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Macquarie in frame to buy UK Green Investment Bank

October 10th, 2016

Australian bank Macquarie is the front runner to buy the UK’s Green Investment Bank in what would be the first major British privatization since Theresa May became Prime Minister in July.

The sale was announced last year when it was believed that the government would keep a significant stake in the bank, which was launched in 2013 and was the first of its kind in the world.

However, the government is now expected to sell the entire bank, retaining just a token share.

The sale is worth about £2m and Macquarie is believed to have topped a rival bid from a consortium including Lloyds Bank and Sustainable Development Capital.

British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is concerned about the government relinquishing control of the bank. At the weekend he said: “The UK Green Investment Bank is so important because it is a pioneering, government-backed national institution that has led the way in green and low carbon finance.

 “It is a flag carrier and it is only just getting started. That’s why it’s vital that it remains government backed and green post-privatisation, preferably with government retaining a stake.”

Since its formation the bank has backed 82 low-carbon infrastructure projects, the most recent announced last week and involving £28m of debt finance for an energy-from-waste plant in Scotland.

RWE launches Innogy

October 7th, 2016

RWE debuted its Innogy business in Frankfurt on Friday morning, as it looks to respond to market forces that have severely impacted its profitability over the last seven years.

Germany’s largest listing in 16 years saw shares rise above their €36 Initial Public Offering (IPO) price shortly after they started trading. This IPO is the biggest in Europe since the flotation of miner and commodities trader Glencore in 2011.
Peter Terium of RWE
RWE chief executive Peter Terium described the listing as "clear evidence for our unique, future-oriented business model."

The new business contains RWE’s renewables, retail and grids businesses and has been formed as utility companies in Germany try to adapt to the country’s radical energy policy – the Energiewende – which prescribes a major shift towards renewables and away from nuclear and fossil fuel power generation.

RWE will continue to manage power generation and energy trading concerns.

Study recommends nuclear/ renewables mix for Belgium

October 7th, 2016

A study performed by PwC Enterprise Advisory (PwC) and published by the Belgian Nuclear Forum (BNF) has recommended a mix of renewables and nuclear power as the optimal way Belgium can achieve stable energy prices, guarantee its security of electric supply and meet climate objectives.

Nuclear Engineering International reports that of three scenarios produced by the advisory this mix represents the only strategy that allows for a maximum reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050 is one where renewables growth is complemented by Belgium’s existing 6 GW of nuclear capacity.
Doel 3 nuclear power plant
The advice is contrary to the Belgian government’s actual plans for its energy mix, as it plans to phase out nuclear power entirely within a decade.

In the absence of nuclear and in order to satisfy stability of the power supply Belgium will have to either start importing energy or invest in “expensive” thermal power stations, the study notes.

In terms of CO2 emissions, PwC’s estimates show that in the event of a complete nuclear phaseout, total CO2 emissions will be 31 per cent higher in 2030 and 17 per cent higher in 2050 compared with present levels of about 30m tonnes of CO2.

PwC concludes its study by suggesting that a mix of renewable and nuclear energy sources “seems to be the most appropriate” way to meet domestic demand.

Belgium has seven reactor units in commercial operation, four at Doel NPP and three at Tihange NPP, which together, generate about 46 per cent of the total electricity. In December 2011, the previous government confirmed that it would close all Belgium’s commercial reactors in line with a phase-out law of 2003. Doel 3 and Tihange-2 are both scheduled to close at the end of their 40-year lives in 2022 and 2023, while Doel-4, Tihange-1 and -3 are closing in 2025. The government has extended the operation of Doel-1 and Doel-2 from 2015 to 2025.

EDF appoints CRA to perform Sizewell nuclear analysis

October 7th, 2016

Corporate Risk Associates (CRA) has been awarded a new contract by EDF Energy to perform a technicSizewell B nuclear power plantal review of a reliability analysis developed for upgrades to the Process Control and Distributed Computer Systems at Sizewell B nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England.

The move comes as part of a modernisation of the platforms by American based nuclear power company and technology provider to Sizewell B, Westinghouse Electric Company.

The Pennsylvania based company operates the Westinghouse Integrated System for Centralised Operation (WISCO) on which both the Process Control and Distributed Computer Systems for Sizewell B are housed.

The work will include a full review, recommendations and an endorsement of the reliability analysis being carried out by the nuclear technology company.

