Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Siemens pulls out of Wales tidal array

September 4th, 2014

Siemens has stopped work on what would have been the first tidal array in Wales.

Siemens gave no reason for pulling the plug on the £70m Skerries array, which it was working on with Marine Current Turbines, a company it bought in 2012.

Five tidal generators would have been sited in waters up to 130ft deep half a mile from Holyhead.

In a statement, Siemens said: "Following discussion with our partners we have decided to suspend our work on the Skerries Tidal Array Project in Anglesey.

"We will continue to review our strategy for deployment. Our discussions with suppliers and other key stakeholders are ongoing on different opportunities.

"We continue to believe that tidal energy will play an important future role in delivering the UK's low carbon economy and creating long term sustainable jobs."

The government withdrew a £10m grant that MCT had been awarded through the Marine Energy Array Demonstrator fund in June, after struggles to find match funding pushed the project beyond the 2016 deadline to produce power.


Power Engineering International Magazine – latest issue

September 3rd, 2014

The latest issue of Power Engineering International Magazine is now online with some outstanding news and analysis of the global renewable, coal, gas and nuclear power generation industries.

In this issue Jeremy Bowden writes about how Malaysia is changing the way it generates and delivers electricity as it endeavours to cope with the demand created by economic growth.

David Appleyard looks at how the Japanese energy sector is responding to the daunting challenges it faces post-Fukushima and Jatin Sharma of GCubeexplains how the renewable power sector can exploit the potential of new, unfamiliar, emerging markets.

Meanwhile the power sector is on the verge of a gas engine boom, when state-of-the-art products outperform their turbine rivals, according to Howard Barnes of MAN Diesel & Turbo.

Frank Ewert explains how early detection with online condition monitoring can help mitigate the effects of increased thermomechanical stresses on power plant core components due to medium and peak load operation.

For these superbly informative articles and much more besides go to Power Engineering International Magazine on our website.

Kenyan consortium to build 1000 MW coal plant

September 3rd, 2014

A consortium headed by two Kenyan companies has won a government tender to build a 1000 MW coal-fired power plant in the country’s Indian Ocean coastal region.

The Kenyan firms, Centum Investment and Gulf Energy, joined with three Chinese firms – China Huadian Corporation Power Operation Company, Sichuan Electric Power Design and Consulting Company, and Sichuan No 3 Power Construction Company – to raise $500m in equity funding. The remainder of the estimated $2bn project cost is to be funded through debt.

In a statement, Centum said: “The consortium has the proven capability to raise such funds and has already received significant interest from several major international lenders and export credit agencies.”

Centum CEO James Mworia (pictured) said: “The Lamu Coal power plant is integral to attaining the country’s objective of increasing generation capacity and significantly reducing the cost of power.  The evaluation is a major vote of confidence for the capacity of reputable local companies to lead, fund and own the development of large infrastructure projects within the country in partnership with experienced world class companies.”

Included in the tender was a requirement for a 400 kV switchyard to connect the plant to a power line, to be built by state-owned Kenya Electricity Transmission Company.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has estimated that the plant, which will be located in the town of Lamu, will take around 30 months to build.

Gulf Energy CEO Francis Njogu said: “Once complete, the power plant will be the single largest power generating plant in East, Central and Southern Africa (excluding South Africa),  and will account for approximately 55 per cent of Kenya’s power production measured by today’s installed generating capacity.

“This transformational project will lower power cost and allow the Kenyan economy to take a major leap forward in positioning Kenya as a globally more competitive investment destination by improving the availability and affordability of power,” he added.

Kenya’s installed power capacity currently stands at 1664 MW, with peak demand averaging around 1410 MW. The nation expects its energy demand to grow to 15,000 MW by 2030 and aims to expand its installed capacity by 5000 MW by 2017.


Caribbean geothermal plant slated for 2018

September 2nd, 2014

A geothermal power plant on the Caribbean island of St Vincent is set to come online by 2018, the government has said.

The plant, which is planned to produce between 5 MW and 15 MW of power, will be located at Mount Soufriere (pictured) on the island, which features an active volcano.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said in an interview with Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner that explorations to date “support earlier conclusions suggesting that Mount Soufriere is hosting a high-temperature geothermal reservoir of commercial use”.

The initial surface exploration stage of the project began in late 2013, funded by North American energy services firm Emera and Iceland’s Reykjavik Geothermal, and with technical advice from New Zealand’s government.

St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to seek further funding for the project, Gonsalves said. The nation has held talks with, among others, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Caribbean Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.  

"It is expected that by June next year, a business case model will be available and drilling can commence after all contracts and the private-public partnership agreements have been negotiated and agreed," Gonsalves said.

Power generated by the plant will be distributed by state-owned St Vincent and the Grenadines Electricity Company (VINLEC).

HV transmission systems poised for capital boom

September 2nd, 2014

Global annual revenue from the high-voltage transmission systems sector is forecast to grow from $20.8bn this year to $31bn by 2023.

