Technology & Innovation

Silent-Power Project, a Swiss technology start-up, is producing of CO2-neutral electricity from methanol. CEO Urs Weidmann told Gas to Power Journal the company aims to achieve an annual production of 1 million liters of carbon neutral methanol with its first synthesis plant by 2020.

DynaGridCenter, developed by Siemens and partners in industry and research, has been launched as a next-generation control system. Prof. Dr. Rainer Krebs, head of operation and protection of Power Grids at Siemens Energy said: "In the future, we'll need control centers that can independently regulate the highly dynamic power grid with an autopilot functionality and keep it stable." A dynamic control center is therefore an “indispensable part of a successful energy transition.”

Turboden has been contracted by Brescia’s municipal dairy producer to install its first high-temperature cogeneration, Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbogenerator-based power plant in the world. With an efficiency of more than 90% and high prevalence of steam content, the steam & power ORC system has been developed especially for the manufacturing industry.

Oxidation, discovered with a single blade component of GE turbines, have forced Exelon Corp to idle four units in a gas-fired power station in Texas. GE Power CEO Russel Stokes disclosed the oxidation could affect over 50 of its high-efficiency HA turbines and 75 of 9FB gas turbines, with the news casting a further shadow over the manufacturer’s ailing turbine business.

Siemens and E.ON have reached a milestone in the area of 3D-printing, with the world's first 3-D printed burner for an SGT-700 gas turbine having been in operation for one year at E.ON's combined-cycle power plant in Philippsthal, Germany. “The results are impressive,” Siemens said given that “the burner has been operating for over 8,000 hours with no reported issues.”

Finland-based technology group Wärtsilä has launched the next SparkUp Challenge for start-ups. This time the focus is on Power-to-X technologies, running under the name: ‘Towards a 100% renewable energy future’.

GE Power’s Monitoring and Diagnostics Center assists power plant operators at risk of being struck by a hurricane. The analytics and remote service ability of the centre helps utilities run their turbines safely and efficiently with a goal of fewer power disruptions due to a major storm.

Researchers at MIT, the Tokyo Institute of Technology and BMW’s Battery Technology Lab have found the vibrational frequency of lithium can be fine-tuned by tweaking its lattice structure through chemical substitution to alter structural arrangements of atoms. The new concept provides a powerful tool for developing new, better-performing materials that could increase the amount of electricity stored in a battery.

GE’s Power Services has announced the launch of its first 6B repowering solution when signing the first agreement for the solution with a global chemical company in Asia. The accord stipulates the repowering of three 6B gas turbines which is expected to help the customer save significant amounts of fuel.

General Electric and CGI, a global IT consultancy based in Montreal, have agreed to jointly develop and implement power grid software in North America. Bridging IT and operational technology (OT), the partners said they will focus on real-time grid operations and controls, critical infrastructure and cybersecurity.

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.

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News in Brief

ExxonMobil enhances turbine oils

Jan 17 – New high performance turbine oils, developed by ExxonMobil Lubricants, are  entering the market which are formulated to prevent build-up of lacquer, varnish and deposits. The oils are designed to protect against thermal and oxidative degradation, one of the root causes of deposit build-up.

Wärtsilä signs O&M deals in the Bahamas

Jan 16 – Following the commissioning of a Wärtsilä-built 132 MW power plant in Bahamas in December, the Finish manufacturer now signed a two-year operation and maintenance (O&M) accord with the plant owner, the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). Wärtsilä will transition, train, and develop the owner’s Bahamian work force and provide key performance guarantees.

China, S'Korea curtail coal to tackle air pollution

Jan 15 – Beijing city government’s aggressive approach to tackling air pollution is working and South Korea’s spring coal-fired curtailments show some success in cutting seasonal emissions. According to Wood Mackenzie, this should benefit LNG, particularly while spot prices remain low.

