Technology & Innovation

Dry and hybrid cooling is gaining ground in the U.S. power generation market, although over 61% of thermoelectric plants still use recirulating systems with cooling water. According to EIA figures, the 83 U.S. power plants that operate dry and hybrid cooling systems support about 20 gigawatts (GW) of steam-generating capacity.

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.

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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.