Daily News

Alarmed by an air pollution crisis in Seoul and other key cities, the South Korean government is proposing measures to help utilities to convert their power plants from coal to natural gas in order to reduce worsening levels of toxic fine dust and mercury emissions in Seoul and other northern cities.

South Korean conglomerate Hynix has announced plans to invest over 1.68 trillion won ($1.49 billion) to build LNG-fuelled power stations adjacent to its semiconductor plants in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, and Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province. The two plants are scheduled to start up by 2022.

Norway’s state energy group Statkraft says its new 1GW virtual power plant (VPP) in Britain will help bridge the intermittency challenge and aims to double capacity by the summer. Connecting gas engine-driven power units, energy storage and renewables, the VPP can react to market demand within seconds.

The Swiss equipment manufacturer ABB has expanded its portfolio of source-to-socket electrification following its $2.6 billion acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions. ABB said the takeover helps boost its competitiveness in the North American market and strengthens its position in electrification.

U.S. Democrats have voiced concern that Andrew Wheeler, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will undermine the Obama-era Clean Power Plan by rolling back regulation on power plant emissions. President Trump-nominee Wheeler was instated at the top of the EPA after winning a vote in the Senate by 52-47.

Striving to achieve universal electricity access, utilities invested $500 million globally in off-grid energy access last year. Though investments in energy access grew another 22% in 2018, after surging 37% the year before, Wood Mackenzie says “total volumes still fall well short of the estimated financing needed to reach universal electricity access globally by 2030.”

CEON, a new digital platform launched by MAN Energy Solutions, intelligently collects and evaluates operating and sensor data, and enables the real-time monitoring of power-plant engines, turbines and compressors. Integrating data from MAN machinery and its operational environment, the new digital platform uses intelligent analysis tools for evaluation and forecasting.

The German car makers BMW and Porsche have teamed up with Siemens in the ‘FastCharge’ research project, working with Allego and Phoenix Contact E-Mobility, to create super-fast chargers for electric vehicles. The prototype of a charging station with a capacity of up to 450 kW was inaugurated in Jettingen-Scheppach, a small town in southwest Bavaria.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has filed to Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of the Philippines, requesting to end interim power supply agreements prior to the next Malampaya gas field maintenance – but the regulator wants utilities to keep producing electricity from condensate. The upcoming October shutdown will affect gas supply to three of Luzon’s major power plants: Santa Rita (1,000 MW), San Lorenzo (500 MW) and Ilijan (1,200 MW).

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, has proposed to phase out less efficient gas peaking plants to meet the state’s target of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030, and achieve zero-carbon electricity supply by 2040. The new rules lower the NOx emission threshold, with more stringent controls set to start in five years’ time.

As Japanese utilities keep restarting shuttered nuclear power units, analysts say the return of cheap nuclear power will displace baseload generation from fossil sources, in particular natural gas. Japan has to import its entire gas demand as LNG, which is more costly than thermal coal, so a rise in nuclear power output is forecast to reduce LNG shipments by up to 10% this year.

The Argentine utility Central Puerto has purchased the 280-MW Brigadier López power plant from state-owned Integración Energética Argentina for an estimated $165 million, effective April 1. The buyer said it aims to boost the installed capacity of the open-cycle gas power unit by adding a 140-MW steam turbine.

Norway’s Golar LNG has started to unload the first commissioning cargo at its Golar Nanook FSRU (floating storage and regas unit) offshore Sergipe, northeastern Brazil. The supply is designated for the Porto de Sergipe-I Power Project, a 1.5GW combined-cycle gas power plant, developed by Golar in a joint venture with Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners.

U.S. major ExxonMobil, together with Qatar Petroleum, has made a gas discovery of 5-8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) its Glaucus-1 well off Cyprus. The find adds another giant discovery to the East Mediterranean but a lack of subsea pipelines hamper the use of this gas in the local power sector, so Exxon considers teaming up with other majors to monetize the find through a new LNG venture.

Nearly half of the German public wants a nuclear exit to happen before a coal phase-out: 49.5% of respondents of a Verivox survey say closing the last nuclear plant by 2022, and the last coal plant by 2038, is ‘the right order’. But 44.1% of respondents say nuclear closures are ‘wrong’ from a climate perspective.

News in Brief

Smart grid market to top $70bn by 2027

April 24 – The global Smart Grid Market is expected to reach around $70 billion, growing at an annual rate of 15.56% in the coming years through to 2027.North America is forecast to see the largest revenue growth, according to ResearchNester, while Europe also shows promising growth in smart grids due to high awareness for decentralized power generation, battery storage and conserving energy.

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.