Technology & Innovation

Japan’s largest LNG importer and power producer JERA and IHI Corporation have received a government grant to set up a demonstration project for ammonia co-firing at thermal power stations in Japan. Ammonia does not emit carbon dioxide when burned, and the test runs are due to start in June 2021.

Brill Power, a spin-out of Oxford University, has had its new lithium-ion battery management technology verified by the classification society DNV. Simulations and testing at DNV’s laboratory in Arnhem, the Netherlands, confirmed a higher utilized pack capacity that could reduce lifetime cost.

Finish engine maker Wärtsilä, together with Soletair Power and Q Power, will showcase Power-to-X (P2X) technology at the upcoming World Expo in Dubai. A demo unit will capture CO2 from the air inside the Finnish pavilion and combine it with hydrogen split from water by electrolysis.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is making in-roads at the Friedrichshafen plant of Rolls-Royce's Power Systems where a 250 kW demonstrator is being set up for testing. At the PowerLab, four low-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are ready, containerised with separate compartments for fuel cells and batteries.

Siemens Energy and Mitsubishi Electric jointly develop high-voltage switchgear that substitutes sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) with clean air for insulation. Research starts with a 245-kV dead-tank circuit breaker, but once developed, the two OEMs will manufacture and sell the switchgear independently.

California-based Bloom Energy has agreed with Idaho National Laboratory to independently test the use of nuclear energy for electrolysis. Rather than ramping down baseload nuclear power plants, the surplus energy can be used cost-effectively to produce green hydrogen.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has decided to absorb the business of Mitsubishi Power effective October 1, 2021. Some aspects of the integration are already underway, as the Japanese manufacturer strives to promote the use of carbon-free fuels like hydrogen and ammonia at various demonstration plants around the world.

Cummins and KBR have joined forces to produce ammonia from renewables. The partners will use Cummins’ proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser as well as K-GreeN ammonia technology from KBR, with the aim to fuel 250+ MW power projects with both hydrogen and ammonia.

The Port of Rotterdam plans to take a financial investment decision on its H-Vision project this year, with a view to producing hydrogen from natural gas and refinery fuels gas by the end of 2026. Such fossil fuel-based, “blue” hydrogen projects, however, do not enjoy the same support as “green” hydrogen projects, based on renewables.

Washington State’s largest utility, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), has signed a joint development agreement with Mitsubishi Power Americas to implement large-scale hydrogen generation and hydrogen-fired turbines, renewables and battery energy storage into PSE’s service territory. The aim is for PSE to become a “Beyond Net Zero Carbon” energy company by 2045.

US engine maker Cummins and PLUS, developer of self-driving vehicles, are working on a driver-in, supervised truck, powered by compressed gas engines. The engines will be provided by Cummins and have been certified to near-zero emissions. Deployment is due in 2022.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Shell, Vattenfall and Wärme Hamburg – the founding four of Hamburg’s Green Hydrogen Hub – have teamed up with Airbus and ArcelorMittal and another six firms to form the ‘Hamburg Hydrogen Network’. As of 2026, the partners aim to curb CO2 emissions in Hamburg by 170,000 tons each year.

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News in Brief

Growth in turbine air filtration tops 3%

July 22 – The turbine air filtration market is expected to grow 3.27% annually from $1.92 billion in 2020 to reach $2.29 billion in 2026. Demand from the oil & gas industry and electric utilities had plunged during the corona crisis and subsequent economic downturn, but the latest trend towards clean energy is driving robust growth for turbine air filtration which can be widely and easily applied in the power sector.

US oil exports stay high

July 21 – Despite volatile prices, U.S. crude oil exports reached a record high in 2020 and remained strong this year, averaging 3.51 million barrels per day (b/d). Expanded ports at Houston and Corpus Christi allow for oil to be exported from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Basin.

CVEC to be converted to hydrogen

July 20 – Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC) is taking steps to run the  combined-cycle plants on hydrogen. Works to convert the plant will be carried out by GE and are scheduled to start in late 2022. One of three GE 7F.05 gas turbines at CVEC will be introduced to a 5% hydrogen blend with natural gas.

