Daily News

Sunny south-western parts of the United States is where solar PV plus energy storage can now outcompete flexible gas-fired peaking plants. Several tenders in the region for solar plus storage came in at less than $30/MWh last year – and technology costs keep falling.

Researchers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and B&B Agema have been looking at a novel design approach – Nekomimi film cooling – to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet. The aim is to boost efficiency without putting too much strain on vanes and blades, considering that modern turbine stage inlet temperatures exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials.

The Texan arm of Entergy Corp has selected two Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) gas turbines of its Montgomery County Power Station near Willis, due to start operating in 2021. For MHPS the order is the third from Entergy in just 22 months.

The Finish technology group Wärtsilä will supply a gas engine-driven power plant to a leading petroleum company in Argentina. With an initial output of 57.4 MW, which can later be increased to 90 MW, the plant’s electricity output will primarily be used to power the local oil fields in the Manantiales Behr basin.

Market observers have questioned the commercial viability of a new 300 MW ‘emergency reserve’ power plant at Irsching, Bavaria. Uniper has won a tender to build the open-cycle unit even though it is seeking to mothball two combined-cycle power units at the same site.

Protests raised by the Engineers’ Union has forced Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to stop construction at three cabinet-approved LNG-fuelled power projects. A China-led 400 MW project, a Japan-sponsored 500 MW project and an India-lead 500 MW project are all halted amid claims that private developers would force the government to buy electricity at higher prices.

Though a tender has been completed, the winning bidder for a 300 MW LNG-fuelled power project in Kerawalapitiya, in Sri Lanka’s western province, is not yet officially named. LTL Holdings submitted the lowest bid of US$ 160 million, but the offer is based on conditions that pile “maximum political pressure” on the government to decide in its favour.

Electricity produced from wind farm will be the fastest growing U.S. power source for at least the next two years. About 11 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity is due to come online in 2019, pushing up the share of wind in the energy mix from 7% in 2018 to 9% in 2020, according to EIA figures, while the share of gas is set to rise from 25% to 27% over the same period.

Suspension of Hitachi’s 2.9 GW Wylfa nuclear power project and the phase-out of coal power by 2025 will greatly enhance the role of gas in the UK energy mix. To replace the lost capacity at Wylfa with combined-cycle gas power plants, operators would require close to 3.5 bcm of gas per year.

Energy-intensive industries in Germany are pressing the government to limit the cost burden of the country’s green energy transition for their businesses. The much-discussed ‘coal exit’ will favour flexible gas power plants, but industries fear it could push up wholesale power prices by up to 50%.

Falling technology cost and supportive policies are seen pushing up the American grow from currently $400 million to top $4 billion by 2024. According to Global Market Insights, power storage could become a “market disruptor”, having nearly doubled in 2018 by adding yet another 1,000 MWh of capacity.

Caterpillar Energy Solutions has just launched a new 170B 50-Hertz series of generator sets with a power output ranging from 1.3 MW to 2.3 MW. The 20-cylinder version is available now, with 12 and 16 cylinders set to come out later in 2019.

Though trade tensions with the U.S. affected China’s GDP figures in the fourth quarter, demand growth in China’s electricity sector is still “phenomenal,” Wood Mackenzie says. Total power demand in 2018 is estimated to have fallen by just 0.5%, or 32 TWh, based on tariffs on US$34 billion of goods with effect from July.

Wisconsin’s state utility regulators will decide on whether the proposed 550-MW Nemadji Trail Energy Center will be built. The developers have filed plans to co-develop the $700 million facility, and now await an official permit.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp has developed two technologies for gas-insulated switchgears (GIS): arc-cooling that improves the interruption of electrical current in sulfur-fluoride GIS by 25%, and high-density dielectric coating that improves insulation performance by 30% in high-voltage conductors.

News in Brief

France imports more Russian gas

March 21 – Demand for Russian gas continues to grow in France, with Gazprom’s exports rising 5.4% last year to 12.9 billion cubic meters (bcm). The upward continued into early 2019 and provisional estimates show some 2.5 bcm of gas was exported to France from January 1 to March 14, 2019, a 1.9% increase on the previous year period, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller noted when discussing contractual supplies with his counterpart at ENGIE, Isabelle Kocher.

Merger wave grips UK oil &gas sector

March 20 – Significant pressures are here to stay in the UK oil and gas sector, with the trade association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) saying the industry is facing a “new reality” amid high levels of M&A activity and the related transfer of assets. The ongoing consolidation process forces the industry to embrace new forms of collaboration and business models.

Chevron Nigeria to supply gas to Dangote

March 19 – Chevron Nigeria has agreed to supply natural gas to Dangote’s fertilizer plant in Nigeria. The deal is part of the international oil major’s gas supply obligation to the domestic market under the Nigerian Gas Master Plan.