CRA has a strong pedigree in the nuclear sector having advised on the management of safety, risk and reliability across projects including the Magnox

ABB and Fluor in pact to build EPC substation projects

October 7th, 2016

ABB and Fluor have formed a global strategic partnership to carry out large turnkey EPC projects for electrical substations.

The two companies said that the partnership “will help meet the evolving need of power grids across the globe for safe, reliable and state-of-the-art electrical substations”.

Substations are key elements in power grid infrastructure that facilitate the efficient transmission and distribution of electricity. They control and protect power flows, connect power stations to the grid and link transmission and distribution networks as well as end consumers.

ABB chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said the deal would allow the companies to “tap the vast opportunities of the ongoing energy revolution and related power infrastructure investments. Together, we intend to grow our businesses by complementing each other’s strengths in unique customer services for substation projects.”

He added that “strategic partnerships like this are a core pillar” of ABB’s strategy to “drive growth while mitigating risk”.

 “Fluor’s new global strategic partnership with ABB targeting the substation market is expected to bring unique synergies to our Power clients,” said

His counterpart at Fluor, David Seaton, said: “This approach exemplifies our focus on addressing client needs with our unique integrated solutions offering.”

Double boost for carbon capture and storage

October 6th, 2016

Carbon capture and storage may be set for a resurgence following two positive announcements about the technology this week.

The Norwegian government is to spend approximately $163m (NOK 1,314m) on building their CCS portfolio. Meanwhile the Petra Nova carbon capture system, what will be the world’s biggest CCS facility, is under development in Heuston, Texas.

Part of the Norwegian funding will go towards developing a project to realise full-scale CCS.
Petra Nova CCS system
The three industrial emitters involved in the project are Yara (ammonia production), Norcem (cement production) and Klemetsrud (waste management and energy recovery). If all three were to successfully reach a final investment decision, the project would reduce Norway’s carbon dioxide emissions by 5 per cent and significantly help to achieve the country’s contribution to meeting the global 1.5°C target agreed at the Paris COP21 conference.

The Norwegian Government also announced a three-year extension to the Technology Center Mongstad (TCM), a CCS test facility jointly owned by Gassnova, Statoil, Sasol and Shell. A new agreement on the ownership and operation of the Center will be agreed by the end of 2016.

Dr. Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA, commented: “This is a hugely encouraging announcement by the Norwegian Government and could once again place Europe amongst the leading regions developing CCS around the world.

“The fact that Norway has chosen to develop CCS on three very different industrial sites demonstrates the massive importance of CCS to sectors such as steel, cement, chemicals and refining. Industrial CCS projects such as these are important not only in terms of their contribution to emissions reductions, but also to ensuring a long-term sustainable future for these vital industries – retaining their tremendous contribution to job creation and GVA.”

“For too long people have only considered CCS in the context of the power sector. Other countries need to follow Norway’s example and broaden their approach to CCS by encompassing industry, heat and power. In the UK we are now looking to the Government to follow Norway’s lead and develop a new approach to CCS that recognises its tremendous value right across the UK economy”.

Meanwhile the Petra Nova carbon capture system under construction at the W.A. Parish Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant southwest of Houston, is slated to go online before the end of the year. Climate Wire reports that the billion-dollar facility will become the largest post-combustion carbon capture system installed on an existing power plant in the world.

“We believe that coal plants are an important part of the energy mix of the United States,” said David Greeson, vice president for development at NRG Energy Inc.. “Our challenge, then, is to mitigate the environmental impacts.”

NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., Japan’s largest oil producer, are running the Petra Nova project as a 50-50 joint venture under the umbrella of Petra Nova Parish Holdings LLC.

The project received $300m each from NRG and JX Nippon. NRG also received $167m from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, plus another $23m from DOE under Section 313 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 for the carbon capture system.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Mizuho Bank Ltd. are also providing loans totaling $250m.

At the plant, a 240 MW slipstream of exhaust flue gas flows into the capture system, which will filter out 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide, along with particulates, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

The captured carbon dioxide is pumped 82 miles to the West Ranch oil field in Jackson County, Texas, where drillers inject it into depleted wells, squeezing out the stubborn bits of crude oil that remain after the reservoir is tapped, in a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Drillers estimate that the field holds 60 million barrels that could be recovered with EOR.

