Technology & Innovation

German utility RWE is turning from coal to hydrogen by installing electrolysers in Lingen to allow Thyssenkrupp convert its blast furnace to run on gaseous hydrogen by 2022. A 100 MW electrolyser produces 1.7 tons of H2 per hour, enough to make 40,000 tons of climate-neutral steel.

Smart integration of local energy sources and storage is in focus of ROBINSON research, an EU Horizon 2020 project backed by 8.4 million Euros. The aim is to help industrialised island nations become energy self-sufficient through a mix of renewables, thermal gensets and energy storage.

Success of the global energy revolution – the shift from fossil to low-carbon power generation – hinges on the quality of the cable that underpins. Yet an estimated 20% of all cables in the UK are either substandard, counterfeit or non-approved.

AES Corp, a global Fortune 500 energy provider, is preparing to operate its power stations at Alamitos and Huntington Beach remotely to ensure continuity and leverage staffing. The Virginia-based utility will employ GE software at a new central control centre due to be built by early 2021.

Siemens has launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-based Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service that helps shield the energy industry from cyber-attacks. Powered by Eos.ii, the solution gathers real-time energy asset intelligence to monitor, detect and uncover attacks before they occur.

Japan’s largest utility and LNG importer JERA has launched proceedings to digitalise power plant Operation & Maintenance (O&M). Artificial intelligence (AI) and standardisation of work processes is meant to allow workers to “shift from many troublesome tasks to creative data-based work."

GenCell Energy, an Israel-based fuel cell manufacturer, has developed a cracker that extracts hydrogen from liquid ammonia to generate electricity by means of alkaline fuel cells. The technology is designed to replace diesel generators and produce green energy in remote, off-grid locations.

US oil major ExxonMobil and the engine maker INNIO have co-developed a new lubricant for Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 gas engines. Performance of the new N Oil 40 has been confirmed by more than 160,000 hours of field data across multiple engine platforms in Germany, Russia and the UK.

Mitsubishi Power is expanding its boiler smart inspection offering, part of TOMONI digital solutions, to petroleum and chemical industries and power providers. With this move, the Japanese OEM seeks to tap new customer categories as it works to become an energy solution provider.

Siemens Energy’s new Unified Power Flow Controller, called UPFC PLUS, helps grid operators manage the load flow in alternating-current grids. Reacting within milliseconds, the tool enhances network resilience in the face of rising volumes of fluctuating renewable energy supply.

US oil major ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat have expanded their joint development agreement of Direct Air Capture Technology, designed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Amine-based adsorbents act like a filter to efficiently capture CO2, which can then be stored underground or used to make chemicals or construction materials.

Evonik and Siemens Energy have commissioned a pilot plant in Marl, northern Ruhr region, which produces sustainable chemicals from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, powered by renewables. Part of the Rheticus research, the pilot plant is backed by 6.3 million Euros in state funding.

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News in Brief

Mitsubishi produces methanol in Trinidad

Jan 20 – Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company has launched commercial operations of a methanol and dimethyl ether plant in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant has an annual production capacity of one million tons of methanol and 20,000 tons of dimethyl ether, which can be used as an alternative fuel for cars and power generation.

First 8-cylinder B36:45 engine delivered

Jan 19 – Rolls-Royce has delivered the first 8-cylinder variant of its Bergen B36:45 gas engine to a tomato producer in Belgium. The medium speed genset is planned for delivery this spring and will drive an onsite power plant that generates 4700 kW electricity and 5520 kW heat. The new engine offers a 20% increase in power per cylinder and will replace an existing Bergen 12-cylinder B35:40 genset.

Moody’s upgrades Enel to Baa1

Jan 18 – Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Enel’s long-term rating to Baa1, with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects Enel’s progress in reducing its risk profile, analysts said, pointing at the Italian utilities ongoing investment in networks and renewables, growing geographical diversification and focus on centralised financing.

GE sues Siemens Energy

Jan 15 – General Electric has sued its German rival Siemens Energy over the alleged use of stolen trade secrets to win gas turbine contracts worth several billion dollars. GE told the US district court in Virginia that Siemens received the secret information from a Dominion Energy employee.

Orbital Energy launches Eclipse

Jan 14 – Nasdaq-listed Orbital Energy Group has launched a new subsidiary, Eclipse Foundation, a drilled shaft construction company. The new company specialises in providing services for power transmission and substations, communication tower and a disaster restoration through emergency power.

S’Korean coal and LNG imports slide

Jan 13 – South Korea’s imports of thermal coal and LNG have fallen 12% and 11%, respectively, as the government cracks down on fossil fuel usage to curb air pollution. Customs data shows that coal imports amounted to 10.2 million tons in December, down 1.4 million tons from the same month last year but up from November’s imports of 9.5 million tons.

SMC builds 1.7 GW CCGT in Batangas

Jan 13 – Excellent Energy Resources, part of SMC Global Power Holdings, is building a 1,700 MW combined cycle gas power plant in Barangay Dela Paz and Ilijan in Batangas City with investments of about 67.863 billion Philippine Pesos ($1.41bn). The project is estimated to be completed in 36 to 40 months.

UK’s National Grid issues supply warning

Jan 12 – Natural gas prices in the UK surged as National Grid issued warnings on supply deficit as LNG cargoes are being diverted to North Asia. Prices at the British NBP gas trading hub soared to the equivalent of $8.95 per MMBtu, while the JKM price for North Asian spot LNG cargoes for February 2021 was last at $19.700 per MMBt.

Fortistar invests in hydrogen

Jan 11 – Fortistar, a privately-held fund, has joined an equity investment of up to $157 million in hydrogen producer BayoTech. Cottonwood Technology Funds and the New Mexico State Investment Council also participated in the latest financing round. BayoTech’s systems produce local hydrogen close to the application, serving end users in the industrial gas and petrochemical segment as well as those who use of hydrogen to power fuel cells.

Ashtead appoints new CFO

Jan 5 - Ashtead Technology has appointed a chief financial officer (CFO) and five managers for newly created roles across its international team. The appointments are meant to cement the company’s position in the offshore energy market, including offshore wind and decommissioning of thermal power plants

NFE secures LNG for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua

Dec 23 – New Fortress Energy (NFE) has agreed to purchase Henry-Hub-indexed LNG for its integrated gas and power businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. The New York-based project developer said it now has covered 80% of its expected needs throughout Latin America, thus reducing its need for spot purchases and its exposure to changes in the market price for LNG.

China and Korea mandate coal-to-gas switch

Dec 22 – The Chinese government has launched a coal-to-gas boiler switching programme, targeting 7.1 million homes, which makes gas demand more weather-sensitive this winter. Similarly, South Korea mandated the closure of 15 coal-fired plants since the start of December in an effort to reduce air pollution. Analysts expect this will accelerate the drawdown of LNG terminal inventories going into Q1-2021.

GE repowers oil field in Brazil

Dec 21 – GE Power Conversion has been awarded a contract by Sulzer Pumps UK to supply motors for four water injection pumps of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The 8,000 kW, two pole motors will run at 3,600 rpm with a limitation of the starting current at 300%, enabling the oil and gas field operator to optimise the generator which supplies electricity on the FPSO.

VELO distributes Sapphire Metal 3D-Printers in the US

Dec 18 – California-based VELO3D has formed a distribution partnership with GoEngineer for Flow pre-print software, Sapphire metal AM printer, and Assure quality assurance and controls. GoEngineer will be VELO’s only distributor in the United States.

Indian electric boats to achieve zero emissions

Dec 17 – Cochin Shipyard, India’s largest shipbuilder, has asked Siemens Energy to equip India’s first fleet of 23 boats with electric propulsion drive train, integrated with batteries and vessel automation. Combining the electric propulsion drive trains, energy storage, and automation systems is expected to significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Terna BESS auction six times oversubscribed

Dec 16 – A pilot auction, held by the Italian TSO Terna, for battery energy storage systems (BESS) to provide reserve grid services has been six times oversubscribed. The auction was held with an expectation that around 230 MW would be on offer, but Terna received 1,327 MW worth of bids and eventually awarded contracts for 249.9 MW.

New £150m link to UK’s Easington terminal

Dec 15 – National Grid has completed a gas pipeline under the River Humber, build in 18 months and at a cost £150 million, as new link to the import terminal at Easington. Following commissioning, the pipeline is now operational and can now transport between 70 to 100 million cubic metres - around a quarter of Britain's gas needs.

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