Technology & Innovation

The use of Tomo-Lithographic Molding (TOMO) manufacturing technology, developed by Mikro Systems, in a range of gas turbine machinery improves the cooling capabilities of gas turbines and increases overall efficiency."[When] applied to gas turbines, [TOMO technology] enables more sophisticated airfoil designs with improved cooling characteristics, which leads to higher operating temperatures and improved efficiency," Tim Rokita, Siemens representative told Gas to Power Journal.

A crowd sourcing initiative to map the world's thermal power plants known as the Ventus Project has been launched by Arizona State University (ASU) under the lead of Dr. Kevin Robert Gurney. The initiative encourages users to contribute information about power plants including location, fuel type and CO2 emissions via pin placements on Google Maps and form filling.

Investing in higher efficiency filters can help improve turbine performance in cogeneration units by reducing fouling, Jim Benson, senior product engineer at Camfil Farr Power Systems told Gas to Power Journal at COGEN Canada's annual seminar in Calgary. "The operator can make up for the cost and pressure drop of a higher quality filter through the operational benefits provided by the product," he said.

Pre-engineered combined heat and power (CHP) systems can provide customers with a variety of benefits when compared to customized CHP systems, Mike McElligott, sales engineer at European Power Systems (EPS) told Gas to Power Journal at COGEN Canada's annual seminar in Calgary. "The standardized design means that there is no custom work necessary. Because there are thousands of these units out there, the standardized unit is proven and the customer is not going to be in the position of having to work the bugs out of a custom system," he said.

The key challenge in choosing an engine or turbine for a combined heat and power (CHP) system is to efficiently bring together thermal energy demand with systems that produce mechanical or electrical power, Manfred Klein, independent energy consultant and former Canadian federal government staffer, told Gas to Power Journal at this year's COGEN Canada annual seminar in Calgary.

"One question that the plant operator needs to ask is to what degree the plant is a thermal operation or a power operation? In this sense, managing heat demand will ultimately determine overall system efficiency," he said.

The world's largest concentrating solar plant – the 280 MW Solana Generating Station– is being built about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, in close proximity to a substantial fossil backup plant – the 2,334 MW gas-fired combined-cycle Gila River Power Station.
As a rising volume of intermittent renewable power sources are being added to the grid, power producers have a growing interest in combining it with realising new fossil power plant project, particularly gas-fired ones.

At two US-based gas-fired combined cycle plants, controllability at the plants was a major issue, the responsible plant manager told Gas to Power Journal on condition of anonymity. Large natural gas swings caused large boiler pressure swings, which "created a situation where the load was swinging around a lot more than it needed to be".

A total of 11 European companies have joined together in a project initiated by energy consulting and testing & certification company DNV KEMA to develop the concept of Power-to-Gas (P2G) in the newly established North Sea Power to Gas Platform. P2G is a method of converting surplus renewable electricity into gaseous energy carriers such as hydrogen or methane that can be stored in the natural gas grid.

The successful deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) in power generation will be crucial to achieving the UK's climate change goal of an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050, says a new report from Carbon Connect. "Electricity supply will likely need to rise significantly by 2050, and decarbonising the power sector beyond 2030 without CCS would be expensive and politically challenging," the report reads.

Success in the micro Combined Heat and Power (CHP) market is dependent on having a standardised, efficient and cost effective generation unit, Jean-Pierre Van Wingen, General Manager of E. Van Wingen (EVW) told COGEN Europe's annual conference in Brussels. "It is essential that you have a standard product. It needs to be competitive and have a low price and that is only possible when you have a concept that can be produced in volume," he said, adding that "production in volume also allows you to have standardized service and decrease marketing costs."

MAN Diesel & Turbo has supplied a custom-made steam turbine for the 100MW Shams 1 solar thermal power plant in Abu Dhabi, owned by the Shams Power Company – a joint venture between Masdar, Total and Abengoa Solar. Unlike conventional solar plants using photovoltaics where solar cells convert the sun's energy directly into electricity, the plant utilises concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to work with fossil fuels.

Increased market penetration of energy efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installations can help the EU reduce its energy imports and drive economic recovery, Paul Hodson, Head of Unit Energy Efficiency at the European Commission's DG Energy told this year's COGEN Europe annual conference in Brussels.

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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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