POSCO wins $100m CHP deal in Mexico

March 18 – POSCO Engineering & Construction, part of the leading South Korean steelmaker POSCO, has signed a $100 million agreement with Ener AB to build a 100-MW combined heat and power plant in Mexico. Situated in Coahila, the CHP will serve the energy needs of the nearby Magnelec chemical plant.

Wood to install Siemens turbine in North Carolina

March 15 – Wood Group has secured a contract from Siemens to install a HL-class gas turbine at a power plant in North Carolina. Construction works are estimated to involve 400 people and last for approximately 11 months, Wood Group said. Once installed, the turbine will add 400 MW to the plant's existing capacity 1,200 MW. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

J-series turbine passes 750000 hours

March 14 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has announced their global fleet of J-Series gas turbines accumulated over 750,000 hours of commercial operation. The J-Series fleet now includes 39 turbines in commercial operation, with 28 of those exceeding 8,000 hours and the fleet leader having more than 45,000 hours of operation.

German gas prices up 9% in March

March 13 – Household energy prices in Germany have risen substantially in March 2019, compared to the same month in the previous year, according to the price comparison site Verivox.  Electricity prices increased 5% to a new record of 29.42 cents per kilowatt hour (ct/kWh) in March to date, up from 27.99 cents a year ago, while natural gas prices jumped 9% to 6.1 ct/kWh.

MAN turbines commissioned at Chinese CHP

March 12 – MAN Energy Solutions has installed and commissioned a MGT6000 gas turbine and a THM-series gas turbine at a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that replaces a coal-based power plant in Changsa, Hunan Province. Another MGT6000 just started commercial operation at a cogeneration plant, optimized to run on natural gas, at an industrial zone of Dongguan City in Guangdong Province.

Gazprom breaks ground on 200-MW CHP plant in Serbia

March 11 – Russia’s state-run Gazprom has started construction of a combined-cycle gas cogeneration plant near Pancevo Refinery in Serbia. The site is owned by Novi Sadpart, part of Gazprom Neft Group. The 200 MW plant will be Gazprom Energoholding Group’s first power project outside of the Russian Federation and is slated for commissioning in 2020

ABB pilots digital control rooms in Sweden

Jan 8 – Swiss-based ABB has launched a new digital solution for control centers that is being pioneered and tested in a pilot project by the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). The cloud-based application works in synergy with many other ABB Ability solutions, and provides a platform for information-sharing.

MHPS opens new office in Bangladesh in bid to boost sales

Jan 7 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) has opened a branch office in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to strengthen its regional sales capabilities for thermal power stations. With the economy growing 6% in recent years, the Bangladeshi government seeks to boost the nation’s power generation capacity from currently 17 GW to approximately 24 GW by 2021 and further to 40 GW by 2030. To reach this goal, Bangladesh has started importing LNG amid state supports for private sector investment in large scale LNG-to-Power projects.

Shell mulls sale of Mahanagar Gas stake

March 6 – Shell India, the local business of Royal Dutch Shell, is considering to exit its city gas distribution business by selling its 10% stake in Mahanagar Gas Ltd. Shell acquired the stake in connection with the BG takeover in 2016, and last year already offloaded most of shareholding two two bulk divestment deals.

Siemens buys KACO’s string inverter arm

Jan 5 – Siemens announced it will acquire the string inverter business of the KACO GmbH, a manufacturers of power electronics, for an undisclosed amount. Siemens said wants to integrate KACO in its new Smart Infrastructure Operating Company, and expects the deal to close in H1-2019.

Power gen dominates Rolls-Royce’s engine business

March 4 – For the first time, Rolls-Royce Power System has manufactured more engines for electric power generation than for marine propulsion, the UK-based company said when reporting solid full year results. Revenue surged 15% to a record €3.9 billion in 2018, with adjusted profit up at €358 million resulting in a 9.1% return on sales.

Siemens produces module batteries in Trondheim

March 1 – Siemens has invested in a battery module factory in Trondheim, northern Norway, equipping the factory with a robotizied and digitally supervised production line with eight 300 MWh stations. Up to 55 battery modules per shift can be assembled every day, for use mainly in the marine and offshore market.

GE CEO committed to reduce debt “soon”

Feb 28 – General Electric CEO Larry Culp, in his first letter to shareholders, has said the company has too much debt and needs to reduce it “thoughtfully and soon.” Seeking to rebuild the ailing manufacturer, Culp focuses on GE’s four core businesses: power, renewable energy, aviation and healthcare. By adopting a “disciplined financial policy,” he wants GE achieve an industrial net debt/EBITDA ratio of less than 2.5x and a dividend in line with peers over time.

IEA launches ESCOs directory

Feb 28 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) has launched a new web resource dedicated entirely to energy service companies (ESCOs). The value of the global ESCO market grew 8% to $28.6 billion in 2017, helped by an 11% expansion in China and continued strong growth in the U.S.