The study from Navigant Research finds that the growth is being driven by the dramatic expansion of high-voltage transmission systems in the Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

Navigant compares the pace of growth in these regions to the “initial wave of electrification and transmission system growth that was seen during the 20th century in North America and Europe”.

James McCray, Navigant’s senior research analyst, said: “The HVTS market will see tremendous capital investment over the next 10 years, as the infrastructure that was installed in the post-World War II era ages out, coal and nuclear generation is retired, and new utility scale renewable wind and solar generation is installed in remote areas.”

He added: “As these technologies become more powerful and smarter, the associated IT systems used to manage complicated HVTS deployments now leverage digital wireless sensors in every new piece of equipment, enabling better visibility on the performance, health, and capacity of the transmission system at every point along the way.”

Navigant states that the HVTS vendor landscape is also changing, “as the focus shifts to rebuilding and extending transmission lines to utility-scale wind and solar in remote regions and deploying mega-scale HVTS infrastructure across China, India, and parts of Africa”.

It added that “these efforts will create significant markets over the next decade, and companies like GE, with its joint venture agreement with China XD Group and its merger proposal with Alstom, are looking to expand their product manufacturing, sales, and delivery capabilities in all regions”.

An interesting experiment on LinkedIn

September 1st, 2014

From time to time it’s interesting to post news of a success story from one industry into a LinkedIn group which caters for a rival industry. You can learn a lot from the cynicism that story generates.

Red rag to a bull you might say!

In a way, yes, you are looking to provoke reaction, and of course some of the response might be motivated more by hostility than sound judgement.

However, a lot of the time within the power sector, there is too much cheerleading and too little critical self-appraisal so it sometimes helps to get the views of the competing interests.

Without getting into specifics, a new innovation from the wind sector prompted some withering criticism from the members of one particular nuclear power group.

Here is a list of the criticisms heaped upon that sector:

1. “There is no country which has not invested in wind energy which does not seem to have substantially larger power costs after replacing fractional portions of its generation capability.”

2. “So far I have not seen a country that can generate a substantial amount of its energy from wind. I can see it being useful in areas that are remote, windy, and depend on diesel generation. The Canadian arctic is one example. Here generation costs are reported to be $1.50 / kw hr so the typical wind turbine costs are insignificant.”

3. “Apart from hydropower, green energy is a huge waste of time, effort and money.”

4. “Because they are intermittent, wind and solar power imposes additional costs on the power system for providing backup generation that the farms do not pay for. In addition, because the capacity factor is very low, they require much more transmission capacity per unit of energy generated than a conventional power station. “

5. “On many occasions, they generate power when it is not needed and virtually no power when it is needed. And crazy governments pay them for the power that the system cannot afford and the system does not want. As a result of all this, power prices in many countries have nearly doubled.”
Nuclear and wind energies
6. “All of this wind generation is directly dependent upon an artificially supported electricity price and preferential grid treatment for wind generation. Remove any of these conditions, and the industry collapses, just as it did in 1981. Being dependent upon government largesse means that the collapse can happen at any time there's a change in political outlook. Just ask the solar manufacturers how they feel after the collapse of Spain's socialist government in the last elections. “

... and on it goes. Some of these assertions are valid; some are highly contestable.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of the issues engineers in the nuclear sector can pinpoint in the wind power field. Naturally many of a partisan bent feel there is no alternative but for the world to completely embrace nuclear power and the world only needs to wake up to this.

However all power technologies have their problems and as another contributor pointed out, nuclear has big decommissioning, waste disposal and expense issues of its own, fossil fuels have serious health and costs issues and are, of course, finite resources.

Luckily this particular LinkedIn group is a democratic one and one (neutral) member was quick to remind contributors of the failings of their own technology, while posting the more positive developments associated with their green cousins.

Among that member’s more telling points is that battery storage development can in time make the present intermittency problems associated with renewables redundant.

Until then and because of the environmental and expense issues associated with other power generation, we have little option but to increase the use of renewables for the generation of electricity as well as coming up with the means of increasing energy efficiency along with the reduction of energy consumption.

Almost as offering a right of reply I intend to try posting some nuclear success news on a wind forum to see if similar insights can be gleaned, whether negative or positive.

The last line on this nuclear thread went uncontested by contributors and I think most fair-minded from across the divides would concur.

“What is important is to select the best combination of different energy sources in order to achieve the best possible result, from the economic and environmental point of view.”

Vattenfall successfully install 288 MW of offshore wind capacity

August 29th, 2014

Vattenfall and Stadtwerke Muenchen have taken advantage of favourable weather conditions to install 80 Siemens AG wind turbines in the last four months.

The final wind turbine of the 288 MW DanTysk project was installed in the German North Sea on Thursday. The build comprised of 80 Siemens 3.6 MW machines.

