Technology & Innovation

On the market for nearly a decade, the Siemens H-class gas turbine has now exceeded one-million fired hours in commercial operation. The output rating of the SGT5-8000H turbine has grown over the years from 375 MW to 450 MW, with efficiency improvements to over 61% in combined cycle operation.

Burning hydrogen (H2) in a combined-cycle power plant is a step towards dispatchable, totally CO2-free power generation. However, the main challenge of H2 combustion lies in its properties, notably its increased reactivity. In contrast to natural gas, the flame position moves upstream during H2 combustion, which increases the risk of flashback.

Researchers at General Electric have been awarded $5.8 million grant by the U.S. government for a three-year project to develop and demonstrate a super-fast DC Circuit Breaker for new MVDC grids. The project is part a broader interest to upgrade existing AC grids to help reduce congestions.

Siemens has extended its service agreement for the Shuweihat S2 Independent Water and Power Plant (IWPP) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. As part of the 18-year service contract extension, Siemens will deploy Omnivise cyber-security solutions and facilitate remote monitoring and diagnostics.

MAN Energy Solutions will present its storage solution portfolio, including Power-to-X applications, its ETES (Electro-Thermal Energy Storage) energy management, battery-storage and hybrid systems for decentralised power generation at the ‘Energy Storage Europe’ trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, from March 12 to 14.

For F-class turbine operators demanding fuel flexibility retrofits, Ansaldo Energia offers a tested and commercially proven combustion system for gas turbines originally manufactured by GE, Siemens-Westinghouse and MHPS. The sequential combustor is designed specifically for the use of hydrogen (H2).

Bentley System, together with Siemens, has launched a new digital solution for substations to grid-integrate distributed energy sources. OpenUtilitiesDER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions creates a digital twin for utilities that allows operators to more efficiently model, plan and approve rising request for supply of distributed power to the grid.

Commissioned by grid operator Amprion, Siemens has built two reactive power compensation systems for the Kriftel grid node:  a mechanically switched capacitor with damping network (MSCDN) and a power-electronic static synchronous compensator (STATCOM). The two systems are running stable since December in test operation.

Cummins is preparing to debut the HSK78G natural gas generator series during the 2019 Middle East Electricity (MEE) at the Dubai World Trade Centre, on March 5 – 7. With a power density of up to 2.0MW from a 78L engine, the HSK78G generator is suited for prime and peaking power applications.

Two Canadian utilities – New Brunswick Power (NB Power) and Nova Scotia Power (NSP) – have selected Siemens for new C$92.7 million (€ 60.95m) smart grid project. A new Energy System Platform (ESP) will optimize integration of renewables, ensure grid stability and manage decentralized distribution.

Researchers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and B&B Agema have been looking at a novel design approach – Nekomimi film cooling – to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet. The aim is to boost efficiency without putting too much strain on vanes and blades, considering that modern turbine stage inlet temperatures exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials.

Caterpillar Energy Solutions has just launched a new 170B 50-Hertz series of generator sets with a power output ranging from 1.3 MW to 2.3 MW. The 20-cylinder version is available now, with 12 and 16 cylinders set to come out later in 2019.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp has developed two technologies for gas-insulated switchgears (GIS): arc-cooling that improves the interruption of electrical current in sulfur-fluoride GIS by 25%, and high-density dielectric coating that improves insulation performance by 30% in high-voltage conductors.

Bacteria and microbes living in oxygen-deprived environments – deep within mines, at the bottom of lakes or in the human gut – have evolved way of breathing that involves excreting and pumping out electrons. These microbes can actually produce electricity and MIT researchers are striving to harness these microbial power plants to run fuel cells.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions has set out an internal business re-design project to accelerate a digital transformation. Eager to simplify its set-up, Toshiba ESS will consolidate its nuclear, thermal, hydro and services units into a new Power System Division, while transformation, distribution and energy aggregation will be folded into a Grid Aggregation Division as of April 1.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.