POWER [April, 1 2011]

Cover Stories

Sendai Plant Boosts Efficiency and Cuts Emissions

Located on the scenic Japanese coastline, Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc.’s new 446-MW Sendai Thermal Power Station Unit 4 is a combined-cycle plant that replaces three 175-MW coal-fired units that had been in operation for more than 50 years. The new plant features the first application of MHI’s 50-Hz M701F4 gas turbine, which provides a thermal efficiency boost from the old plant’s 43% to more than 58%. This change substantially reduces CO2 emissions.


Features

Benchmarking Fossil Plant Performance Measures, Part II: Fleet-Level Metrics

Part II of this three-part series moves up the typical utility organization to consider important fleet-level fossil plant operating metrics. This portion of the EUCG-sponsored benchmarking survey found that utilities favor fleet-level metrics that are similar to plant-level metrics but assign them different priority. Utilities generally agreed on what were important metrics in the eight categories examined, although none were favored by a majority of the surveyed utilities.


Biomass Cofiring: A Promising New Generation Option

Biomass cofiring has the potential to cut emissions from coal-fueled generation without substantially increasing costs or infrastructure investments. Research shows that when implemented at relatively low biomass-to-coal ratios, energy consumption, solid waste generation, and emissions are all reduced. However, mixing biomass and coal does create some challenges that must be addressed.


Changing Winds: The Evolving Wind Turbine

As early as the first century A.D., wind energy was harnessed for practical purposes. Since then, turbine designs have come a long way from the archetypal post-mounted four-bladed devices. Today’s ubiquitous three-bladed designs will soon be evolving in many unexpected directions.


Energy Storage Enables Just-in-Time Generation

One of the main criticisms of renewable energy facilities is that they are unable to dispatch electricity when it’s needed. The great game-changer is low-cost energy storage, which would enable renewable energy production to be stored and rapidly released when needed. Here are seven promising distributed energy storage technologies that could be commercialized in the near future.


Fire Protection Options for Air-Cooled Hydroelectric Generators

Fire protection systems for air-cooled hydroelectric generators have several special requirements due to these generators’ unique geometries. This survey of options will help plant owners and operators make the best equipment selections for their plants and thereby avoid unexpected surprises.


Horizontal or Vertical? The Question for Wind Turbine Axis Orientation

This web supplement to "Changing Winds: The Evolving Wind Turbine" examines the debate over the merits of the two most common wind turbine axis orientations.

Nuclear Fever Breaks

Excitement over an expected nuclear renaissance reached fever pitch over the past decade. Today, the original volume of announced projects has been sifted, leaving just a few serious ones that may match well with the level of loan guarantees recently announced as part of the president’s budget proposal. The pace of progress is slow, yet progress is almost certainly unavoidable.


The Smart Grid and Distributed Generation: Better Together

Electricity grids are slowly getting smarter. Simultaneously, the use of distributed generation is increasing. Though smart grid advocates tout the ability of a smarter grid to enable greater deployment of distributed resources, the benefits could flow in both directions.


Departments

Commentary

Electricity: A Fuel of the Future

The recent tensions in the Middle East and their impact on oil and gasoline prices remind us that the U.S. remains heavily dependent on foreign nations—some of them unstable—to meet many of our energy needs. Of course, oil will continue to have an important place in our energy mix, and expanding our domestic reserves makes sense.

New Products

Drill-Through Tool to Ensure Deep Casing

Aberdeen, UK–based casing and completion technology specialist Deep Casing Tools launched the Turbocaser Express, what it calls the “first ever drill-through tool to ensure casing to target depth, allowing wells…

Enhanced Compact Loaders

Bobcat’s launch of the new 700 Series compact loaders adds three new models to the company’s family of new-generation loaders. The new loaders, all with vertical lift path design, offer…

High-Level Construction Glove

Ergodyne has launched the ProFlex 750 At-Heights Construction Glove. The glove delivers the comfort, durability, and protection required for climbing as well as the fit and dexterity needed to get…

Linear Heat-Detection System

Tendeka’s advanced monitoring solutions arm, Sensornet, introduced its FireLaser linear heat-detection system, which has been specifically designed for fire hazard detection applications. The FireLaser connects to a fiber-optic cable and determines…

Miniature Triaxial Accelerometer

Kistler announced the North American market introduction of the Type 8763B, a miniature IEPE triaxial accelerometer with voltage output. The accelerometer offers simultaneous shock and vibration measurements on three mutually…

New Digital Pressure Gauges and Calibration Pumps

Palmer Wahl Instruments Inc. has introduced a new line of digital pressure test gauges that includes the Palmer 3PC Auto Ranging Digital Pressure Test Gauge (shown here), which spans a…

Legal & Regulatory

Flawed Rules May Sink Small Calif. Renewable Projects

In December 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a decision with considerable fanfare that was intended to provide for the development of 1,000 MW of additional new renewable generation and provide California’s large investor-owned utilities (IOUs) with additional flexibility in complying with California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements. Unfortunately, it is likely to have the opposite effect.

Focus on O&M

Plan for the Worst: Insurance Insights

Imagine this scenario: Two separate power plants experience a bowing problem greater than 18 mils with a steam-turbine rotor. The turbines are from the same manufacturer and several repair options are reviewed. Management at both plants selects an innovative approach involving removal of a substantial amount of material, which is replaced with weld overlay and then machined to correct diameters and centerline of the balance piston area. One plant’s insurance company covers the repair, the other plant’s doesn’t. Why?

Predictive Maintenance That Works, Part I

This year’s series will focus on predictive maintenance (PdM), also known as condition-based maintenance.

Global Monitor

Geologists Tap Magma for Energy Production

Geologists drilling an exploratory well in Iceland’s Krafla volcano in search of supercritical geothermal resources in 2009 unexpectedly uncovered a new way to harness energy from deep within Earth’s crust. It involves accessing shallow bodies of molten rock, which the geologists say could likely be found elsewhere in Iceland and around the world, wherever young volcanic rocks occur.

KEMA Opens Lab to Test Energy Storage Performance

Dutch energy consulting firm KEMA in February opened a new laboratory in Chalfont, Pa., to test and verify emerging utility-scale energy storage systems.

Nuclear Monitor: News from France, Japan, U.S., Belgium, Germany

Five new nuclear reactors were connected to the grid while construction of 14 others began in 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in early March. Around the world, a total 65 reactors with a net power capacity of 62.9 GW were in various stages of construction—almost half of them in China.

POWER Digest (April 2011)

China Inaugurates 660-kV DC Line. The China Power Grid Co. on Feb. 28 began transmitting power through a 660-kV direct current power transmission link that runs from northwest China’s Ningxia…

The Battle to Control Quake-Stricken Japanese Reactors

As POWER closes this issue (March 15), 6,000 people have been confirmed dead and 10,000 others are still missing as a result of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that destroyed Japan’s eastern shore on March 11. At this writing, the country is battling a third cataclysm—the potential meltdown of several reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO’s) Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Turning Flue Gas Carbon into a Raw Material for Manufacturing

Bayer in February brought online a pilot plant at Chempark Leverkusen, Germany, to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubbed from the flue gas of a 1,000-MW RWE lignite-fired unit and convert it into a raw material and petroleum substitute for plastic manufacturing. The Bayer facility (Figure 4) essentially produces a chemical precursor into which CO2 is incorporated and then processed into polyurethanes that are used for many everyday items.

Speaking of Power

Spanish Wind, Revisited

Two years ago, Spain’s fixation on renewables and “green jobs” was praised by President Obama as a success story worthy of our emulation. How is Spain doing today?

GBR Reports