Technology & Innovation

Grid balancing becomes paramount as the share of intermittent supply from renewable power sources keeps rising fast in most developed countries around the globe. Smart grids are hence expected to manage two-thirds of global net electricity supply by 2050, and by that time an estimated $548 billion will be invested in batteries for energy storage.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) President and CEO Ken Kawai has used his New Year address to highlight the company’s focus on decarbonization by promoting fuel conversions to biomass, hydrogen and ammonia. In 2020, the MHPS President anticipates “further growth” for combined-cycle gas turbine orders to help convert CCGT and ICGT units to hydrogen co-firing.

Burckhardt Compression has been contracted to deliver a high-speed compressor to Ganzair in Hungary, where it will be used to inject natural gas from a key transmission pipeline to a nearby underground gas storage (UGS). The ISO 13631-compliant compressor is the first of its kind made by Burckhardt for this application in Europe.

Researchers at GE, working together with Baker Hughes, Intel and the Florida State University, have developed ‘Digital Ghost’ – a new tool designed to allow critical energy infrastructure like natural gas pipelines to operate safely during a cyber-attack. The $5.2 million program is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).

Berlin-based energy startup Lumenion has presented the pilot of its 2.4 Megawatt-hour (MWh) steel storage system in a housing project in the German capital. The technology allows storing excess renewable electricity in the form of heat (up to 650°C) in steel plates. If required, that stored heat can be converted back into electricity.

GE Power has completed the first upgrade worldwide of a turbine with ALSPA P320 V1 controls – technology originally developed by Alstom – to GE’s new Mark VIe system. The pilot project was carried out at ENGIE’s 770-MW Baymina combined-cycle gas power plant near Ankara.

Gas-fuelled, cryogenic barges – designed by the Canadian naval architect Robert Allen and Hidrovias do Brazil – will be used to transport LNG to remote locations in northern Brazil. The first project benefiting from the solution will be the 1.67 GW Vila-do-Conde gas-fired power plant in Baracena, in Brasil's northern state of Pará.

MAN Energy Solutions and Orcan Energy agreed to collaborate on waste heat recovery. PACK technology, developed by Oran, uses waste heat from the engine to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. The solution is now available to all of MAN’s customers for retrofitting their engines.

Rolls-Royce and Lab1886, an innovation lab within the Mercedes-Benz group, have joint forces to test the use of vehicle fuel cells for stationary power supply. The aim is to develop an MTU solution for sustainable off-grid generation.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is showcasing its hydrogen-fuelled turbines and fuel cells during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid. The Japanese manufacturer has successfully tested a large-scale turbine that runs on a 30% hydrogen fuel mix.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D-printing, is making inroads in the energy sector. According to Global Data, power utilities and equipment manufacturers are “witnessing a huge opportunity in 3D printing to make their operations more efficient.” Early adopters of this technology are GE, Siemens, Rosatom and Westinghouse.

The technology of Siemens’s new SGT6-9000HL engine, first installed for the customer Duke Energy, builds on four generations of technologies and five previous models, including the H-class. “But it’s the combustion system where the magic happens,” explains Peter DeHaan, who is leading development of the 9000HL.

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News in Brief

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.