The EOR operations will generate the revenue that pays for the CCS system.

Vattenfall coal sale to EPH finalised

October 4th, 2016

The sale of Vattenfall’s German coal-fired power assets to Czech energy company Energetický a průmyslový (EPH) and its non-operational financial partner PPF Investments (PPFI) has finally gone through.

The deal had been held up while the European Commission analysed it for potential breach of competition law. However the Commission’s decision to approve has removed the last remaining barrier.
Lippendorf coal-fired power plant
The acquisition is part of EPH’s effort to extend its presence and long-standing expertise in the region.

The acquisition involves power plants Jänschwalde, Boxberg, Schwarze Pumpe, Lippendorf block R as well as open cast mines Jänschwalde, Nochten, Welzow-Süd, and Reichwalde.

The power plants have a combined power generation capacity of 8000MW with total 7,500 employees.

Vattenfall president and CEO Magnus Hall earlier said: "This divestment of our lignite assets is good strategically but also financially given current and expected market conditions. We are now accelerating our shift towards a more sustainable production.”

EPH earlier said the deal involves acquiring over €3.4bn ($3.8bn) worth of assets and €2bn in liabilities and provisions.

Project & Technology Update

September 29th, 2016

Project Update

Work starts on 385 MW Arkona Baltic Sea wind farm

Construction has started on the 385 MW Arkona offshore wind farm in the German Baltic Sea.

The cornerstone for the joint project being carried out by E.ON and Statoil has been laid in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen.

The €1.2bn ($1.3bn) Arkona project is located 35 kilometers northeast of Rügen and will be powered by 60 of Siemens' 6 MW turbines, which will rest on monopile foundations in up to 37 meters of water.

The wind farm is scheduled to be fully operational in 2019, when it make E.ON the first company to operate its own offshore wind farms in both the German North Sea and the Baltic.

Ingo Luge, chief executive of E.ON Germany, said: "As the mainstay of future energy supply, renewables must be able to stand on their own economically going forward. Electricity generation from offshore wind farms has already experienced a considerable learning curve and will soon be able to do just that. Through its high levels of investment, E.ON has made an important contribution toward this end."

GE signs gas turbine pact with Israel Electric

GE has signed a service deal with Israel's main utility for gas turbines at three power plants.

The pact between Israel Electric Corporation and GE's Power Services business covers the three 9FA gas turbines at Eshkol, Tzafit and Alon Tavor power stations.

The new deal comes into effect in 2017 and follows a previous 13-year multi-year agreement between IEC and GE for the three plants. It covers parts, repair and technical advisory services for planned outages for the three 9FA units.

GE's Power Services president Paul McElhinney said the continued contract would "increase the country's long-term energy supply by improving the reliability and availability of its existing 9FA gas turbine fleet".

Eshkol is Israel's third largest power plant with a production capacity of 1449 MW, while Tzafit and Alon Tavor both have a 650 MW capacity.

E.ON agrees £163m sale of windfarm transmission assets

E.ON has signed an agreement for the sale of transmission assets at its Humber Gateway offshore windfarm to a consortium comprising Balfour Beatty Investments and Equitix for almost £163m.

Humber Gateway remains 100 per cent owned by E.ON and comprises 73 turbines located 8 km off the English coast. It went into full operation in May 2015 and has a capacity of 219 MW. Balfour Beatty Investments and Equitix were selected by Ofgem in September 2015 as the preferred bidder to own and operate the offshore transmission link. The sale is necessary due to regulatory requirements relating to the ownership of transmission and generation assets.

BRUSH claims generator world record

BRUSH Group is claiming a major milestone in power generation with the delivery of the 400th generator for mobile power plants.

BRUSH specializes in mobile generators rated above 25MVA with its DAX brand. The 400-generators milestone was reached in slightly less than 16 years after the first trailer mounted DAX 62-170 unit entered service in 2000.

BRUSH said today that the 400 generators provided for mobile power plants above 25 MVA have resulted in six million fleet operational running hours - which the company claims is a world record.

BRUSH chief executive Martyn Vaughan said: "In addition to the rental power sector, we are seeing a new market demand in mainstream industrial power supply, where power generation asset managers are seeking to provide additional power capacity for on and off grid operations at a substantially reduced capital outlay."