MAN ETES labelled solar impulse efficient

July 16 – MAN Electro-Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) was attributed the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label by independent auditors. In January, the German manufacturer supplied to ETES heat pumps to DIN Forsyning for a heat and power plant in the Danish port city Esbjerg.

Electricity sales to US industry rebounds

July 14 – Economic recovery has caused a 5.1% rise electricity sales to US industry this year, dwarfing 2.8% more retail sales and a 2.1% rise in the commercial sector as many office workers continue working from home. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) acting administrator, Steve Nalley, called the rebound in electricity sales to industry a “strong sign of rising levels of economic output as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes.”

Solar PV to triple in Asia by 2030

July 13 – Asia Pacific solar photovoltaic capacity could triple to 1,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie estimates, China will add 619 GW of mainly utility-scale capacity while most other nations in Asia prefers distributed solar due to land constraints. Solar PV tends to be backed up by flexible gas gensets and energy storage, forming hybrid power units.

Kinder Morgan closes on Stagecoach assets

July 12 – US energy infrastructure major Kinder Morgan has closed its acquisition of Stagecoach Gas Services. The deal include 4 gas storage facilities with a 41 bcf working gas capacity and a transmission network with multiple interconnects to major interstate pipelines, including Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The Stagecoach assets add to Kinder Morgan’s approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines and 144 terminals.

Dortmund cancels electrotechnik fair

July 9 – The elektrotechnik fair, planned for 29 September to 1 October 2021, will now not be taking place in Dortmund due to requests from the industry. The next trade fair for building, industrial, energy and lighting technology will now open its doors again in spring 2023.

Hitachi to change name of ABB Power Grids

July 7 – Hitachi ABB Power Grids will become Hitachi Energy in October. The Japanese manufacturer bought a controlling stake in ABB’s grid business a year ago and is about to fully take the name of the merged company while expanding its direction towards e-mobility and data centres.

Tapping wind energy for hydrogen

July 6 – Spanish utility Naturgy and the gas grid operator Enagás are evaluating the use of 350 MW offshore and onshore wind capacity to produce green hydrogen. The fuel will be used to decarbonise the steel industry and shipyard in northwest Spain.

EU seeks to expand Green Deal to Africa

July 5 – The European Green Deal should be expanded to also include African states as partners, the German development minister Gerd Müller said. Green hydrogen production in Africa, in his view, should be a “cornerstone for economic cooperation with the Europe.”

Decom Engineering updates PCR

July 2 – Northern Ireland-based Decom Engineering has invested more than £700,000 to develop tools for repurposing and clean decommissioning of energy infrastructure. Through updated Pipe Coating Removal (PCR) equipment, decommissioned or surplus pipelines can be cleaned of multiple coatings, so they can be repurposed for used on other projects.

Cummins buys half of Momentum Fuels

July 1 – Cummins has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 50% equity interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies from Rush Enterprises. The transaction is expected to close before year-end, and the combined venture will produce Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America.

Gazprom evaluates cost of grey hydrogen

June 30 – Scientific studies by Gazprom and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) seek to solve technical challenges in producing grey hydrogen through steam reforming in the most cost-efficient way, as well as transporting the fuel to end-users. The findings of the studies will be factored into Gazprom's sustainable development scenarios up to 2050.

Redox about to overtake Li-ion batteries

June 28 – Li-ion batteries have dominated the energy storage field, but are expected to lose their leading role in stationary applications. According to IDTechEx findings, Redox flow batteries are gaining traction and are likely to overtake the installed Li-ion battery energy capacity before the end of 2030.

B&W proceeds with waste-to-energy projects

June 25 – Babcock & Wilcox’s (B&W) renewable segment has received limited notice to proceed for a waste-to-energy project in Europe as it finalizes terms for a $24 million contract with the customer. Ohio-based B&W said it looks to capitalize on an estimated addressable market of more than $7 billion in Europe over the next three years.

Japan’s gas-burn on the rise

June 24 – LNG imports for power generation in Japan have rebounded with steady volumes from the Middle East and Australia and higher cargo numbers from Russia and the US, though LNG deliveries were outpaced by thermal coal shipments. The May 2021 LNG shipments amounted to 4.95 million tonnes, or around 73 cargoes, a 8.2% rise on volumes received in May 2020, according to trade figures by the Japanese finance ministry.

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