Technology & Innovation

Two Canadian utilities – New Brunswick Power (NB Power) and Nova Scotia Power (NSP) – have selected Siemens for new C$92.7 million (€ 60.95m) smart grid project. A new Energy System Platform (ESP) will optimize integration of renewables, ensure grid stability and manage decentralized distribution.

Researchers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and B&B Agema have been looking at a novel design approach – Nekomimi film cooling – to further increase temperatures at the combustor exit and high-pressure turbine stage inlet. The aim is to boost efficiency without putting too much strain on vanes and blades, considering that modern turbine stage inlet temperatures exceed the melting points of turbine blade materials.

Caterpillar Energy Solutions has just launched a new 170B 50-Hertz series of generator sets with a power output ranging from 1.3 MW to 2.3 MW. The 20-cylinder version is available now, with 12 and 16 cylinders set to come out later in 2019.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp has developed two technologies for gas-insulated switchgears (GIS): arc-cooling that improves the interruption of electrical current in sulfur-fluoride GIS by 25%, and high-density dielectric coating that improves insulation performance by 30% in high-voltage conductors.

Bacteria and microbes living in oxygen-deprived environments – deep within mines, at the bottom of lakes or in the human gut – have evolved way of breathing that involves excreting and pumping out electrons. These microbes can actually produce electricity and MIT researchers are striving to harness these microbial power plants to run fuel cells.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions has set out an internal business re-design project to accelerate a digital transformation. Eager to simplify its set-up, Toshiba ESS will consolidate its nuclear, thermal, hydro and services units into a new Power System Division, while transformation, distribution and energy aggregation will be folded into a Grid Aggregation Division as of April 1.

Coal is likely to be the largest application of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), expects Laszlo Varro, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA). Around 85% of the reduction in coal plant emissions came from efficiency and renewables, leading to fewer coal plants running less hours and only a minority from capturing the emissions from continuous operation.

General Electric is preparing the launch of a new company, focussed on Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) software. The spin-off will have a new brand identity and its own equity structure, starting with $1.2 billion in annual software revenue and an existing global industrial customer base.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D metal printing, is planned to “go systematic” across Wärtsilä Group a based on plans to create a dedicated research centre in Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland. Researchers from ABB, Wärtsilä and two universities will collaborate, with construction for the R&D centre planned to start in 2019 or 2020.

Material Solutions – a Siemens business – has been opened in Worcester, UK, following a £27 million investment. On a 4,700 square metre site, experimental laboratory processes in Selective Laser Melting (SLM), or 3D printing, are turned into industrial practice in the production of gas turbine components, saving time and money.

Indonesia and the Philippines, archipelagos within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are in focus of MAN’s new integrated LNG-to-Power solutions. “We have new projects under development mainly in Asia and western- and northern Africa. But this is a business we are still building,” said Carsten Dommermuth, business development manager at MAN Energy Solutions. In Gibraltar, meanwhile, an 80 MW project is already under commissioning.

Carbon capture and hydrogen are interdependent; hence the resurgence of strategic interest in hydrogen is strongly connected with carbon capture in multiple ways. “The most basic is the source of hydrogen: today it is fossil fuels with over 10 tons of CO2 emitted for a ton of H2,” said IEA chief economist Laszlo Varro.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of a few options that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation as well as from industrial processes such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing. “Without CCUS as part of the solution,” said IEA head Dr. Fatih Birol, “reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible.”

Utilities around the global are understood to have halted operations of at least 18 of GE’s HA turbines at power plants following blade oxidation corrosion issues. The technical issues are reportedly very similar to a recent GE turbine blade failure at Exelon’s Colorado Bend power plant near Houston.

Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has spent $175 million to develop a floating gas-fired power plant, fuelled by LNG, and aimed at the Southeast Asian market. The power ships will be offered to utility customers on remote islands and in isolated locations with underdeveloped gas pipeline infrastructure.

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News in Brief

Bonny Train-7 to cost $6.5bn

Sept 16 – Nigeria LNG is preparing to add a seventh processing train to Bonny LNG, bringing total capacity from 22 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 30 mtpa. Estimated to cost $6.5 billion, Bonny Train-6 will include a new liquefaction unit, a storage and a condensate tank as well as three gas turbine generators.

Schneider to complete L&T takeover by early 2020

Sept 13 – Venturing into India, Schneider Electric hopes to finalise the Rs 14,000 crore acquisition of Larsen & Toubro's electrical and automation business by early 2020. After the transaction is completed, Schneider will have a 65% stake in L&T, while the remainder will be held by Temasek.

