Technology & Innovation

Rolls-Royce and Daimler Truck plan to cooperate on stationary fuel-cell generators for data centers, hospitals and other safety-critical infrastructure. These fuel-cell gensets will offer emission-free alternatives to diesel generators, currently used as emergency units to cover peak loads.

Fast adoption of floating LNG technology across Asia is opening up new gas markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. According to Black & Veatch, gas-fired power projects are “attractive for emerging markets” due to advantages in price, reliability and fuel access over developing technologies such as battery storage.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has again grabbed the leadership for gas turbine orders in 2020, according to the McCoy Report. First quarter orders of 2,638 MW brought MHPS’ market share to 28.5% globally, driven by sales of heavy-duty JAC and aero-derivative gas turbines.

Italian grid operator Terna has asked GE to provide two synchronous condensers and flywheel units for the Brindisi substation. The units supply a combined 500 MVAr reactive power and 3500 MWs inertia to help stabilize Italy’s grid and support the integration of more renewables.

The 3000th gas genset of Rolls-Royce's MTU-branded Series 4000 natural gas engine has rolled off the production line, set to be delivered to VPower Group for a project in Myanmar. Series 4000 gas engines are part of MTP since October 2004 and are being produced in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Despite the recent oil market shock, a fifth of industry leaders said in a DNV GL survey their companies have entered the hydrogen market, anticipating the synthetic fuel will be a big part of the energy mix by 2030. DNV GL is involved in pilot projects in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK.

Energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) budgets have increased by 4% worldwide to reach $20.9 billion. Low-carbon research accounts for 94% of the overall budgets in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) member countries, though the Covid-19 pandemic caused a noticeable shift in focus to business streamlining and cost-cutting.

Wärtsilä is working on a new combustion process to allow its gas engine burn solely hydrogen fuel. The Finish technology group has already tested its engines with blends of up to 60% hydrogen and 40% natural gas, having proven that the engines can run on synthetic carbon-neutral methane.

U.S. developer PowerPHASE has launched a Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) Plant, designed to enable grid-scale energy storage of renewable power. CEO Bob Kraft said the company is working with a couple utilities in the United States to install the first reference unit.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has achieved a market share of 37.2% for flue gas desulfurization (FGD) by delivering systems with a combined output of 51,010 MW, according to the McCoy Power Report. FGD systems are installed in thermal power gen units with output of 5 MW and above.

Partners of the European Turbine Network (ETN) are looking to flexibilize combined-cycle power units by partly running them on green hydrogen or ammonia. Energias de Portugal (EDP) will demonstrate the concept of hydrogen co-firing at its 1.2 GW Ribatjo power plant near Lisbon.

The U.S. Department of Energy has freed up $28 million in funding for research on ultrahigh temperature materials that can operate in high stress environments of a gas-turbine blade. Novel alloys and coatings are meant to further enhance turbine efficiency.

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News in Brief

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.

U.S inventories at record highs

May 4 – Inventories for crude oil and natural gas have reached a new record high in the United States, as fuel demand declines both for transport and the electric power sector. From March 13 – when a national emergency was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to April 24, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 74 million barrels, or 16%, according to government figures. The acute scarcity of crude storage on April 20 led to a sell-off of future contracts at negative prices.

Wärtsilä to service Argentinean power plant

May 1 – Wärtsilä has signed a 10-year maintenance and service agreement with one of Argentina’s upstream companies. Under the deal, Wärtsilä provides a guaranteed performance for a 57.6 MW onsite power plant in the southern part of Argentina, with excess power sold to the national grid.