Technology & Innovation

General Electric has decided to close down the 750 MW Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) in California some 20 years before the end of its lifetime. The steam-cooled H-class turbines had taken hours to start and repeatedly suffered technical problems, which hampered a swift dispatch of the CCGT and ultimately rendered it uneconomical.

Feasible Inc., a Californian battery analytics platform company, has received a major cash injection from Chrysalix Venture Capital’s RoboValley Fund to help promote its newly-developed intelligence platform EchoStat. Based on real-time analytics, the system provides actionable insight to solve challenges related to battery design and manufacturing.

General Electric has developed three new grid analytic methods that combine domain expertise with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to tackle challenges in electric grid operations. The offer addresses storm readiness, network connectivity and inertia in a bid to enable more stable grid operations and security of power supply.

Norwegian energy giant Statkraft and flexible grid specialist Statera have entered a 15-year partnership to develop a 1 GW virtual power plant (VPP) in the UK. Consisting of flexible reciprocating gas and energy storage, the VPP will match demand with supply from various energy sources “within seconds.” Ultimately, the partnership is meant to bring Statkraft’s VPP capacity to 2 GW.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan is advancing the development of a floating power plant that will operate on regasified LNG, targeting utility customers in remote areas of Southeast Asia. The barge-based LNG-to-Power solution will be the first of its kind able to generate 100,000 kilowatts of electricity.

‘Ready-to-go’ power supply is on offer from Wärsilä’s Modular Block - a modularly configured, and expandable enclosure for Wärtsilä medium-speed 34SG gas engine generators. The pre-fabricated solution reduces on-site installation time from several months to a few weeks.

Ansaldo Energia and REP Holding have formed a joint venture to produce, modernise, repair and service high-power industrial gas and steam turbines in Russia. The product range includes three Ansaldo turbines in the range of 70 to 340 MW, power gen applications, as well as two steam turbines in the range of 40 to 350 MW.

Flywheels – fast-acting frequency response systems – combined with energy storage, are being installed at two sites in England and Ireland as part of a £3.5 million project. Stage 1, piloted by Schwungrad Energie Ltd, is seeing the construction of a flywheel demo plant for the Irish TSO EirGrid. The hybrid system will generate a peak power supply of 500kW and capable to store 10kWh of energy.

Industries which require high temperature heat are particularly hard to electrify, not to mention decarbonise. Still, hydrogen could soon become an attractive fuel in the steel industry, analysts at the International Energy Agency (IEA) find, while carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) could help decarbonizes cement, steel and chemical production.

Pennsylvania Power Company (PennPower), part of FirstEnergy Corp., is installing 120 new ‘TripSaver’ automated reclosing devices on its transmission lines across Crawford, Lawrence and Mercer counties in an effort to limit the frequency and duration of service interruptions. The device works like a circuit breaker and can also re-energize the power line within seconds.

With biogas becoming increasingly popular, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed novel polymer membrane material that can dramatically improve the efficiency of gas purification. Contaminants, such as CO2, are inherent in both natural gas and biogas to various degrees, so it needs to be purified before it can be burnt as fuel.

Siemens and Chronicle, an Alphabet company, have partnered to monitor the energy industry’s critical infrastructure and protect it from cyber threats. The offering will leverage Chronicle’s Backstory platform and Siemens’ strength in analytics and artificial intelligence to give customers operational insights on malware targeting industrial and power plants.

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. has agreed to cooperate with the American private energy firm Midland Cogen Venture (MCV) on gas turbines, renewables and hybrid combined-cycle gas power and energy storage solutions. The aim is strengthen Doosan’s position in the U.S. market for gas turbine aftermarket services.

U.S. micro-turbine manufacturer Capstone has been awarded two patents to expand its use of high-fame speed fuels, such as hydrogen. CEO Darren Jamison said the patents will help Capstone develop new fuel types for its C65 Signature Series product line.

Heat ReCycle technology, just launched by Siemens and Turboden, combines the simplicity of the ORC technology and the proven performance of gas turbines. The solution is applicable for decentralized power plants in the range up to 100 MWe. It helps recover the waste heat to reduce operating costs.

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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.