Technology & Innovation

Eager to develop proprietary gas turbine technology, State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) of China has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Siemens to explore a technology cooperation. The aim of SPIC is to boost its heavy duty gas turbine programme.

Intelligent use of drones in the electric power sector can help utilities enhance the operational safety of their assets. Routine inspections of boilers, wind turbine blades and power transmission lines can be made cost-effectively by an unmanned drone – without putting workers at risk.

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has joined forces with Énergir, a Canadian gas utility, along with French utilities GRDF and GRTgaz, focusing on research into clean energy sources. Targeted innovations include renewable natural gas, solar-powered hydrogen generation, fuel cells, power-to-gas and energy storage.

‎By 2025, there will be 29 GWh of second-life electric vehicle (EV) batteries available, far exceeding the size of today’s stationary storage market with 10 GWh available for storage application. For Hyundai Motor Group and Wärtsilä this presents “a blue ocean in the new energy business” they aim to capitalize on.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) announced a JAC-series gas turbine, using enhanced air cooling, has surpassed 8,000 cumulative hours of combined-cycle operation at the Takasago power plant in Japan. Exceeding this mark is taken as an industry benchmark for demonstrating a turbine's reliability.

First fire of Toshiba’s 50 MW(th) commercial-scale combustor has been carried out at NET Power’s oxy-combustion CO2 power-cycle demonstration plant in La Porte, Texas. Testing uses CO2 working fluid to produce low-cost electricity while virtually eliminating emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants.

RWG (Repair & Overhauls) Ltd, a Siemens and Wood Company, has been appointed for new assembly and testing of Siemens SGT-A05 (KB7 HE) gas turbines. The Houston-based facility of RWE will handle all aspects of the new-build programme including sub-assembly, dynamic balance, engine assembly and factory acceptance testing.

Ansaldo Energia and Leonardo – one of the top ten players in aerospace, defence and security – are setting up the "Start 4.0 Competence Centre for the Security and Optimisation of critical Infrastructures" in Liguria, Italy. Their mission is to identify adequate solutions through experiments and validate methodological approaches to map risk and protect infrastructure, notably power plants.

Eager to maintain market share, GE Power has just introduced the new MXL2 with an additive manufactured, or 3D printed performance upgrade for the GT13E2 turbine. The new solution is meant to help operators of gas power plants save up to $2 million in fuel annually.

Bilfinger, an industrial service provider, is driving forward internal digitalization by using Siemens’ Comos Engineering & Maintenance Platform across its many sites and subsidiaries. The deal gives Siemens access to feedback on how SMEs are utilizing using the platform – useful insights to selectively drive forward further development of the software.

Wherever connectivity goes, vulnerability follows, so as the power sector becomes more central to our lives, electricity businesses must switch to a cybersecurity-first mindset, says Erik Laykin, head of global data risk at Duff & Phelps. In his view, the trend towards autonomous vehicles is "just the start. Power is set to be the platform our world is built on.”

With two ‘digital twins’ – the virtual replication of the physical electric generating asset – First Gen of the Philippines has become the first utility in Southeast Asia to adopt this technology. The Lopez-led gas power plants, built by Siemens, are now being showcased as ‘proof-of-concept’ for the new digital business model to customers in the region.

Blockchain, a digital ledger that creates and stores records that are linked together in a chain, offers the energy industry an opportunity reduce operational risk and transactional cost in trading, supply chain management and retail. The incorruptible digital record might also be used to increase compliance.

The world’s first liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant has been launched by Highview Power at Bury, near Manchester, this week. Supported by £8 million in UK government funding, the 5MW/15MWh LAES plant is the first operational LAES demonstration plant at grid-scale, providing backup electricity supply that is being utilized by the demand response aggregator KiWi Power.

Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil have worked together to turn algae into a low-emission transportation fuel for a number of years. Ongoing works in lab work are envisaged to lead to the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025.

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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.