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Power Industry News, including Renewables

Fossil Fuels

Japanese energy companies scrap 2 gigawatt coal project

Three Japanese energy companies announced recently that they have decided to scrap plans to build a 2 gigawatt coal-fired power station in the Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, saying that the project would not be economically feasible. This follows a similar decision a month ago announced by Japanese electric utility Chugoku Electric Power and steel manufacturer JFE Steel to scrap plans to build a 1,070 megawatt coal-fired power plant, also in Chiba, and also citing the fact the project would not be economically feasible. The recent announcement by Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan, energy company Kyushu Electric Power, and natural gas provider Tokyo Gas revealed the three companies had agreed to end a joint feasibility study to build a coal-fired thermal power plant in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture, explaining that 'the project cannot yield initially expected investment returns' leading to a joint decision to 'cancel further feasibility studies of a coal-fired thermal power plant'. Kyushu Electric Power and Tokyo Gas, however, have decided to continue a feasibility study of an LNG-fired thermal combined-cycle power plant which would be built at the same location.


Georgia Power submits plan to close coal-fired plant, increase renewables mix

Georgia Power has filed with the state Public Service Commission its long-term energy plan calling for the retirement of some of its coal-fired generation, including the unit at Plant McIntosh in Rincon, and the addition of 1,000 megawatts in renewable resources. The Integrated Resource Plan must be filed every three years and looks ahead two decades. It includes projections of future fuel costs, load and energy forecasts, an analysis of available generation technologies, the 10-year transmission plan, and an economic assessment of potential and proposed energy efficiency and demand response programmes for the utility's 2.5M customers. The five-member, statewide-elected PSC will hold hearings on the plan and suggest changes before voting on it in the summer. The plan also calls for permanently closing all of the company's ash ponds. Georgia Power will begin closing the ash pond at Plant McIntosh this year, excavating the site and moving the ash to a lined landfill. Southern Company, which owns Georgia Power, released a report in April announcing its electricity generation fleet will be 'low to no carbon' by 2050, and the new plan is the first formal indication of how the utility will begin to meet that goal. The Southern Environmental Law Center criticised the plan for failing 'to include meaningful investments in energy efficiency and affordable rooftop solar programmes'.


Nuclear Energy

Shin-Kori Unit 4 startup approved

South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has approved of the start of Shin-Kori Unit 4, the regulator said on February 1 following an inspection by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety. The South Korean-designed APR1400 reactor near the southeastern city of Busan, was previously expected to enter commercial operations status in September 2018. Cold and hot testing for the unit was completed in April 2016, but start up was delayed so new design improvements could be made. Shin-Kori Unit 4 and Unit 3 were authorised in 2006 with original start up dates planned for September 2013 and September 2014, respectively. Previous delays were attributed to testing and subsequent replacement of safety-related control cabling, according to Nuclear Engineering International. A further 3-month delay came about in 2017, when the government chose to stop work on nuclear power plants to assess the public's sentiments concerning nuclear power. A government sponsored panel later recommended construction re-commence. The first concrete pour for Unit 4 began in August 2009, eleven months after the first concrete pour for Shin-Kori 3. Four APR1400 model reactors are also under construction at the Barakah plant in the United Arab Emirates. Initial startups expected in 2020 at Barakah, which has been under construction since March 2011. Two others are under construction at Shin-Hanul in South Korea. (Item contains no further information.)


Leningrad Phase II progress report

Rosatom has announced progress on both Leningrad Phase II Units 1 and 2 recently, noting successful safety tests on Unit 1 and a significant concrete pour for the Unit 2 reactor building. Leningrad Phase II Unit 1 reached a minimum level of controlled power on February 6. Rosatom also said that the passive heat removal system (PHRS) that utilises the steam generators to remove residual heat and cool the reactor core for Unit 1 had been successfully tested. The system is intended to work 'in beyond design basis accidents that cause electricity cut-offs or a total loss of feedwater', said Head of Reactor Department at Leningrad II Vitaly Shutikov. 'The system is unique for its ability to operate independently. It is designed to ensure sustainable removal of residual heat from the reactor core through three of four independent channels for at least 24 hours', he added. All four loop channels for the unit have passed quality testing, he said. The PHRS tests were carried out as part of the hot functional tests meant to ensure that core equipment is functioning as designed. Hot testing is the last major step before the start up of the unit. Rosatom also announced the completion of Unit 2 reactor building interior concreting, which will allow for completion of the double-shell exterior this year.


Renewable Energy

Siemens and Bentley launch digital twin for DER resources

A new digital solution for distributed energy resources has been unveiled at DistribuTECH in New Orleans. Developed in a collaboration between Bentley Systems and Siemens Digital Grid business, it is designed to help utilities unlock previously untapped efficiencies in distributed generation, particularly with regard to accommodating an increasing amount of renewables into the grid. Called OpenUtilities DER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions, the solution offers utilities, electricity suppliers and distribution network operators software applications to analyse, design, and evaluate DER interconnection requests through desktop and cloud-based services, while supporting the reliability and resilience of network operations. The solutions generate a digital twin for utilities - a twin that is designed to enable owners and operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralised energy without compromising safety and reliability. It is designed to operate across any form of distributed generation, including helping to smooth the demands on the grid from electric vehicle charging infrastructure.


