Coal, Gas, Renewables

Industry News

Issue 6 and Volume 120.

EIA: 9,900 MW of Gas-Fired Generation Planned for Major Shale Plays

Nearly 19,000 MW of power generation fueled with natural gas is expected to be built and commissioned between 2016 and 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Much of that capacity is being built near shale formations containing prolific amounts of low-priced natural gas. Several new combined-cycle gas-fired plants are in some stage of development around the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio and the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale formations in Texas.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, Virginia is adding the most gas-fired generation capacity, with plans to build 2,300 MW of gas-fired capacity between 2016 and 2018, followed by Ohio with 1,900 MW, Pennsylvania with 1,800 MW, and Massachusetts with 700 MW. In Texas, 3,200 MW of gas-fired capacity is expected to become operational during the same period. Florida will be commissioning the most gas-fired generation, adding 3,800 MW of new capacity over the three-year period.

As a result, all three regions have expanded existing pipeline systems and built new pipeline capacity to transport more gas produced from the thin, nonporous rock known as shale.

U.S. CHP and Fuel Cell Market to Grow to 95 GW by 2026

The U.S. market for combined heat and power (CHP) and fuel cells is expected to add 11 GW of customer-sited, fuel-based generation in the next ten years, according to a report by GTM Research. That’s up 11 GW from today’s base of 84 GW.

The report tallies CHP’s share of the U.S. distributed generation market at 8 percent, almost double that of the country’s total wind capacity, and 10 times that of distributed solar.

CHP and fuel cells have lately experienced a stagnation in growth, due mostly to regulatory uncertainties and a declining U.S. manufacturing sector, the report says. But new incentives and corporate activity are setting the stage for rejuvenated activity.

Watts Bar 2 Nuclear Plant Achieves First Criticality

Operators at the Watts Bar 2 nuclear project reached a major milestone when the reactor achieved its first sustained nuclear fission reaction. Unit 2 is now generating heat under its own power in a process called initial criticality.

The reactor is operating at low power levels that will slowly be increased in the coming weeks as part of the power ascension testing. During testing, plant systems and controls will be monitored and tested at various power levels up to 100 percent. The tests will be repeated multiple times to ensure the system is operating as designed. Once tests are completed, the unit will provide a sustained 1,150-MW of electricity to the Tennessee Valley.

GE Introduces North American Version of 3-MW Wind Turbine Platform

GE expanded its North American wind portfolio by introducing the 60-Hz versions of its 3.4-130 and 3.4-137 wind turbines. The new turbines will provide flexibility for land-constrained areas and regions with complex terrain.

The 3.4-MW turbine platform first debuted in Europe last November and has options for rotor diameters of 130 and 137 meters. The 130 and 137 models are mounted at tower heights of 85 and 110 meters, respectively, and are capable of 24 percent higher output than GE’s 2.75-120 model.

Additionally, the new turbine platform includes GE’s Digital Wind Farm, software analytics which use virtual modeling to enhance turbine configuration and site layout

Siemens Signs 23-Year Service Agreement with Panda’s Hummel Station

Siemens has signed a 23-year service and maintenance agreement with Panda Power Funds’ new Hummel Station in Pennsylvania.

The agreement covers scheduled maintenance at the plant, in addition to program management and parts for the plant’s three SGT6-5000F gas turbines. The contract also includes inspection services for the SST6-5000 steam turbine, the three SGen6-1000A air-cooled generators, and the hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generator. A resident engineer will work onsite for the first three years of the agreement.

Also included in the agreement is Siemens’ Power DiagnosticsTM, a data-driven product from Siemens Digital Services designed to identify and assess abnormal operating conditions in an effort to preempt equipment failure.

The Hummel Station power plant replaces the recently-retired Sunbury coal-fired plant in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. When it begins operation in 2018, the plant will burn Marcellus gas.

PG&E Awards 20-Year PPA for 3 California Solar Power Projects

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) awarded sPower a 20-year power purchase agreement for three new solar power projects in California. The three projects, named Bayshore A, B, and, C will be built and commissioned in 2017.

California has a renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities to source a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. PG&E announced earlier that they are well ahead of schedule, having already reached 30 percent.

EIA: CO2 Emissions from Power Generation Lowest since 1993

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation in 2015 were the lowest since 1993, a recent U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report finds.

The report found that CO2 emissions totaled 1,925 million metric tons in 2015, or 21 percent below 2005 levels. The EIA attributes the decrease to a shift in the country’s electricity generation mix, with renewables and natural gas-fired generation displacing older coal-fired assets.

While in 2013 and 2014, both electricity sales and CO2 emissions rose, sales and emissions were both down last year. The report credits a warm winter for reducing overall demand, while also lessening utilization of marginal generators and lowering natural gas prices.

For seven months in 2015, natural gas-fired power eclipsed its coal-fired counterpart. The EIA noted that “recent capacity additions have favored natural gas and renewable energy, while retirements have been mostly coal units”.

Invenergy and Empire State Connector Sign MOU to Deliver Electricity to NYC

Invenergy and transmission developer Empire State Connector Corp. (ESC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the 600 MW of wind energy being developed by Invenergy in Upstate New York. The agreement sets the stage for ESC to deliver new wind power to electricity customers in New York City.

Under terms of the MOU, Invenergy confirmed its intention to deliver competitively-priced wind energy to downstate customers using the Empire State Connector transmission line. The development would move New York State another step closer to meeting its 50% by 2030 Clean Energy Standard, now under consideration by the New York State Public Service Commission.

The 1,000-MW HVDC Empire State Connector transmission line under development by ESC will deliver power from upstate generators to NYC customers via two submarine cables buried in the Erie Canal and Hudson River.

Full D.C. Circuit to Hear Clean Power Plan in September

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order May 16 providing that legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan will be heard en banc by the active judges on the court, and rescheduling oral argument in the case until Sept. 27.

Cases that go before federal appeals courts are typically heard first by a three-judge panel appointed by the court. Until now, a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit had been scheduled to hear the case June 2.

This step will now be skipped and the full D.C. Circuit will hear the case. Traditionally, the losing part in a decision from a three-judge panel can ask for full appeals court review before then asking to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case had already been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court pending resolution of legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan. The Obama administration program would have states draft plans to curb power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 32 percent by 2030.

Siemens to Supply Wind Turbines for Beatrice Offshore Project

Siemens will supply, install, and commission 84 wind turbines at the 588-MW Beatrice wind project off the coast of Scotland.

Installation of the SWT-7.0-154 turbines, each rated at 7 MW and with a rotor diameter of 154 meters, will commence in 2018. Siemens will also provide a 15-year service contract for the project.

The Beatrice wind farm is located about 9 miles off the Scottish coast. The project’s wind turbines will be erected on jacket foundations in ocean depths up to 61 feet.

Siemens will connect the project to the mainland grid using two offshore transformer modules linked together by cable supplier Nexans. The installation will be monitored from Siemens’ Energy Management Renewable Energy Engineering Center in Manchester, UK.

Questar Shareholders Approve Merger with Dominion

Questar Corp. shareholders voted to approve the company’s merger with Dominion Resources.

Over 80 percent of outstanding shares voted, with 96.6 percent approving the merger. The companies announced the merger on Feb. 1. On Feb. 23, the Federal Trade Commission granted early termination of the 30-day waiting period under the federal Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

The Public Service Commissions of Utah and Wyoming must approve the deal before it is completed. The companies expect the transaction to close by the end of 2016.