Technology & Innovation

American multinational, General Motors (GM), has announced plans to invest $24 million in two power plants fuelled by landfill gas. The plants will be based at the company's Fort Wayne, Ind., and Orion, Mich., assembly plants and will increase total onsite gas power generation to 40% and 54% ot total consumption respectively.

With gas turbines increasingly used from the smallest to the largest scales of power generation systems, the technical scope of machinery has grown dramatically in recent years. Modern Gas Turbine Systems, published by Woodhead Publishing, gives a comprehensive introduction and overview to the subject, outlining the mechanical principles and underlying physics of gas power generation, and describing a range of operational concerns relevant to plant operators and engineers.

Rare but catastrophic failures in gas turbines may soon be preventable thanks to research conducted at the Chinese Academy of Science. "Our research aims to widen the operating range of for gas turbine engines, preventing lean blow-out and reducing the pollution emission by optimization of fuel atomization," Liu Cunxi, researcher at the Academy's laboratory of light duty gas turbines told Gas to Power Journal.

Steam turbines operating in combined cycle power plants will soon be able to start-up and cool-down more flexibly following research by engine manufacturer Alstom. "We expect to see turbines starting more frequently and more quickly with less life consumption due to more accurate modelling of the fatigue cycle during turbine cool down," Gabriel Marinescu, a lead researcher at Alstom told Gas to Power Journal.

The increase in demand for flexible gas power is creating increased stresses on Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HSRG) attached to combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and driving the need for new solutions to prevent damage, attendees at the HRSG user group conference heard today.  “The current and future outlook is pushing CCGT into unpredictable, flexible operation and we need to start thinking about solutions to make that operation cost effective,” Stuart Strachan, Engineering Manager at Alstom said, speaking to Gas to Power Journal.

A research project under way at the University of Kentucky (UKY) is currently developing a solution to mitigate CO2 from gas- and coal-fired power plants using a novel algae-based process. "We are aiming to reduce the cost of the process to $300/tonne at which point the resell value of the algae will allow for break-even and carbon capture can operate at zero cost," Mark Crocker, lead researcher on the project told Gas to Power Journal.

Instead of flared waste gas, US shale oil producers increasingly use the by-product as a source for power generation, saving costs for onsite applications. US industrial burner firm Periflame offers a range of generation products to help improve the operational efficiency of flare stacks, said director of engineering, Yuri Kryzhanovskyi.

Genalta Power's new 4-megawatt produced-gas-to-power plant in Alberta helps reduce gas flaring by making use of the gas associated with Shell's bitumen production in its Peace River oil sands leases.

Fuel cell technology powered by natural gas could cut data center costs by as much as 20%, analysts at Microsoft have suggested. In a new paper titled, "No More Electrical Infrastructure: Towards Fuel Cell Powered Data Centers" researchers estimated that using localised power generation, instead of buying electricity from the grid, could significantly reduce the estimated 38GW of global energy used by data centers each year.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, (MHI) and Tokyo Gas have launched GS16R2, a grid-connected combined heat and power genset with 1.5MW output at 1500rpm. The new product is aims to render distributed generation less complex and costly for medium-size factories, hospitals or urban redevelopment areas in Japan.

Ammonia, already in use to fuel vehicles, could be used as a source of fuel for gas-fired power especially for off-grid applications, said US-based Space Propulsion Group (SPG). The research group is developing a system that transforms ammonia into hydrogen-based fuel to power combined-cycle plants.

To fill the gap between its 40+ MW aeroderivative LM6000s and 600+ MW industrial gas turbines, GE developed the LMS100. It takes the low pressure compressor designed for the Frame 6FA GT, runs the air through an intercooler, and then into a supercore which is based on the LM6000.
"In combination, this provides 100 MW of power and ten minute start times," said Phil Tinne, GE's LMS100 Product Manager.

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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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