Technology & Innovation

Additive manufacturing, or 3D metal printing, is planned to “go systematic” across Wärtsilä Group a based on plans to create a dedicated research centre in Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland. Researchers from ABB, Wärtsilä and two universities will collaborate, with construction for the R&D centre planned to start in 2019 or 2020.

Material Solutions – a Siemens business – has been opened in Worcester, UK, following a £27 million investment. On a 4,700 square metre site, experimental laboratory processes in Selective Laser Melting (SLM), or 3D printing, are turned into industrial practice in the production of gas turbine components, saving time and money.

Indonesia and the Philippines, archipelagos within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are in focus of MAN’s new integrated LNG-to-Power solutions. “We have new projects under development mainly in Asia and western- and northern Africa. But this is a business we are still building,” said Carsten Dommermuth, business development manager at MAN Energy Solutions. In Gibraltar, meanwhile, an 80 MW project is already under commissioning.

Carbon capture and hydrogen are interdependent; hence the resurgence of strategic interest in hydrogen is strongly connected with carbon capture in multiple ways. “The most basic is the source of hydrogen: today it is fossil fuels with over 10 tons of CO2 emitted for a ton of H2,” said IEA chief economist Laszlo Varro.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of a few options that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation as well as from industrial processes such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing. “Without CCUS as part of the solution,” said IEA head Dr. Fatih Birol, “reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible.”

Utilities around the global are understood to have halted operations of at least 18 of GE’s HA turbines at power plants following blade oxidation corrosion issues. The technical issues are reportedly very similar to a recent GE turbine blade failure at Exelon’s Colorado Bend power plant near Houston.

Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has spent $175 million to develop a floating gas-fired power plant, fuelled by LNG, and aimed at Southeast Asian market. The power ships will be offered to utility customers on remote islands and in isolated locations with underdeveloped gas pipeline infrastructure.

Digital twinning, the creation a digital replica of physical assets, is “already out of date, out of synch – simply because the twin is not alive,” said Robert Yeager, president of Power & Water Solutions at Emerson. Instead, he advocated “real-time synchronization” of the power plant and digital asset representation.

Remote management of medium-speed Bergen engines will be made possible via Rolls-Royce’s new end-to-end platform for secure collection, transfer, storage, and analysis of engine data. The aim is to reduce downtime and lower operational costs. Testing of the new remote monitoring tool has been underway for more than a year.

MTU Onsite Energy, part of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, and LEW Verteilnetz have demonstrated that distributed generation units can be used to supply emergency backup power in the event of an outage. Project partners used MTU cogeneration units and renewables and tested the new concept in extensive field trials in an isolated grid in Germany.

SeaFloat, a barge-mounted power plant based on SGT-800 gas turbine, will be provided by Siemens and the maritime arm of ST Engineering for Bermuda-based Seaboard Corp. The 145 MW power barge, dubbed Estrella del Mar III, will supply the Dominican Republic with electricity at a lower cost than a land-based plant staring from spring 2021.

Intermittency issues of wind and solar power supply are feared to jeopardize the stability of the U.S. electricity network. To remedy this issue scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an “air-breathing” battery storage that, at the cheapest, run about $100/kWh and functions only in certain locations.

Commissioning is underway at the Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) pilot plant at Drax Power Station near Selby in North Yorkshire. The 6-month pilot project was realized at a cost of £400,000, and is meant to capture 1 tonne of CO2 per day.

ABB Ability Ellipse solution will support Ameren Illinois’ multi-million dollar modernization of their power grid in Illinois. The asset performance management software has a “prescriptive approach”, which will allow Ameren to better predict and prevent the failure of mission-critical equipment that delivers electricity to 1.2 million customers.

With the advent of utility-scale energy storage and hybrid power systems, traditional power producers are turning to system integrators to balance multiple generation assets and optimize the energy produced. Wärtsilä’s GEMS software helped ALTEO Group optimise an engine power plant with energy storage in Hungary, and on the Azores the software used a mircogrid form of AI to control and balance wind, solar and diesel gensets.

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News in Brief

Smart grid market to top $70bn by 2027

April 24 – The global Smart Grid Market is expected to reach around $70 billion, growing at an annual rate of 15.56% in the coming years through to 2027.North America is forecast to see the largest revenue growth, according to ResearchNester, while Europe also shows promising growth in smart grids due to high awareness for decentralized power generation, battery storage and conserving energy.

China eases ban on coal power

April 23 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

$500m Birdsboro plant gets powered up

April 17 – Birdsboro Power, a subsidiary of EmberClear of Canada, is in the process of commissioning the $500 million Birdsboro open-cycle gas power plant. Built on a site of the former Amourcast steel foundry, and driven by a GE 7H02 turbine, the new power unit will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the Reading Area Water Authority and another $125,000 city of Reading, Pennsylvania. All electricity will be supplied into PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.

