Technology & Innovation

NET Power, developer of an emission-free gas power generation technology, has taken a leap forward with successful combustor first-fire at its 50MWth demonstration plant in Texas. Using the technology called Allam Cycle, the new plant is “radically different” from conventional combined-cycle plants. It uses high pressure CO2, rather than steam, as the working fluid to generate electricity from carbon-based fuels without producing air emissions.

Outages of power systems have severe financial implications: unplanned downtime can cost an LNG facility as much as $4 million per day. With potential costs so high, profitability is largely linked with unplanned downtime. According to GE Power estimates, unplanned shutdowns in the process industry globally cost 5% of total annual production — that’s as much as $30 billion a year.

German energy giant E.ON has developed and deployed technology using artificial intelligence to predict and locate deficiencies in the operation of electricity grids long before they escalate into failure and power outages. This AI-based method has been in use at medium voltage grids of Schleswig-Holstein Netz, a grid operator belonging to E.ON Group, for around nine months.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions and Iwatani have teamed up to establish the viability of a locally-based hydrogen supply chain in Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture. Specifically for this project, Toshiba ESS constructed a small-scale hydropower project whose electricity is being used to electrolyze water and separate hydrogen, which is then transported by Iwatani to generate electricity, using Toshiba fuel cells.

Swedish battery developer Northvolt, founded 2016, has entered a technology partnership with Siemens to jointly set up the first large-scale lithium-ion battery cell production in Europe. Siemens will support the venture through a €10 million investment that helps digitalize Northvolt’s value chain from the design of the battery cell to production and services. Once completed in 2020, Siemens intends to purchase batteries from the factory by making Northvolt a preferred supplier.

Siemens has opened a new competence center for digital precision in industrial 3D printing, the Additive Manufacturing Experience Center (Amec), on its campus in Erlangen, Germany. Amec targets machine builders, power plant operators and companies who use additive manufacturing to design and construct workpieces. Digitalization hereby plays a central role.

Drax Group, together with C-Capture, has announced plans to pilot the first bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BCCS) project in Europe. The demonstration project will see Drax invest £400,000 in what it says “could be the first of several pilot projects” to deliver a rapid, lower cost demonstration of BECCS that could accelerate the commercialization of carbon capture in the UK.

An international team of scientists has discovered a mechanism for the formation of the simplest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), naphthalene. This mechanism is now being used to create physically-based combustion models as the basis for fundamentally new, ecologically friendly combustion chambers for gas turbine engines.

New Swiss law mandates the installation of smart electricity meters which increases the data volume of the energy infrastructure firm BKW Group more than 40,000-fold. Hence BWK approached Siemens to install a cloud-based data management system for power consumption data. The launch of the EnergyIP system will occur in early 2019.

Keen to service cross-fleet power generation equipment, GE has developed a range of capabilities to advance the performance and reliability of other original equipment manufacturers’ (OEM) gas turbine, such as Siemens’ SGT-800 and Mitsubishi’s 501F units. At a press tour to Birr, Switzerland, GE revealed it has over $200 million in cross-fleet orders backlog.

South Korea-based Kokam, a leading battery solutions provider, has deployed the world’s largest lithium ion battery – a 30MW system with 11.4 MWh energy storage – for the Australian utility Alinta Energy. Based on Kokam's Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide battery technology, the storage solution is being used in an islanded high voltage network to improve the electricity supply to iron ore producers in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Digitalization of power plant management is posing serious challenges for many traditional utilities. More than half of the respondents of Contigo’s latest survey said they “are finding it hard to understand developments such as Blockchain, Cloud and Big Data” and do not have appropriate systems in place to meet the demands of a changing energy market place.

Linde North America, together with the University of Illinois, has won two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants worth $3.65 million to research and improve technologies to capture carbon emissions from power plants. The two projects started in April and are the first step in deploying CCS technology at a large pilot plant.

Delivering solutions to help power producers stay competitive, GE Power Services has introduced its new 7F DLN2.6+ Flex upgrade solution at the annual 7F Users Group’s annual conference in Atlanta. The upgrade leverages GE’s DLN 2.6+ combustor and combining it with new Axial Fuel Staging (AFS) technology.

Compact Gas Insulated (GIS) switchgear, produced by the Swiss manufacturer ABB, has been ordered by Indonesia’s state-owned power utility PLN to facilitate reliable supply of electricity and enhance grid reliability. In Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia,  electricity demand continues to grow – not least because the government in Jakarta seeks to have all households connected to the national electricity grid by 2025 and executes an ambitious program to add 35,000 MW of new capacity to the grid.

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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.