Technology & Innovation

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.

Where no pipeline or electrical grid exists, Chart offers solutions enabling clients to access natural gas, through LNG for on-site power generation. For a Canadian client, the operator of a diamond mine, six of Chart’s horizontal regas tanks provide almost half a million of LNG storage for seven 2.1 MW gas-fuelled power generator sets and despite the extreme climatic conditions, the project in Canada was completed on schedule.

Technology changes that come with the energy transition are far-reaching, notably for power grid operators tasked with having to keep the balance between supply and demand. “Of course, target we are aiming for is a “full 3D” system, i.e. a system that is 100% decentralized, 100% decarbonized and 100% digitalized,” says Thierry Lepercq, executive vice president at ENGIE in charge of Research & Technology.

UK-based bolting solution provider Hydratight will provide Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) with a new multi-stud tensioning system, designed in cooperation with Yokohama Engineering Services. The system was launched following six month of close cooperation with MHPS, providing a tailored bolting solution for their 501J series gas turbine.

At Hanover Messe, Siemens is presenting its enhanced Digital Enterprise portfolio for Industrie 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution. The offering includes solutions for digital twins, used to create a holistic virtual model of the value chain, as well as the company’s open, cloud-based IoT operating system MindSphere. A virtual model of the real power plant – a so-called "digital twin" – provides the operator with enough flexibility to react quickly to changing market requirements.

Black-start technology, supplied by Siemens, is providing 300MW critical backup power for San Francisco via the upgraded Trans Bay Cable (TBC). The project includes a 53-mile HVDC cable that runs under the San Francisco Bay, capable to swiftly restore power supply in the event of a network outage.

To meet tomorrow’s market needs, Siemens has adapted the electrical and mechanical design of the Sinamics frequency converters, giving the units a smaller footprint and up to 60% lower width. The new Sinamics S120 Chassis-2 and Sinamics S120 Cabinet Modules-2, according to Siemens, address changing requirements in the field of high-performance drives.

Synthetic fuels like hydrogen are vital for a successful energy transition, experts at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue agreed, calling for a regulatory framework to ensure large-scale development in Europe against competitors in Asia. “China has done solar, has done batteries… it’s over. There’s one thing where it’s not over: that’s hydrogen,” said Thierry Lepercq, executive vice president at ENGIE in charge of Research & Technology.

Swiss technology group ABB has launched a single-phase device for Uninteruptible Power Supply (UPS), aimed at applications up to 30 kW. The new PowerValue 11T G2 employs ABB’s double conversion technology: incoming AC is first converted to DC, from which the output AC is then synthesized – giving a clean sinusoid.

Works to build the EU-funded H2FUTURE project, an EU-funded 6MW pilot plant, have kicked off in the Austrian town of Linz. The project consortium – Voestalpine, Siemens and the Austrian utility VERBUND – has now officially given the go-ahead for works on the world's largest pilot plant for the production of "green" hydrogen. The plant will be fully operational by spring 2019.

With households and businesses now capable to generate their own electricity and sell it back to the grid, the one-directional stream of energy from producer to consumer has ended. “Electric utilities must adapt to this new reality by creating a flexible infrastructure that works for a new generation of customer,” says Tobias Pantwich, Digital Workflow Advisor at Bentley Systems.

UK hydrogen specialist ITM Power is preparing to carry out a multi-MW power-to-gas (P2G) feasibility study for the Massachusetts region, backed by a grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). The project is due to start in Q2-2018 and has a duration of 12 months.

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News in Brief

Wärtsilä wins contract in Barbados

Jan 24 – Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd (BLPC) has contracted Wärtsilä to fast-track the supply of a 33 MW flexible power plant, as an EPC project. The plant, set to run on four Wärtsilä-32 engines, will be built at a site adjacent to BLPC’s 10 MW solar photovoltaic plant at Trents, St. Lucy, located on the northwestern coast of Barbados.

Azito power plant takes FID

Jan 23 – Globeleq and IPS have reached financial close on a 253 MW expansion of the Azito gas-fired power plant near Abidjan. An MXL3 upgrade will boost the capacity of the combined-cycle plant from 460 MW currently to 713 MW, equaling about 30 percent Ivory Coast’s total capacity installed.

Climate risks become urgent

Jan 22 – Adaptation to climate change is now “urgent,” McKinsey claims, suggesting there would be “many adaptation opportunities.” Climate science shows that the risk from further warming can only be stopped by achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions through renewable built-out and energy storage.

India’s electricity demand may triple, IEA finds

Jan 21 – Energy demand in India is set to double by 2040, and its electricity demand may triple, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Oil consumption in India is seen grow faster than that of any other major economy, making energy security a key priority, the IEA said in its first in-depth review of India’s energy policies. Amid strong growth, renewables now account for almost 23 percent of India’s installed capacity, while energy efficiency improvements helped avoid 15 percent of India’s additional energy demand, oil and gas imports, and air pollution.

Regulators approve CCGT in Wisconsin

Jan 20 – State regulators have approved a permit for Dairyland Power Cooperative to build a $700 million combined-cycle gas power plant in northwestern Wisconsin. The Nemadji Trail Energy Center will produce 625 MW and is scheduled to begin operations by 2025.

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."