Technology & Innovation

Carbon capture and hydrogen are interdependent; hence the resurgence of strategic interest in hydrogen is strongly connected with carbon capture in multiple ways. “The most basic is the source of hydrogen: today it is fossil fuels with over 10 tons of CO2 emitted for a ton of H2,” said IEA chief economist Laszlo Varro.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of a few options that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation as well as from industrial processes such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing. “Without CCUS as part of the solution,” said IEA head Dr. Fatih Birol, “reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible.”

Utilities around the global are understood to have halted operations of at least 18 of GE’s HA turbines at power plants following blade oxidation corrosion issues. The technical issues are reportedly very similar to a recent GE turbine blade failure at Exelon’s Colorado Bend power plant near Houston.

Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has spent $175 million to develop a floating gas-fired power plant, fuelled by LNG, and aimed at Southeast Asian market. The power ships will be offered to utility customers on remote islands and in isolated locations with underdeveloped gas pipeline infrastructure.

Digital twinning, the creation a digital replica of physical assets, is “already out of date, out of synch – simply because the twin is not alive,” said Robert Yeager, president of Power & Water Solutions at Emerson. Instead, he advocated “real-time synchronization” of the power plant and digital asset representation.

Remote management of medium-speed Bergen engines will be made possible via Rolls-Royce’s new end-to-end platform for secure collection, transfer, storage, and analysis of engine data. The aim is to reduce downtime and lower operational costs. Testing of the new remote monitoring tool has been underway for more than a year.

MTU Onsite Energy, part of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, and LEW Verteilnetz have demonstrated that distributed generation units can be used to supply emergency backup power in the event of an outage. Project partners used MTU cogeneration units and renewables and tested the new concept in extensive field trials in an isolated grid in Germany.

SeaFloat, a barge-mounted power plant based on SGT-800 gas turbine, will be provided by Siemens and the maritime arm of ST Engineering for Bermuda-based Seaboard Corp. The 450 MW power barge, dubbed Estrella del Mar III, will supply the Dominican Republic with electricity at a lower cost than a land-based plant staring from spring 2021.

Intermittency issues of wind and solar power supply are feared to jeopardize the stability of the U.S. electricity network. 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.

Commissioning is underway at the Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) pilot plant at Drax Power Station near Selby in North Yorkshire. The 6-month pilot project was realized at a cost of £400,000, and is meant to capture 1 tonne of CO2 per day.

ABB Ability Ellipse solution will support Ameren Illinois’ multi-million dollar modernization of their power grid in Illinois. The asset performance management software has a “prescriptive approach”, which will allow Ameren to better predict and prevent the failure of mission-critical equipment that delivers electricity to 1.2 million customers.

With the advent of utility-scale energy storage and hybrid power systems, traditional power producers are turning to system integrators to balance multiple generation assets and optimize the energy produced. Wärtsilä’s GEMS software helped ALTEO Group optimise an engine power plant with energy storage in Hungary, and on the Azores the software used a mircogrid form of AI to control and balance wind, solar and diesel gensets.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has evolved significantly and today develops turbine components that, in most cases, perform better than their conventionally manufactured counterparts. In the energy field, Siemens is aspiring to qualify 200 components for manufacture via 3D printing by 2025.

Operators in the energy sector are struggling to cope with rising threats to the security of their generating assets. Digitalisation helps ensure a save and stable operating environment to allow for flexible dispatch of power units. Wärtsilä solutions build up an active resistance to cyber threats that guarantees electric utilities a steady return on their assets.

Substations in the digital age are increasingly known as “the heart of the power supply system,” connecting parts of the grid that operate at different voltage levels. Siemens’ vision is a largely decarbonized energy system in a “near-to-all electric world”. The technology is already there, but utilities and grid operators still need to fully embrace it.

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