Technology & Innovation

Rolls-Royce has purchased a 73.1 percent majority stake in Berlin-based electricity storage specialist Qinous for an unspecified price, effective from tomorrow, January 15. With this move, the British manufacturer wants to “pool all its microgrid activities”  – from simple storage solutions to complex microgrid solutions of various sizes and configurations.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has presented it 2019 "Best Partner Awards" to supplier that made “especially noteworthy contributions” to its business last year. The five recipients are Kajima Corp. of Japan, the Dutch company HP Valves, Himile of China, South Korea’s Sung Il Sim, and the Taiwanese engineering firm Liang Lian.

MAN Energy Solutions is conducting a test phase with over 20 field applications for its newly developed assisted-reality application, PrimeServ EyeTech. Tests are conducted in cooperation with a pilot customer for turbomachinery maintenance and repair.

Grid balancing becomes paramount as the share of intermittent supply from renewable power sources keeps rising fast in most developed countries around the globe. Smart grids are hence expected to manage two-thirds of global net electricity supply by 2050, and by that time an estimated $548 billion will be invested in batteries for energy storage.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) President and CEO Ken Kawai has used his New Year address to highlight the company’s focus on decarbonization by promoting fuel conversions to biomass, hydrogen and ammonia. In 2020, the MHPS President anticipates “further growth” for combined-cycle gas turbine orders to help convert CCGT and ICGT units to hydrogen co-firing.

Burckhardt Compression has been contracted to deliver a high-speed compressor to Ganzair in Hungary, where it will be used to inject natural gas from a key transmission pipeline to a nearby underground gas storage (UGS). The ISO 13631-compliant compressor is the first of its kind made by Burckhardt for this application in Europe.

Researchers at GE, working together with Baker Hughes, Intel and the Florida State University, have developed ‘Digital Ghost’ – a new tool designed to allow critical energy infrastructure like natural gas pipelines to operate safely during a cyber-attack. The $5.2 million program is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).

Berlin-based energy startup Lumenion has presented the pilot of its 2.4 Megawatt-hour (MWh) steel storage system in a housing project in the German capital. The technology allows storing excess renewable electricity in the form of heat (up to 650°C) in steel plates. If required, that stored heat can be converted back into electricity.

GE Power has completed the first upgrade worldwide of a turbine with ALSPA P320 V1 controls – technology originally developed by Alstom – to GE’s new Mark VIe system. The pilot project was carried out at ENGIE’s 770-MW Baymina combined-cycle gas power plant near Ankara.

Gas-fuelled, cryogenic barges – designed by the Canadian naval architect Robert Allen and Hidrovias do Brazil – will be used to transport LNG to remote locations in northern Brazil. The first project benefiting from the solution will be the 1.67 GW Vila-do-Conde gas-fired power plant in Baracena, in Brasil's northern state of Pará.

MAN Energy Solutions and Orcan Energy agreed to collaborate on waste heat recovery. PACK technology, developed by Oran, uses waste heat from the engine to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. The solution is now available to all of MAN’s customers for retrofitting their engines.

Rolls-Royce and Lab1886, an innovation lab within the Mercedes-Benz group, have joint forces to test the use of vehicle fuel cells for stationary power supply. The aim is to develop an MTU solution for sustainable off-grid generation.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is showcasing its hydrogen-fuelled turbines and fuel cells during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid. The Japanese manufacturer has successfully tested a large-scale turbine that runs on a 30% hydrogen fuel mix.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D-printing, is making inroads in the energy sector. According to Global Data, power utilities and equipment manufacturers are “witnessing a huge opportunity in 3D printing to make their operations more efficient.” Early adopters of this technology are GE, Siemens, Rosatom and Westinghouse.

The technology of Siemens’s new SGT6-9000HL engine, first installed for the customer Duke Energy, builds on four generations of technologies and five previous models, including the H-class. “But it’s the combustion system where the magic happens,” explains Peter DeHaan, who is leading development of the 9000HL.

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News in Brief

ExxonMobil enhances turbine oils

Jan 17 – New high performance turbine oils, developed by ExxonMobil Lubricants, are  entering the market which are formulated to prevent build-up of lacquer, varnish and deposits. The oils are designed to protect against thermal and oxidative degradation, one of the root causes of deposit build-up.