Sri Lanka at brink of power shortages

Jan 14 – Sri Lanka could face power cuts by March, after plans for a large-scale coal power plant were been cancelled just prior to start of construction, and a tender for a 300 MW diesel plants ended up in court. On the demand side, pressure is building up as the region is moving into the dry season in February and March. Weather warnings say the island is likely to receive lower than average rainfall in the first quarter of 2020.

Caterpillar’s new genset comply with UK & German grid codes

Jan 13 – Caterpillar Inc. has launched a series of new generator sets that comply with the new G99 United Kingdom, VDE-AR-N 4110 German and Belgium C10/C11 grid codes. The following gensets – G3500H, CG132B, CG170, and CG260 (rated from 280-4,500kVA) – have been verified to be able to accommodate different reactive power modes, active power functions, and connection conditions for normal operation or reconnection after mains decoupling.

Transneft launches battery-based power supply for ILI tools

Jan 10 – Transneft Diascan, the largest Russian inspection service provider for pipelines, has developed and put into operation a power supply system for in-line inspection (ILI) tools based on rechargeable batteries. Flaw detectors performing inspections of trunk oil pipelines, gas pipelines and oil product pipelines can now use the energy from rechargeable batteries, which helps save time and reduces the cost of in-line inspection.

Pavilion starts trading LNG out of Madrid

Jan 9 – Singapore-based Pavilion Energy has completed the acquisition of all gas and LNG assets of the Spanish utility Iberdrola. From its new European headquarters in Madrid, Pavilion said has launched 2020 LNG trading operations with supplies focusing on Spain and the UK market.

Gazprom extends gas transits via Belarus until 2021

Jan 8 – Gazprom and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus have sealed additional agreements to extend the contracts for gas supplies to and gas transportation across Belarus until 2021. According to the newly-signed documents, the contractual supply and transit volumes in 2020 will remain at the level of 2019.

EastMed pipeline to take FID by 2022

Jan 7 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement to build the 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline at an estimated cost of 6 billion Euros. The subsea pipeline, spanning over 1,900-kilometres would initially carry 10 Bcm of gas per annum from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland and into the European gas network via Italy. A final investment decision (FID) is meant to be reached in 2022, given that the pipeline is scheduled for completion by 2025.

U.S. energy-related emissions drop over 2%

Jan 6 – Fewer emissions from coal consumption, combined with lower energy demand, have helped to significantly reduce the overall energy-related carbon emissions in the United States. According to government statistics, energy-related CO2 emissions fell 2.2 percent last year, and the downward trend is forecast to continue into 2020.

Brent crude prices surge

Jan 3 – North Sea Brent crude prices have risen to their highest level since September 2019, up nearly $3 per barrel because of Middle East tensions coupled with improved Chinese economic forecasts. Brent crude futures for March 2020 delivery were last seen trading at 69.21 per barrel the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). This bullish price sentiment will feed through to oil-indexed natural gas contracts and LNG deliveries, linked to the Japanese crude cocktail (JCC) basket price.

IEA says coal’s fate tied to Asia

Dec 23 – Rapid rise of wind and solar power in many parts of the world has pushed coal-fired power generation into steep decline in most developed countries. "But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia," analysts at the International Energy Agency commented: "The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.

COP25 – a “lost opportunity”

Dec 17 – UN Secretary António Gutierrez has dismissed the outcome of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid as “disappointing” and “lost opportunity“. Some of the world’s largest emitters, including Australia, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had joined the U.S. in pushing for accounting loopholes to weaken commitments to reduce emissions in the transport and power generation sector.

Industry produces over 13% of Germany’s electricity

Dec 16 – Decentralized power generation at industrial sites keeps rising in Germany. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), industry produced 55 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of in 2018, meaning local units of mining and manufacturing generated 12.6 percent of the country's gross electricity output, mostly from gas-fired power units. The use of gas as a fuel for industrial power plants has consequently risen from around 35 percent to almost 50 percent over the last ten years.