Wartsila wins Argentina $80m dual-fuel plant deal

Wärtsilä is to supply a 100 MW dual-fuel power plant to Albares Renovables in Argentina.

The $80m contract for the Central Termica Pilar plant includes six Wärtsilä 50DF engines running on gas and heavy fuel oil.

The order is one of five contracts that Wärtsilä was recently awarded in Argentina and the plant is expected to be delivered early next year and be operational by the summer.

Wärtsilä's scope of supply for the project with Albares Renovables has been extended from equipment delivery only to a full turn-key project. Dual-fuel engines were chosen because natural gas is not available for the power market in Argentina all year round.

When installed, the plant will also recover all of its heat and make it available to nearby companies.

Masdar on track with Mauritania solar plants

Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar has announced that it had passed the halfway mark in the construction of a 16.6 MW solar power plant network in Mauritania.

Masdar broke ground on the project in December last year and once complete, the network of eight solar plants will supply 30 per cent of the electricity demand to several remote off-grid communities, reducing their dependency on diesel-fired generators.

Masdar chief executive Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said: "Delivery of this innovative network will bring electricity to thousands of families for the first time, changing their lives for the better and further enabling socio-economic development."

Mauritania's national electricity provider Société Mauritanienne d'electricité (SOMELEC) selected Masdar for the project based on its successful delivery of the 15 MW Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant in the capital city of Nouakchott.

At the time of its completion in 2013, this plant was the largest solar power installation in Africa and Mauritania's first utility-scale solar power project, accounting for more than 10 per cent of the country' grid-connected capacity.

Director of Masdar Special Projects Khaled Ballaith said: "By working in remote locations like Afghanistan and the Pacific Islands, our team has acquired vast expertise in deploying small-scale off-grid solutions to communities without access to secure energy. Our capacity for efficient delivery under challenging conditions is the reason why we were assigned this project in Mauritania. Coupling innovative project management strategies with cutting edge technology has ensured we can deliver clean energy to these communities."

Iberdrola has now installed more than eight million smart meters in Spain.

The company has upgraded 76 per cent of all of its meters in Spain with subscribed power equal to or less than 15 kilowatts and is ahead of schedule on targets set by Spain's Ministry of Industry.

The smart meter roll-out is part of a €2bn programme devised by Iberdrola called Project Star (Remote Grid Management and Automation System) which it is implementing in the 10 regions where it has power distribution networks.

Project Star is due to be completed in 2018 by which time more than 10.5m meters will have be replaced.

Iberdrola rolls out more than 8 million smart meters in Spain

DEWA launches cyber defence centre

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has become the first government organisation in Dubai to launch a cyber defence centre.

DEWA chief executive Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said: "DEWA is constantly working to transform Dubai into a role model for smart cities, by adopting the best information security practices, which is a vital pillar in the development of smart cities."

"DEWA adopts the best international standards to improve its services, and achieve the highest standards of quality and excellence across all projects, initiatives, and services, in cooperation with an efficient and professional team," added Al Tayer.

Marwan Bin Haider, executive vice-president of Innovation and the Future at DEWA, added that the company "understands the importance of immediately dealing with potential security threats that can affect smart cities. DEWA established the 24/7 cyber defence centre to predict potential threats, and ensure that preventive measures are in place to protect our data, by monitoring our services and technical assets around the clock."

Milestone for Ireland onshore wind farm

A 169 MW wind farm in the west of Ireland has reached phase one in its development, and once completed will be the country's largest onshore wind facility.

The Galway Wind Park has reached a major milestone, with the first turbine now fully installed.

A number of the other turbines in this first phase are partially assembled, with the bases and mid-towers installed.

Galway Wind Park is a wind farm cluster that consists of four wind farms - Cloosh, Lettercraffroe, Seecon and Uggool. When operational it will have the capacity to generate enough energy to power around 84,000 homes, equivalent to almost 90 per cent of the homes in Co. Galway.

Phase 1 (64 MW) entered construction in February 2015 and is owned and financed by SSE, while Phase 2 (105 MW) is a 50/50 joint venture between SSE and Ireland's commercial state forestry company, Coillte.

Turbine installation on Phase 2 is due to commence from November and all turbines are expected to be installed by mid-2017.

As part of Coillte and SSE's commitment to the local economy, Galway Harbour is playing a key role in this phase of the project. The nacelles, hubs, blades and other ancillary turbine components are being shipped to Galway Harbour, while the larger tower components will be transported to the site from Foynes, Co. Limerick.

