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.

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News in Brief

JERA on recruiting spree

Feb 26 – Japan’s largest electric utility and LNG buyer JERA is looking to hire 20 administrative and 60 technical staff. Recruitment activities will begin on 1 March 2021.

B&W wins $13m new contracts in North America

Feb 25 – The thermal segment of Babcock & Wilcox has been awarded several energy-related projects in North America, worth approximately $13 million, as the market strengthens and projects continue to restart following delays in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.” We’re seeing customers now moving forward with necessary work that had been previously put on hold. The recent inclement weather also has forced higher loads within the utility sector and we anticipate stronger demand for parts and services going forward,” said B&W Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morgan.

PIC Group to service 1.1 GW Hummel Power Station

Feb 24 – Atlanta-based PIC Group has been awarded an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract for the Hummel Power Station, a 1,124 MW combined-cycle plant operated by LS Power Group. Situated in Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, the CCGT is equipped with three SGT6-5000F gas turbines, one SST6-5000 steam turbine, three SGen6-1000A air-cooled generators and one hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generator.

Duke Energy claims natural gas is cheaper than energy storage

Feb 23 – Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have both indicated in their latest integrated resource plans (IRPs) they view battery storage as potentially more costly than proven gas-fired generating technology. Market observers noted, however, that Duke’s estimates peg the capital costs of a 50 MW/200 MWh energy storage plant at $347 per kWh —far higher than the cost of units that entered commercial service in 2020, as per Lazard data.

EU emission rules could herald end of combustion engine

Feb 22 – Future EU emission rules for cars could mean the abrupt end of combustion engines and put many jobs at risk, the German engineering federation VDMA has warned in a position paper. The use of efficient combustion engines is “still important” – both for vehicles and small generators –VDMA President Karl Haeusgen stressed, especially since these engines can be operated in a climate-neutral manner with synthetic fuels or hydrogen.

Saudi cement producer renews Wärtsilä O&M deal

Feb 19 – The Saudi Arabian cement producer Umm AlQura Cement has signed a five year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Wärtsilä for the customer’s captive power plant in Taif City. The 47 MW plant operates with five Wärtsilä 32TS engines. The initial three year maintenance agreement was signed in 2015, and thereafter renewed once.

Gazprom expands Sakhalin–Vladivostok gas pipeline

Feb 18 – The Russian major Gazprom is expanding the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas trunkline at the section between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk. More than 315 kilometers, or three quarters of its overall length, has been welded to date. Gazprom’s 2021-2025 investment programme will total RUB 5.49 billion ($70 million) – more than three times he money spent in 2016–2020. Planned projects include 14 inter-settlement gas pipelines, 9.3 kilometers of gas pipeline branches, and six gas distribution stations.

Enstor closes sale of Waha gas storage

Feb 17 – Houston-based Enestor Gas has completed the sale of its Waha Gas Storage assets in northwest Texas to WhiteWater Midstream. Waha Gas Storage assets have the capacity, when fully developed, to store approximately 10 Bcf of natural gas and include six underground caverns and permits for five additional caverns.

Technip Energies listed in Paris

Feb 16 – Today, Technip Energy has been listed at Euronext’s regulated market in Paris. CEO Arnaud Pieton said the company’s mission is to “serve the energy transition” through its leading position in LNG, hydrogen and ethylene. As growth areas, he singled out sustainable chemistry and CO2 management.

US renewable energy share to double by 2050

Feb 15 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the share of renewables in the U.S. electricity generation mix will increase from 21% in 2020 to 42% in 2050. Wind and solar generation are responsible for most of that growth, while nuclear and coal-fired generation decrease. The share of gas-fired generation will remain stable even though gas prices remain low at an estimated $3.50 per MMBtu, according to EIA projections.

Nikkiso to build electric-mechanical actuators

Feb 12 – The clean energy arm of Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries has bought the intellectual property to manufacture electric-mechanical actuators (EMA) and control panels. Coupled to a cryogenic pump, the system works without gearbox which reduces the size of these vertical pumps frequently used in the oil and gas industry.

Europe’s hydrogen projects outnumber current plants

Feb 11 – The number of hydrogen projects across Europe is almost double that of operational electrolysers as demand for the clean fuel is rising fast. According to research by DLA Piper and inspirata, there are 192 planned or announced hydrogen projects in Europe compared to 107 currently operational ones.

NTE to develop 5 GW clean energy projects

Feb 10 – Florida-based NTE Energy is working with investment partners to develop 1.2 GW of solar and 3.9 GW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) next to thermal power plants. “By co-locating renewable projects with thermal generation, we can offer customers access to affordable solar power options backed up by reliable natural gas,” said Steve Remen, NTE managing director. The company aims to bring 4 GW of its proposed clean energy projects into commercial operation by 2026.

Oil price bounces back

Feb 9 – The price of crude oil has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, after plunging to an all-time low last year. Brent crude oil prices for the front-month April were last seen trading at nearly $61 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, has risen above the $58 a barrel mark for the first time in over a year.

Equinor VP named co-chair of OGUK board

Feb 8 – Arne Gürtner, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland Offshore at Equinor has been appointed to co-chair the Oil & Gas UK board, as the sector strive to recover while meeting its net-zero targets for 2021. He will be working with Phil Simons, VP North Sea & Canada, Subsea 7.

Enagás to tap wind power for hydrogen

Feb 5 – The Spanish utilities Enagás and Naturgy are evaluating the potential of producing hydrogen from a 250 MW floating off-shore wind farm and a 100 MW on-shore wind farm in Asturias. The project is hoped to generate more than 1500 jobs during construction and operation, with developers applying for funding under the IPCEI scheme.

Turboden wins contract in the Philippines

Feb 4 – Italy-based Turboden, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been awarded a contract by the Philippine utility EDC to supply a 20 MW geothermal power plant at Bacon-Manito, on the island of Luzon. The zero-emissions power unit is scheduled to start operations before the end of 2022, and will help lower the local grid’s dependence on fossil energy source.

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