this is where efforts have focused over the last 15 years. Through the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive, and the Emissions Trading Directive the European Union has harnessed the power of regulation and of markets to drive a nearly 16% reduction in consumption of all fossil fuels between 2005 and 2018.

    Over the same period, consumption of energy from renewable sources and bio-fuels has risen by nearly 85%.

    This start of an energy transition is being embedded in long-term EU policy, through the proposals for a Green Deal and a Climate Law which will formalise the goals of achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions towards the achievement of net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.

    National political decisions have helped to underpin this ambition. Three EU member states have already closed all their coal plants, while eight others have never had significant coal-fired capacity. Ten more are intending to exit coal by 2030, and Germany and Poland have set deadlines after 2030.

    Current plant economics data show that burning coal to generate electricity loses money for utilities, while using gas remains profitable.

    The EU’s Emissions Trading System has played a key role by raising the cost of incumbent fossil generation to the point where new technologies like wind and solar have been able to compete. Now that these renewable technologies are able to compete with fossil generation without subsidy, nobody is building coal-fired plants in Europe, and even new gas plants are being canceled.

    Earlier in March Drax, formerly one of the UK’s biggest coal generators, scrapped plans to build Europe’s  largest gas-fired plant, and agreed to sell its remaining gas-fired units. Instead it will focus on biomass and carbon capture, hoping to sequester more CO2 than it generates, and so become “carbon-positive”.

    To be sure, gas-fired generation still has a significant future in Europe, particularly in countries where coal generation dominates: Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, for example. But elsewhere, the focus is shifting beyond even natural gas.

    As renewables continue to make sizeable inroads into power generation across the continent, most of the attention among politicians and companies has begun to shift to replacing the use of fossil fuels in industrial processes. The focus is now on bringing hydrogen to a central role as a zero-carbon alternative.

    The EU in 2020 published a hydrogen strategy document that outlines how the bloc hopes to support and incentivize a shift to hydrogen for industrial applications. In response there have been a slew of announcements in recent months of investments into hydrogen.

    Hydrogen emits no carbon dioxide – just water vapor – when burned. It has a high energy content by weight, though less by volume, and needs to be stored at high pressure. It’s not easy to transport either, since it can corrode metal pipelines.

    Hydrogen is most commonly manufactured by steam-reforming methane (natural gas) or by coal gasification, processes that emit CO2. Many of the current projects to boost hydrogen output are based on steam reforming, with the end product becoming known as “grey” hydrogen.

    By capturing and storing the CO2 emissions underground, “grey” hydrogen becomes “blue” hydrogen, a the greenhouse gases are not allowed to enter the atmosphere.

    However, the ultimate goal is to make hydrogen through a process of electrolysis, in which the power supply comes from a renewable source. The resulting hydrogen stream is commonly referred to as “green”, since no CO2 emissions are produced.

    Manufacture of steel, cement and petrochemicals are all energy-intensive processes that currently require coal or natural gas as sources of energy. The production processes themselves also generate carbon dioxide.

    For example, the steelmaking process reacts iron ore with carbon monoxide from burning coke to produce pig iron and CO2. Burning hydrogen instead of coke produces pig iron and water vapour.

    It’s processes like this that are driving European governments to develop strategies to boost hydrogen, and companies to invest heavily in hydrogen production.

    “”In 2020, six European countries and the European Commission released hydrogen strategies amid the COVID-19 crisis, in most cases as part of a green recovery plan,” IHS Markit wrote in its quarterly Power-to-X report. The company expects blue and green hydrogen investments in five countries – France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – to top $44 billion by 2030.

    “Hydrogen development is tied directly to decarbonization,” IHS Markit said. “What Europe has done in the last six months is to begin to put in place the financing framework for hydrogen. If hydrogen going to take off, it needs to have [incentive] schemes, like renewable power.”

    In its Hydrogen Strategy document published last year, the European Commission targeted an increase in electrolyser capacity from less than 1 GW today to 40GW by 2030 and identified a wide range of support measures to enable green hydrogen to become cost-competitive by the end of the decade.

    Not only does hydrogen need incentives to boost renewable power capacity, but it also requires higher costs for using fossil fuels. The Commission strategy estimated that in order to make blue hydrogen – made using natural gas combined with carbon capture – cost-competitive with grey hydrogen today would require a price of carbon between €55-90/tonne, far in excess of current prices (€42-43/tonne).

    Th current review of the EU ETS is expected to produce legislative proposals this summer to tighten the carbon market and set a course for prices to reach these levels over the course of the decade.

    There are also opportunities for green hydrogen to make inroads into the use of fossil fuels for transportation, though production costs will need to fall even further to make this possible. Analysts and experts see the potential for some limited applications in public transport but are more doubtful that hydrogen will or even should replace electric vehicles.

    View Article
    EU carbon prices set new records amid speculative buying

    The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) has had a tumultuous start to 2021. Prices have risen by 22% to new record highs in the last six weeks as a wave of speculative investment has come into the market, and industrial and utility compliance companies have been shoved to the sidelines.

    The rally is part of a longer-term trend that has seen the price of EU emissions allowances (EUAs) soar by 73% since November 2 last year. Over the same period, the number of financial and speculative entities holding positions in EUAs has leapt from 308 to 426, according to ICE Futures data.

    EUA CHART

    What has driven this wave of investment in carbon?

    Many experts attribute the renewed popularity of EUAs to political ambition by the EU. Last year incoming Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the 27-nation bloc would adopt a goal of achieving “net zero” emissions by 2050, and implement a Green Deal to transform the European economy.

    A significant portion of the burden will be borne by he energy sector, through EU initiatives including directives covering renewable energy and energy efficiency, but industry will also face tougher emissions trading goals.

    In 2017 lawmakers agreed to set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. However, under the Green Deal that target will this year be raised to 55% or potentially even 60% by 2030, and an interim target will be set for 2040 on the way to net zero in 2050.

    The European Commission will table legislative proposals to achieve these goals in the summer, and they will represent a significant tightening of the parameters of the EU ETS.

    What changes are coming?

    According to an impact assessment published by the commission last year, the annual cap on emissions in the EU ETS would need to be adjusted to account for a steeper reduction trajectory to 2030. But because the so-called linear reduction factor (LRF) – the annual reduction – has already been set at a 2.2% decrease from 2021 to 2025, lawmakers will have to consider a much steeper LRF after 2025.

    Some experts say the LRF would need to be raised to 6.8% from 2025, or that the EU would need to make a one-off reduction in the cap of 363 million EUAs starting from 2026. For comparison, the EU ETS cap in 2021 stands at 1.57 billion EUAs.

    Other elements could include making adjustments to the Market Stability Reserve (MSR), the mechanism that adjusts market supply each year by removing a proportion of the calculated surplus EUAs in circulation.

    The MSR presently withdraw 24% of the surplus each year, and is scheduled to continue at 24% until 2023, when it will revert to 12%. It’s possible the EU may decide to extend the 24% rate for an additional period to take up even more of the surplus in a shorter period. As more and more coal-fired power plants are closing,  emissions are expected to drop more sharply in the EU, and a flexible MSR is considered by some to be the best way to manage supply.

    The EU is also considering including emissions from maritime transport, buildings and road transport in the EU ETS, though it’s not yet clear what impact these sectors would have on demand and supply.

    Analysts have predicted that with these tighter targets, EUA prices could reach as much as €80 towards the end of the decade.

    Back to the market…

    While the overall trend in carbon prices has been to a large extent a function of political ambition and investors’ reaction to those signals as described above, there are plenty of fundamental drivers that are also driving higher prices.

    Chief among these has been energy prices. 2020 saw an armada of LNG cargoes from the US push European gas prices down by as much as 55%. Cheaper gas combined with rising carbon prices helped push coal-fired generation into negative margins.

    Since October 2020, all energy markets have enjoyed a recovery that has taken front-month natural gas in particular from around €13.18/MWh to as much as €20/MWh in February, an increase of more than 57%. But because coal prices have risen too, but by only 15%, more efficient coal plants have begun to be favoured, again boosting fundamental demand.

    MONTH-AHEAD SPREADS CHARTS

    To be sure, coal fired power is still uncompetitive for generation in 2022 and later, and it may well be that once the current spell of colder weather ends, nearer-dated generation spreads for 2021 may also revert to favouring natural gas.

    Other fundamental factors are related to physical supply and demand. As the market entered a new trading phase in 2021, the European Commission has had to recalculate the parameters for allocating free EUAs to industries at risk of carbon leakage (relocating abroad to jurisdictions with fewer penalties on carbon emissions).

    The process of calculation has taken longer than expected, with the result that industrial installations have not been told how many free EUAs they will receive this year, nor have any been issued. The normal deadline for such issuance is at the end of February, but the Commission has said it may only start to hand out EUAs from the second quarter of the year.

    While all participants in the EU ETS won’t need to surrender their 2021 EUAs until April 2022, the psychological impact of the delay may be impacting prices.

    Another contributing factor is that installations cannot use 2021-issued EUAs to surrender for their 2020 compliance, which will take place in March and April this year. Typically, companies have been able to “borrow” new EUAs to pay off older compliance debts, but this has been specifically ruled out for 2020 compliance.

    Already there are signs of industrial companies that have been caught out by this rule, and the anticipation of “distressed” buying up to the April 30 deadline has helped support EUA prices. Trading sources expect that a premium will emerge for 2020-eligible EUAs in the coming two months.

    But most traders agree that by far the biggest driver has been speculative buying. After articles about carbon prices appeared on both Bloomberg and the Financial Times in the same week, prices leaped even higher as new money entered the market and, despite a brief reversal last week, the EU ETS looks set to consolidate its gains in the coming weeks.

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