Scottish offshore tidal array claims world first

What's believed to be the world's first fully-operational, commercial, grid-connected offshore tidal array has been deployed in Shetland in Scotland.

The second in a series of three 100 kW turbines has been deployed alongside the first turbine, which operator Nova Innovation says makes it the first offshore tidal array in the world to deliver electricity to the grid.

The Shetland Tidal Array is a partnership between Nova and Belgian renewable energy company ELSA. Nova said that the Shetland array heralds a new era for tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power - unlike other forms of renewable energy - and added that it was the first company to secure financial close on a commercial tidal array.

The UK's Carbon Trust estimates that a global tidal energy market of $165 billion dollars could be developed by 2050.

Nova Innovation managing director Simon Forrest said: "We are absolutely delighted to be the first company in the world to deploy a fully operational tidal array. Deploying the second turbine truly sets us apart and showcases our technology."

Richard Graham MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons which he launched in July, said the operation of the tidal array was "an historic moment".

"This is a really encouraging step forward for UK tidal power."


Technology Update

Renold Gears launches SmartGearbox

Renold Gears has launched a new SmartGearbox featuring, the company claims, "a unique oil condition monitoring system".

Renold Gears says the patented technology is "60 times more sensitive to oil contamination than a standard dielectric sensor and provides an all-round view of gearbox oil performance".

It adds that it is easy to use and enables an effective way to display the real-time condition of gearbox oil. It can be used either as a stand-alone system or simply connected to a variety of control and display systems such as PLCs, smartphones and tablets.

Renold Gears says that as approximately 75 per cent of all drive system failures are the result of oil contamination, "the new SmartGearbox has been designed to cut downtime, reduce maintenance and the overall cost of ownership. It increases reliability and performance by continuously monitoring the condition of the oil and reports on any early signs of problems enabling immediate action to be taken."

RTK announces new actuator line

RTK, a CIRCOR Energy brand, has launched the next generation of its REact electric actuator product line, which it claims is "60 per cent more energy-efficient than previous versions and other market available products".

RTK says the new REact actuators offer technological advantages including optimized positioner, applied Brushless DC motor technology, a compact, modular structure and variable actuator speeds. The company adds that a patented adaptive spindle system reduces the structural height of the REact 60E and 100E. The new REpos positioner offers data logging functions, a micro USB interface, and a graphic display.

Advanced smart grid system to be demonstrated in Amsterdam & Cologne

Grid-Friends, a European research project that aims to accelerate Europe's energy transition by setting a new standard in smart-grid technology, is launching two projects in the Netherlands and Germany.

The project will implement an advanced smart-grid platform in two communities: Schoonschip, a residential neighborhood located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a carbon-neutral housing complex in Cologne, Germany.

The Dutch pilot will be the first of its kind in the Netherlands, demonstrating how local communities that manage their own microgrid behind the meter can play a pivotal role in the European energy transition.

Grid-Friends is developing the coordination mechanisms and the software platform for energy cooperatives, enabling them to maximize self-sufficiency and generate greater value through shared exploitation of storage and other flexible assets.

"The platform we are developing enables many distributed renewable energy systems to be combined into one, larger, virtual power plant, which is able to perform the same services as centralized power plants and production systems." said Matthias Klein, team leader at Fraunhofer ITWM.

The platform will use the latest in ICT technology to control battery systems, electric vehicle chargers, energy generation assets, heat pumps, thermal storage and smart appliances in order to optimize energy supply and demand.

The project started in May 2016 and has received funding in the framework of the joint programming initiative ERA-Net Smart Grids Plus, with support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The Grid-Friends consortium includes two leading European research institutes -Stichting Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM). Also involved are Spectral Utilities, a systems integration and cleantech development startup based in Amsterdam; and Evohaus, a green construction firm founded in 1998, based in Germany and a leader in innovative construction and real estate development, focused on building carbon-neutral ecological living quarters for low income families.

Emerson unveils continuous gas analyzer

Emerson has unveiled the Rosemount CT5400 continuous gas analyzer, which it says it has launched in response to "the worldwide need for highly accurate, easy-to-use and cost-effective process gas analysis and emissions monitoring systems".

