Technology & Innovation

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has evolved significantly and today develops turbine components that, in most cases, perform better than their conventionally manufactured counterparts. In the energy field, Siemens is aspiring to qualify 200 components for manufacture via 3D printing by 2025.

Operators in the energy sector are struggling to cope with rising threats to the security of their generating assets. Digitalisation helps ensure a save and stable operating environment to allow for flexible dispatch of power units. Wärtsilä solutions build up an active resistance to cyber threats that guarantees electric utilities a steady return on their assets.

Substations in the digital age are increasingly known as “the heart of the power supply system,” connecting parts of the grid that operate at different voltage levels. Siemens’ vision is a largely decarbonized energy system in a “near-to-all electric world”. The technology is already there, but utilities and grid operators still need to fully embrace it.

Siemens has successfully concluded the first phase of its Subsea Power Grid shallow water test in Trondheim, Norway. Working together with Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Eni Norge, Siemens is in the final stages of developing a barrier-breaking system to distribute medium-voltage power, using pressure compensated technology.

Siemens has committed to invest up to 600 million Euros at its industrial estate in Berlin Spandau, a future R&D hub. A new world of working and living will be built on an area of 70 hectares to strengthen selected key technologies and innovations. Research will focus on distributed energy, electric vehicles, digitalization, and 3D printing.

Hydrogen, as an energy carrier and feedstock, has gained momentum amid falling cost of wind and solar power. Once mass-produced at very low cost in places like Argentina, Australia, Chile, the Middle East or South Africa, green hydrogen could become a game-changer, the same way LNG linked previously disconnected regional gas markets.

Predix ServiceMax, just launched by GE Digital, is an Asset Service Management (ASM) system designed to increase equipment uptime and improve maintenance outcomes for industry and power plant operators. Combined with performance management, the new offering helps customers transform their maintenance process from a break-fix model to a predictive service model.

A lifecycle upgrade enhances the equipment of a power plant to meet its original running parameters. With a combined cycle upgrade, more power can be produced with the same amount of fuel by applying waste heat recovery steam generators connected to common steam turbine generator sets. According to Wärtsilä Services Manager Markus Åbrant, this particular type of upgrade can trigger as much as 10% higher energy output.

Development of practical fusion power plants has been slow-moving, but now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found an innovative solution on how to get rid of excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant. The new MIT-originated design features secondary magnets and an enlarged exhaust pipe.

Having just launched H2 solution, its new sequential hydrogen combustion system, Ansaldo Energia is now carrying out further tests with the aim of allowing gas turbines to run entire on renewable gas. “The latest H2 solution is already capable to work in an impressive load range, and with still unmatched hydrogen volume percentages,” the Italian manufacturer stated.

Japan’s Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions (ESS) has agreed with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) of the Philippines to jointly promote H2One – autonomous, hydrogen-based energy systems and the use of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation. In a study, both partners will evaluate the optimum system specifications in the Philippines, where half of the current energy supply is comes from coal-and oil-fired power stations.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), together with research and industry partners, has started construction of a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power plant in San Antonio, Texas. The $119 million pilot project is also supported by GE Global Research, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL). Construction is slated to be completed in 2020.

Looking to converge digital engineering models, Siemens and Bentley Systems have entered a strategic alliance on project delivery and asset performance for the sectors Energy Management, Power Generation, Building Technology and Mobility. Siemens had acquired about € 70 million of secondary shares in Bentley, and the two companies now said they will invest at least € 50 million in developing joint digital solutions for infrastructure and industry.

Much ado has been made over an oxidation issue at GE HA turbine blades at Exelon’s Colorado Bend power plant near Houston. Keen to limit the reputational damage, the top management of GE Power underlined the issue is limited to 9FB and HA gas turbine Stage 1 Blades. Not impacted are Advanced Gas Path (AGP) upgrades for the B/E/F-fleets, and the new HA or 9F.05 order.

With the launch of P9394GSI S5, rated at 2,500 horsepower, GE Distributed Power is adding another model to its Waukesha VHP Series-5 family of rich-burn gas engines. The new S5 engine has an improved cylinder head, piston/ring design, Miller-cycle combustion and Waukesha’s latest ESM-2 engine controls.

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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.