Technology & Innovation

Engine+ Hybrid Energy, Wärtsilä's latest technology solution, pairs gas-fuelled engines with energy management systems and storage. It forms a fully integrated system that provides reliable power supply for operators and power producers of islanded grids. Payback periods can be as short as two years, the Finish manufacturer claims.

Six partners – Ansaldo Thomassen, Delft University, OPRA Turbines, Vattenfall, Nouryon and EMMTEC – have been granted €500 million by the Dutch Government for research into ‘High Hydrogen Gas Turbine Retrofit to Eliminate Carbon Emissions’. The aim is to develop a CO2-free hydrogen value chain, in line with the EU Energy Roadmap 2050.

General Electric has installed its first DLN1.0+ Ultra Low NOx combustion upgrade globally at nine GE 9E gas turbines at five power stations in Shenzen Province, China. The upgrade reduces NOx emissions from about 25ppm to about 7.5ppm, in line with the Shenzhen government’s ‘Blue Sky’ campaign.

Engineers at GE, together with the Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI) have designed, built and tested what is said to be the highest-temperature supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) turbine in the world. The turbine, featuring a multi-stage axial flow sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander, was developed with a $6.8 million U.S. government grant on top of $3 million industry funding.

Manufacturers of power generation equipment like MAN Energy Solutions see hydrogen as a future alternative fuel source for its gas turbines, though switching from methane to hydrogen a conversion of the turbine combustion chamber to allow for higher firing temperatures. Demand for H2-solutions keeps rising as states like California aim for 100% clean energy by 2045.

Intermittency issues of wind and solar power supply are feared to jeopardize the stability of the U.S. power grid. To remedy this issue scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an “air-breathing” battery storage that, at the cheapest, run about $100/kWh and functions only in certain locations.

Swiss-based ABB and Rolls-Royce of the UK have entered a global partnership on microgrid technology and advanced automation, particularly for hybrid power systems. Mircogrids are critical to integrate rising volumes of renewable energy and benefit utilities and industrial users alike.

The Indian manufacturer ELGi Equipments is showcasing its new AB ‘Always Better’ air compressor series, a breakthrough in oil free compressed air technology, at Hannover Messe ComVac 2019 this week. Air Alert, an IoT-based, machine-monitoring platform is also on display at the trade show.

Siemens is supporting a study by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics (IEE), and the French Grenoble Ecole de Management, on SF6 and F-gas free alternatives for medium voltage (MV) gas-insulated switchgear installations in Europe. The research – funded by Siemens and Schneider Electric Industries – has started in mid-March and is running until early 2020.

Uniper, formed in 2016 as a spin-off of E.ON's fossil power plant assets, has started producing methane gas from excess wind and solar power through electrolysis at its Falkenhagen Power-to-Gas (P2G) plant. The project demonstrates it is feasible to produce entirely green energy with qualities identical to natural gas.

MAN Energy Solutions is targeting ASEAN and Africa with its new integrated LNG-to-Power solutions. “We have new projects under development mainly in Asia and western- and northern Africa. But this is a business we are still building,” said business development manager Carsten Dommermuth. “For the entire project development up to the commercial operating date we allocate a time frame of 3 to 5 years.”

U.S. engine manufacturer Cummins will present its newly launched HSK78G gas generators at the Energy Hannover trade show on April 1-5, where the series will be showcased in Europe for the first time. With a power density from 1.6 to 2.0 MW from a 78L engine, the HSK78G generator can reach up to 44.2% electrical efficiency on 50Hz models.

China’s State Power Investment Corp (SPIC) and Siemens have signed a strategic partnership framework agreement, building on the companies' earlier agreed technology collaboration for heavy-duty gas turbines. The contract was sealed in Beijing today by SPIC chairman Qian Zhimin and Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser. The aim is to create a China-based supplier eco-system.

Eddyfi Technologies, a Canadian developer of inspection technology based in Québec, has launched Spyne – a non-destructive ECA-adaptable screening and testing screening tool that can detect cracks, fatigue and corrosion faster and with a higher probability than traditional tools. Spyne is applicable on pipelines, vessels or power generation equipment.

With more than a third of Germany’s electricity generated by renewables, the number of Power-to-X projects has surged in a bid to make use of this intermittent energy supply. Over 35 plants with over 50 kW of installed electrolysis capacity will be in operation by 2022 in Germany alone, according to forecasts by certification service provider TÜV SÜD.

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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.