MHI to advice China on energy conservation

Sept 12 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Thermal Systems, part of MHI, has set up a joint venture withan affiliate of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) to perform technical consulting for energy conservation projects in China. The focus of SGCC lies on building new decentralized power stations, biomass-derived power gensets and energy saving solutions.

Tender extended

Sept 11 – Turkmengas has extended a tender for the overhaul of the gas turbine engines of the NK-12ST and NK-14ST brands. Bidders need to pay to receive the tender documents, and then submit a written application to Turkmenistan’s state gas company.

Gas power units to buffer Germany’s coal exit

Sept 10 – Electricity output of Germany’s fleet of gas-fired power plants has risen to a over 13,5 billion kilowatt-hours in the three months from June to August, Fraunhofer ISE figures show. These productivity gains put CCGTs in pole position to balance supply swings in connection with the German coal exit.

Power of Siberia gas flows to start on Dec 1

Sept 9 – Russian gas supplies to China via the eastern route are going to start on December 1, 2019, Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller told his counterpart at CNPC in Beijing. The huge Chayandinskoye field, containing some 1.2 trillion cbm of gas, had already been connected to the 38 Bcm per year ‘Power of Siberia’ gas pipeline in August.

Hurricane Dorian causes havoc in the Bahamas

Sept 6 – In the aftermath of Hurricane Doran, a Category 5 storm, Bahamas Power and Light has said there is a total blackout in New Providence, the most populous island of the archipelago. Dorian made landfall twice on Sunday, ripping off roofs and electricity lines. In most parts, electricity has not been restored.

LNG cargoes via Bab-el Mandeb decrease

Aug 30 – Northbound LNG shipments via Bab el-Mandeb, a sea route chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, have fallen over the past three years as Egypt imports less natural gas from the Persian Gulf. In 2015 and 2016, both Jordan and Egypt imported up to 1.4 Bcf/d of LNG into Red Sea ports but these shipments fell sharply following the development of large gas finds in the Mediterranean.

Hokuriku Electric buys LNG cargo

Aug 29 – Japanese utility Hokuriku Electric has purchased an LNG cargo for delivery in November as soaring temperatures drew down gas in storage for the autumn. The cargo is understood to be scheduled for delivery in the second half of November from Malaysia’s Petronas and may well be destined for Hokuriku Electric’s first LNG-fired power generation unit,  the Toyama Shinko plant.

Technip spins off LNG activities

Aug 28 – TechnipFMC, has decided to spin off its European-based engineering and construction operations into a separate business, leaving the American half of the firm as an equipment supplier to the oil and gas sector. The split is due to be completed in the first half of 2020.

FLNG power market to top $930m by 2023

Aug 27 – The global market for floating LNG power vessel is projected to reach $ 931.6 million by 2023, up from $ 860.1 million seen last year, according to ReportsnReports. Major vendors of FLNG power vessels are Siemens, MAN, Wärtsilä, Caterpilar and GE which are targeting to use the technology to supply decentralized power to island nations in Southeast Asia and along the coast of sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.

EIA monitors grid hourly

Aug 26 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has launched a beta release of its hourly electric grid monitor. The enhanced version analyses hourly generation by energy source and hourly sub-regional demand for certain balancing authorities in the Lower 48 states.

Hiroshima waste-to-energy plant gets upgrade

Aug 23 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has been chosen to upgrade and refurbish the combustion facilities at a waste to energy plant in Hiroshima. The Naka plant in Minamiyoshijima, Naka-ku, has a total waste treatment capacity of 600 tonnes per day and generates 15.2 MW of electricity to power the equipment in the factory, while selling the remainder to the grid.

China eases ban on coal power

Aug 22 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

Blackout after Didcot demolition

Aug 21 – Yet another blackout hit thousands of British households early Sunday after the demolition of cooling towers at the disused Didcot-A power station in Oxfordshire. Moments after the explosion at 7am to bring down the cooling towers some nearby electricity poles and overhead transmission lines caught fire, causing a sudden loss of electricity that lasted for one hour and twenty minutes.

Fuel cell vehicle market gathers speed

Aug 20 – Sales revenue from fuel cell vehicles will soar to $255.2 billion in 2032, up from just $400 million last year, driven by fast growth in China and wider Asia. Hydrogen fuel cells achieve an energy conversion efficiency of 50% to 60% amid zero emissions and a low maintenance cost thanks to the engine’s modular design.

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.