Coal, Energy Storage, Nuclear, Policy & Regulations, Renewables

2014 Projects of the Year

Issue 1 and Volume 119.

By Sharryn Dotson, Associate Editor, Power Engineering, and Meg Cichon, Associate Editor, Renewable Energy World

Each year, power projects from around the world are recognized by the editors of Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World magazines. The winners of the 2014 Projects of the Year Awards were announced Dec. 8 at Disney’s Odyssey Pavilion at EPCOT during POWER-GEN International.

This year’s winners reflect the industry’s search for cleaner, more efficient sources of power generation and demonstrate new technologies that will help achieve those goals. Project winners showcased an international representation of excellence in the power generation industry. Winners ranged from the largest concentrating solar power project in the world to the first large-scale power plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.

To be eligible for the 2014 award, a project must have been commissioned between August 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014. When judging the finalists, editors considered capacity, the technology, and the projects’ impact on the industry and on the communities in which they were installed.

The editors of Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World magazines evaluated each entry and selected the winning projects.

Coal

Winner: Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project; owned by SaskPower; 110 MW in Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada

Coal Winner: Boundary Dam
Coal Winner: Boundary Dam

The Boundary Dam Integrated CCS Project will capture up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and store them permanently underground. In Canada, the current regulation states that coal-fired plants built before 1975 must close by 2020, while units built after 1975 must close by 2030 unless they can emit less than 420 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt-hour. The Boundary Dam CCS system will allow Unit 3 to continue operations by producing 140 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour, and will allow for the continued use of coal in the province of Saskatchewan. The province’s power needs are expected to increase by close to 30 percent in the next 20 years, and demand will double by 2050.

The construction of the project spanned 41 months, through three Saskatchewan winters, with temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit). More than 60 different contracted companies and several hundred contractors were on the project site at any given time, with 1,700 workers onsite at the peak of construction. SaskPower had to deal with labor shortages due to the province’s booming economy, asbestos removal, and the need to bring a 50-year-old unit to common standards. Major project contractors included Shell Cansolv, SNC Lavalin, the Babcock & Wilcox Co., Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Canada, and Graham Industrial.

Runner up: Columbia Energy Center AQC Retrofit; owned by Wisconsin Power & Light; 1,025 MW in Pardeeville, Wisconsin

Coal RUNNER UP: Columbia Energy Center AQC Retrofit
Coal RUNNER UP: Columbia Energy Center AQC Retrofit

Wisconsin Power and Light Co., a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., selected Black & Veatch (B&V) to be the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm for an air quality control retrofit at the Columbia Energy Center’s existing 512-MW and 511-MW subcritical coal-fired units. The project was completed on time with an accelerated schedule, and at a price significantly under budget. Costs were controlled using an open-to-closed-book EPC process and through innovative construction techniques.

B&V used integrated phase planning (IPP), which begins with development of an integrated baseline schedule. Work activities that required integration between subcontractors were identified, and subcontractors involved met to develop advanced work plans.

Resulting IPP schedules were monitored. Babcock & Wilcox used extensive ground fabrication to move work activities from congested locations high above the ground to more open areas near ground level. Cables were cut offsite and delivered, minimizing waste.

Some wood materials were donated to Habitat for Humanity and to a local farm that rehabilitates abused animals. B&V workers also provided gifts to needy children, donated more than $20,000 to a community splash pad, collected 700 lbs. of food for a local food pantry, and participated in the Ride/Walk for Veterans and the International Coastal Cleanup.

The construction area was surrounded by the existing power plant, cooling lake, and a sealed ash landfill. State regulations limited activities on top of the ash landfill, which was resolved by removing soil from the hill to create a flat site at the same elevation as the plant, and by using the removed soil to create an additional protective layer over the sealed landfill.

An application for a Certificate of Authority (CoA) for the new facilities was filed April 2, 2009, but there were uncertainties related to future environmental regulations, the need to maintain a reliable generating asset in central Wisconsin, and the need to minimize project capital cost in order to reduce rate-payer impacts.

The PSC issued the CoA on March 11, 2011.

Natural Gas

Winner: Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center; 1,250 MW in Riviera Beach, Florida

natural gas winner: Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center
Natural Gas winner: Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center

The Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center was built on the site of a 1960s-era oil-burning plant. The new plant uses 33 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour than its predecessor and is capable of producing more than 1,250 MW of electricity without using any additional water or land, all while significantly reducing emissions. The plant utilizes combined-cycle natural gas technology that reuses exhaust heat given off by the gas turbine to create steam and generate additional energy.

The new Riviera Beach facility produces approximately half of the CO2 emissions, and more than 90 percent fewer air emissions, of the oil plant it replaces. In addition, the plant’s administration building was built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards and includes rooftop solar panels, which help reduce the plant’s auxiliary load requirements.

