Technology & Innovation

U.S. micro-turbine manufacturer Capstone has been awarded two patents to expand its use of high-fame speed fuels, such as hydrogen. CEO Darren Jamison said the patents will help Capstone develop new fuel types for its C65 Signature Series product line.

Heat ReCycle technology, just launched by Siemens and Turboden, combines the simplicity of the ORC technology and the proven performance of gas turbines. The solution is applicable for decentralized power plants in the range up to 100 MWe. It helps recover the waste heat to reduce operating costs.

Australia, in its third consecutive year of record-breaking emission levels, has finally started to promote the use of electric vehicles. Research, led by the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), finds if Australia extensively adapts to an electric-powered mobility system it can eliminate 16 million barrels of imported oil every year by 2030.

Partners of the HYPOS alliance – a German consortium including VNG, Ontras and the Fraunhofer Institute – have launched a platform to store renewable hydrogen in a salt cavern in Bad Lauchstädt, Saxony-Anhalt. The plan is to build Europe’s first hydrogen storage and operate it for research purposes.

Engine+ Hybrid Energy, Wärtsilä's latest technology solution, pairs gas-fuelled engines with energy management systems and storage. It forms a fully integrated system that provides reliable power supply for operators and power producers of islanded grids. Payback periods can be as short as two years, the Finish manufacturer claims.

Six partners – Ansaldo Thomassen, Delft University, OPRA Turbines, Vattenfall, Nouryon and EMMTEC – have been granted €500 million by the Dutch Government for research into ‘High Hydrogen Gas Turbine Retrofit to Eliminate Carbon Emissions’. The aim is to develop a CO2-free hydrogen value chain, in line with the EU Energy Roadmap 2050.

General Electric has installed its first DLN1.0+ Ultra Low NOx combustion upgrade globally at nine GE 9E gas turbines at five power stations in Shenzen Province, China. The upgrade reduces NOx emissions from about 25ppm to about 7.5ppm, in line with the Shenzhen government’s ‘Blue Sky’ campaign.

Engineers at GE, together with the Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI) have designed, built and tested what is said to be the highest-temperature supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) turbine in the world. The turbine, featuring a multi-stage axial flow sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander, was developed with a $6.8 million U.S. government grant on top of $3 million industry funding.

Manufacturers of power generation equipment like MAN Energy Solutions see hydrogen as a future alternative fuel source for its gas turbines, though switching from methane to hydrogen a conversion of the turbine combustion chamber to allow for higher firing temperatures. Demand for H2-solutions keeps rising as states like California aim for 100% clean energy by 2045.

Intermittency issues of wind and solar power supply are feared to jeopardize the stability of the U.S. power grid. 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.

Swiss-based ABB and Rolls-Royce of the UK have entered a global partnership on microgrid technology and advanced automation, particularly for hybrid power systems. Mircogrids are critical to integrate rising volumes of renewable energy and benefit utilities and industrial users alike.

The Indian manufacturer ELGi Equipments is showcasing its new AB ‘Always Better’ air compressor series, a breakthrough in oil free compressed air technology, at Hannover Messe ComVac 2019 this week. Air Alert, an IoT-based, machine-monitoring platform is also on display at the trade show.

Siemens is supporting a study by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics (IEE), and the French Grenoble Ecole de Management, on SF6 and F-gas free alternatives for medium voltage (MV) gas-insulated switchgear installations in Europe. The research – funded by Siemens and Schneider Electric Industries – has started in mid-March and is running until early 2020.

Uniper, formed in 2016 as a spin-off of E.ON's fossil power plant assets, has started producing methane gas from excess wind and solar power through electrolysis at its Falkenhagen Power-to-Gas (P2G) plant. The project demonstrates it is feasible to produce entirely green energy with qualities identical to natural gas.

MAN Energy Solutions is targeting ASEAN and Africa with its 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 business development manager Carsten Dommermuth. “For the entire project development up to the commercial operating date we allocate a time frame of 3 to 5 years.”

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News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.