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GE unveils new steam plant services innovation center

May 16th, 2017

GE Power (NYSE: GE) today announced plans to convert its 242 MW coal-fired Birchwood Power facility in King George, Virginia, US into a Steam Plant Services Innovation Center.

The center, which provides sufficient electricity to power more than 240,000 homes, is to become a showcase for how the latest GE technologies can greatly increase the efficiency and flexibility of coal-fired steam power plants, while also reducing emissions.

GE logo

The new showcase will combine GE’s full suite of Digital Power Plant for Steam software solutions with expert operations, and align with GE’s global Powering Efficiency Center of Excellent (COE) initiative. The CoE provides customers with total plant solutions to upgrade their existing generation equipment.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal plants generate 41 per cent of the world’s electricity and will remain the second-largest energy source worldwide until at least 2030. In the US, coal will likely provide 20 per cent of electricity for the next 20 years and in China and India, where coal fuels more than 70 per cent of electricity generation today, coal is likely to remain a primary fuel source for even longer. While many utilities and power producers around the world have committed to a lower carbon energy future, clean coal solutions are clearly needed to balance growing energy demand, low plant load factors and environmental impact.

In a statement, Paul McElhinney, president & chief executive officer of GE’s Power Services said, “We are investing in this innovation center to not only better the plant itself but to illustrate to the world what gains are possible in this sector when you combine digital and hardware solutions with technical know how.”

Birchwood Power facility is jointly owned by GE Power Services and J-Power USA Development Co., Ltd.  On May 1st, GE’s Power Services assumed the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services contract at the plant. As part of its suite of services, GE is installing its advanced digital solutions which will equip plant O&M technicians at this site with new opportunities for process and productivity improvements by leveraging machine and sensor data, analytics and boiler optimization technologies across the entire plant.

By making improvements from the fuel supply, within the boiler, and across the balance of plant, there is potential to incrementally impact efficiency, flexibility, availability, while reducing emissions, outage and maintenance costs.  Installation is planned for August 2017.

 Introduced in 2016, GE Power’s Digital Power Plant for Steam software, addresses machine and fleet performance. Asset Performance Management (APM) software continuously monitors steam plant equipment health, enabling operations teams to make decisions that enhance plant performance. Benefits include reducing unplanned downtime up to five per cent, reducing false positive outage alerts up to 75 per cent, and reducing operations and maintenance costs by up to 25 per cent.  

 Operations Optimization software, which includes boiler optimization software, manages complex boiler interactions to improve boiler operations performance and consistency.  Benefits include: improvements in heat rates, reduced tube failures, and slagging, as well as reduced NOx and CO2 emissions.  For every point of efficiency gained using digital solutions, CO2 emissions are lowered by two percentage points. This improvement in efficiency alone can reduce fuel consumption by 67,000 tonnes of coal per year with the same output for a 1,000 MW plant.

“We are seeing rapid adoption of lower carbon electricity generation the world over. However, the evolution to a lower emission energy future is still likely to take a generation or more, “said Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer, GE Power. “In the interim, the Innovation Center at Birchwood will enable us to demonstrate how to make coal a dramatically more efficient, flexible and lower emission fuel source through the use of advanced engineering, software and analytics.”

GE’s Powering Efficiency CoE initiative aims to help customers with coal-fired power plants optimize their operations, improve plant efficiency and reduce emissions with the combination of advanced hardware and digital offerings. The CoE aligns with GE’s recent Ecomagination study that found CO2 emissions from the world’s steam fleet can be reduced by 11 per cent when existing hardware and software solutions are fully applied. This reduction in CO2 is equivalent to removing 250,000,000 U.S. cars from the road.

GE operates more than 30 power plants around the world, managing 15 GW of electricity generating capacity.

 

 

German government to ignore calls to expand wind auctions

May 16th, 2017

The German government is set to ignore calls for more offshore wind blocs, as the country’s grid is not sufficiently developedOffshore wind energy turbine installation to take in the extra energy.

The country’s first offshore auction finished last month with the winners willing to go without subsidies for the first time.

“You can forget lifting the caps before the election in September,” the Social Democrat’s spokesman for energy, Bernd Westphal, said in an interview at a wind conference in the port of Bremerhaven. “With power grid expansion delays, this just won’t make sense.”

Speaking at the same event, Felix Wuertenberger, head of Vattenfall’s offshore development in Germany and the Netherlands, on Wednesday urged the government to raise auction limits beyond the planned 3 gigawatts in 2017 and 2018 to bring down technology costs.

Developers of North Sea wind projects need to build at least 4 gigawatts of capacity a year from 2020 -- equal to one turbine a day -- to keep the industry buoyant, said Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s new Chief Executive Officer Markus Tacke at the event.

