POWER [December, 1 2011]

Cover Stories

Top Plant: Copper Mountain Solar 1, Boulder City, Nevada

The current largest photovoltaic plant in the U.S., the 48-MW Copper Mountain Solar 1, utilizes approximately 775,000 solar panels to generate emission-free electricity for about 14,000 homes without the use of water. The facility was constructed in less than a year—an unprecedented achievement for a project of this size.

Top Plant: EnBW Baltic 1, Darss-Zingst Peninsula, Mecklenburg Province, Germany

Owner/operator: EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG/EnBW Renewables GmbH Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm—the 48.3-MW EnBW Baltic 1—consists of 21 Siemens wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.3 MW and a rotor diameter of 93 meters. Siemens constructed the facility in an area covering about 7 square kilometers in the Baltic Sea.

Top Plant: Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, Indiantown, Martin County, Florida

The 75-MW Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is the first hybrid solar facility in the world to combine a solar thermal array with a combined cycle natural gas power plant. Because the facility uses a steam turbine, transmission lines, and other infrastructure from an existing combined cycle unit, financial savings of approximately 20% were achieved compared to what a similar stand-alone solar plant would have cost.

Top Plant: Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project’s Selective Water Withdrawal Project, Oregon

In December 2009, construction of an underwater tower and fish collection structure was successfully completed at the 465-MW Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. The first-of-its-kind fish bypass and intake structure returns temperatures in the lower Deschutes River to historic patterns and restores downstream passage of Chinook, steelhead, and sockeye salmon while maintaining existing generating capacity.

Top Plant: Sarnia Solar Project, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

The 80-MW Sarnia Solar Project is the world’s largest operational photovoltaic plant, with 1.3 million solar modules. The facility utilizes First Solar’s proven thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technology, which has the lowest environmental footprint and the fastest energy payback of current PV technologies.

Top Plant: Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant, Bakersfield, California

The 5-MW Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Station is the first to use compact linear Fresnel reflector technology developed to generate continuous superheated steam, a key element for higher-efficiency power generation and integration with new and existing plants. The facility’s innovative technology helps deliver power even during periods of transient cloud cover.

Features

Can U.S. Geothermal Power Fulfill Its Potential?

Geothermal power and conventional fossil fuel–powered technologies have similar power production cycles, and both generation types can be dispatched. Geothermal power’s primary advantage is its renewable fuel. Its primary disadvantage is that its fuel requires large investments over many years to characterize uncertain sources. Enhanced recovery techniques that use fracking may be the future of this renewable resource.

GE Develops FlexEfficiency 50 for Increased Operational Flexibility

The newest member of the 60% thermal efficiency combined cycle club is GE Energy’s FlexEfficiency 50. In an era when flexible grid operation is growing in importance, this 50 Hz, single-shaft combined cycle also holds its design point efficiency down to 87% load and features turndown to 40% of rated load.

NorthWestern Energy Builds a Regulating Reserve Plant

Stable grid operation is challenging, especially when intermittent and unpredictable renewable generation is added to the generation mix. For NorthWestern Energy, the best solution was adding fast-acting gas-fired generation to its Montana electricity grid to meet required reliability standards while replacing expensive third-party contracts for ancillary services.

Restructuring the South African Power Industry

South Africa is at a critical turning point. An uncertain environment for private investment, escalating electricity prices, and a lack of available power threaten South Africa’s position as an attractive investment destination for many of the country’s most important industries. Power has been placed at the forefront of the government’s agenda, but South Africa needs a collaborative effort to meet the country’s energy demands and diversify its generation portfolio in order to drive economic growth.

Siemens Releases “Shaping Power” Option for Renewables Integration

The need for flexible power generation has increased drastically over the past few years, particularly when integrating renewables. Another driver is seasonal peaks in demand that have become more severe as global drought conditions have reduced hydropower production. One option for addressing this need is the Siemens Energy SGT6-5000F with Shaping Power. It offers the familiar gas turbine reoptimized for increased output and higher efficiency during hot weather and for improved operating flexibility at part-load conditions.

Departments

Commentary

Wind Energy: Dealing with Intermittency Challenges

The wind power industry has exploded over the past decade. In the U.S. alone, almost 40,000 MW of wind power have come online since 2000. As more wind generation has been added, grid operators have been challenged to integrate a large amount of intermittent generation. As the state with by far the most installed wind power capacity, Texas has had to face this problem head on.