Wärtsilä signs O&M deals in the Bahamas

Jan 16 – Following the commissioning of a Wärtsilä-built 132 MW power plant in Bahamas in December, the Finish manufacturer now signed a two-year operation and maintenance (O&M) accord with the plant owner, the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). Wärtsilä will transition, train, and develop the owner’s Bahamian work force and provide key performance guarantees.

China, S'Korea curtail coal to tackle air pollution

Jan 15 – Beijing city government’s aggressive approach to tackling air pollution is working and South Korea’s spring coal-fired curtailments show some success in cutting seasonal emissions. According to Wood Mackenzie, this should benefit LNG, particularly while spot prices remain low.

Sri Lanka at brink of power shortages

Jan 14 – Sri Lanka could face power cuts by March, after plans for a large-scale coal power plant were been cancelled just prior to start of construction, and a tender for a 300 MW diesel plants ended up in court. On the demand side, pressure is building up as the region is moving into the dry season in February and March. Weather warnings say the island is likely to receive lower than average rainfall in the first quarter of 2020.

Caterpillar’s new genset comply with UK & German grid codes

Jan 13 – Caterpillar Inc. has launched a series of new generator sets that comply with the new G99 United Kingdom, VDE-AR-N 4110 German and Belgium C10/C11 grid codes. The following gensets – G3500H, CG132B, CG170, and CG260 (rated from 280-4,500kVA) – have been verified to be able to accommodate different reactive power modes, active power functions, and connection conditions for normal operation or reconnection after mains decoupling.

Transneft launches battery-based power supply for ILI tools

Jan 10 – Transneft Diascan, the largest Russian inspection service provider for pipelines, has developed and put into operation a power supply system for in-line inspection (ILI) tools based on rechargeable batteries. Flaw detectors performing inspections of trunk oil pipelines, gas pipelines and oil product pipelines can now use the energy from rechargeable batteries, which helps save time and reduces the cost of in-line inspection.

Pavilion starts trading LNG out of Madrid

Jan 9 – Singapore-based Pavilion Energy has completed the acquisition of all gas and LNG assets of the Spanish utility Iberdrola. From its new European headquarters in Madrid, Pavilion said has launched 2020 LNG trading operations with supplies focusing on Spain and the UK market.

Gazprom extends gas transits via Belarus until 2021

Jan 8 – Gazprom and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus have sealed additional agreements to extend the contracts for gas supplies to and gas transportation across Belarus until 2021. According to the newly-signed documents, the contractual supply and transit volumes in 2020 will remain at the level of 2019.

EastMed pipeline to take FID by 2022

Jan 7 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement to build the 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline at an estimated cost of 6 billion Euros. The subsea pipeline, spanning over 1,900-kilometres would initially carry 10 Bcm of gas per annum from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland and into the European gas network via Italy. A final investment decision (FID) is meant to be reached in 2022, given that the pipeline is scheduled for completion by 2025.

U.S. energy-related emissions drop over 2%

Jan 6 – Fewer emissions from coal consumption, combined with lower energy demand, have helped to significantly reduce the overall energy-related carbon emissions in the United States. According to government statistics, energy-related CO2 emissions fell 2.2 percent last year, and the downward trend is forecast to continue into 2020.

Brent crude prices surge

Jan 3 – North Sea Brent crude prices have risen to their highest level since September 2019, up nearly $3 per barrel because of Middle East tensions coupled with improved Chinese economic forecasts. Brent crude futures for March 2020 delivery were last seen trading at 69.21 per barrel the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). This bullish price sentiment will feed through to oil-indexed natural gas contracts and LNG deliveries, linked to the Japanese crude cocktail (JCC) basket price.

IEA says coal’s fate tied to Asia

Dec 23 – Rapid rise of wind and solar power in many parts of the world has pushed coal-fired power generation into steep decline in most developed countries. "But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia," analysts at the International Energy Agency commented: "The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.

COP25 – a “lost opportunity”

Dec 17 – UN Secretary António Gutierrez has dismissed the outcome of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid as “disappointing” and “lost opportunity“. Some of the world’s largest emitters, including Australia, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had joined the U.S. in pushing for accounting loopholes to weaken commitments to reduce emissions in the transport and power generation sector.

Industry produces over 13% of Germany’s electricity

Dec 16 – Decentralized power generation at industrial sites keeps rising in Germany. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), industry produced 55 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of in 2018, meaning local units of mining and manufacturing generated 12.6 percent of the country's gross electricity output, mostly from gas-fired power units. The use of gas as a fuel for industrial power plants has consequently risen from around 35 percent to almost 50 percent over the last ten years.