MHI Vestas orders Esvagt SOV

Danish shipping company Esvagt is to provide MHI Vestas with a new service operation vessel for work on Moray East offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland. The partnership between MHI Vestas and Esvagt will see the delivery of the new build SOV at the start of 2021, bringing the number of wind vessels on contract to MHI Vestas to five in 2021. Esvagt and MHI Vestas have been working together since 2008. The past year, the 'Esvagt Mercator' has been servicing MHI Vestas in the offshore wind farms, Nobelwind and Belwind, in Belgium, and in August 2019, a newly built SOV will enter into a 15 year contract with MHI Vestas in the Deutsche Bucht Wind Farm in Germany. In September 2018, MHI Vestas and Esvagt signed contracts for the delivery of two new SOVs for the Borssele III-IV parks (NL) and Triton Knoll (UK) and announced that there was also an option on a third vessel. This is the option that is now being acted on. From 2021 and for the following 15 years, a new build SOV will service the offshore wind farm, the Moray East, in the UK sector. Esvagt designs and builds vessels together with Norwegian Havyard Ship Technology. The vessel destined for Moray East will be a 70m SOV in Havyard's 831L design, The vessel is equipped with Esvagt's unique Safe Transfer Boats, the STB12 and STB7; has room for up to 60 people on board; and is equipped with a Walk-to-Work walkway.


Newcastle University connects first grid-scale pumped heat energy storage system

Pumped heat energy storage (PHES) shuffles heat between two tanks containing mineral gravel by means of a working gas, generally an inert gas such as argon. In storage mode, the argon is pressurised to around 12 bar, which heats it up to 500°C. The hot gas enters the top of one of the tanks (designated hot), and flows down slowly at about 3m/s, heating the particulate in the tank and itself cooling down. At the bottom of the tank, the gas is still at 12 bar but now at ambient temperature. At this point, it is expanded back to ambient pressure which cools it to -106°C. It then enters the second tank, cooling the particulate and itself warming up, exiting the tank at the top at ambient temperature and pressure. To recover energy, the process is reversed with ambient argon entering the cold tank, being cooled and becoming pressurised. It then enters the hot tank, where it is warmed to 500°C but remains at the same pressure. It returns to ambient pressure in the expander, which drives a generator. The round-trip AC-to-AC efficiency is claimed to be 75 to 80%, with the energy to be stored driving the compressor in the charging phase. Researchers at Newcastle University assembled and commissioned the system at the Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research. It is rated at 150kW and is capable of storing up to 600kWh of electricity.


Siemens Gamesa bags 567 megawatt wind order from India's ReNew Power

Siemens Gamesa has secured a big order in the Indian wind energy market. The order, for two different wind energy projects, is a result of the auction regime introduced by the Indian government two years ago. Siemens Gamesa will supply 127 units of its SG 2.1-122 turbine for a 265-megawatt wind energy project in Bhuj, Gujarat. The project was secured by ReNew Power during the fourth national-level wind energy auction conducted by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in April 2018. A total of 2 gigawatts of wind power capacity was offered by SECI in that auction. ReNew Power had placed a bid to set up 300 megawatts but was finally awarded only 265 megawatts. The company shall receive Rs 2.52/kWh (3.53/kWh) for the energy supplied from this project. The second order placed by ReNew Power is for the installation of 143 units of the SG 2.1-122 turbine at Davanagree, Karnataka. The total capacity of this project will be 300 megawatts. The project was secured by the company in the 1.2-gigawatt wind energy auction conducted by NTPC Limited in August 2018. The lowest tariff bid offered by developers in the auction was Rs 2.77/kWh (3.85/kWh) while ReNew Power secured the project at Rs 2.81/kWh (3.91/kWh). With these two projects, the total order book for Siemens Gamesa from ReNew Power has crossed 1 gigawatt.


Developed self-controlling 'smart' fuel cell electrode material

Researchers at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology have developed an electrode material for a new form of high-performance Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC). Since SOFC, which generates electricity by reacting hydrogen (fuel) with oxygen in the air, emits only water after reaction, is ecofriendly, and has little restrictions in installation place, it is seen as a new and renewable energy technology that is appropriate for distributed generation. However, it has been difficult to obtain stable supply due to the rapid performance decline of electrode generating power amidst sudden stop and the suspension of fuel supply. The team developed a new electrode material designed in a double perovskite structure to solve the stability of SOFC electrode. Inside the electrode material is planted with nickel, a catalyst which increases the oxidation reaction efficiency of hydrogen. Once the fuel cell operates, nickel voluntarily transfers outside the electrode surface, generating exsolution' which forms nano metal catalyst. The exsoluted nickel catalyst helps the high-efficient oxidation reaction of fuel cell, improving the stability and performance of fuel cell at the same time.



Power sector faces extensive skill shortages ? new report

Details the recently released third annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) from Airswift and Jobline, which shows that power companies face a difficult task balancing the need to address current talent shortages with adapting to the changing skills needs resulting from digitalisation. The report indicates that 48% of power professionals are concerned about an impending talent emergency, with 32% believing that the crisis has already hit the sector and 38% reporting that their company had been affected by skills shortages. The problem is most profound in engineering, with 62% of respondents citing that as the discipline most affected by talent shortages, with project leadership a distant second on 22%. When it comes to specific skills gaps, problem-solving (29%), leadership (19%) and process management (13%) are the most affected. Other key points relevant to the power industry included the finding that remuneration is increasing ? 57% of non-hiring professionals report an increase in pay over the past 12 months, with 29% citing a raise of more than 5%. Renewables provides the biggest source of competition for talent, with 47% of those open to switching sectors attracted to the industry, followed by oil and gas on 40%.


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