In the plant’s first full year of operations, it is expected to generate approximately $25 million in new tax revenue to benefit local residents. Over its 30-year operational lifespan, the plant is expected to generate approximately $350 million in tax revenue and provide FPL customers with hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel and other savings. A manatee education center will be built next to the plant and is due for completion in 2015. The center will include meeting rooms, educational exhibits, a boardwalk, and a manatee viewing area.

The project was completed on budget and two months ahead of schedule, despite requiring approximately 25 acres of remote laydown yards located in four different and remote locations. The plant was constructed in an existing residential/industrial area, with homes within 100 yards of the plant’s perimeter. Construction schedules and processes were modified to meet noise ordinances. Power piping code requires high-pressure pipe welds to be examined by x-ray to ensure integrity. Since the plant was constructed near the port, x-ray work could only be completed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. so that the x-ray equipment would not set off the port’s radiation monitors. To minimize impact on the construction schedule, significant work process changes were implemented to overcome the examination parameter. The project’s main contractor was Zachry Group.

Runner up: Himeji No. 2 Power Station; owned by The Kansai Electric Power Co.; 2,919 MW in Himeji City, Japan

natural gas Runner up: Himeji No. 2 Power Station
Natural Gas Runner up: Himeji No. 2 Power Station

The Himeji No. 2 Power Station is a state-of-the-art, combined-cycle plant composed of six single-shaft blocks rated for a total of 2,919 MW. This modern plant replaces Kansai Electric Power’s largest thermal power station rated at 2,550 MW, which had been in operations since 1963. The first four units were commissioned two to four months ahead of schedule. The plant uses bottoming cycle technology, and several existing portions of the plant such as cooling water intake and seawater desalination were effectively refurbished.

Each block uses one Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems’ M501J gas turbine, rigidly coupled to a single reheat SRT-50 steam turbine, resulting in a combined cycle efficiency of over 60 percent. The M501J gas turbine features steam-cooled combustors and operates at the turbine inlet temperature of 1,600 degrees Celsius (2,912 degrees Fahrenheit). The pressure ratio is 23:1, and it incorporates advanced TBC and advanced cooling technology developed for the 1,700 degrees C (3,092 degrees Fahrenheit) Japanese National Project. The SRT 50 steam turbine operates with a condenser vacuum of 96.3 kPa and features 50-inch steel blades that result in large annular area for high efficiency and large capacity. The large-capacity, single-casing reheat turbines feature other advanced technologies such as high-efficiency reaction blades, welded rotor, advanced seals, and high performance bearings. The new power plant emits 30 percent less CO2 and 85 percent less NOX compared to the original plant.

The original plan included decommissioning units 5 and 6 prior to the installation of new units 4 through 6, but due to the critical electricity supply caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, existing units 5 and 6 remained in operation during construction. Because of that, the parallel operation and construction imposed close communication and cooperation between the involved teams, including mechanical, electrical, I&C, and others to prevent unintended interference that could either affect the operation of the existing units or delay the progress of construction. High bearing capacity piles were used to strengthen the support of the bearing layer, and vibration measurements were performed during construction to avoid vibration trips of existing units.

The city of Himeji is known for the UNESCO world heritage Japanese castle, so special attention was placed on the architecture of the plant in order to minimize the visual effect of the new plant on the landscape of the city. Ivory and beige were selected as base colors for the façade in order to harmonize with the outer wall of Himeji castle, and green paint was selected for the HRSGs and transformers to reflect the natural greenery of the Harima plain field surrounding the facility. The project’s main contractor was Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd.

Nuclear

Winner: Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; operated by Rosenergoatom; 915 MW in Iran

nuclear winner: Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
Nuclear winner: Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Iran’s first nuclear power plant began operations in September 2013. Rosatom unit Atomstroyexport built the VVER-1000 Unit 1 using structures and equipment already in place at Bushehr. The Iranian and Russian governments signed an agreement in August 1992 to build and operate a two-unit nuclear plant in Iran.

All work at the plant was done under International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) safeguards; and operations are also under IAEA safeguards. The main reactor components were built under a construction contract with Atomstroyexport based on the V-320 design, but designated at a V-446 to include adaptations to Siemens parts and for high seismic ratings.

The plant faced a series of delays and was almost abandoned in 2007. By the end of January 2008, Atomstroyexport had delivered the 163 fuel assemblies plus 17 reserve units for the initial core of Bushehr, totaling 82 tonnes of nuclear fuel. The reactor was due to start up in February 2011, and fuel had been loaded by the beginning of December. However, during the startup process, a 1970s-era pump failed and possibly shed metal particles into the primary cooling system. The fuel was removed, cleaned, and replaced, and the reactor successfully started up on May 8, 2011. It was grid-connected in September 2011 and was expected to enter commercial operation in April 2012, then May 2013. It finally reached commercial operation in September 2013.

After the unit was connected to the grid, Iranian legislation required a national company to operate the nuclear plant. In May 2012, the first deputy director generation of Rosenergoatom said that all operations related to the reactor equipment control and operations were being carried out by Russian specialists.

