Technology & Innovation

Spark Cognition, a global artificial intelligence (AI) technology leader, and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas are working together to advance AI applications in MHPS-Tomoni. This new digital platform from MHPS optimizes power plant processes through cognitive analytics, prioritizing customer collaboration.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has just disclosed that customers in Asia, the U.S., Mexico and South America have technically selected the M501JAC for their projects 26 times, representing over 14 GW of new power projects. MHPS's new JAC-class turbine has unprecedented statistics – 99.5% reliability while approaching 65% efficiency.

Gemma Power System has selected Matrix North American Construction (Matrix NAC) as a subcontractor to carry out critical equipment erection work during for Exelon West Medway II – a 200 MW dual-fuel simple cycle power plant in Medway, Massachusetts. As the EPC contractor for the Medway II project, Gemma has commissioned Matrix to install the plant’s centerline and erect the stacks and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system.

Decentralized generation, independent power production, and microgrids are vital enablers to drive reliable power supply in both emerging economies. To that end, EnPro Industries company Fairbank Morse introduced  at POWER-GEN International a PoweReliability-as-a-Service platform, powered by its new Trident OP engine that is based on a fuel-efficient opposed piston architecture.

Advances in additive manufacturing and combustion breakthroughs have helped GE Power achieve 64% efficiency in combined-cycle application at its largest gas turbine – the 9HA.02. This rate, according to the manufacturer, is “higher than any other competing technology today.”

Cost and performance of battery technologies will not only be shaping customer acceptance of electric vehicles in the coming years, but also determine how easy it will be to integrate renewable energy into the grid. Tracking the relation between the dramatic drop in prices for batteries and their usage, IEA analysts say “for each doubling of output, lithium ion battery prices have been getting 19% cheaper.”

MIT researchers have developed a membrane-based system that can convert power plant emissions into fuels for cars, trucks and planes, as well as chemical feedstocks. The membrane – made of a compound of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide – allows oxygen from a stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) to migrate through, leaving carbon monoxide (CO) behind. Combined with hydrogen or water, this CO can be turned into syngas.

Success of the UK’s green energy revolution hinges on the quality of the power transmission cable that underpins the grid connection of new wind, solar and gas power projects. Yet an estimated 20% of all cables throughout the British Isles are either sub-standard, counterfeit or non-approved, according to Eland Cables’ director Jean-Sébastien Pelland. “For a project, this can result in downtime, reliability issues and ballooning maintenance costs at best and major safety hazards at worst, as well as potential environmental damage,” he told Gas to Power Journal.

Siemens has extended the scope of application of its Simotics SD Add low-voltage motors, helping power transmissions system operators (TSOs) reduce drain on the grid due to low start-up currents. The revamped motors are compatible are also compatible for use in process industries, or in sensitive industrial applications that require enhanced grid stability.

Nova Analytical Systems, part of Tenova Goodfellow, in June received an order from Ametek Reading Alloys for six DuraNOVA continuous process oxygen gas analyzers. These six units were commissioned in late October at Amtek's milling plant for titanium-based specility powders.

The technology group Wärtsilä is witnessing the growing importance of utilities as a customer segment, alongside independent power producers. “Utility-scale solar projects with a full Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) are growing fast, and gas-fired power plants remains stable,” the Finnish manufacturer said. Geographically, it sees the highest demand growth the demand for EPC contractors in Africa and South-America.

For efficiency levels of fully air-cooled gas turbines – like Siemens’ new HL-class – to reach 63% and ultimately 65% combined-cycle efficiency, firing temperatures need to keep rising.  Siemens consequentially developed manufacturing technologies like laser engraving that allow the use of thicker/ multi-layer thermal barrier coating to better protect the turbine parts exposed to the hot combustion gases, says Guido Schuld, Product Family Owner large gas turbines.

A new chemical composite, developed by researchers at MIT, can be used to store the energy from sunlight or any other heat source in a battery-like system that is capable of storing thermal energy and releasing it on demand. The new solution combines phase change material (PCM) with molecular switches that can be adjusted with light, enabling the overall system to store thermal energy at lower melting points than the original material.

Three Mitsubishi business units have worked together and successfully completed testing of MHPS’s 2-shaft H-100 gas turbine. Utilizing latest combustor technology, the 120 MW turbine is now proven to be industry leader in terms of low NOx (single digit ppm) for full-load operations. MHI Group said the solution has been designed for thermal power plants as well as mechanical drive LNG-applications.

As the power generation landscape is being reinvented around renewables, so are national grid codes that define performance – especially in countries with weaker grid infrastructure, which are changing in response to this new power generation mix. These grid codes specify the power quality of electricity that plant and grid technologies must deliver – both in normal operation and under fault conditions – and are now giving rise to a range of creative solutions such as GE’s ‘rotating stabilizer’.

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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.