The company says the CT5400 uniquely combines tunable diode laser (TDL) and quantum cascade laser (QCL) technologies within the same analyzer to provide "near-instant high-resolution spectroscopy to detect and identify a range of molecules in both the near and mid-infrared range of spectroscopic light with an enhanced dynamic range from sub ppm to per cent levels".

Emerson added that, unlike traditional process gas analyzers requiring continuous calibration and verification, and other single laser-based systems which are limited to measurement of one or two components, the modular and scalable design of the CT5400 can incorporate up to six high-resolution laser modules and can detect, measure and monitor up to 12 critical components simultaneously, eliminating the need for multiple analyzers and sample handling systems.

Dr Ruth Lindley, product manager for Emerson QCL analysers, said the Rosemount laser-based gas analysers "have a significantly quicker response time and make continuous measurements. Sub-second measurements give operators the ability to make adjustments to their processes and avoid costly upsets that can develop into emergencies."

Atlas Copco launches new inverter power generators

Atlas Copco has launched two new inverter power generators.

The P 2000i and P 3500i models are the latest additions to the company's complete portfolio of portable generators.

Atlas Copco said that the new inverters use advanced electronics and magnets to ensure efficiency.

"Designed for daily use, or for frequent single jobs, typically involving handheld power tools, the inverter power portable generators are easy to operate, with a recoil start function that ensures fast activation. Fuel consumption is low, thanks to variable speed control that adapts engine speed to load conditions. Additionally, the generators can be connected and used in parallel to increase the overall power capability without requiring a larger generator."

Incorporating fuel tanks of four and 11 litres respectively, the P 2000i and P3500i can run for up to six hours before refuelling. The generators are also fitted with noise-reducing canopies to keep engine noise levels at a level of around 63 dBA - comparable with an electric razor.

"The new iP generators are the latest addition to Atlas Copco's extensive range of portable power solutions and offer considerable value to users," said Sergio Salvador, product marketing manager for small generators at Atlas Copco Portable Energy.

"Construction sites are becoming more demanding in terms of power needs. Low noise levels are required on all metropolitan construction to avoid noise pollution. In addition, wider environmental issues, such as reduction of CO2 emissions, are also a big consideration. Therefore easy transportation and reduced fuel consumption are a firm customer requirement."

E.ON in deal for 10 MW battery to equalize renewables

German energy company E.ON is to install and operate a 10 MW battery to equalize the feed-in of renewable energy to a transmission network in the US.

The battery will be charged by an associated 2 MW solar park which E.ON will construct, own and operate.

The partnership with Tucson Electric Power is set to run for ten years and is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2017.

Meanwhile, E.ON will collaborate with Greensmith Power, a provider of storage solutions, to prepare a technical design the battery, named the 'Iron Horse'. The battery will be located at the Science and Technology Park of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The battery is based on lithium titanate technology, which E.ON says renders it capable of handling rapid charging and discharging. "In contrast to a conventional solution based on coal or gas, the battery offers the advantage of being able to react quickly to fluctuations in the network," the company explained.

Flowserve upgrades bearing isolator technology

Flowserve Corporation has released new Bearing Gard bearing isolator upgrade technology designed to extend bearing life and reduce operating costs for motors driven by variable frequency drives (VFDs).

In recent years, VFDs have grown in popularity because of their ability to deliver greater system efficiency, extend motor life and optimize operating costs.

However, Flowserve says that VFDs operate by delivering power to the motor in a series of positive and negative pulses, which often results in unbalanced voltage that can accumulate in the motor shaft until it can find a path to ground.

"Without proper grounding between the shaft and the motor housing, the bearings often become the path to ground. The resulting electrical discharge can drastically damage or even destroy the bearings in just a few months of service," Flowserve added.

The company developed new Bearing Gard technology to directly address this challenge. "With integrated electrical grounding protection in place, substantial elimination of shaft voltage is achieved, which helps to significantly extend bearing life. The new Bearing Gard - with electrical grounding technology - dramatically increases electric motor reliability by guarding against the two main causes for premature motor failure: bearing contamination and damage due to electrical discharge."

Flowserve says the Bearing Gard is "uniquely capable of resisting contamination at the entry point with its patented triple combination of static shut-off, O-ring-protected rotor/stator interface, and oversized contamination channels".

Flexicon unveils one-piece construction conduit fitting

Flexicon has launched what it claims is "the world's best conduit fitting for electrical and data installations in the power generation industry".

