Technology & Innovation

Q Power, a Finnish pioneer in biomethanisation, has started to work with Wärtsila to develop and commercialise renewable and synthetic fuels. Q Power’s patented concept produces biomethane by taking CO2 from the air and combining it with hydrogen.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) has developed artificial intelligence (AI)-based gas turbine monitoring. The system collects and analyses data from sensors installed in generators to predict parts malfunction and preempt turbine failures.

Natural gas is set to become a 'high-carbon fuel' after 2025, as the perception of gas generation changes over time among EU member states. "In the short-term, we need gas to keep the lights on," but analysts stressed "Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) will need to kick off after 2025."

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, a key South Korean contractor for energy projects, has managed to develop a proprietary large-scale gas turbine. With its new DGt6-300H S1 model, Doosan HI is now vying to compete with the Big Four of GE, Siemens Ansaldo Energia and MHPS.

To test Power-to-Gas systems locally, Fraunhofer ISE installed a modular hydrogen injection system in the local gas distribution network in Freiburg, southwest Germany. Researchers coupled an electrolyzer with 120 kW electric connection power with a small hydrogen unit that is capable of storing 300 kWh of chemical energy.

The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has launched its 31DF engine, claiming the 11 MW genset offers “unequalled” open-cycle efficiency and fuel flexibility which makes it adapt for markets where a gas supply is anticipated but not yet available, or where the price of natural gas is an issue.

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Dutch-based Karpower International BV, a subsidiary of Turkey’s Karadeniz Holdings, have signed an agreement to jointly carry out the first LNG-to-Powership project in Mozambique. Named KARMOL, the joint owners will operate an FSRU and a patented Powership.

The cost of producing hydrogen gas from renewables is forecast to fall sharply over the next decade, providing an affordable fuel to decarbonise the energy and transport sectors. In Germany and Texas, RES hydrogen costs could fall to $1.40 a kilogram by 2030 from the current range of $2.50 to $6.80, according to research published in Nature Energy.

Graz’s Large Engines Competence Center (LEC) and INNIO, formerly part of GE, have been researching and developing regenerative fuels like hydrogen and hydrogen carrier gases such as synthetic natural gas, methanol or ammonia. The aim is to build gas engines that are virtually emissions free.

SoftBank Vision Fund is investing $110 million in the Swiss startup Energy Vault which developed an innovative technology to store energy in stacked concrete blocks. This method is more economical than lithium-ion batteries, Energy Vault claims, simply because cement and sand are cheap materials.

After breakthroughs in curbing energy related emissions, industrial decarbonisation is the next frontier. At zero-carbon electricity prices below $50/MWh, using electricity for heat in industrial processes becomes more economical than carbon capture and storage (CCS), McKinsey finds.

National Iranian Gas Transmission Company (NIGTC) claims its engineers have gained the necessary know-how to repair Siemens gas turbines. NIGTC chief executive Saeid Tavakoli said the company carried out overhauls of SGT600 turbines by solely relying on domestic contractors.

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News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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