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electricity generation

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Analysis of potential and integration opportunities for DHC networks

The development of concentrated solar power (CSP) technology has received a boost over recent years by the increase in electricity generation plants. Despite this, Spain currently has very few CSP facilities for thermal applications, largely designed to cover the demand for heat in industrial processes or for the temperature control of buildings. However their application for thermal use has a huge development potential in the country given that some regions have a very high availability of direct solar irradiation. The Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE) has undertaken a technical-economic study on the incorporation of CSP into district heating & cooling (DHC) networks, using a reference network situated in Jaén. The results obtained conclude that the incorporation of CSP installations into DHC networks is a viable and attractive alternative that is both technically and economic competitive.

According to the census undertaken by the Spanish Association of DHC Networks (ADHAC), there are currently around 270 DHC networks in Spain with a total combined installed capacity of 1,139 MW for heating and cooling. Out of the existing DHC installations, approximately 30% use renewable energy (mainly biomass) and only one incorporates solar power. This is the DHC network at the Balearic Science and

Technological Innovation Park, ParcBIT. This network is supplied by a CCHP plant that provides electricity, hot and cold water to the technological park as well as to 5 buildings belonging to the Universidad de las Islas Baleares. Hot water is generated by two cogeneration motors of 1,460 kWt and 1,115 kWt each, backed up by a 1,000 kWt biomass boiler, a solar installation with a 900 m2 flat collector and a 2,000 kWt fuel boiler. The hot water is distributed through the network to cover hot water demand and also to feed the absorption chillers (432 kWt and 1,318 kWt respectively) to generate cold water. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2016

The new RWE Innogy Aersa Control Centre that has been certified to act as an interface with CECRE (the Renewable Energy Control Centre) since February 2015, connects RWE’s 20 renewable energy facilities with REE, the Spanish Electricity Grid. As a result, it ensures that wind farms, in addition to hydropower and solar plants, can inject the energy generated by its 460 MW installed safely and with
no penalties. Green Eagle Solutions, a provider of software solutions for renewable energy companies, has collaborated with RWE in the development of this Control Centre, meeting the high standards of quality and safety required by RWE. This centre uses CompactSCADA® technology to integrate power
generation facilities that need to be integrated in a Control Centre to communicate with REE’s CECRE.

RWE has extensive experience in the generation of renewable energy in Europe and has operated in Spain since 2002. Thanks to the processes and the set up developed over these years, the company is now putting its capabilities to work for third parties. The services offered go way beyond being a mere Dispatching Agent with REE, ensuring greater efficiency and value of the operations undertaken by renewable energy plants.

This is possible thanks to a flexible system that adapts to the needs of the installation and not vice
versa, as often happens. The system is furthermore very robust and stable as demonstrated by the fact that no incident has occurred with the system since its launch. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY January-February 2016

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Natural gas is seen as a good source of electricity supply for a number of economic, operational and environmental reasons: it is low-risk (technically and financially); it produces less carbon emissions than other fossil fuels; and gas plants can be built relatively quickly in around two years unlike nuclear facilities, whose construction can take much longer.

In line with International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts, natural gas will continue to increase its share of the global energy mix, growing at 2% per year until 2020. Natural gas plants are flexible both in technical and economic terms, so they can react quickly to demand peaks. They can also be ideally twinned with intermittent renewable options such as wind power. Over the course of a month, various spikes in demand have a sizeable knock-on effect on the cost of delivering electricity, so having a source of energy such as gas that is able to cope with these spikes, is a significant advantage.

These advantages enjoy global recognition and there are an increasing number of power generation projects around the world that are trying to make the most of the advantages contributed by natural gas as set out above. And this is why this month’s issue of FuturENERGY – specifically this special report focusing on natural gas and its applications – is reviewing some of the most representative gas power plant projects from around the world. We have selected six projects – one for each continent and two for America (North America and Latin America) – covering gas turbine or gas engine generation, in single or combined-cycle, in a CHP or pure generation configuration, whether for baseload supply or to cover demand peaks…, and all of which were commissioned within the past year or are about to enter into operation. They are all unique in their field for one reason or another, whether due to their efficiency, capacity or flexibility; in short, an example of the most representative gas plants of our times. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2015

Wärtsilä has been contracted to supply a major Flexicycle power plant to Energía del Pacífico S.A. in Acajutla, El Salvador. It will be the largest and most efficient power plant in El Salvador, and the first in Central America to be fired by LNG-based natural gas. The 378 MW installation will feed electricity to the national grid.

The order is estimated to be included in Wärtsilä’s order book in 2016, and the plant completion is scheduled for 2018. The value of the order is approximately EUR 240 million.

As of today, about 50 percent of the 1600 MW generation capacity in El Salvador is based on oil. The new power station will decrease the price of electricity because the fuel, LNG-based natural gas, is cheaper than oil. Natural gas also produces 30 percent less carbon emissions and 99 percent less sulphur dioxide emissions than oil.

The power plant will be the first in Central America to run on LNG-based natural gas. A dedicated LNG import terminal will be built at the same location.

The power plant will comprise nineteen Wärtsilä 50SG engines and a combined cycle steam turbine, producing high fuel efficiency of close to 50 percent. The Dry Flexicycle technology with a closed loop cooling system requires zero water consumption, which is a major benefit in El Salvador which has recently suffered from the worst droughts in 40 years.

