Technology & Innovation

After breakthroughs in curbing energy related emissions, industrial decarbonisation is the next frontier. At zero-carbon electricity prices below $50/MWh, using electricity for heat in industrial processes becomes more economical than carbon capture and storage (CCS), McKinsey finds.

National Iranian Gas Transmission Company (NIGTC) claims its engineers have gained the necessary know-how to repair Siemens gas turbines. NIGTC chief executive Saeid Tavakoli said the company carried out overhauls of SGT600 turbines by solely relying on domestic contractors.

Silent-Power Project, a Swiss technology start-up, is producing of CO2-neutral electricity from methanol. CEO Urs Weidmann told Gas to Power Journal the company aims to achieve an annual production of 1 million liters of carbon neutral methanol with its first synthesis plant by 2020.

Hybrid HHO Gas, a developed by Eneco, is capable of generating large volumes of oxyhydrogen gas using only a small amount of electricity. The new technology is expected to cut the price of HHO gas by more than two-thirds of the current average price.

Three partners – MAN Energy Solutions, Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies and Frames Group – have joint forces to design and build large energy storages, based on Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technology. The companies already offer systems with hydrogen capacities of 5 and 12 tons per day.

US Well Services, a provider of well simulation for gas fracking, has mobilized PW Power System’s FT8 Mobilepac at its wellpads. The fast-ramp 30 MW aero-derivative gas turbines can balance large and sudden changes in power demand that are typical for hydraulic fracturing.

Siemens, the state of Saxony and the Fraunhofer Institute have signed a ‘future pact for Görlitz’ and committed to invest around €30 million to develop a competence center for hydrogen technologies. The initiative is meant to ease the effects of region’s structural transformation which has been hit by Siemens’ closure of a long-running turbine manufacturing site.

Power system flexibility is a prerequisite of the clean energy transformation. Fossil power plants were for long deemed vital to ensure flexible supply and system inertia, but “if modern wind and solar power plants are technically able to provide frequency regulation, they should be allowed access to ancillary services, as was done in Spain,” said Enrique Gutierrez, energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Energy use of crypto-currencies – bitcoin in particular – has been criticized as 'unsustainable' although estimates are wide-ranging at 20‑80 Terrawatt-Hours (TWh) annually. Through the first six months of 2019 bitcoin mining consumed some 29 TWh, up significantly from around 45 TWh in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat, an R&D firm, are testing an agile solution of soaking up carbon dioxide emissions from the air – notably from industrial facilities and power stations – at a pilot plant in California. Once economically viable, the solution could help meet the world’s climate goals.

Turbine inlet temperatures already exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials in modern facilities but researchers have come up with a novel approach to turn the heat even higher. Nekomimi film cooling, developed by Kawasaki and B&B Agema, allows to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet.

Pouakai NZ, part of the US infrastructure investor 8 Rivers Capital, is developing a clean hydrogen, fertiliser and power generation facility at a cost of up to $4 billion. The plant, designed to produce clean hydrogen for use in power generation and supercritical CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, is expected start operations by 2024.

Engineers at Belfort, GE’s crisis-struck manufacturing site in eastern France, are manufacturing the first of four Arabelle steam turbines for the Akkuyu nuclear power project in Turkey. All other components for the landmark 4.8 Gigawatt (GW) nuclear power unit will also be built in France.

The European Union has dedicated €4 million ($4.5m) for research on new designs for biogas-fuelled, small-scale cogeneration engines - in a bid to open up the heat and power sector for mainstream renewables. Named SmartCHP, the solution could have a market potential of up to €4billion, according to the lead research coordinator, BTG Biomass Technology Group.

Comparing fuel costs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said hydrogen-based direct iron reduction for steel production could allow for substitution to green energy – if the hydrogen is generated from electrolysis. “Hydrogen could become an attractive option to indirectly electrify industrial high-temperature heat," analysts said, "either via direct combustion or blending with natural gas.”

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.