Flexicon sales and marketing director Tim Creedon said: "Flexicon Ultra has been developed for applications where the loss of power or data would have serious consequences resulting in downtime, loss of revenue and possible penalty clauses. In today's interconnected world such a loss can often affect far more than the equipment connected."

The company said that, unusually for such a high performance fitting, Flexicon Ultra has a one-piece construction, "making it easier to install with less chance of an incorrect assembly. The fitting can be installed in less than three seconds using a simple push-and- twist connection to the conduit."

Creedon added: "When you consider that cabling can face multiple hazards that might include water and dust ingress, corrosion, exposure to oil, grease and chemicals, impact resistance, vibration and many more, then getting the cable protection right is vital. Combining a high performance fitting with the correct flexible conduit will protect the cabling and help secure its connection for the lifetime of the installation."

Online state estimation in modern grids

September 29th, 2016

Combining online estimation and lifetime monitoring means maintenance costs can be reduced and the reliability of a network increases, write Dr Ivana Mladenovic and Dr Thomas Werner


Today's grids are facing new and challenging issues

Credit: Bert Kaufmann

The liberalization and opening of markets has, in the past two decades, seen power systems undergo numerous structural changes, many driven by environmental and economic factors.

The integration of offshore and onshore wind farms, Germany's 'Energiewende' and increased integration of renewables in lower voltage levels have changed the face of the power system. A network that was not designed for bidirectional power flow with decentralized, stochastic and volatile loading and generation has had to face new challenging issues.

As a result, today's grids have to develop according to the following influences: increased volatile and fluctuating loading of system components; identification/detection and avoidance/elimination of bottlenecks; ensuring strong ancillary services and appropriate allocation of the responsibilities between transmission and distribution system operators; enhanced functionality of protection systems; improvement of measurement, monitoring and communication systems; and life-cycle management of networks and assets.

However, these challenges are not always of the same importance for different voltage levels. Mainly, distribution grids are affected, since 96 per cent of renewables are integrated in medium- and low-voltage networks.

In general, these grids are not equipped with measuring, communication and condition monitoring systems to the same extent as transmission networks. Therefore, in today's era of automatization and digitalization, development and realization of suitable accompanying systems for grid management play a key role.

Flexible, dynamic, automated

Modern power networks can be characterized by flexible, dynamic and automated operation. Their structure differs from conventional grids in that self-organizing subsystems also carry responsibility for the local system's efficiency, supply stability and reliability.

The modern power system can also be seen as a multimodal energy system, where all the parts individually contribute to the stability and efficiency of the complete energy system.

The foundation for optimal operation is knowledge of the state of these energy systems and their components. It allows the use of advanced applications and decision-making for improved network and asset management.

Figure 1. Partial view over ICAAS

Credit: Siemens

In modern power systems, there are two approaches for state assessment:

• Online state estimation describing the actual network state with respect to electrical values like voltage and active and reactive power; and

• Lifetime or condition monitoring of assets such as transformers and cables, which provides relevant information for asset management, for example to describe the aging of an asset.

In the last decades, computer-based applications have been developed for both tasks, especially for use in transmission and primary distribution grids.

Compared to secondary distribution grids, these grids encompass a lower number of nodes, branches and assets. This allows for more or less complex applications with intensive engineering.

In secondary distribution networks with a high number of equipment and assets, the use of traditional methods will not provide the right cost-benefit relation. Because of this, new concepts are in development for online state estimation and condition monitoring.

Online state estimation

With increasing network requirements, it becomes more important to have a consistent view of the state of the distribution network. Applications like load flow, voltage-var-control or optimal feeder configuration need a set of input data which describe the network state with minimal error, and which is self-consistent. State estimation is an established method for calculation of the complete network state on the basis of a set of measurements, and represents an essential part of any modern network's control centre.

The state-of-the-art estimation which is used in power control systems is based on a comprehensive data model of the network, an extensive installation of measurement devices and stable communication channels from the control centre to the stations.

Transferring the same state estimation concepts to the secondary distribution networks is very costly: acquisition and maintenance of network model data is time consuming, the number of measurement devices installed in the field is too low for the conventional algorithms, and a lack of private communication lines requires the use of public communication networks with all of the related communication costs.

