Technology & Innovation

From 2025, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. will make Redeem renewable natural gas (RNG), produced organic from waste, available at all of its fueling stations in North America. By transitioning exclusively to RNG, the California-based supplier wants to achieve zero-carbon intensity to outcompete fossil fuels and electric vehicles, which are unlikely to hit that mark unit 2045.

Marubeni and LO3 Energy, an energy-tech firm, have launched a virtual market place in Japan, using blockchain to connect several of Marubeni's small-scale power units and test simulated transactions. Ultimately, the JV partners want to create a utility-scale network with associated trading platform. In the United States, LO3 pioneered its transactive platform by setting up a microgrid in Brooklyn, New York.

McCoy Reports has singled out Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) as the 2018 market leader on global orders wins for heavy duty gas turbines (>100 MW). The J-series gas turbine, with its industry-leading 64% plus efficiency rating, was instrumental for MHPS’ heavy duty turbine business segment to capture over 41% market share globally.

Today’s power grids are becoming increasingly complex as more decentralized power sources are added, requiring the network to carry bulk power in ways it was never designed to do. Recent order wins for GE’s Fixed Series Compensation (FSC) total over $60 million as TSOs turn to the technology to enhance flexibility of the grid.

On the market for nearly a decade, the Siemens H-class gas turbine has now exceeded one-million fired hours in commercial operation. The output rating of the SGT5-8000H turbine has grown over the years from 375 MW to 450 MW, with efficiency improvements to over 61% in combined cycle operation.

Burning hydrogen (H2) in a combined-cycle power plant is a step towards dispatchable, totally CO2-free power generation. However, the main challenge of H2 combustion lies in its properties, notably its increased reactivity. In contrast to natural gas, the flame position moves upstream during H2 combustion, which increases the risk of flashback.

Researchers at General Electric have been awarded $5.8 million grant by the U.S. government for a three-year project to develop and demonstrate a super-fast DC Circuit Breaker for new MVDC grids. The project is part a broader interest to upgrade existing AC grids to help reduce congestions.

Siemens has extended its service agreement for the Shuweihat S2 Independent Water and Power Plant (IWPP) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. As part of the 18-year service contract extension, Siemens will deploy Omnivise cyber-security solutions and facilitate remote monitoring and diagnostics.

MAN Energy Solutions will present its storage solution portfolio, including Power-to-X applications, its ETES (Electro-Thermal Energy Storage) energy management, battery-storage and hybrid systems for decentralised power generation at the ‘Energy Storage Europe’ trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, from March 12 to 14.

For F-class turbine operators demanding fuel flexibility retrofits, Ansaldo Energia offers a tested and commercially proven combustion system for gas turbines originally manufactured by GE, Siemens-Westinghouse and MHPS. The sequential combustor is designed specifically for the use of hydrogen (H2).

Bentley System, together with Siemens, has launched a new digital solution for substations to grid-integrate distributed energy sources. OpenUtilitiesDER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions creates a digital twin for utilities that allows operators to more efficiently model, plan and approve rising request for supply of distributed power to the grid.

Commissioned by grid operator Amprion, Siemens has built two reactive power compensation systems for the Kriftel grid node:  a mechanically switched capacitor with damping network (MSCDN) and a power-electronic static synchronous compensator (STATCOM). The two systems are running stable since December in test operation.

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News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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