Gas now dominant fossil fuel in Europe

April 17 – Rising cost of carbon emissions and closures of coal power stations throughout Europe have led to gas-fired generation overtaking the output of other fossil fuels for the first time. According to EnAppSys figures, gas power plants in the EU produced 117 TWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a combined 110.9 TWh from coal, lignite and gas-to-coal plants.

ABB, Porsche co-develop electric vehicle chargers

April 16 – ABB and Porsche have agreed to develop electric vehicle chargers for Porsche Japan’s new electric vehicles, including Tayan – the carmakers’ first fully electric car due to be launched in 2020. Under the deal, Porsche will install ABB chargers at its public facilities across Japan, creating a network of fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles. The first installation is set to go live in mid-2020.

Power gen from biomass flatlines

April 15 – Increases of U.S. electricity generation from biomass have stopped after a decade of growth. Power produced from biomass totaled 70.6 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, or about 2% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to EIA figures. Having grown from 2004 through 2014, and the 2018 output was 2% below its peak generation of 71.7 million MWh.

Aeroderivative GT market to top $3.5bn by 2024

April 12 – The global market for aeroderivative gas turbines is seen grow at a 7% rate to surpass $3.5 billion by 2024. A main growth driver, according to Global Markets Insight, will be the rising adoption of small-scale turbine-driven cogeneration plant and the trend towards decentralized energy supply.

Lumenaza creates regional green power grids

April 11 – Utility-in-a-box software, developed by Lumenaza, creates a regional green power grid by connecting producers and consumers of locally produced wind and solar energy. The system monitors renewable power output, balances supply and demand, and can help organize the billing process. Pilot projects have been implemented with two of Germany’s big utilities, E.ON and EnBW as well as with various smaller players.

MHPS licenses H-25 turbine production to Chinese manufacturer

April 10 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has agreed to license production technology for its H-25 series gas turbines to the Chinese manufacturer CSIC Longjiang GH Gas Turbine Co. The agreement will establish a small local supply chain which helps expands MHPS’ share in the Chinese market, the Japan-based company stated. So far, MHPS received five orders for H-25 Series gas turbines, or nine units in total, from Chinese power plant developers.

SIEW 2019 to focus on energy transformation

April 9 – “Accelerating Energy Transformation” will be the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019. This theme has been chosen by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore to address mounting challenges in Asia over meeting climate change commitments against a backdrop of continuously rising energy demand.

ENGIE launches 1st mini-grid in Zambia

April 8 – The French utility ENGIE has inaugurated its first PowerCorner – an off-grid renewable energy solution – in the Zambian village of Chitandika. Located in the East of Zambia, Chitandika counts 1500 inhabitants who previously had no access to electricity.

Global gas engine market to reach $4.4 billion by 2020

April 5 – Over the next five years, the global gas turbine market is forecast to grow 11.1% annually in terms of revenue, reaching a market size of $24,100 million by 2024, up from $14,300 million in 2019. Market-leading companies include: GE, Siemens, Ansaldo Energia, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Shanghai Electric Group.

EDAC, Siemens seek ‘industrial app’ for 3D-printing

April 4 – Siemens is intensifying its cooperation with the EDAG Group, an independent engineering company for the automotive industry, to promote industrial applications of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing. The companies’ joint "NextGenerationSpaceframe 2.0" project is on show at the Hannover Messe this week.

ABB electrifies Lodi campus of Milan University

April 3 – The Swiss manufacturer ABB will ensure smarter, safer and more reliable electricity supply for students at the Milan University’s new campus in Lodi. Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the campus has installed ABB’s UniSec switchgear and main distribution switchboard solution, System pro E power.

Chevron launches $90m Fund VII

April 2 – Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) has set up Fund VII, a new $90 million fund focused on venture capital investment across the energy industry. Investments target early- to mid-stage companies as well as limited partnership funds with the aim of supporting breakthrough technologies that have the potential to improve Chevron’s oil and gas business performance.

Siemens to implement VW Industrial Cloud

April 1 – The German carmaker Volkswagen has chosen Siemens as integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud. Based on Siemens’ MindSphere system, the VW Industrial Cloud will link production systems, machinery and equipment of various manufacturers at the 122 Volkswagen manufacturing plants worldwide. The resulting data transparency and analysis is meant to enhance productivity at the sites.

Marubeni, 4R Energy to deploy large refurbished batteries

March 29 – Marubeni Corp and 4R Energy, along with SIGNET EV have achieved a Proof of Concept (PoC) using 4RE’slarge refurbished batteries for the development of the world’s first mass-productional EV charger in Namie-machi, Fukushima-Prefecture. The installation, with an output of more than 50kW, helps the community reduce electricity demand from the central power grid, which saves costs.