POWER [July 1, 2013]

Cover Stories

Water Issues Challenge Power Generators

Drought and competing uses for water continue to challenge power plant operators worldwide. In response, innovative approaches for reducing water use are being explored from South Africa to China.


Beacon Power Makes a Comeback

Beacon Power Corp. was founded in 1997 to develop flywheel-based energy storage technology. By 2007, the 100-kW/25-kWh Gen 4 flywheel system was commercialized and deployed in several projects. However, market conditions pushed the company into bankruptcy in late 2011. The company has since emerged, reinvigorated with new investment and a new name: Beacon Power LLC.

EMP: The Biggest Unaddressed Threat to the Grid

The electricity grid has been characterized as the world’s largest and most complicated machine. The grid, like all machines, requires periodic upgrades and maintenance to prevent outages during the normal course of business, and it can be brought down by various outside forces. Solar flares and cyber attacks have temporarily crippled the machine, but an electromagnetic pulse event would be the “ultimate cyber security catastrophe.”

Fighting Transformer Fires

Transformer fires are fearsome events, perhaps the most dangerous common threats to human life—both onsite and beyond the boundaries of a power plant—that can hit an electric utility.

Gas-Electric Integration “Swamps” All Other Issues

Panelists at the ELECTRIC POWER 2013 Keynote and Roundtable Discussion in Chicago in May were consumed by the need to ensure future reliability by more closely integrating the gas and electricity markets. Acknowledged less directly were distortions created by renewable energy subsidies and mandates, onerous regulations affecting coal, and “irreversible” demand destruction caused by the success of energy efficiency and demand management programs. The elephant in the room was the continued demise of electricity markets.

Indonesia: Energy Rich and Electricity Poor

Even though it enjoys sizeable coal and natural gas reserves, Indonesia struggles to provide electricity to its growing economy. Geography is its most obvious challenge. Others include evolving international markets and an energy sector that remains highly politicized.

Is Gas Getting Too Hot to Handle?

With ever-increasing demands for fast ramping and flexibility, natural gas–fired plants are grabbing a bigger share of the generation pie. But uncertainty about future prices and concerns about overreliance on a single fuel are dampening enthusiasm during what may be the most exciting time for gas ever. Natural gas is hot—but will generators and the market get burned?

ORP as a Predictor of WFGD Chemistry and Wastewater Treatment

Recent studies have shown that system oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) is not only an important factor for predicting wet flue gas desulfurization (WFGD) absorber chemistry but also may be a predictor of process equipment corrosion and wastewater treatment requirements.

The Beguiling Promise of the HTGR

It’s easy to see why technologists fall in love with high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs). These nuclear machines are remarkable inventions, at least on paper. But few have actually seen the real world for any length of time, and their real-world experience has been mixed.

The Case for Utility Boiler Fuel Delivery System Upgrades

A vital part of any coal-fired unit is its fuel delivery system (FDS). A newly formed subcommittee of the ASME Research Committee on Energy, Environment, and Waste has investigated potential FDS upgrades on three typical 500-MW wall-, tangential-, and cyclone-fired boilers. The subcommittee has produced a series of suggested upgrades that have a simple payback of no more than two years.

Too Dumb to Meter, Epilogue

As the book title Too Dumb to Meter: Follies, Fiascoes, Dead Ends, and Duds on the U.S. Road to Atomic Energy implies, nuclear power has traveled a rough road. For the conclusion of POWER’s exclusive serialization of the book, we offer the “Epilogue: Some Dumb Ideas Never Die.” The first 12 installments are available in the POWER online archives.

What Does the Market Expect from Gas Plants?

With the country awash in natural gas and new construction dominated by gas-fired plants, one would think that integrating these plants into the grid would be simple. Like politics, integration problems appear to be local.

Wind Resources Face Market and Policy Headwinds

Natural gas prices and low wholesale electricity prices are creating headwinds for large-scale renewable projects such as wind.



Bridging the Gap Between Company and Community

In communities all across North America, environmental justice (EJ), which calls for the fair treatment of all people, including those of color and the economically deprived, remains a serious concern.

New Products

New Products (July 2013)

Robotic Torches for Single Arc, Tandem Applications ESAB Welding & Cutting Products launched the new Aristo RT line of robotic torches, designed for single arc or tandem applications. The Aristo…

Legal & Regulatory

Exporting Natural Gas

The transformative increases in current and expected future domestic natural gas production have spawned yet another energy debate: Should the U.S. should export natural gas?

Focus on O&M

Industrial Wireless Sensors: A User’s Perspective

There are many reasons to anticipate that the use of wireless instrumentation in industrial settings will increase dramatically in the next few years.

Global Monitor

E.ON Avoids Shuttering Ultramodern German Combined Cycle Units Despite Profit Concerns

German energy giant E.ON in late April narrowly averted idling its Irsching 4 and 5 units in Bavaria, Germany—its most technologically advanced gas-fired generating units that began operations just three years ago at a cost of €400 million.

Energy Storage Developments and Demand Ramp Up

Despite technical and financial hurdles, annual global demand for grid-scale energy storage is expected to soar to 185.4 GWh by 2017, which means a possible 231% average year-on-year demand growth between 2012 and 2015, according to Lux Research.

POWER Digest  (July 2013)

Saudi Arabia and Egypt Sign $1.6 Billion Agreement to Link Electricity Grids. Under an agreement signed on June 1, Saudi Arabia’s majority state-owned utility, Saudi Electricity Co., and Egypt’s state…

Power Sector Laments Europe’s Uncertain Future Energy Policy

Energy policy in the European Union (EU) is in upheaval as concerns mount over the impact of energy costs on the competitiveness of the power industry.


Water scarcity as it relates to energy use is becoming a major concern.

Turkey Prepares to Host First ATMEA 1 Nuclear Reactors

An agreement signed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this May could pave the way for the world’s first ATMEA 1 reactors to be built in Turkey in the 2020s.

Speaking of Power

Four Strange-But-True Stories

Last month’s column, “Opinions à la Carte,” prompted an unusually high number of emails from readers. Unexpectedly, the responses to the different format were universally favorable.

GBR Reports