Technology & Innovation

Methane-laden waters of Ruanda’s Lake Kivu, if left untapped, can accumulate to a gas bubble and trigger an explosion that poses a deadly risk for more than 2 million people living along the lake’s shores. The U.S. energy services firm ContourGlobal assessed this risk before starting to extract methane from the lake for power generation.

Siemens has commissioned the second block of the 500 MW high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) back-to-back link in Bheramara, Bangladesh, linking the country’s power grid with the one of its bigger neigbour India. With block 1 & 2 operating in parallel the Bheramara HVDC link can transport up to 1000 MW of electricity, helping to stabilize electricity supply in the region.

Siemens has launched a Frequency Stabilizer SVC Plus FS that combines static-var-compensation with supercapacitors. Capable to compensate voltage and frequency fluctuations, the device can feeds reactive power into the grid in less than 50 milliseconds. At the same time, the up to 200 megawatts of electric power stored in the supercapacitors can be transferred to the grid at full load.

Siemens and the South Korean manufacturer Iljin Electric have teamed up to develop an SF6-free gas-insulated switchgear (GIS)for the 170 kilovolt (kV) level, building on a similar Siemens application for up to 145 kV. The new GIS will use treated air, known as "Clean Air", instead of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) as the insulating medium.

Cat CG132B-16, Caterpillar’s new gas generator set, has been rated for continuous power at 1 MW for 50 Hz in natural gas applications. The gensets’ high power densitiy offers an outstanding price-performance, the manufacturer claims.

Dry and hybrid cooling is gaining ground in the U.S. power generation market, although over 61% of thermoelectric plants still use recirulating systems with cooling water. According to EIA figures, the 83 U.S. power plants that operate dry and hybrid cooling systems support about 20 gigawatts (GW) of steam-generating capacity.

The role of the grid is experiencing a pivotal change, amid rising requirements for grid balancing and renewable integration. Smart grids are forecasted to represent two-thirds of global net electricity by 2050. By then, an estimated $548 billion will be invested in battery capacity, says Seb Henbest at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

ABB, working through local distributor Consorcio AMESA, has won a $6.4 million contract to install 62 units of Elastimold switchgear along Paseo de la Reforma — Mexico City’s iconic boulevard. The rollout is part of a $150 million Comisión Federal de Electricidad project to upgrade stability of power supply to data-intensive banks, government offices and corporate headquarters that line the street.

Bentley Systems and Siemens have decided to strengthen their strategic alliance by increasing the innovation investment program from the initial €50 million funding to €100 million. Making use of Siemens’ technical expertise and project management tools the two partner aim to create a full Digital Twin for the engineering and construction world.

Agile, more efficient testing and product development for the marine, oil & gas and new energy sector will be facilitated at Wärtsilä’s new technology hub on Vaskiluoto island, near the Finish city of Vaasa. Wärtsilä will invest €83 million in modern testing and production technology for the hub, while total investment will amount to over €200 million.

Smart electrically-driven heating is a “valuable field in which to invest”, Delta-ee research finds, pointing at the substantial installed base of electrically-driven heating – 30 million units across Europe. In the UK, new business models are emerging providing heat-as-a-service, with the customer avoiding the need for buying fuel and appliances by simply buying the heat, and comfort that comes with it.

Cold energy, set free when LNG gets regasified through heat exchangers, can be utilized and monetised in different sectors, including the production of special gases through cryogenic air separation, desalination and also in the power sector. Hereby, the cold energy gets reused for inlet cooling of gas turbines.

Siemens has successfully 3D-printed and engine-tested a dry low emission (DLE) pre-mixer for its SGT-A05 aeroderivative gas turbine. From concept to engine test, the development took only seven months, which is impressive considering this component requires very tight tolerances and works in high load and temperature.

Dispatchable power generation capacity is shifting from flexible gas gensets to wind and solar technologies paired with energy storage. Excellent solar resources in the U.S. state of Arizona make First Solar confident that its 65MW solar farm and a 50MW/135MWh battery storage facility will outcompete gas peaking plants in terms of supplying electricity into the evening peak.

Eager to gain proprietary turbine technology, State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) of China has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ansaldo Energia this week to achieve mutually beneficial results in the heavy duty gas turbine area. The accord comes just weeks after Siemens and SPIC struck a technology cooperation in early June to enhance their heavy duty gas turbine programme.

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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.