Technology & Innovation

Funding of about $44 million has been freed up by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for design and testing of advanced carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Selected projects include engineering-scale testing of transformational solvent- or membrane-based CO2-capture, and the design of a commercial-scale, post-combustion CCS system at an existing coal power unit.

Future use of hybrid energy will lead to a consistent baseload, without the need for top-up via fossil fuels, anticipates Francesco Falco, chief commercial officer at GE Power Conversion. "When using Silicon Carbide (SiC), – a diamond-like substance – instead of traditional silicon chips in a solar inverter, its high power density feature can reduce power losses by up to 50%," he explained.

At the Munich Security Conference today, Siemens and eight partners from industry have signed the first joint charter for greater cybersecurity while seeking to advance digitalization. Co-signatories of the charter are Airbus, Allianz, Daimler Group, IBM, NXP, SGS and Telekom.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is celebrating its first win in Brazil for the technical selection of the M501 JAC gas turbine for the Vale Azul-II project. The power plant, which will have a contracted output of 466MW in combined-cycle mode, was successful in the A-6 Brazilian Electricity Auction held on December 20.

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.

Juazeiro, a city in northeastern Brazil, will host ABB install Latin America’s first digitally-enabled substation. The new 230-kilovolt (kV) substation and connection bay at the Juazeiro II substation will deliver power from a 156-MW solar photovoltaic poewr plant, under development nearby. Arctis, a UK-based investment firm, will own and operate the Juazeiro solar project together with its renewable energy arm in Latin America, Atlas Renewable Energy.

Challenged with the rising contribution of inherently intermittent wind and solar power supply, network operators are investing billions in stabilising their power grids. To anticipate supply/demand patterns and avoid overloaded grids, GreenCom Networks has developed an “Open-innovation Lab” with live data from end-customers. The system links electric cars, PV systems, heat pumps and other energy equipment in Germany and France.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has received the first order for its pressurized power generation system, integrating solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks with micro gas turbines. The hybrid system is being installed in the Marunouchi building in Tokyo, owned by Mitsubishi Estate Co.

A firing test, using a 30% hydrogen fuel mix, has been successfully passed by one of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System’s (MHPS) large-scale gas turbines. Test conditions called for a turbine inlet temperature of 1,600℃, equivalent to 700-MW of output, using the premix combustor of J-Series gas turbines.

Facing disruptions on multiple fronts, Europe’s energy companies can harness artificial intelligence to adapt to smaller-scale, distributed electricity generation by active energy “prosumers.” The age of utilities simply selling kilowatt-hours is coming to an end. To remain “relevant,” Thulium CEO Tamara McCleary recommends power providers to become platforms, offering services to improve peoples' lives, as well as helping to regulate supply.

Precisely geared to the tasks of users in the control room of a power station, Siemens’ latest instrumentation and control systems SPPA-T3000 Cue is proving a “risk-free means” for operators around the world to cut costs and reduce plant downtime.Customers embrace the new system, so SPPA-T3000 was already sold to a three-digit number of power station operators within just a few months after the launch.

“Green chemistry” is what Evonik and Siemens are envisaging by using electricity from renewable sources and bacteria to convert carbon dioxide into specialty chemicals. Based on €2.8 million funding from Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the two companies just launched a 2-year research project, called ‘Rheticus’, on electrolysis and fermentation processes.

Dominion Voltage Inc. (DVI), a subsidiary of Dominion Energy and leader in Volt/VAR optimization "VVO" solutions, will work with energy companies in Ontario, Canada, to help avoid energy losses in power distribution systems in line with the government's Long-Term Energy Plan. Navigant estimates the inclusion of front of the meter conservation (IFMC) will reduce annual power demand by 185-MW and save up to 1,130 gigawatt hours (GWh), once implemented.

As the use of 690 V energy efficient motors continues to grow within industrial applications, ABB has launched its new range of EQ A44 three phase 690 V high-functionality electricity meters, which deliver outstanding performance for the reliable metering of energy usage.The new meters are suitable for use in a wide range of applications including the processing industry, decentralized energy, mining, docks and harbours, wind turbines, water and waste water management.

Rapid changes in the energy landscape also drive businesses to adapt and update their existing trading platforms and systems. “We see a huge shift in digital innovation from aggregation of renewable generation, storage and emerging supply businesses that will significantly impact energy trading,“ said Tim Rogers, Contigo's head of sales and business development.Trayport affiliate Contigo, a vendor of Energy Trading and Risk Management (ERTM) software, will demonstrate its products at E-World, Essen in early February.

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News in Brief

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

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.