Technology & Innovation

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.

Siemens has successfully concluded the first phase of its Subsea Power Grid shallow water test in Trondheim, Norway. Working together with Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Eni Norge, Siemens is in the final stages of developing a barrier-breaking system to distribute medium-voltage power, using pressure compensated technology.

Siemens has committed to invest up to 600 million Euros at its industrial estate in Berlin Spandau, a future R&D hub. A new world of working and living will be built on an area of 70 hectares to strengthen selected key technologies and innovations. Research will focus on distributed energy, electric vehicles, digitalization, and 3D printing.

Hydrogen, as an energy carrier and feedstock, has gained momentum amid falling cost of wind and solar power. Once mass-produced at very low cost in places like Argentina, Australia, Chile, the Middle East or South Africa, green hydrogen could become a game-changer, the same way LNG linked previously disconnected regional gas markets.

Predix ServiceMax, just launched by GE Digital, is an Asset Service Management (ASM) system designed to increase equipment uptime and improve maintenance outcomes for industry and power plant operators. Combined with performance management, the new offering helps customers transform their maintenance process from a break-fix model to a predictive service model.

A lifecycle upgrade enhances the equipment of a power plant to meet its original running parameters. With a combined cycle upgrade, more power can be produced with the same amount of fuel by applying waste heat recovery steam generators connected to common steam turbine generator sets. According to Wärtsilä Services Manager Markus Åbrant, this particular type of upgrade can trigger as much as 10% higher energy output.

Development of practical fusion power plants has been slow-moving, but now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found an innovative solution on how to get rid of excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant. The new MIT-originated design features secondary magnets and an enlarged exhaust pipe.

Having just launched H2 solution, its new sequential hydrogen combustion system, Ansaldo Energia is now carrying out further tests with the aim of allowing gas turbines to run entire on renewable gas. “The latest H2 solution is already capable to work in an impressive load range, and with still unmatched hydrogen volume percentages,” the Italian manufacturer stated.

Japan’s Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions (ESS) has agreed with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) of the Philippines to jointly promote H2One – autonomous, hydrogen-based energy systems and the use of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation. In a study, both partners will evaluate the optimum system specifications in the Philippines, where half of the current energy supply is comes from coal-and oil-fired power stations.

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News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.