Wärtsilä’s installed capacity in Central America and the Caribbean is approximately 4800 MW, and globally 58 GW.

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Foto cortesía de AEE. Foto courtesy of AEE.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that Spain has to set long-term energy objectives in line with the EU’s 2030 targets and that wind power, together with hydropower, is the cheapest renewable technology to do so. This is according to two recent reports, one of which was published last week. The IEA’s 5-yearly report on electricity generation costs using different technologies offers guidance to OECD Governments regarding the available electricity generation technologies and the potential cost of generating electricity for an installation that, in this case, would come online in 2020.

The comparative results are no surprise, taking into account the reports already published by IRENA, the European Commission and a range of investment banks: wind power is the cheapest generation technology compared to fossil fuel technologies and other renewables. As is to be expected, it is understood that wind installations are installed in places with sufficient wind resources.

One new aspect of the 2015 report is that it includes data published by IEA on installations in Spain:

• A standard 25 MW wind farm coming online in 2020 would have an LCOE of 76.6 €/MWh (euros in 2013) and would be the cheapest renewable technology following hydropower (that has almost zero potential in Spain). The strange thing about the data handled by the IEA is that even though 2,100 equivalent hours for a standard wind farm is a reasonable value, albeit rather low (the sector average between 2000 and 2014 stood at 2,250 hours), 3,500 equivalent hours for hydropower is not (for Spain’s hydraulic stock the figures are 2,016 hours and 1,854 hours for 2014 and 2013 respectively – and both years were wet).
• The IEA does not provide data on new gas or coal plants in Spain, but does compare data in Portugal: 77.2 €/MWh in gas combined cycle; between 67.5 and 75 €/MWh for a coal plant.

The IEA report also compares the differences in values depending on the capital cost. As such, one MWh of wind power from the Spanish wind farm stock in 2020 would cost 61.1 €/MWh if the capital cost was 3%. The abovementioned figure of 76.6 €/MWh is if an interest rate of 7% is applied (the most widely-used percentage prior to the Energy Reform), and 90 €/MWh if the interest rate is 10%. The difference in the generation cost between the first and the last options is 47%. In other words: generating electricity from wind power with a capital cost of 10% is 47% more expensive than at a rate of 3% and 17.5% more expensive than at a rate of 7%.

Some conclusions on the energy policy can be drawn from this data. Currently the financial analysts of the renewable sector say that the capital cost for renewable projects in Spain stands between 10 and 11% due to the country risk arising from the retroactive effects of the Reform regarding existing installations. This would mean that one of the collateral effects of the Reform would have been the substantial increasing cost of bringing new installations online in future.

And here is where the recommendation that the IEA itself made to MINETUR in its second report on the Spanish energy sector published last July can best be understood: “The reform of the electricity sector has created a perception of regulatory insecurity among investors, and yet Spain is going to need more investment to comply with the EU’s shared target of 27% from renewables by 2030”. According to the IEA, Spain has to clarify with the markets how it is going to achieve the 2020 renewables target and guarantee regulatory security for the new support mechanism for renewable electricity.

If the Spanish Government follows the IEA recommendations and manages to reduce capital costs for new wind power installations of between 10-11% or at least by 7%, Spain’s society could save itself between 17% and 47% of the additional cost generated by the Reform in order to comply 2020’s renewable energy objectives.

On the 17th July last, Ingeteam obtained authorisation for the use of its string PV inverters in residential generating systems. The authorisation document was signed by the Electricity and Fuel Superintendence (SEC) of the Ministry of Energy of Chile.

This authorisation allows the string PV inverters made by Ingeteam to be installed and used in accordance with Law 20.571 of the Government of Chile, governing the payment of the electricity tariffs for residential generating systems.

Therefore, according to this law, either an individual or company can install a Non-Conventional Renewable Energy (ERNC) generating system on its property and use the energy produced for self consumption (up to a maximum of 100 kW). Whenever more energy is produced than consumed (surplus), then this can be injected into the public electricity grid, and the price of this energy is then deducted from the next electricity bill. This billing system is known as net metering.

The PV inverters

The string PV inverters approved by the Chilean SEC, under Law 20.571, pertain to the INGECON SUN 1Play (2.5 –6 kW) single-phase transformerless family with a dual MPPT input, and also to the INGECON SUN 3Play (10 – 20 kW) three-phase inverter family. As far as the three-phase PV inverters are concerned, these have been approved for both the single and dual MPPT input modes.

Uruguay has been mentioned in recent months as a regional and international pioneer in renewable energy, leader in levels of investment per GDP unit destined for electricity and fuels based on new renewable sources, and as the architect of a revolutionary strategy in the field of electricity generation, according to different international entities.

In addition, numerous countries have applied for institutional cooperation along the lines developed in Uruguay, to learn about the processes that are allowing this country achieve goals as ambitious as those proposed. For example by next year, 50% of the country’s global energy mix will originate from renewable sources.

But furthermore, Uruguay will achieve more than a 90% share of the electric grid with at least 38% coming from non-conventional renewable sources. These figures are even more significant when we see that such transformation results in a reduction in the energy costs of the country, with no need to resort to the granting of subsidies.

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2014

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