Technology & Innovation

“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.

Energy storage technologies like batteries create an “unusual combination of cost and revenue streams,” according to EIA analysts, given that they can serve as both energy suppliers and consumers at different times. Thanks to their versatile functionality, about 700 MW of new utility-scale batteries has been added to the US power grid over the past three years.

Vortex’s hybrid fire suppression system utilizes water and nitrogen in a combined suspension to suppress fires in power plants. The suspension liquid both cools the hazard area and removes the oxygen that sustains the fire using high velocity and low pressure.

Cooperative Energy, a member-owned electric cooperative based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has awarded a Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract to Wärtsilä to deliver a 22.7-MW power plant based on two gas-fired 31SG engines. With an output of 11,400-kW at 60Hz, the 20-cylinder Wärtsilä 31SG gas engines are one of the most efficient in its class.

Summit Power International (SPI), Singapore, has awarded a 15-year contract to PSA Marine, to provide a floating LNG storage and regasification unit (FSRU) in Bangladesh. This project is part of SPI's $1 billion investment programme to deliver 1,000-MW of power and gas in Bangladesh.

Power-to-gas technology developed by the German equipment manufacturer Viessmann has the potential to significantly decarbonise the gas grid. “Our solution takes micro-organisms and CO2 - natural by-products of anaerobic digestion - and introduces them to hydrogen, converting it into synthetic methane which can in turn be injected into the natural gas grid,” explains Christian Engelke, technical director at the firm.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has certified the Greensmith GEMS Site Controller as a Remote Intelligent Gateway (RIG) for direct telemetry of participating generators and loads within the CAISO balancing authority area. Metering and telemetry are mandatory tools used to ensure operational visibility and accurate revenue accounting for the grid operator.

Shifting focus on digitalization, Siemens has opened a new MindSphere Application Center for Power Generation Services in Berlin. With this new center, the German OEM seeks to set the stage for more co-creation in direct involvement with its energy customers. Featuring a broad portfolio of digital services and tools, the MindSphere centre allows customers, software engineers and Siemens experts to come together to explore the value-added by digital services tools and solutions.

Growing complexity and changing regulations within the Nordic energy market, has prompted Denmark’s largest utility HOFOR to replace its in-house trading system. Also known as Greater Copenhagen Utility, HOFOR selected Contigo’s enTrader for managing its energy portfolio, which includes Nordic power, coal, carbon emissions and FX.

A central bank in a major EU economy has installed ABB’s smart circuit breakers Emax 2 to upgrade the backup power at its headquarters, increasing security and system resilience. “From a power perspective, a bank is a plant that must never shut down,” commented Fabio Monachesi, global product manager at ABB’s Protection and Connection unit.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has handed an Emerging Technology Award to Siemens for the first successfully 3D- printed and fully tested gas turbine blades. Vetting what they call “ascending technologies”, ASME said the award winning products and processes have “left the breakthrough stage, crossed the commercialization valley of death, and are poised to reshape the industries where they compete.”

What’s in your fuel, and how to get the most out of it? Gas Power Technology Journal visited Wärtsilä in Vaasa, Finland to talk with its specialist team, responsible for developing new systems and tools to analyse fuel composition and behaviour. Through careful analysis, Wartsila’s multi-disciplinary Fuel Laboratory Services team can adapt engines to run more efficiently on whatever fuel is available – from the most exotic biofuels to unpredictable mixes of different gases. The team makes a difference to thousands of gas and liquids-fuelled engines and this impact keeps growing the more fuels are tested and approved for usage.

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News in Brief

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."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.

COP25 – a “lost opportunity”

Dec 17 – UN Secretary António Gutierrez has dismissed the outcome of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid as “disappointing” and “lost opportunity“. Some of the world’s largest emitters, including Australia, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had joined the U.S. in pushing for accounting loopholes to weaken commitments to reduce emissions in the transport and power generation sector.