Bayat Power to build plant in Afghanistan

/  Bayat Power received approval from the Afghanistan Government to build a gas-to-electricity plant in the country. The Bayat Power-1 plant will be built at Sheberghan, the capital city of Jowzjan province.

Bayat Power has also signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to sell 40MW of energy generated from the new plant to the Government of Afghanistan. Energy sold under the PPA will be enough for numerous businesses and one million households in Afghanistan.

Bayat Power founder and CEO Dr Ehsan Bayat said: “This final approval for the construction of Bayat Power-1, together with the execution of our power purchase agreement with the Government of Afghanistan, means that we can now provide power to an additional one million Afghans and businesses.

“We are thankful for the support of the Afghan Government and for their assistance in developing the nation’s natural resources.”

For the Bayat Power-1 project the company will be using a series of advanced Siemens SGT-45 mobile turbines to generate electricity.

Upon completion the project is expected to strengthen Afghanistan’s energy self-sufficiency, as well as generate a long-term recurring revenue stream for the country’s government through the sale of natural gas. Energy generated from the project will be distributed through Afghanistan’s national power company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).

Dr Bayat further added: “We’re an Afghan company, committed to developing Afghanistan’s rich natural gas reserves, so that we can provide Afghans with reliable and affordable electric power.

“Investing in Afghanistan’s domestic energy industry and increasing our nation’s energy production, will drive Afghanistan’s economic growth, and help create new industries, jobs and opportunities, which will benefit our entire country.”  /


Siemens to supply turbines for wind plant in Taiwan

/  Spain-based Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) secured a contract to supply 20 SWT-6.0-154 turbines for the Formosa 1 Phase 2 offshore wind power plant in Taiwan. The new contract will boost the project capacity by 120MW.

In addition to the turbine supply, SGRE has also signed a 15-year full-service agreement, which includes the provision of spare parts and tools in order to ensure the reliability and optimal performance of the turbines.

SGRE signed the contract with the owner’s consortium partners, including Macquarie Capital, Ørsted and lead developer Swancor Renewable Energy. Contracts are subject to the joint venture’s final investment decision and financial close, which are expected later this year.

SGRE intends to begin the installation of the 20 SWT-6.0-154 wind turbines by next year and expand the total capacity of Formosa 1 wind power plant to 128MW.

Siemens Gamesa will be installing its wind turbines on monopile foundations at the site, which is located approximately 6km off the west coast of the Miaoli district in the Taiwan Strait.

Upon completion, Formosa 1 will become the first project built as part of the official Taiwanese Grant Scheme, which was announced by the government in 2012 to support an offshore turbine fleet of up to 520MW to be in operation by 2020.

SGRE Offshore CEO Andreas Nauen said: “We are proud to be involved with the Formosa 1 development team in this pioneering project, which we started a few years ago with phase one and are now able to continue with an even more advanced technology.

“This contract is an important milestone for the development of offshore wind in the region. Also, it is an important step for Siemens Gamesa in our ambition to support Taiwan in implementing a reliable and efficient energy system to meet the government’s targets for decarbonisation.”  /


Papermaking by-product stabilises lithium-sulphur batteries

/  Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a method that uses lignosulphonate, a major by-product of the papermaking industry, to build a rechargeable lithium-sulphur battery.

They believe such a battery could be used to power data centres and provide a cheaper energy-storage option for microgrids and traditional electric grids.

“Our research demonstrates the potential of using industrial paper mill by-products to design sustainable, low-cost electrode materials for lithium-sulphur batteries,” said Rensselaer research scientist Trevor Simmons, who developed the technology with his colleagues at the Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES).

Lithium-ion batteries currently dominate the marketplace, but recent research has focused on developing lithium-sulphur batteries, which can contain more than double the energy of a lithium-ion battery of the same weight.

However, sulphur is nonconductive in its elemental form and needs to be combined with carbon at elevated temperatures to become conductive enough for use in batteries.

During this carbon combination, sulphur can easily dissolve into a battery’s electrolyte, causing the electrodes on either side to deteriorate after only a few cycles. Previous research has had limited success with keeping the sulphur in place.

“Our method provides a simple way to create an optimal sulphur-based cathode from a single raw material,” said Simmons.

Simmons’ method involves drying lignosulphonate, a sulphonated carbon waste material with a dark syrupy appearance, and heating it to around 700C in a quartz tube furnace. The high heat drives off most of the sulphur gas but retains some of the sulphur as polysulphides – chains of sulphur atoms – that are embedded deep within an activated carbon matrix.

The heating process is then repeated until the right amount of sulphur is trapped in the carbon matrix. The material is then ground up and mixed with an inert polymer binder to create a cathode coating on aluminium foil, with the carbon matrix keeping the embedded sulphur from dissolving into the battery’s electrolyte.

So far, the research team has created a lithium-sulphur battery prototype that is the size of a watch battery and can generate around 200 charge cycles. They plan on scaling up the prototype to increase the discharge rate and the battery’s lifecycle.

