Technology & Innovation

As African governments seek to boost electrification levels, a GE whitepaper evaluates the role of smart technology to transform grids and the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored. Today’s key challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa are inadequate power generation and more significantly, low levels of electrification caused by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Expanding their partnership, GE and Microsoft have announced plans to combine operational and IoT technology by integrating GE’s Predix solutions with Microsoft Azure’s cloud capabilities. The partners will also co-sell and go-to-market together, offering end-customers Industrial IoT solutions across verticals.

GE Power has commissioned of the first leg of a grid-stabilization project by handing over a Wide Area Monitoring System (WAMS) to Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) for the Northern Grid. The Indian electricity network is the world’s largest synchronized grid with a capacity of 363 GW, and Northern Grid is committed to digitizing its power system.

Siemens has introduced a new SGT-800 performance enhancement that is applicable to all existing SGT-800 units with 43-47.5-MW ratings. For turbines in simple-cycle mode, the upgrade offers up to 3.5% efficiency increase and an additional 10 MW output which boosts the installed capacity of a 47.5 MW unit to up to 53 MW.

Eager to develop proprietary gas turbine technology, State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) of China has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Siemens to explore a technology cooperation. The aim of SPIC is to boost its heavy duty gas turbine programme.

Intelligent use of drones in the electric power sector can help utilities enhance the operational safety of their assets. Routine inspections of boilers, wind turbine blades and power transmission lines can be made cost-effectively by an unmanned drone – without putting workers at risk.

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has joined forces with Énergir, a Canadian gas utility, along with French utilities GRDF and GRTgaz, focusing on research into clean energy sources. Targeted innovations include renewable natural gas, solar-powered hydrogen generation, fuel cells, power-to-gas and energy storage.

‎By 2025, there will be 29 GWh of second-life electric vehicle (EV) batteries available, far exceeding the size of today’s stationary storage market with 10 GWh available for storage application. For Hyundai Motor Group and Wärtsilä this presents “a blue ocean in the new energy business” they aim to capitalize on.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) announced a JAC-series gas turbine, using enhanced air cooling, has surpassed 8,000 cumulative hours of combined-cycle operation at the Takasago power plant in Japan. Exceeding this mark is taken as an industry benchmark for demonstrating a turbine's reliability.

First fire of Toshiba’s 50 MW(th) commercial-scale combustor has been carried out at NET Power’s oxy-combustion CO2 power-cycle demonstration plant in La Porte, Texas. Testing uses CO2 working fluid to produce low-cost electricity while virtually eliminating emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants.

RWG (Repair & Overhauls) Ltd, a Siemens and Wood Company, has been appointed for new assembly and testing of Siemens SGT-A05 (KB7 HE) gas turbines. The Houston-based facility of RWE will handle all aspects of the new-build programme including sub-assembly, dynamic balance, engine assembly and factory acceptance testing.

Ansaldo Energia and Leonardo – one of the top ten players in aerospace, defence and security – are setting up the "Start 4.0 Competence Centre for the Security and Optimisation of critical Infrastructures" in Liguria, Italy. Their mission is to identify adequate solutions through experiments and validate methodological approaches to map risk and protect infrastructure, notably power plants.

Eager to maintain market share, GE Power has just introduced the new MXL2 with an additive manufactured, or 3D printed performance upgrade for the GT13E2 turbine. The new solution is meant to help operators of gas power plants save up to $2 million in fuel annually.

Bilfinger, an industrial service provider, is driving forward internal digitalization by using Siemens’ Comos Engineering & Maintenance Platform across its many sites and subsidiaries. The deal gives Siemens access to feedback on how SMEs are utilizing using the platform – useful insights to selectively drive forward further development of the software.

Wherever connectivity goes, vulnerability follows, so as the power sector becomes more central to our lives, electricity businesses must switch to a cybersecurity-first mindset, says Erik Laykin, head of global data risk at Duff & Phelps. In his view, the trend towards autonomous vehicles is "just the start. Power is set to be the platform our world is built on.”

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.