Some 7 gigawatts a year would be more appropriate to “generate sufficient volume to lower costs and sustain innovation,” said Tacke. Just 1 percent of the sea’s wind power potential is currently under development, according to the company.

Germany’s plan to build three high-voltage power lines to transmit wind and solar power from the north to the south of the country won’t be realized before 2025 and at the moment the country is struggling to incorporate the levels of green energy already coming into the system.

RWE beats profit expectations

May 16th, 2017

RWE has performed slightly better than expected, in terms of profit, the company’s Q1 results have revealed.

The German utility saw earnings fall 6.5 per cent to $2.3bn. However, this was less than the expected figure from a Reuters poll, which had forecast $2.26bn.
RWE flag
The company has been reeling in recent years from the impact of the German policy facilitating the development of renewable energy, Energiewende. Utilities like RWE have come to rely on being called upon for reserve capacity, while being forced to shut down much of its conventional power fleet.

However, prices recovered at the end of last year, when a cold winter coincided with extended French nuclear reactor outages.

"Because we have seen significant tightening in the first quarter, prices in reserve markets were much higher than usual and we have also operated more power plants than planned, mainly gas," RWE's Chief Financial Officer Markus Krebber told journalists.

"Basically, all available power plants ran straight for several weeks."

The company reported its biggest ever net loss for 2016. It has cut costs at its power plant business and listed its renewable and networks unit Innogy last year as it tries to adjust its business model.

Shenhua signs up to $3.2bn Greek green energy deal

May 12th, 2017

The largest coal producer in the world and one of China’s largest electricity generators, Shenhua Group, has signed a cooperation and development deal with Greek investment group Copelouzos targeting the field of renewable energy.

The enterprise will aim at projects involving the upgrade of power plants in Greece and other countries, along with other activities under the green umbrella.
Shenhua Group
The total estimated investment amount is $3.2bn.

Dimitris Copelouzos, founder and President of Copelouzos Group, said: "Our Group believes in green energy and the prospects of Greece. We are confident that our cooperation with the Shenhua Group will act as a catalyst for the completion of major investments and will promote Greece's energy industry with an emphasis on green energy and environmental upgrades of energy units. "

Copelouzos has built a number of energy projects in Greece, including wind parks and small hydroelectric plants.

POSCO to develop follow-up coal-fired power plant in Vietnam

May 12th, 2017

South Korean private power producer POSCO Energy has been awarded another contract for the development and operation of a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

The plant, set to be built in Nghe An Province follows the company’s first effort in Vietnam, at Quang Ninh, which has been operational since late 2015.
POSCO Energy
The new Quynh Lap Ⅱ coal-fueled power plant will be built in the industrial complex in Dong Hoi of the Nghe An Province in northern central Vietnam, 270 kilometers from Hanoi.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of 1,200 MW, with two 600 MW reactors and will be developed on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract where POSCO sells power produced at the plant to state-run Vietnam Electricity (EVN) for 25 years after construction, before transferring the ownership to the government.

In the process of building the project, the Nghe An provincial government plans to also create an industrial complex for heavy industries by attracting steel, machinery and cement producers. It then expects the new Quynh Lap Ⅱ coal-fueled power plant to feed enough energy to power the newly created industrial district.

GE wins Mexican power plant contracts

May 12th, 2017

General Electric has won a contract to supply gas and steam turbines to power plants located in Mexico.GE 7HA gas turbine

The contracts will add up to two new gigawatts of power in the country, involving the installation of four 7HA gas turbines, the company said on Thursday.

In a statement GE Power said it had also signed a separate multi-year agreement worth $120m to provide service to gas and steam turbines in power plants in the Mexican states of Durango and Veracruz.

The firm said the new combined-cycle gas turbines would have an "extended reach" but did not say what they were worth.

Former GE chief technology officer joins Powerphase

May 12th, 2017

GE’s former chief technology officer, Dr Mark Little, has joined the board of combustion turbine company Powerphase.

Little accompanies Bob McGrath, former executive vice-president of Nextera Energy, as the second independent director appointed to the Powerphase board.

During his time at GE, Little led one of the world’s largest and most diversified industrial research and technology organizations in the world that developed core technologies to help GE succeed in all of its core businesses, including energy, oil & gas and aviation. During his 37 year tenure at GE, he also led GE Global Research and was vice-president of GE Energy power generation.

Former GE boss joins Powerphase

Powerphase founder Bob Kraft said: “Dr Little brings a tremendous global strategic market and technical background to Powerphase which will help us continue to expand our reach to customers around the world.”

