Technology & Innovation

Energy use of crypto-currencies – bitcoin in particular – has been criticized as 'unsustainable' although estimates are wide-ranging at 20‑80 Terrawatt-Hours (TWh) annually. Through the first six months of 2019 bitcoin mining consumed some 29 TWh, up significantly from around 45 TWh in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat have developped an agile solution of soaking up carbon dioxide emissions from the air – notably from industrial facilities and power stations. Test runs are currently underway at a pilot plant at SRI International, an R&D facility in California. The data collected there will help ExxonMobil evaluate possibilities to scale up the application.

Turbine inlet temperatures already exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials in modern facilities but researchers have come up with a novel approach to turn the heat even higher. Nekomimi film cooling, developed by Kawasaki and B&B Agema, allows to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet.

Pouakai NZ, part of the US infrastructure investor 8 Rivers Capital, is developing a clean hydrogen, fertiliser and power generation facility at a cost of up to $4 billion. The plant, designed to produce clean hydrogen for use in power generation and supercritical CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, is expected start operations by 2024.

Engineers at Belfort, GE’s crisis-struck manufacturing site in eastern France, are manufacturing the first of four Arabelle steam turbines for the Akkuyu nuclear power project in Turkey. All other components for the landmark 4.8 Gigawatt (GW) nuclear power unit will also be built in France.

The European Union has dedicated €4 million ($4.5m) for research on new designs for biogas-fuelled, small-scale cogeneration engines - in a bid to open up the heat and power sector for mainstream renewables. Named SmartCHP, the solution could have a market potential of up to €4billion, according to the lead research coordinator, BTG Biomass Technology Group.

Comparing fuel costs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said hydrogen-based direct iron reduction for steel production could allow for substitution to green energy – if the hydrogen is generated from electrolysis. “Hydrogen could become an attractive option to indirectly electrify industrial high-temperature heat," analysts said, "either via direct combustion or blending with natural gas.”

General Electric has decided to close down the 750 MW Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) in California some 20 years before the end of its lifetime. The steam-cooled H-class turbines had taken hours to start and repeatedly suffered technical problems, which hampered a swift dispatch of the CCGT and ultimately rendered it uneconomical.

Feasible Inc., a Californian battery analytics platform company, has received a major cash injection from Chrysalix Venture Capital’s RoboValley Fund to help promote its newly-developed intelligence platform EchoStat. Based on real-time analytics, the system provides actionable insight to solve challenges related to battery design and manufacturing.

General Electric has developed three new grid analytic methods that combine domain expertise with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to tackle challenges in electric grid operations. The offer addresses storm readiness, network connectivity and inertia in a bid to enable more stable grid operations and security of power supply.

Norwegian energy giant Statkraft and flexible grid specialist Statera have entered a 15-year partnership to develop a 1 GW virtual power plant (VPP) in the UK. Consisting of flexible reciprocating gas and energy storage, the VPP will match demand with supply from various energy sources “within seconds.” Ultimately, the partnership is meant to bring Statkraft’s VPP capacity to 2 GW.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan is advancing the development of a floating power plant that will operate on regasified LNG, targeting utility customers in remote areas of Southeast Asia. The barge-based LNG-to-Power solution will be the first of its kind able to generate 100,000 kilowatts of electricity.

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News in Brief

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.