Technology & Innovation

A 75% reduction in recuperator and combustor sizes may cut the market price for microturbines by as much as 50% by 2015 if prototyping is successful in the coming year, according to Brayton Energy, developer for manufacturer ICR Turbine Engine Co (ICRTec).

A new 1,000-kilowatt gas engine cogeneration (CHP) system will launch on November 1, jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Tokyo Gas Co. The engine employed is an improved version of MHI's previous 930kW gas CHP system and has been re-engineered to optimise output and efficiency.

Asian countries have taken the lead in producing methane hydrate – a new unconventional gas source, with first offshore production led by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). Todd Alhart, media relations director, global research for gas turbine manufacturer GE, says that once production fine-tuned, there would be no technical barriers to use of the gaseous methane in gas-fired power plant generation.

GE's largest gas engine distributor, Clarke Energy, has introduced Trigeneration as a form cogeneration combined with high-tech cooling for industrial processes in hot countries like Tunisia, Australia and India. The cost benefit analysis of the system kicks in when temperatures blaze, whether it's for refrigeration or for air conditioning, according to Group Marketing and Compliance Manager, Alexander Marshall.

Fuel savings of 1-2% for combined cycle gas plants (CCGT) may be achieved thanks to research into the uses of hydrophobic surfaces conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). GE Research estimates suggest the development could eventually save industry $2.5 billion a year. "This technology can reduce the size of the condenser, reduce coolant pressure drop, and save money on capital cost and maintenance," Nenad Miljkovic, a researcher in the MIT team said, speaking to Gas to Power Journal.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a public-private partnership between energy and engineering companies and the UK Government, has mapped out a plan to add more district combined heat and power (CHP) capacity with a view to decarbonise the grid. One of its central projects is its Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) Programme, which is looking at ways to improve availability and delivery of efficient heating across the UK.

A consortium of European universities and industry has produced new research improving reliability of the combustion process in gas turbines (GT) which can potentially saving 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.

Fuel savings of several percentage points may be possible for gas turbines operating under partial load conditions thanks to new research at the University of South Carolina. “Better understanding of flow dynamics can help to boost operating performance for a wide range of fuels,” Dr. Tanvir Farouk, lead investigator said, speaking to Gas to Power Journal.

Tapping the searing 2,000°C heat of gas turbine combustion with new man made materials may add fuel efficiency, said Professor Andrey Prokofiev at Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna). "While according to the second law of thermodynamics some heat will always be lost, we can turn part of this waste heat into useful electricity."

Flexible rather than conventional gas generation could save Britain between £380 million to £550 million by 2020 and up to £1.54 billion by 2030 alone through reduced balancing costs incurred by National Grid, research commissioned by Wärtsilä through Redpoint Energy and Imperial College London shows. The modelling is based on replacing 4.8GW of conventional CCGTs with 4.8GW of gas-fired Smart Power Generation.

A new wave of innovation, bringing greater connectivity of turbine assets, could lead to savings of up to $7 billion a year, GE research finds. Improved monitoring of components and better access to data about plant operations could cut the estimated 52 million labour-hours a year required to maintain gas and steam turbines worldwide.

A subsidiary of French utility, EDF, has started using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track turbine parts used for repairs and maintenance in gas power plants. The Centre d'Exploitation des Turbines à Combustion (CETAC) is responsible for maintaining EDF's gas turbine assets and has so far tagged 5,000 items within its inventory.

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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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