New Products

Eco-Friendly Absorbent Pads

Oil Eater Naturals is a new line of eco-friendly absorbent pads made of natural plant by-products. Featuring woven construction, the pads are designed to provide a safer and cleaner workplace…

Electric Wire Rope Hoists

Harrington Hoists launched the RHN Series, a new line of electric wire rope hoists, offered in two configurations: the deck/base-mounted hoist in 2–20 metric tons and ultra-low-headroom trolley hoist in…

Industrial-Strength Pressure Sensing

Ashcroft A2, A2X, and A4 pressure transmitters answer the call for an accurate, rugged, and reliable heavy-duty sensor. Available in accuracies up to +/-0.25% full scale, the A2 is offered…

Interactive Virtual Training Content Software

Advanced graphical interface technology provider DiSTI Corp. unveiled Replic8, a new software tool to effortlessly create interactive virtual training content from Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max. Replic8 allows users to easily…

Spacer Cable Systems

Hendrix Wire & Cable, a provider of overhead and underground power distribution products, introduced its Spacer Cable Systems, a “green” solution for overhead distribution circuits. Because Spacer Cable is more…

Ultrasonic Flow Meters

Sierra Instruments has introduced a new lineup of its popular transit-time ultrasonic flow meters, which now include improved next-generation Innova-Sonic 203, 205i, and portable 210i models. The Innova-Sonic 205i is…

Legal & Regulatory

Will San Bruno Be a “Game-Changer”?

Energy professionals and the general population are both acutely aware of the explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif., that led to the death of eight people and the total destruction of 38 homes in September 2010. The tragic accident garnered immediate national attention, thrusting the natural gas industry into the spotlight. The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Independent Review Panel neatly encapsulated the sentiment surrounding the event: “The fact that a large segment of pipe literally blew out of the ground in an urban neighborhood and the residents were generally unaware of the proximity of a high-pressure natural gas transmission system to their homes—raises significant public safety concerns.”


Focus on O&M

Microns Matter: Proper Design of Fogging Nozzles

Inlet fogging systems for combustion turbines achieve their effect at the molecular level: The cooling effect occurs by converting thousands of gallons of water into single evaporated molecules suspended in the air. The right fog pattern comes down to a matter of selecting the best nozzle design and proper placement in the inlet air stream.


Tools at Height

A structure or mechanical system that requires fasteners also demands tools to maintain it properly. In power sectors such as wind, fossil fuel, and nuclear, some work areas may be several hundred feet in the air. While working at those extreme heights, or even just 10 feet off the ground, it’s simply unacceptable to drop anything. That’s why the concept of “tools at height” is being embraced as a way to improve safety and efficiency on the worksite.


Using Temperature- Measuring Indicators

Correct welding procedures are extremely important elements of the work done by the PSEG Central Maintenance Shop (serving Public Service Electric and Gas Co., PSEG, a New Jersey utility). We have, for example, a Critical Weld Inspection Program for high-temperature pressure piping whose goal is to identify cracks in high-temperature piping welds.


Global Monitor

Airtight Cover Completed for Daiichi 1

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Daiichi 1 reactor—a unit that suffered a core melt and hydrogen gas explosion after the March 11 earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami devastated the six-reactor facility—was fully encased in an “airtight” cover in October.

Burma Halts Massive Chinese-Developed Hydropower Dam

China’s efforts to build the Myitsone Dam—a $3.6 billion hydropower project planned at the confluence of the Mali and N’Mai Rivers at the source of the Irrawaddy River in Burma’s Kachin State—were thwarted in late September after Burma’s President Thein Sein suspended construction “to respect the will of the people.”

Does Cow Power Pay Off?

Since a 2008 University of Texas-Austin study showed that converting farm animal droppings into renewable power could generate enough power to meet up to 3% of North America’s consumption, interest in cow power has been piling up.

Gas Turbine Makers Gear to Flexibility Needs with New Models

Competition among gas turbine makers heated up this September as Alstom unveiled its upgraded GT24 gas turbine and corresponding 60 Hz KA24 combined cycle power plant, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries…

POWER Digest (December 2011)

Fluor Enters Small Modular Reactor Market, Backs NuScale. Fluor Corp. on Oct. 13 announced it planned to invest more than $30 million in NuScale Power, an Oregon-based small modular reactor…

The Big Picture: Big Biomass

The world’s biomass power facilities, not counting those in the pulp and paper industry, average just 18 MWe to 20 MWe. In the U.S., passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 ignited development of many existing biomass plants. Greenhouse gas rules and renewable policies around the world have kindled a new generation of much larger biomass facilities. New announcements routinely are for plants 50 MW or larger, presumably to leverage economies of scale.


UK Pulls Funding for Flagship Longannet CCS Demonstration

Ditching the only project remaining in its £1 billion ($1.60 billion) carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition, the UK government declined to back the much-watched CCS project at the Longannet power station in Fife, Scotland, in October. The decision balances the UK’s low-carbon ambition with the need to ensure that taxpayer money is invested in “the most effective way,” the nation’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said. The funds are now expected be used to “pursue other projects” in both Scotland and England.

Speaking of Power

Irrational Exuberance

Germany’s government has decided to shutter all 17 of its nuclear plants (23 reactors); eight plants are now closed for business, six more will be closed by 2021, and the final three will close by 2022. What is lacking is an honest discussion of the rising cost Germans will pay for electricity for what The Economist describes as “the greatest change of political course since unification.”


GBR Reports