Technology & Innovation

Canadian construction and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Charleton University to cooperate on protecting critical energy infrastructure. This initiative comes as electric power utilities are exposed to growing cyber-security threats through interconnectivity of generating assets and smart grids.

Getlink, formerly Groupe Eurotunnel, has asked GE to supply the largest STATCOM load balancer connected to a catenary traction system at the France/UK Channel Tunnel. Once completed by the end of 2019, the solution will allow Getlink to nearly double the traffic in the Channel Tunnel.

Acceleration of digitalization, as well as the convergence of IT and operational technology (OT), has left the Middle East region particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. In fact, cyber security breaches in the Middle East are widespread and frequently undetected with 30% of the region’s attacks targeting operational technology, a new study by Siemens and Ponemon Institute finds.

Munich-based MTU Aero Engines has launched a new brand called MTU Power, consolidating its gas turbine engineering, manufacturing and aftermarket expertise from its business units Aero Solutions, Brush Seals and MTU Maintenance. The launch of the new brand was first announced at the 2018 Western Turbine Users, Inc. (WTUI) conference, taking place this week in Palm Springs, California.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) heavy-duty H100 gas turbine (118 MW) achieved full qualification status by Shell’s technical team based in The Hague. Following intense scrutiny and test runs, Shell awarded the full mechanical drive qualification to the 2-shaft turbine, equipped with a low NOx (single digit ppm) combustion system.

Turkey's Karadeniz Energy Group has selected Gas Enec of South Korea to supply LNG regasification systems to be installed on three of its power barges. Karpowership recently started to develop floating regas units (FRUs) to their existing Powerships to make them suitable for LNG intake directly from a storage vessel.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Thermal Systems, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has developed the ‘Q-ton Circulation,’ an air-source circulation type heat pump, jointly with Chubu Electric Power. The new heat pump will be marketed by MHI starting from August.

Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance has been granted $20 million in funding over five years by ExxonMobil for research and development (R&D) on low-carbon energy solutions. The alliance’s other suitor is Bank of America which committed $7.5 million to clean energy research. Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, which will manage the industry funded R&D program, is in advanced talks with other energy companies to join the alliance.

Britain’s Newcastle-based Northern Powergrid has launched a six-stage programme aimed at reducing losses on its electricity network that includes the analysis of smart meter data. The programme will enhance the understanding of technical losses and help reduce such losses across the TSO’s electricity network, serving 3.9 million customers.  

Mazoon Electricity Company (MZEC) is an electric power distributor serving 1.5 million customers in the northeast of Oman, is using Siemens’ Scalance device as the backbone of its communication infrastructure between the individual stations and the control center in Muscat.

Researchers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and B&B Agema have been looking at a novel design approach – Nekomimi film cooling – to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet. The aim is to boost efficiency without putting too much strain on vanes and blades, considering that modern turbine stage inlet temperatures exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will explore enabling technologies for the future of clean energy, energy digitization, and existing energy infrastructure at the 2018 MIT Energy Conference, to be held at Boston on March 2nd & 3rd.

Falling costs for renewables and energy storage will squeeze out gas-fired generation in some markets as early as 2025. South Australia's peak loads are currently managed by open-cycle gas turbine (OCGT) plants; but by 2025, battery storage will be cheaper than OCGTs – even at gas price of A$7/mmbtu, a WoodMackenzie study finds.

The first GT36-S5 model gas turbine produced at Ansaldo Energia's Genoa production facility was unveiled on Friday. With the ongoing support of Shanghai Electric Group, Ansaldo Energia’s Chinese partner, the first GT36 maxi gas turbines will be installed in two power generation plants in the Shanghai area.

Competition amongst battery producers is heating up: they have to shorten their time to market, improve their flexibility, quality and efficiency. To help boost the efficiency of large-scale battery production, Siemens has launched portfolio of cloud-based software solutions that help optimize every step of battery production and thus improve the competitiveness of battery manufacturers.

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News in Brief

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.