Florida-headquartered Powerphase recently signed a deal to bring 2 GW of additional power to Indonesia. The company also has more than 100 patents pending globally around its dry-air injection technology for combustion turbines, called Turbophase®.

Little said: “I am excited to join the Powerphase board and bring my global experience to bear on this innovative company to help the company accelerate globally with its heavily patent protected existing and new insurgent technology offerings.”

Indonesia signs deal for gas-fired power upgrades

Feature: Unlocking China's gas turbine potential

E.ON’s Teyssen angling for Uniper sale

May 11th, 2017

The chief executive of E.ON, Johannes Teyssen has acknowledged the company is looking to offload its remaining stake in Uniper, its offshoot business.

Teyssen hopes the quick sale of the power plant and trading unit it spun off last year, along with higher payouts, will help ease growing shareholder pressure.
Johannes Teyssen
"It will happen soon but also in a way that creates value, as the markets allow," Teyssen told shareholders at the group's annual general meeting on Wednesday. "This may enable us to recover for you some part of the Uniper impairment charges recorded in our 2016 financial statements."

Following the spin-off, E.ON still holds a 46.65 percent stake in Uniper, which has a value of $3.09bn based on its current market valuation. E.ON has previously said it could sell further Uniper stakes from 2018.

Teyssen also reiterated his commitment to raising dividends to 0.30 euros a share for 2017, up from 0.21 euros apiece for 2016, with a view to increase payouts in the future.

E.ON recorded a $17bn annual net loss for 2016, the fourth since Teyssen took office in 2010 and one of the largest in German corporate history, mostly triggered by the spin-off.

Reuters reports that E.ON's restructuring, its most far-reaching to date, has been received less well by investors and analysts than a similar breakup at peer RWE, which listed its Innogy unit last year.

European wind power investment expected to fall in 2017

May 10th, 2017

WindEurope believes investment in the European wind energy sector will fall this year as a move to competitive tenders impacts.

The industry group says investment levels were inflated in the last year as projects were rushed through before auction-based renumeration systems locked into place.

The analysis was published in WindEurope's annual 'Financing and Investment Trends' report. European wind developers raised a total of $47bn last year for the construction of new wind farms, refinancing operations, project acquisitions and public market fundraising, up 22 per cent from $38bn in 2015.
Offshore wind power development
Key markets such as Germany and France have switched to auctions and this has caused a lull in financial investment decisions in projects.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson voiced an additional concern for the sector when he stated, "What is worrying is the uneven growth geographically," the statement added. Some 80% of new investments came from four countries alone - the UK, Germany, Belgium, and Norway.”

Platts reports that a total of 14 EU member states did not announce any new wind energy investments in 2016 with many countries struggling to manage the transition to auctions.

Only seven EU member states have clear policies for renewables beyond 2020 with the unclear policy outlook in the rest making investors and project developers go elsewhere.

Europe's total installed wind capacity has risen above 150 GW with 25 GW added in the past two years.

$6.5bn electric vehicle complex displays Chinese intent

May 10th, 2017

One of China’s biggest automakers, GAC Motor, has announced the construction at a giant $6.5bn industrial park to develop and produce electric and autonomous vehicles.

The move is in line with the Chinese government’s commitment to maintaining leadership in the sector.
Electric vehicle
China’s electric vehicle mandate requires automakers’ EV sales to represent at least 8 per cent  of their total sales in 2018, 10 per cent in 2019 and 12 per cent in 2020.

The park will be located in Guangzhou’s Panyu district on five square kilometres.

Electrek online quotes Yu Jun, General Manager of GAC Motor, as saying, “The planning and construction of this industrial park is a concrete step to implement the Chinese government’s green development goals for Guangdong and the national ‘Made in China 2025′ strategy. The move will help promote the development of the automobile industry and drive economic growth.”

“In the coming five years, we will push out at least seven new electric vehicle models and cover three product series including pure electric, range-extending and hybrid. Our goal is for GAC Motor to take the lead in the EV business and achieve sales of 20,000 electric vehicles by 2020.”

They also say that they have signed strategic partnership agreements with “the world’s top 10 auto suppliers”, including Aisin Seiki, Michelin, Continental and Faurecia during Auto Shanghai.

China is already the world's leading electric vehicle market by a wide margin. In 2016, China EV sales reached 507,000 units, more than double the level in Europe (221,000) and almost four times the US number (157,000). China EV sales are expected to climb to 700,000 this year, according to the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

Beijing is motivated by reducing dependency on foreign oil, having been the leading oil importer, thanks to increased appetite for new cars. Air quality is also high on the agenda, with seven of the world’s top ten most polluted cities located in China.

The government is also keen to maintain its leadership in battery and electric vehicle technologies.

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