The anticipated 7 TWh/yr from the Bushehr reactor frees up about 11 million barrels of oil, or 1.8 million cubic metres of gas per year, which can be exported for hard currency. In 2013, Iran’s Energy Minister said that it saved some $2 billion per year in oil and gas. Russia’s Atomstroyexport was the project’s contractor.

Runner up: The Kudankulam 1 nuclear power plant; operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.; 1,000 MW in Tamil Nadu, India

nuclear Runner up: Kudankulam 1 nuclear power plant
Nuclear Runner up: Kudankulam 1 nuclear power plant

Construction on the Kudankulam 1 nuclear power plant in India began in March 2002. Russia’s Atomstroyexport supplied two VVER-1000 reactors under a Russian-financed 122.9 billion rubles ($3 billion) contract. A long-term credit facility covers about half the cost of the plant. The AES-92 units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu state have been built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) and also commissioned and operated by NPCIL under IAEA safeguards. The turbines are made by Leningrad Metal Works.

Russia will supply all the enriched fuel throughout the life of the plant, though India will reprocess it, keep the plutonium, and send the rest back to Russia.

The first unit was due to start supplying power in March 2008. In the latter part of 2011 and into 2012, completion and fuel loading was delayed by public protests, but in March 2012 the state government approved the plant’s commissioning and said it would deal with any obstructions.

Fuel loading took place in September, and Unit 1 started up in mid-July 2013. The unit was connected to the grid in October 2013 and reached commercial operation in August 2014. Each unit will total 917 MWe net. Unit 2 is expected to reach operations in late 2014.

While the first core load of fuel was delivered early in 2008, there have been delays in supply of some equipment and documentation.

Control system documentation was delivered late, and when reviewed by NPCIL showed that the design basis flood level is 5.44 meters, and the turbine hall floor is 8.1 meters above mean sea level. The 2004 tsunami wall was under 3 meters.

A small desalination plant is associated with the Kudankulam plant to produce 426 m3 per hour using four-stage, multi-vacuum compression technology. Another reverse osmosis plant is in operation to supply local township needs. Project contractors included Atomstroyexport and Leningrad Metal Works

Renewables

Winner: Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System; 392 MW in the Mojave Desert, California

Renewables Winner: Ivanpah
Renewables Winner: Ivanpah

After years of development and months of testing, the 392-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) behemoth known as Ivanpah was officially commissioned in January 2014.

It was the recipient of a $168 million loan from Google and a $1.3 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has proven to be a profitable renewable energy program thanks in part to the success of Ivanpah.

Located in California’s Mojave Desert, Ivanpah is a shining beacon of renewable energy progress, as evidenced by the fanfare at its dedication. Esteemed guests included representatives from Bechtel, NRG Energy, Brightsource, financiers from the DOE and Google, and Grammy-nominated rock band The Fray, which used the project as a backdrop for their album cover and recent music video.

Ivanpah uses 173,500 heliostat mirrors that focus sunlight on several centralized power towers.

The towers generate steam to drive specially adapted 123-MW Siemens steam turbines – the largest fully solar-powered turbines in the world.

In order to reduce its environmental impact, Ivanpah also utilizes dry cooling to condense the steam back into water, which minimizes water consumption to just 0.03 gallons of water per kW of electricity generated.

Shortly after commissioning, reports emerged depicting bird deaths due to “solar flux” that occurs when the mirrors reflect light to the towers and create a hazardous super-heated area.

However, recent reports have found that Ivanpah’s impact is minimal, and the project team is undertaking efforts to further reduce environmental hazards.

For example, onsite staffing includes several biologists that monitor and respond to the needs of animal and plant life.

Ivanpah led to more than 2,100 construction jobs and 86 permanent positions for the local community, with total employee wages estimated to reach $650 million.

Runner up: Solara (Arizona Solar One), 250 MW, developed by Abengoa S.A. in Gila Bend, Arizona

Renewables runner up: Solana
Renewables runner up: Solana

Solar and wind energy are both intermittent technologies, meaning that the amount of power they feed to the grid varies depending on sun and wind conditions. This intermittency creates unstable grid conditions, which many believe can be solved with technology that can store excess energy and release it when necessary – a grid stabilizer. Enter: Solana (Arizona Solar One), the first solar plant in the U.S. with built-in thermal energy storage.

The 250-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant near Gila Bend, Arizona and developed by Abengoa S.A. is the largest CSP plant with storage in the world. Solana uses parabolic troughs, which are essentially curved mirrors that concentrate sunlight to heat water that is then fed to a power station. The sunlight heats water in the towers to create steam. The steam then spins a turbine to produce energy. But what makes Solana unique is its thermal energy storage system that uses molten salt to store heat. This system helps stabilize output with more than 1,000 MWh of dispatchable power.

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