Technology & Innovation

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.

Eager to gain proprietary turbine technology, State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) of China has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ansaldo Energia this week to achieve mutually beneficial results in the heavy duty gas turbine area. The accord comes just weeks after Siemens and SPIC struck a technology cooperation in early June to enhance their heavy duty gas turbine programme.

China’s State Power Investment Corp (SPIC) and the Italian turbine manufacturer Ansaldo Energia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on developing a new gas turbine. The two partners stated the technical cooperation will focus on heavy-duty gas turbines and is aimed at setting up a “win-win partnership”.

Fivesgroup, an Italian industrial engineering group, has opened up its European test centre based in the Italy’s northern province of Piacenza. Claimed to be the largest combustion research centre in Europe, the centre will help Fives to reduce time-to-market of new systems through digital design processes.

As African governments seek to boost electrification levels, a GE whitepaper evaluates the role of smart technology to transform grids and the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored. Today’s key challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa are inadequate power generation and more significantly, low levels of electrification caused by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Expanding their partnership, GE and Microsoft have announced plans to combine operational and IoT technology by integrating GE’s Predix solutions with Microsoft Azure’s cloud capabilities. The partners will also co-sell and go-to-market together, offering end-customers Industrial IoT solutions across verticals.

GE Power has commissioned of the first leg of a grid-stabilization project by handing over a Wide Area Monitoring System (WAMS) to Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) for the Northern Grid. The Indian electricity network is the world’s largest synchronized grid with a capacity of 363 GW, and Northern Grid is committed to digitizing its power system.

Siemens has introduced a new SGT-800 performance enhancement that is applicable to all existing SGT-800 units with 43-47.5-MW ratings. For turbines in simple-cycle mode, the upgrade offers up to 3.5% efficiency increase and an additional 10 MW output which boosts the installed capacity of a 47.5 MW unit to up to 53 MW.

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.

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News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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