Technology & Innovation

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.

China’s State Power Investment Corp (SPIC) and the Italian turbine manufacturer Ansaldo Energia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on developing a new gas turbine. The two partners stated the technical cooperation will focus on heavy-duty gas turbines and is aimed at setting up a “win-win partnership”.

Fivesgroup, an Italian industrial engineering group, has opened up its European test centre based in the Italy’s northern province of Piacenza. Claimed to be the largest combustion research centre in Europe, the centre will help Fives to reduce time-to-market of new systems through digital design processes.

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.

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News in Brief

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

COP25 urged to step up climate efforts

Nov 18 – The COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid is urged to enshrine greater commitments from the world's industrialised nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. “Europe will have to play a key role in this regard,“ environment minister Svenja Schulze said, adding Germany's recently announced climate package marks a "restart" in the country's climate policy.

Wärtsilä launches ‘Expertise Centre’ in Singapore

Nov 15 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has chosen Singapore as the location for its latest Expertise Centre (EC) that provides operational support and dynamic maintenance planning, both for marine and energy business customers. All of Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres combined currently monitor some 900 installations with more than 2,000 engines around the world.

U.S. storage injection hits record high

Nov 14 – Near-record volumes of natural gas have been placed into storage in the United States in the current injection season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of gas held in storage in 2019 surged from a relatively low value of 1,155 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the beginning of April to 3,724 Bcf at the end of October.

SaskPower proceeds with Moose Jaw project

Nov 13 – Canadian utility SaskPower has taken a significant step towards realizing a 350 MW gas power plant at Moose Jaw. The project was first proposed in 2017, but in the Canadian federal government June last year introduced new regulations for gas generation coming online after January 1, 2021, which stalled the plans. Having completed its regulatory review, Sask Power was now granted permission to proceed from the municipality of Moose Jaw. Major Fraser Tolmie said “this $700-million investment into the city of Moose Jaw, will ensure we have base-load power in the province of Saskatchewan and to maintain our power independence.”

Sembcorp powers up first BESS unit in the UK

Nov 12 – Sembcorp Energy UK, part of Singapore-based Sempcorp Group, has started to operate the first 60 MW unit of its battery energy storage system (BESS) fleet, supplied by GE. Combined, the three storage units in Leicestershire and Cheshire will bring Sembcorp Energy UK’s total energy portfolio to 973 MW.

Global gas glut may clear in 2021

Nov 11 – Economics of exporting American liquefied natural gas to Europe no longer add up. With Henry Hub spot prices around $2.7/MMBtu, moving LNG cargoes from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe is “not workable,” BP analysts said, indicating that production shut-ins could help clear the massive supply overhang towards the end of 2021.

Gazprom reassures Germany of Ukraine gas transits

Nov 8 – Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, has been trying to reassure the German government commissioner Georg Graf Waldersee that Russia was ready to signing a new transit contract with Naftogaz if both companies mutually waive claims. Before gas flows can proceed, however, Ukraine will have to create an independent gas transmission operator by January 1, 2020.

GE makes gains in wind power

Nov 7 – GE Power is gradually turning away from its loss-making fossil power segment to focus on the fast-growing renewable business. This week, GE struck a deal for its new Haliade-X turbines to be used at Dogger Bank Wind Farms. The three 1.2 GW Dogger Bank projects, situated offshore the UK’s Yorkshire coast, are expected to trigger approximately £9 billion of capital investment between 2020 and 2026.

PetroVietnam eyes LNG-to-Power project

Nov 6 – PetroVietnam has signed an agreement with B.Grimm Power Public Company (BGRIM) to jointly study the development of an integrated LNG import and power generation project. The aim is to build a 3,000 MW gas-fuelled power plant and an adjacent LNG import terminal. The location of the project has not been disclosed.

ABB launches ‘Smart City’

Nov 5 – Electrification specialists of the Swiss manufacturer ABB have designed an interactive ‘Smart City’ that contains smart buildings, e-mobility, energy management and data centers. The use of smart technologies and digitalization are encouraged by the United Nations as a way to help decarbonize cities around the world.

Gazprom, BASF cooperate on sulfur separation

Nov 4 – The Russian major Gazprom and the German chemical company BASF have agreed to devise a comprehensive solution for separation of sulfur from natural gas. The aim is to  enhance eco-efficiency of the Astrakhan gas processing plant and improve operational efficiency of BASF’s amine gas treatment units at the Orenburg gas-fired power plant.

Germany’s emission fall ‘markedly’

Nov 1 – Germany is headed for second consecutive year of substantial reductions in carbon emissions, amid a sharp drop in coal-burn in the power sector and an overall decline in energy use in 2019. If this trend continues, the country could get much closer to its 2020 climate target than widely anticipated.

Exmar to refinance Tango FLNG

Oct 31 – Exmar, the Belgian shipping company, is trying to refinance the Tango FLNG vessel, moored offshore Argentina on behalf of YPF. The aim is to generate around $60 million in additional capital, Exmar said, suggesting a deal will likely be struck in the first months of 2020.