Technology & Innovation

Substations in the digital age are increasingly known as “the heart of the power supply system,” connecting parts of the grid that operate at different voltage levels. Siemens’ vision is a largely decarbonized energy system in a “near-to-all electric world”. The technology is already there, but utilities and grid operators still need to fully embrace it.

Siemens has successfully concluded the first phase of its Subsea Power Grid shallow water test in Trondheim, Norway. Working together with Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Eni Norge, Siemens is in the final stages of developing a barrier-breaking system to distribute medium-voltage power, using pressure compensated technology.

Siemens has committed to invest up to 600 million Euros at its industrial estate in Berlin Spandau, a future R&D hub. A new world of working and living will be built on an area of 70 hectares to strengthen selected key technologies and innovations. Research will focus on distributed energy, electric vehicles, digitalization, and 3D printing.

Hydrogen, as an energy carrier and feedstock, has gained momentum amid falling cost of wind and solar power. Once mass-produced at very low cost in places like Argentina, Australia, Chile, the Middle East or South Africa, green hydrogen could become a game-changer, the same way LNG linked previously disconnected regional gas markets.

Predix ServiceMax, just launched by GE Digital, is an Asset Service Management (ASM) system designed to increase equipment uptime and improve maintenance outcomes for industry and power plant operators. Combined with performance management, the new offering helps customers transform their maintenance process from a break-fix model to a predictive service model.

French utility ENGIE has deployed a 150 kW/90 kWh energy storage system in Rotterdam that is made up entirely by second-hand batteries from Renault electric vehicles. The E-STOR system, developed by Connected Energy, is supporting the Tennet electricity distribution grid.

A lifecycle upgrade enhances the equipment of a power plant to meet its original running parameters. With a combined cycle upgrade, more power can be produced with the same amount of fuel by applying waste heat recovery steam generators connected to common steam turbine generator sets. According to Wärtsilä Services Manager Markus Åbrant, this particular type of upgrade can trigger as much as 10% higher energy output.

Development of practical fusion power plants has been slow-moving, but now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found an innovative solution on how to get rid of excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant. The new MIT-originated design features secondary magnets and an enlarged exhaust pipe.

Having just launched H2 solution, its new sequential hydrogen combustion system, Ansaldo Energia is now carrying out further tests with the aim of allowing gas turbines to run entire on renewable gas. “The latest H2 solution is already capable to work in an impressive load range, and with still unmatched hydrogen volume percentages,” the Italian manufacturer stated.

Japan’s Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions (ESS) has agreed with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) of the Philippines to jointly promote H2One – autonomous, hydrogen-based energy systems and the use of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation. In a study, both partners will evaluate the optimum system specifications in the Philippines, where half of the current energy supply is comes from coal-and oil-fired power stations.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), together with research and industry partners, has started construction of a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power plant in San Antonio, Texas. The $119 million pilot project is also supported by GE Global Research, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL). Construction is slated to be completed in 2020.

Looking to converge digital engineering models, Siemens and Bentley Systems have entered a strategic alliance on project delivery and asset performance for the sectors Energy Management, Power Generation, Building Technology and Mobility. Siemens had acquired about € 70 million of secondary shares in Bentley, and the two companies now said they will invest at least € 50 million in developing joint digital solutions for infrastructure and industry.

Much ado has been made over an oxidation issue at GE HA turbine blades at Exelon’s Colorado Bend power plant near Houston. Keen to limit the reputational damage, the top management of GE Power underlined the issue is limited to 9FB and HA gas turbine Stage 1 Blades. Not impacted are Advanced Gas Path (AGP) upgrades for the B/E/F-fleets, and the new HA or 9F.05 order.

With the launch of P9394GSI S5, rated at 2,500 horsepower, GE Distributed Power is adding another model to its Waukesha VHP Series-5 family of rich-burn gas engines. The new S5 engine has an improved cylinder head, piston/ring design, Miller-cycle combustion and Waukesha’s latest ESM-2 engine controls.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions (ESS) has started a survey to develop applications and use of its hydrogen-based H2One energy supply system, targeting isolated regions on islands in Indonesia and the Philippines. H2One utilizes renewable energy and hydrogen-powered fuel cells to deliver CO2-free electricity and hot water supply.

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