“In repurposing this biomass, the researchers working with CFES are making a significant contribution to environmental preservation while building a more efficient battery that could provide a much-needed boost for the energy storage industry,” said CFES director of business development Martin Byrne.

The researchers partnered with Finch Paper in Glens Fall, who provided the lignosulphonate and were funded by the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Simmons has patented the process with former graduate student Rahul Mukherjee.  /


Prototype wind turbine blades to improve efficiency and reduce costs

/  The Fraunhofer Institute, a German organisation which specialises in applications for emerging technology, is developing a rotor blade for wind turbines that can rotate in response to wind pressure for more efficient operation. The SmartBlades2 project involves the German Aerospace Centre and Wind Energy Research Alliance, and puts into practice blades designed and simulated as part of the SmartBlades1 project.

In conventional wind turbines, blades that experience sudden and very strong gusts of wind are often turned away from the wind for their own protection, counterintuitively meaning the turbine produces no electricity when winds are at their strongest. There is also significant variation in pressure on individual blades; a turbine with blades 85m long sweeps an area of 22,670m2, creating a space large enough for individual blades to experience different pressure.

The new blades use bend-twist coupling (BTC) to rotate on their own axes in response to variations in wind pressure. The prototype blades are 20m long and their tips are slightly offset, to the rear in the direction of rotation.

“The use of BTC blades on wind turbines in the development stage makes the turbine lighter compared to a turbine with conventional blades, due to the reduced load on the structure,” the Fraunhofer Institute announced.

“This, in turn, means a drop in material and logistics costs while maintaining the same energy yield. In existing turbines, the use of BTC blades allows the rotor diameter to be increased without having to strengthen the other turbine components. This results in an increase in revenue thanks to a greater wind yield.”

The blades are being tested in Bremerhaven to measure their durability and to what extent they deform when subjected to high pressure. Deformation will be measured along three axes of each blade, and angle sensors will precisely measure the direction of force applied. The blades will also be subject to fatigue testing, where the stresses incurred over a 20 year lifespan of a blade are simulated within a shorter timeframe. Following these tests, the blades will be tested further in the Rocky Mountains in the United States.

“The aim of the accompanying measuring campaign is to determine whether the load reduction thanks to BTC seen in the simulation can be recreated under real-life conditions and whether its effect is as pronounced as expected,” said the Institute.

The blades were designed by Dr Elia Daniele, and received €15.4m in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economics Affairs and Energy.  /


Duke Energy Florida’s natural gas plant to provide clean energy

/ US-based electric power holding company Duke Energy Florida revealed it’s on schedule to deliver clean and reliable energy through its natural gas plant, being built in Citrus County.

The new 1.6GW combined-cycle, two-unit plant has been designed to generate energy using new technology and clean-burning natural gas.

Each unit of the natural gas plant will have the capacity to generate 820MW of power, with the first expected to begin operations in September, while the second unit will start operating from November.

Upon completion, the plant is expected to generate enough energy to serve 1.8 million customers throughout 35 counties in Florida.

Currently, the company has engaged more than 2,800 workers for the construction of natural gas power plants, and intends to employ around 75 workers to operate and maintain the plant once construction is complete.

Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris said: “Our customers expect and deserve cleaner energy, and building highly efficient natural gas infrastructure is critical to delivering on our commitment to a low-carbon energy future.

“Natural gas is also an important part of our modernisation strategy to continue delivering energy that is cleaner, while meeting the growing energy needs of Floridians. More than ever, we are determined to make smarter energy investments that will benefit our customers and build the cleaner energy future we all want.”

Once the new plants become operational, Duke Energy intends to stop working at its Crystal River coal-fired units one and two that were built in 1966 and 1969 respectively. Duke Energy Florida is also planning to invest in new solar power plants, as well as in battery storage technologies over the next decade to meet its customer’s needs for cleaner and reliable energy.

Since 2005, the energy company has made efforts to significantly reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, as well as nitrogen oxides. In addition, the new plant will help further reduce carbon emissions.  /


UK regulator suspends Iresa from enrolling new customers

/  UK electricity and downstream natural gas markets regulator Ofgem temporarily suspended energy supplier Iresa from taking on new customers for up to three months. The decision was made following an ongoing investigation against Iresa for issues related to alleged customer service violations.

The electricity supplier is also barred from increasing existing customers’ direct debits. During the ban period, Iresa is required to take a series of measures to improve customer service such as extended call centre hours and shorter call waiting times.

The company also has to respond to customers who place a callback request by the end of the next working day. Other actions include writing back to customers who send emails within five working days, closing pending consumer emails, logging and recording all expressions of customer dissatisfaction.

Iresa is mandated to compulsorily implement all the measures suggested by Ofgem, failing which the company’s licence could be cancelled. The action taken by the regulator comes after multiple complaints from customers against the supplier.

Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan said: “This order sends out a very clear message to suppliers that where they fail their customers on service, Ofgem will step in and take strong action.