DanTysk is located 70km west of the island of Sylt, and is a joint venture between Vattenfall and Stadtwerke München with the companies holding 51 per cent and 49 per cent stakes respectively.Vattenfall wind turbines

Samoa’s first wind farm comes online

August 29th, 2014

The island nation of Samoa’s first wind farm was inaugurated in a ceremony this week by the Prime Minister, the Honourable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

The 550 kWe wind project (pictured) on the island of Upolu, which is home to nearly 75 per cent of Samoa’s population, is projected to deliver $475,000 per year in fuel cost savings and 1500 MWh of power per year, as well as reducing the island’s annual CO2 emissions by over 1000 tonnes.

The project was built by Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar with financing from the UAE’s $50m Pacific Partnership Fund, which supports the deployment of renewable energy across Pacific island states.

The wind farm includes two 55 metre high turbines in a bespoke ‘cyclone proof’ collapsible configuration. The turbines can pivot at the base and be lowered and locked in place in less than an hour, Masdar said.

In his inauguration speech, Malielegaoi said, “The new wind farm delivered by Masdar and funded by the ADFD is a significant step forward in Samoa’s transition to a more sustainable energy future. This has been possible thanks to the support of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, and their commitment to advancing sustainable development. Access to renewable energy is vital to our long-term economic development, even beyond the substantial gains realized by cutting our dependence on imported fuel.”

The Samoan project is the second to be completed under the fund, with the first being a 512 kWe solar photovoltaic (PV) installation in Tonga. In addition, Masdar said it has undertaken solar PV projects in Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Norway’s energy firms hacked

August 29th, 2014

In a major cyberattack on the energy sector, 50 Norwegian companies have been hacked and another 250 have been warned that they are at risk and should check their computer systems.

Norway’s hacking prevention unit, the National Security Authority (Nasjonal Sikkerhetsmyndighet or NSM), issued the warning this week after spotting the largest ever coordinated hack in the country.

NSM said it was alerted to the hack by “international contacts” and that while it had identified suspects, it would not share that information at this time.

The names of the breached and targeted companies have not been released, although Statoil has confirmed that it has been warned by NSM and Peer Olav Østli, executive vice president of transmission system operator Statnett’s ICT division, told Norwegian news site NewsinEnglish that an email with a dubious attachment had been received by an employee.

Hans Christian Pretorius, NSM’s director of operations, told newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv that the hackers “have done research beforehand and gone after key functions and key personnel in the various companies.

“Emails that appear to be legitimate are sent to persons in important roles at the companies with attachments,” he explained. “If the targeted employees open the attachments, a destructive program will be unleashed that checks the target's system for various holes in its security system. If a hole is found, the program will open a communications channel with the hackers and then the really serious attack programs can infect the targeted company’s computer system.”

According to Pretorius, the hackers’ ultimate goal is the theft of intellectual property.

In 2011 Norway’s oil and gas sector was hit by hackers who sent emails with virus-laden attachments to specific people at 10 companies. The attacks garnered user names, passwords, industrial drawings and documents relating to contract negotiations, which NSM said were then taken out of the country.

Policy risk to slow renewables development, IEA warns

August 28th, 2014

Growth in renewable power deployment is projected to slow worldwide over the next five years unless nations address policy uncertainty, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned in a new report.

Power generation from renewable sources grew by 240 TWh in 2013 to reach 5070 TWh, or almost 22 per cent of global generation, the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report said, putting renewables on par with gas. Global investment in new renewable power capacity was estimated at around $250bn in 2013.

In its forecast to 2020, the IEA sees global renewable generation growing by 45 per cent to make up almost 26 per cent of the world’s power generation. However, this growth is predicted to slow as early as this year and to stabilize thereafter, putting many nations’ climate change targets at risk.

Renewables investment figures for 2013 were down from previous years. In a presentation to journalists, IEA head Maria van der Hoeven (pictured) warned that policy risk is the main barrier to investment in renewable power worldwide. Policy changes must be predictable, she said, and retroactive changes must be avoided. And, she said, given the capital-intensive nature of renewable power projects, market contexts must ensure reasonable and predictable returns.

For example, in China and other non-OECD markets where growing concerns over air quality are driving renewables growth, development is hampered by non-economic barriers, an absence of grid integration measures, and the cost and availability of financing. In the EU, there is uncertainty over the exact nature of the bloc's post-2020 renewable policy framework – including the questionable effectiveness of a non-binding target for 2030 – and plans for a European ‘supergrid’ to help with renewables integration.  

In the US, added Paolo Frankl, head of the IEA’s renewables division, uncertainty over the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) at the end of 2012 significantly slowed renewables growth in 2013. The PTC comes up for renewal each year.

In the Middle East, where energy security concerns have given rise to a “huge” interest in solar power, van der Hoeven referred to the example of Saudi Arabia where, “despite the adoption of long-range targets and new policies including long-term power purchase agreements, they still have policy frameworks requiring further clarification and a number of economic barriers”.

In a comment on the report, Justin Wilkes, deputy CEO of the European Wind Energy Associaton (EWEA), agreed that investment depends on stable policies. "It's imperative that national governments resist making abrupt changes to support mechanisms that can blindside investors and deter financing of wind power projects,” he said. “Political and regulatory risk is reflected in the cost of capital and a stable framework can go a long way to eliminating these risk premiums."


Follow us: