Technology & Innovation

Despite the recent oil market shock, a fifth of industry leaders said in a DNV GL survey their companies have entered the hydrogen market, anticipating the synthetic fuel will be a big part of the energy mix by 2030. DNV GL is involved in pilot projects in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK.

Energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) budgets have increased by 4% worldwide to reach $20.9 billion. Low-carbon research accounts for 94% of the overall budgets in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) member countries, though the Covid-19 pandemic caused a noticeable shift in focus to business streamlining and cost-cutting.

Wärtsilä is working on a new combustion process to allow its gas engine burn solely hydrogen fuel. The Finish technology group has already tested its engines with blends of up to 60% hydrogen and 40% natural gas, having proven that the engines can run on synthetic carbon-neutral methane.

U.S. developer PowerPHASE has launched a Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) Plant, designed to enable grid-scale energy storage of renewable power. CEO Bob Kraft said the company is working with a couple utilities in the United States to install the first reference unit.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has achieved a market share of 37.2% for flue gas desulfurization (FGD) by delivering systems with a combined output of 51,010 MW, according to the McCoy Power Report. FGD systems are installed in thermal power gen units with output of 5 MW and above.

Partners of the European Turbine Network (ETN) are looking to flexibilize combined-cycle power units by partly running them on green hydrogen or ammonia. Energias de Portugal (EDP) will demonstrate the concept of hydrogen co-firing at its 1.2 GW Ribatjo power plant near Lisbon.

The U.S. Department of Energy has freed up $28 million in funding for research on ultrahigh temperature materials that can operate in high stress environments of a gas-turbine blade. Novel alloys and coatings are meant to further enhance turbine efficiency.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems’ (MHPS) fleet of 43 J-series gas turbines worldwide have reached one million hours of commercial operation, nearly double that of similar-sized turbines from competitors. Launched in 2011, the J-series delivers 99.5% reliability and efficiency greater than 64%.

Germany’s largest utility Uniper and Siemens have agreed to jointly produce green hydrogen, derived from renewable energy, for use in Uniper’s existing gas turbines and gas storage units. The share of hydrogen co-firing is meant to be gradually increased in both gas- and converted coal-fired power plants.

Nokia is deploying the world’s first 450 MHz private wireless LTE network for the Polish power grid operator PGE Systems to enable wireless connectivity for up to 14 million smart meters and 35,000 SCADA connections. The 450 MHz band is being adopted across Europe.

The world’s first SGT6-9000HL gas turbine has been fired up at Duke Energy’s Lincoln Combustion Turbine Station near Denver, North Carolina. Siemens achieved first fire on April 6, and the turbine is now in full commercial operation at the new 402 MW simple-cycle unit.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has begun the commissioning of T-Point 2, its new combined cycle power plant validation facility at Takasago Work, Japan. The CCGT will test the performance and reliability of the 1650℃-class JAC gas turbine and other ultrahigh-temperature models.

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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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