“It’s crucial that all suppliers provide customers with good service, including acting quickly and effectively to sort things out wherever problems occur.

“Iresa now needs to act quickly and put its house in order, otherwise, ultimately, its licence could be revoked.”  /


PIF and SBVF sign MoU for Saudi Arabia’s solar energy plan 2030

/  The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Softbank Vision Fund (SBVF) for the development of new solar power projects in the country.

By 2030, the solar projects are expected to have a total power generation capacity between 150GW and 200GW. The concept for the development of the New Solar Energy Plan 2030 was launched last October, while PIF and SBVF intend to complete due diligence by the end of May this year.

Softbank Vision Fund chief executive Masayoshi Son said that the construction of the project is expected to begin this year with an initial $1bn investment financed by the joint Saudi-SoftBank Vision Fund, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Son added that the final investment involving the production and development of solar panels for the Saudi Arabian power project is expected to reach a total of $200bn by 2030, reported Reuters.

The New Solar Energy Plan has been designed to support the establishment of a new electricity generation company in the country. By next year, PIF and SBVF aim to commission the first two solar generation projects with respective capacities of 3GW and 4.2GW in Saudi Arabia.

Under the terms of the current agreement, the two parties intend to explore the production and development of energy storage systems and create new joint ventures for research and development.

The MoU partners will also explore opportunities to establish solar and battery manufacturing ecosystems in the country.

The solar power projects are expected to generate up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, increase Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by $12bn and save up to $40bn every year.  /


Lithium-sulphur development extends battery life

/ A lithium-sulphur substitute for lithium-ion batteries could drastically extend battery life, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas. In the study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers developed an alternative to conventional lithium batteries that are high-powered and environmentally safe.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in handheld devices such as mobile phones, but many models struggle with battery life. The research team hopes that the new lithium-sulphur batteries will solve this problem.

“Common lithium-ion batteries only have a certain capacity, and most people want to use their phones for a longer time,” said professor of materials science and engineering Dr Kyeongjae.

Cho, along with research associate Dr Jeongwoon Hwang, both of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, worked with other regional scientists to improve lithium-sulphur batteries, which have long been considered by many to be an evolution from lithium-ion batteries.

“A lithium-sulphur battery is what most of the research community thinks is the next generation of battery,” said Cho. “It has a capacity of about three to five times higher than lithium-ion batteries, meaning if you are used to a phone lasting for three hours, you can use it for nine to 15 hours with a lithium-sulphur battery.”

However, despite their longer battery life, lower weight and lower cost, lithium-sulphur batteries have their drawbacks. Sulphur is a poor electrical conductor and can become unstable over just several charge-and-recharge cycles. The risk of electrodes breaking down has also prevented their widespread adoption.

To counter these issues, scientists developed a technology that produced a sulphur-carbon nanotube substance that had greater conductivity.

Using molybdenum, a metallic element often used to strengthen and harden steel, they created a material that adjusts the thickness of the nanomaterial’s coating when combined with two atoms of sulphur.

They found that this coating, which is thinner than the silk of a spider’s web, improved stability and compensated for sulphur’s poor conductivity. 

“This was what everyone was looking for, for a long time,” Cho said. “That’s the breakthrough. We are trying to suppress side reactions. It’s a protection technology.”

The scientists hope that this finding will bring lithium-sulphur batteries a step closer to commercial use. “We are taking this to the next step and will fully stabilise the material, and bring it to actual, practical commercial technology,” said Cho.  /


Oesterreichs Energie and ENCS provide cybersecurity training scheme

/ Austrian electricity industry trade body Oesterreichs Energie and the European Network for Cybersecurity (ENCS) provided a Red Team/Blue Team training programme that is designed to strengthen cybersecurity and awareness for employees across utility departments.

The programme is expected to help protect Europe’s power grids as security grows increasingly important. The training setup comprises a simulated grid operator, which includes physical devices such as a medium-voltage circuit breaker, routers, protocol gateways and protection relays.

The programme is supplemented by a virtual 40-substation network, a simulated grid environment and a SCADA network.

During the three-day course, participants are divided into attackers (Red Team) and defenders (Blue Team) to put their new knowledge into practice and see if they can defend Gridnet, the simulated company.

The rise of the smart grid, electric vehicle infrastructure and smart metering are making cybersecurity more important than ever around Europe. It is reported that critical operational technology (OT), which was previously analogue and unconnected, now needs suitable security solutions and methods.

Oesterreichs Energie noted that it takes these cybersecurity challenges very seriously as its members account for more than 90% of the country’s electricity supply.

ENCS operations director Michael John said: “Oesterreichs Energie has shown real leadership for the Austrian electricity sector on cybersecurity and we’re very pleased to be part of that. To successfully protect our power grids, we need to share expertise and collaborate: across Europe, across companies and across teams.

“The power of Red Team/Blue Team is it gets people from different teams working together, IT professionals and engineers, to protect the grid in a joined-up way.”  /