Daily News

New technology and advanced software controls are changing the ability for gas plants to respond flexibly to demand and harness waste heat driving renewed profitability for operators. “As plant performance improvements are more and more often optimized through smarter software our solutions are increasingly focused on the integration of hardware and software across the plant,”  Andreas Pickard from Siemens told Gas to Power Journal.

Unit 1 of the Big Sandy Power Plant has started to supply up to 268 MW of gas-generated electricity to PJM Interconnection. Operator Kentucky Power, part of the investor-owned electric utility AEP, had opened the plant back in 1963 and operated it on coal until November last year, when conversion works to natural gas commenced.

Varying gas composition impacts performance and component lifetime of internal combustion engines, gas turbines and fuel cell-based machines. By measuring the optical fingerprints of C1-C5 alkanes, the Precisive 5 Gas Analyser enables real-time and high-accuracy fuel gas analysis, according to the firm’s founder and president, Vidi Saptari.

Uncertainty abounds after Britain voted for Brexit amid concerns over implications on foreign direct investment, not least in the UK energy sector. The very future of the Hinkley Point nuclear power project is up in the air, as observers warn that the departure of UK prime minister David Cameron might give EDF a pretext to pull the plug on financing.

Already one of the least carbon-intensive regions, the US Northeast is anticipated to further reduce its power sector carbon intensity from 1,037 pounds of CO2 per megawatthour last year to 986 lbs CO2/MWh in 2030. CO2 prices in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) fell to $4.53 per metric ton at the latest auction in June – 40% below their previous peak value.

Poland's state-owned gas supplier, PGNiG, has signed a two-year contract to supply fuel to a cogeneration project in Torun, to be operated by EDF. The French utility has started to dismantle the existing coal CHP and is set to replace it with a new natural gas-fuelled CHP in the first quarter of 2017.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Russia’s Gazprom have agreed to form a joint venture for gas-fired power generation and underground gas storage in China. The MoU was signed on Saturday after detailed discussions on Russian gas supplies via the western route – the so-called ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline is already under construction.

Banks are reassessing collateral required from power project developers as they seek higher potential returns, according to Gints Sorokins, board member at OS Energy. This tends to delay new-builds and risks to derails a number of projects.

Industry group COGEN Europe has positively acknowledged Stadtwerke Kiel’s 190-MW combined heat and power project. Construction of the flagship plant is imminent. The new J920 FleXtra gas engine-driven plant set to replace a hard coal-fired CHP, which has been in operation for 40 years. Kiel's new gas CHP is slated to start up in October 2018.

Implementation of heat exchange and storage systems attached to CCGTs is delivering greater demand-response for plant operators, delegates at PowerGen heard. The Italian utility IREN uses heat storage tanks at three gas power plants around Turing – optimizing between the sales of electricity and district heating.

Change, not only to technology, but more so to the role of the client and electricity offtaker, has sparked a “new wave of innovation in the power sector.” Falling margins increase the urgency for gas power operators to adapt to the needs of offtakers and grid operators. Letting small firms develop innovative solutions and snapping them up once the solutions are proven is one way, often adopted by large and more risk averse players.

Two new 18.5-megawatt MAN 48/60 engines have been commissioned at the Grand Cayman power plant, joining join five existing MAN engines onsite. The retrofit increases the plant’s overall capacity to 90 MW and was carried out in partnership with the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) and Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC).

A “remarkable technical success” is how Chuck Goodson, Eastman Chemical Company’s utilities maintenance area manager describes PSM’s FlameSheet combustion system conversion, implemented on two 7F gas turbines at the Longview combined heat and power plant in Texas.

Immediately after receipt of an air permit, Dominion Virginia Power has begun construction on its 1,588-MW Greensville County Power Station, a combined-cycle gas power project that comes with a price tag of $1.3 billion.

Cross-border electricity flows need better TSO coordination, as do capacity measures set by national policymakers, if Europe wants to achieve its energy security policy objectives. As Fabien Roque, senior vice president for Compass Lexecon Energy put it: “We will only be able to address issues of coordination in capacity markets if we can deal with simultaneous scarcity situations.”

News in Brief

Spanish gas demand seen fall 8% in July

Jun 28 – Enagas, the Spanish TSO, has forecast that the country’s overall natural gas demand will come in 8% lower in July, down at 23.3 TWh – triggered by 26% plunge in gas-fired generation to a monthly output of just 5.8 TWh.  Further drops in CCGT dispatch are anticipated the coming month– particularly compared with July 2016 when Spain was hit by a major heat wave. Gas use from the country’s industrial, residential and CHP sector is forecast to stay flat year-on-year, according to Enagas projections.

Mexico: ABB to help enhance power quality in Campeche

Jun 28 – ABB has commissioned to deliver a turnkey Static Var Compensator (SVC) solution for a substation in Ciudad Del Carmen, in the southern Mexican state of Campeche. The order was placed by CFE, Mexico’s state-owned electric utility which serves over 36 million customers in 190,000 communities. 
The SVC, rated at -15/50 megavolt-ampere reactive (MVAr), will control the 115-kV voltage in the substation under transient and steady-state conditions, lowering the risk of outages and enhancing power quality due to smaller voltage variations.

CMA probe costs taxpayer £5m

Jul 27 – A freedom of information request of not-for-profit energy provider Ebico reveals that the CMA probe has cost £5 million of tax payers’ money and that energy consumers will see some of the costs passed on their energy bills. Phil Levermore, Ebrico CEO called the CMA probe “a complete waste of time and public money.” Several independent suppliers, including First Utility, criticised that “the CMA has missed the mark” as meaningful proposals were watered down amid pressure from the Big Six; and as Ebrico sees it “the energy market has simply moved on in the time it’s taken to publish the recommendations.”

