Technology & Innovation

Laser melting, or 3D printing, along with the Industrial Internet allows GE to get better products into the market faster through rapid prototyping and iterative development – "that's what we call the Build-Measure-Learn cycle," Eric Gebhardt, CTO/VP Engineering GE Oil & Gas told Gas to Power Journal.

High-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are under development by Sunfire which can offer highly efficient, low-emission power production using natural gas. “The electrical efficiency is between 35 and 50% depending on the surrounding system design but when off-heat is used as well, overall efficiency can be as much as 85%,” Nils Aldag, founder of Sunfire told Gas to Power Journal.

Hybrid cooling technology that allows gas turbines to operate under more consistent conditions with greater efficiency is being developed by U.S. manufacturer Everest Sciences to target the large scale gas-fired power plants. “Our technology can increase gas turbine hot day available power by up to 30%, while reducing heat rate by up to 10% compared to un-cooled gas turbines,” Eric Warren, director at Everest Sciences told Gas to Power Journal.

Improving the reliability of the combustion process in gas turbines (GT) can potentially save operators tens of millions of euros. "Although failure due to flame instability is extremely rare, a single event can cost in excess of €10 million - so research to improve reliability is vital" Professor Jim Kok, project co-ordinator for the Limousine group told Gas to Power Journal.

Turbine cooling specialist Everest Sciences has announced an order for two of its ECOChill hybrid turbine inlet chilling solutions from energy firm, Kinder Morgan. The company will provide units to chill inlet air on a Solar Taurus 70 and Centaur 40 gas turbine, used as the drivers for a pipeline compression station.

Building on the success of the Trent family of engines, Rolls-Royce is developing two new generation engine designs. The British turbine manufacturer has share some details of its next generation engine designs, saying they "could be ready within ten years".

Many power plants are failing to get insurance cover due to concerns from underwriters over the security of cyber-defences at sites. Lloyd's of London have said that poor test scores from security risk assessors has forced their insurers to turn away potential multi-million pound contracts.

Flexible technology developed by Alstom gives combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants the ability to operate at  highest efficiency when at 95% output, allowing for a 5%  base load power reserve at times of greater demand. "Our sequential combustion  system allows the efficiency peak  to be tuned to output, giving operators access to an extra power reserve within the plant base load range in periods of peak load demand or when ancillary services are asked by the electric grid system operator," Arno Stein, Head of Product Promotion at Alstom's gas business told Gas to Power Journal.

The announcement this week that the Peterhead CCS project will share £100 million of funding has paved the way for testing of the first commercial scale gas-fired power plant with CCS in the world. “This research will better understand the implications of long term exposure and operation of classes of carbon capture materials when functioning in the field,” Dr Mathieu Lucquiaud, a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh told Gas to Power Journal.

General Electric (GE) has announced it will extend its ecomagination initiative, investing a further $10 billion over the next six years with a focus on improving turbine efficiency. The programme which aims to develop sustainable products with minimal environmental impact will receive a total of $25 billion by 2020.

Though 3D metal printing is still at an experimental process for testing prototypes, Siemens and GE are gearing up to turn it into a standard technology for rapidly producing industrial parts. Used for producing burner components, 3D metal printing can cut repair times by up to 90% compared to conventional methods, according to Siemens.

Canadian hydrogen developer and manufacturer Hydrogenics Corporation has signed up to take part in a pioneering project in Denmark to convert excess electricity from wind turbines into pipeline-ready natural gas. The €3.7 million project will demonstrate a multi-stage process to take excess wind energy and convert it firstly to hydrogen and then into clean burning methane gas.

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News in Brief

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

New England power prices down 40%

June 15 – Spot electricity prices in New England (NE) has fallen since winter 2019/20 when it stood at an average $28/MWh, down 40% from an average $47/MWh in the previous winter. Low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures, lower loads, and reduced needs to run expensive peakload generators were the cause for the substantial drop in NE’s winter electricity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) finds.

Calpine closes $1.1bn in financing for Geysers Power

June 12 – Calpine Corp has closed $1.1 billion Climate Bonds Certified financing for its subsidiary, Geysers Power, the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the U.S. Geyers will use the proceeds to repay some debt it owes to Calpine and to fund ongoing operations and maintenance.

UK coal-free for two months

June 11 – The UK managed to keep the lights on without using coal for power generation for two months by now, National Grid figures show. Lower demand due to lockdowns and a rising contribution from gas and renewables has rendered less-efficient coal power units uneconomic. All unabated coal power stations are mandated to close by 2025, though Britain’s largest fossil power station Drax has converted its coal units to biomass.