However, the cost-benefit ratio of state estimation improves if its results can be used not only for operation control of the distribution network, but also in the asset management of its components.

By combining online state estimation with online lifetime monitoring, the network operator's awareness of asset conditions increases and allows for the change from regular maintenance of the assets to condition-based maintenance.

As a result, maintenance costs can be reduced and the reliability of the network increases, as does the satisfaction of the network customer.

Asset-management and maintenance strategies can be classified into groups relating to the condition and/or importance of the component.

Even-oriented (no significant maintenance before failure) and time-dependent (fixed time intervals for maintenance, importance included) strategies do not consider component condition. In many utilities today, there is a movement to condition-based strategies, which can also be upgraded to reliability-based strategies wherein, in addition to condition, risk-management and prioritization assessments of the equipment are made.

However, for condition determination of the components, off-line diagnostic methods are mostly used. These require special diagnostic equipment, disconnection of the component from the grid, and trained personnel to perform diagnostic measurements. This takes much time and mostly gives only classification of the actual condition.

In order to reduce the costs for the diagnosis, increase operation reliability and get an overview of the remaining lifetime of the components in the entire grid, online diagnostic methods are required.

Moreover, for the purpose of estimating remaining lifetime, life models are needed to estimate the equipment's probable remaining life dependent on actual and expected load occasions.

With this in mind, an experiment on MV paper-insulated, lead covered cables was carried out. A fully automated and integrated cable accelerated aging system (ICAAS), that realizes artificial but realistic aging by freely definable aging parameters and load profiles, was developed, realized and verified.

In Figure, 1 a partial view of some of the aging and protection components of the ICAAS system and the cable samples are shown.

After verification of system functionality and determination of the most suitable aging conditions within a pre-test, the main aging experiment began. Test objects included several groups of MV PILC cables from different generations: besides brand new cables, there were also samples that had been in field operation for up to 45 years, and both of these were artificially aged.

During the artificial aging, monitoring of diagnostic parameters as well as of aging conditions were calculated with an accurate measuring system in regular time intervals.

In addition, initial measurements - parametric studies (PS), which were also repeated during the aging process - have been carried out to determine the influence of variable test conditions, such as voltage or temperature, on the dielectric parameters. In this way a sophisticated databank with over 300,000 measurements and 1 TB of data was built up.

In the next stage, numerous studies and analysis were performed, resulting in:

• Development of methods and approaches for data processing and interpretation;

• Determination of the physical dependencies and the critical levels of important diagnostic parameters (aging condition, test parameters, environmental parameters);

• Description of the aging processes through life/aging models;

• Characterization of the condition, aging behavior and remaining lifetime of PILC cables.

In this way, condition estimation is improved and prediction of the remaining lifetime of PILC cables is enabled.

Integration of measurement and communication techniques in distribution grids offers the possibility for their improvement to modern power grids, characterized by flexible, dynamic and automated operation.

For control of the operation, online state estimation methods can be used. By supplementing them with life models of network components, it is possible to introduce online condition monitoring with active and dynamic prediction of components' remaining lifetimes.

This way not only overcomes the disadvantages of offline diagnostic systems, but also ensures that no additional measurement equipment or personnel are needed to get an overview of the remaining lifetime of the components in the entire network.

Ivana Mladenovic works in Siemens' Switching and Power Grid group. In 2012 she won the John Neal Award of European Electrical Insulation Manufacturers.

Thomas G Werner is innovation manager and principal key expert for distribution automation at Siemens.


Hinkley Point C deal set to be formalised

September 29th, 2016

The British and French governments are set to formally sign the deal to progress with Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant today, two months to the day since Prime Minister Theresa May postponed the initial UK decision.

On Thursday afternoon the government is also expected to publish some of the key documents linked to the deal. These will include the Contract for Difference and the waste transfer agreement that covers nuclear waste generated by the plant.
Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant construction site
The new British government had opted for the delay in order to further examine the nuclear power deal’s financial implications as well as security concerns associated with the involvement of Chinese partner China General Nuclear.

The deal includes a clause enabling the government the right to block the sale of EDF's controlling stake before or after completion of the project.

Thursday's ceremony is expected to be more low key than the one planned for July. It will be attended by France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Britain's Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, as well as China's National Energy Administration Director Nuer Bekri; EDF Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy; and He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), the project's Chinese state-backed investor, the sources familiar with the matter said.

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