Daily News

Power system flexibility is a prerequisite of the clean energy transformation. Fossil power plants were for long deemed vital to ensure flexible supply and system inertia, but “if modern wind and solar power plants are technically able to provide frequency regulation, they should be allowed access to ancillary services, as was done in Spain,” said Enrique Gutierrez, energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Siemens, the state of Saxony and the Fraunhofer Institute have signed a ‘future pact for Görlitz’ and committed to invest around €30 million to develop a competence center for hydrogen technologies. The initiative is meant to ease the effects of region’s structural transformation which has been hit by Siemens’ closure of a long-running turbine manufacturing site.

Argentina is seeking to identify potential natural gas storage sites to use supply from its prolific Vaca Muerta shale to meet peak demand. Strategic storage could also help reduce the need for seasonal LNG imports during cooler months from March through October.

Two new steam turbine units have been commissioned at the Shirvan Combined Cycle Power Plant in North Khorasan Province, Iran. The two 320 MW units were built at a cost of $260 million, according Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

Egypt has reduced fuel subsidies, raising domestic prices by up to 30% in compliance with requirements for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While most fuel prices are now in line with their costs, the government is still subsidizing gas used in bakeries and for power generation.

Germany’s Council of Economic Experts have urged the government to put a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sector as a quick and easy fix to help meet the country’s climate goals. This unilateral move would work as an interim solution before integrating the sectors into the European Emission Trading System (EU-ETS).

General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) has connected of the fourth unit of its Ubari Gas Power Station  (640 MW) to the public electricity grid. Unit-4 used to operate on crude oil but has been revamped to run on cleaner-burning natural gas instead.

MIT researchers have developed a membrane-based system that can convert power plant emissions into fuels for cars, trucks and planes, as well as chemical feedstocks. The membrane – made of a compound of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide – allows oxygen from a stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) to migrate through, leaving carbon monoxide (CO) behind. Combined with hydrogen or water, this CO can be turned into syngas.

Australia’s AGL Energy has decided to defer the mothballing of two old gas-fired units at its 1,280 MW Torrens Island Power Station near Adelaide in a bid to meet peakload demand this summer. In a regulatory filing, AGL said the two fast-ramp gas units are meant to compensate for one faulty coal block at Loy Yang-A Power Station in Victoria.

LEAG, East Germany’s largest lignite miner and electric utility, has embarked on a 53 MW lithium-ion battery project which will be built next to the company’s Schwarze Pumpe lignite power plant. The so-called BigBattery project is supported with 25 million Euros by the state of Brandenburg.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) is getting ready to deploy a floating storage and regas unit (FSRU) offshore Hong Kong to supply regasified LNG for the 2.5 GW Black Point and 3.7 GW Lamma Island Power Stations from 2021. The LNG cargoes will be delivered by Shell Eastern Trading.

Energy use of crypto-currencies – bitcoin in particular – has been criticized as 'unsustainable' although estimates are wide-ranging at 20‑80 Terrawatt-Hours (TWh) annually. Through the first six months of 2019 bitcoin mining consumed some 29 TWh, up significantly from around 45 TWh in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

Some 43 MAN gas engines – installed at EDF-run power plants on the French islands of Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Corsica – have surpassed the symbolic mark of one million hours’ running time. The record was reached at four power plants built by MAN between June 2012 and April 2015 on behalf of EDF Production Électrique Insulaire.

MODEC’s latest floating production, storage, and offloading vessel – the ‘Eni Mexico Area 1 FPSO’ – will be powered by three Siemens  SGT-A35 gas turbine power generation packages. Due operational in 2021, the FPSO will operate some 6 miles off the coast of Mexico in a field owned by Eni and Qatar Petroleum.

Shale gas is now dominating the overall gas production in the United States and is forecast to reach an average 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 8.0 Bcf/d from the previous year. The gas glut is expected to push down Henry Hub spot prices to $2.50/MMBtu in the second half of this year and further increase gas-burn in the power sector.

News in Brief

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.

Gazprom seeks to partner with Fortum

June 27 – The heads of Gazprom and Forum, Alexey Miller and Pekka Lundmark, have met in St. Petersburg to discuss a potential cooperation in the field of power generation. The Finish energy company Fortum owns 29.5% of the Russian power plant TGC-1 as well as a 49.99% share in the German utility Uniper. Through the talks, Gazprom could gain Fortum’s support to expand its firm long-term deliveries of Russian gas to Finland and Germany.

Quarrels over contract award

June 26 – Guam Power Authority’s decision to award a contract to finance, build and operate a new 180 MW power station on the island to Korea Electric Power has sparked protest by rival bidders. Four companies had submitted proposals – Korea Electric, Osaka Gas, Powerflex and Hanwha Energy Corp. Declining to comment on the quarrels over the contract awarding process, GPA said the deal with Korea Electric is expected to close by September 9, pending a related impact study.

PTT steps up power sector investment

June 25 – Thailand's state-run PTT Pcl has decided to boost investments in the retail and industrial power sectors to help insulate the energy company against the impact of a global economic slowdown on its oil refining and chemical businesses. Referring to the Sino-U.S. trade war as a global challenge, PTT chief executive Chansin Treenuchagron said the company is looking “how we can survive in the short term.”

APR helps power Libya’s recovery

June 24 – Libya’s state-owned GECOL has asked APR Energy to bring in temporary generators to provide a rapid 450 MW boost. Under the latest contracts, APR provided mobile gas turbines at four key sites in Libya (250 MW) as well as 200 MW of diesel generators at two sites.