POWER Digest [December 2021]

U.S. Air Force Will Site Microreactor in Alaska

The U.S. Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska as the site of its first stationary microreactor pilot. The Air Force’s microreactor pilot program was initiated in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 requirement to identify potential locations to site, construct, and operate a microreactor by the end of 2027. However, it is different from a similar program underway at the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Strategic Capabilities Office under “Project Pele.” While both projects propose a 1- to 5-MWe microreactor, the microreactor developed under Project Pele’s specifications will be a mobile microreactor that will be deployed and tested at Idaho National Laboratory. Currently, two reactor designs (developed by BWXT Advanced Technologies and X-energy) are under consideration under Project Pele. The Air Force plans to release a request for proposals for its stationary microreactor in February 2022, and vendor selection is scheduled for late 2022. The Air Force said the government is considering a power purchase agreement contract for a period of up to 30 years for a microreactor that would be commercially owned and operated, and licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Doosan, KOSPO Partner on Hydrogen Gas Turbine Demonstration

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction on Oct. 29 announced it had signed a cooperation agreement with Korean Southern Power (KOSPO) on jointly implementing a “Demonstration Project for Local Technology-Based, Eco-Friendly Hydrogen Power Plant”—South Korea’s first hydrogen gas turbine project. Under the agreement, Doosan will pursue development of a 100% hydrogen-fueled combustor and hydrogen gas turbine that will use South Korean technology, while KOSPO will plan to build a combined cycle hydrogen power plant. The companies also plan to collaborate on establishing a hydrogen supply infrastructure, as well as to convert an existing gas turbine at a KOSPO combined cycle power plant into a hydrogen-fueled turbine. Doosan Heavy is separately also working on the construction of a hydrogen liquefaction plant that has a daily capacity to produce five tons of liquefied hydrogen.

World’s Longest Subsea Electricity Interconnector Goes into Service

The North Sea Link (NSL), a 450-mile subsea electricity interconnection connecting Northumberland, England’s most northerly county, and Stavanger, a municipality in southwestern Norway, began operating on Oct. 1, becoming the world’s longest subsea electricity interconnection. The NSL, which took six years to build, currently has a maximum capacity of 700 MW, but it is set to be expanded to 1,400 MW over a three-month period, said its owner, a joint venture comprising UK grid operator National Grid and Norwegian system operator Statnett. The link will enable the two countries to link their distinct power generation profiles, benefiting from Norway’s prolific hydropower, which is connected to large reservoirs and can respond faster to fluctuations, and the UK’s growing wind generation. The NSL is the fifth interconnector for National Grid, which also operates links to Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

World’s Largest Floating Offshore Wind Farm Commissioned

The 50-MW Kincardine Offshore Windfarm, a floating wind farm owned by Flotation Energy that is located 15 kilometers off the coast of Aberdeenshire in water depths ranging from 60 meters (m) to 80 m, was fully commissioned on Oct. 19. The project, which features five Vestas V164-9.5 MW and one V80-2 MW turbines, each installed on WindFloat semi-submersible platforms designed by Principle Power, is currently the world’s largest floating wind farm. The project’s engineering, construction, procurement, installation, and commissioning was delivered by Cobra Wind, a subsidiary of Cobra Group. According to Cobra Group, the Kincardine wind farm is serving as a “foundational project” for other joint venture projects between Cobra and Flotation Energy. The partners noted they recently secured rights for the 480-MW Morecambe project proposed for the Irish Sea and the 100-MW White Cross floating wind farm project in the Celtic Sea. They have also submitted 7 GW of bids into the Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind Leasing Round.

Bechtel, GE Complete 1.2-GW Gas Plant in Ohio

The South Field Energy Facility, a 1,182-MW natural gas–fired combined cycle power plant in Columbiana County, Ohio, began operations on Oct. 13 to provide flexible power to the PJM Interconnection grid. Construction of the $1.3 billion plant was spearheaded by Bechtel, which served as its engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. Bechtel said the plant was completed in 37 months. The twin-unit plant was fully outfitted by GE. Each unit includes a 7HA.02 gas turbine that powers an H65 generator, and an STF-D650 steam turbine powering an H53 generator, with a heat recovery steam generator. GE also provided its Mark* VIe distributed control system software solution and services to support the availability and reliability of the plant. The plant is owned by Advanced Power AG, a 2000-established Swiss firm that also owns the 700-MW Carroll County facility in Ohio and the 1,100-MW Cricket Valley facility in New York.

Companies Exploring Converting Fossil Plants to Thermal Energy Storage Facilities

E2S Power, a leading developer of thermal energy storage solutions, and project management company SNC-Lavalin on Oct. 27 signed a memorandum of understanding to collaboratively explore potentially converting end-of-life-cycle fossil fuel–fired power plants into clean energy facilities by deploying utility-scale thermal energy storage solutions. The collaboration addresses the rapidly growing energy storage market, but also provides a “second life” to valuable power infrastructure, the companies said. North America alone has more than 200 GW of coal-fired capacity that is set to be decommissioned. n

Sonal Patel is a senior associate editor for POWER.

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