Ghana’s eyes two FSRUs to meet gas-power demand

Jul 27 – Growing electricity demand in Ghana could underpin two additional floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), even after domestic gas production from two offshore fields will come onstream. Pointing at Ghana’s two main power hubs - one in the west, one in the east,- John Abdulai Jinapor, Ghana’s minister of power told press in London that ”nothing prevents us from putting in two LNG facilities [adjacent to both centres of power generation.]”

Headed for Porth Elizabeth, SA

Jul 27 – Himoinsa ventures further into South Africa and is set to open a new subsidiary in Porth Elizabeth, South Africa. A local management team will provide local employees and experience of the regional power gen business, the Spanish OEM said.

Siemens opens new headquarters in Munich

Jun 24 – New Siemens headquarters have opened in the Bavarian capital Munich today. Completed in only about three years, the new building provides space for 1,200 employees. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said the new headquarters is meant to establish a “symbol that stands for working together in the spirit of global entrepreneurship, for integration into society and for taking action in accordance with the principles of sustainability.”

Enemalta pays Shanghai Electric to use the BWSC plant

Jun 24 – Enemalta is paying an undisclosed sum of money, “possibly running into tens of thousands of euros a day,” to Shanghai Electric to operate the BWSC power plant in Delimara, local media reported. An Enemalta stated it is buying electricity from different entities, including Shanghai Electric, for supplying its offtakers in Malta. 
The cash-strapped Maltese utility divested the BWSC plant to the Chinese operator for €100 million in December 2014, but claimed earlier this month it had retaken possession of the facility until the conversion of the turbines into gas was completed.

ABB supports smart meter roll-out in Memphis

Jun 24 – Zurich-headquartered ABB has been selected to provide wireless network products and services for the deployment of nearly 1 million smart meters across the city of Memphis, Tennessee, US. The roll-out of smart meters is expected to improve efficiency of electricity, water and gas supplies and mitigate loss and theft.

Wärtsilä snaps up Weir American Hydro

Jun 23 – Finnish Wärtsilä has acquired Weir American Hydro from its parent company Weir Group. Ownership of the company will be transferred to Wärtsilä, with effect from 30 June 2016 and is seen to complement its industrial services business. With its headquarters in York, Pennsylvania and a service center in Montreal, Weir American Hydro currently employs 241 people, with net sales of $45.6 million in 2015.

Rolls-Royce, SKF seal shaft bearings contracts

Jun 23 – Sweden’s SKF has signed contracts worth over 1 billion Swedish krona ($120m) with Rolls-Royce to supply main shaft bearings for their new gas turbine engine programmes. Among others, the SKF bearings will be uses in industrial gas turbines but also in the well-known Trent XWB, designed for Airbus A350. Deliveries have started and are expected to reach their full rate by 2018.

Italy’s AB orders 115 GE Jenbacher biogas engines

Jun 23 – AB, a biogas CHP project developer based in Italy, has bought 115 of GE’s Jenbacher Type 3 and Type 4 biogas engines. Following a 2012 biogas boom spurred by government incentives, demand faltered but GE claims its latest engine order “illustrates AB’s new service strategy to give agricultural customers a cost-effective option to repower their existing biogas energy facilities.”

Heat wave propels up US gas futures

Jun 22 – US natural gas futures have reached a 9-month high – with the July frontmonth on NYMEX hovering around $2.75/mmBtu – as record temperatures, particularly in the Southwest, saw gas demand from electric utilities surge. Government projections anticipate an all-time high of gas-burn for power generation, while gas deliveries at the start of this week already surpassed 34.3 Bcf, according to PointLogic Energy data.

Egypt: Military & civil sector eyes Himoinsa gensets

Jun 22 – Representatives of Egypt’s defence ministry, the Suez Canal Authority and national telecommunications companies such as Etisalat have expressed interest in Himoinsa generator sets and the lighting towers that were presented during a recent event organised by Otrac Heavy Equipment, Himoinsa’s distributor in Egypt. The Spanish OEM already supplied twelve HDW-525 T5 gensets that provided energy during work on the second phase of the Suez Canal.

Tasmania forced to rely on diesel generators

Jun 21 – Severe drought combined with an extended outage of the Basslink undersea cable has forced Hydro Tasmania to fire up diesel generators to avert blackouts. Total costs for shipping in more than 100 diesel generators, foregone gas generation and lost electricity sales are estimated to total between $140 million and $180 million, according to Hydro chairman Grant Every-Burns. He warned most of these costs will be reflected in the utilities 2016 financial year, causing a $90 million loss.

Modular gas engine CHP in the limelight

Jun 21 – Modular concepts for combined heat and power – scalable from 7 MW up to any size – are at heart of MAN Diesel & Turbo’s offering at Power-Gen Europe 2016. Gas engine power plants in CHP operation, based on the proven MAN 35/44G, can reach up to 95% efficiency – yet, this concept is not yet widely established in Europe. Capable to power up in less than two minutes and respond to rapid load changes, these gas engines open up an additional revenue source to plant operators via provision of balancing services.

Supreme Court upholds EPA’s mercury rule

Jun 20 – State-led legal challenges against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rule on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from power plants will not be reviewed further by the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the US decided. Consequently, all power plants in Texas as well as in other complainant states will ultimately have to meet the more stringent pollution standards.

MHPS J-series turbines reach 1/4 million operating hours

Jun 20 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems’ installed base of J-Series gas turbines (exceeding 10 GW) has accumulated more than a quarter million actual operating hours. “No other gas turbine in this size range has even a single hour of commercial operating experience,” the Japanese company said when announcing their landmark achievement.