Are utilities unprepared for integration of renewable energy?
Utilities face dramatic upheaval as change sweeps across the European power industry and the integration of renewables gains pace. Members of POWER-GEN Europe’s Advisory Board address some of the key questions ahead of POWER-GEN Europe 2014, being held in Cologne on June 3-5
Energy Digital will be publishing top energy executives’ answers to imperative questions throughout the week. The Roundtable participants are: Philippe Paelinck, VP portfolio and strategic positioning, Alstom; Risto Paldanius, director, business development, Wärtsilä; Dr. Franco Rosatelli, CTO, Ansaldo Energia; Dr. Tamer Turna, CEO, Yildirim Energy Holding Inc.
While uncertainty in the market is nothing new, is change being forced too quickly on a system unprepared to deal with it?
Tamer Turna: Yes, I believe this to be the case. An evolution instead of a revolution would be more appropriate – especially as we now have a much better understanding of the types of problems to be expected. Policy makers have to be more realistic with regards the technical, economic and social capacity of their market to absorb change.
Risto Paldanius: The basic structure for any market is a framework. This needs to be in place before we can expect players in the market to be able to cope with change. The market was not ready for the high penetration of renewable energy sources, because the existing framework does not support the new needs of the power system. While the rollout of renewable energy sources has been a great success, the legacy framework was not updated accordingly. There is an urgent need to build a framework to deal with the effect of RES.
Philippe Paelinck: Certainly the challenges that have to be addressed – namely competitive electricity, reduced environmental footprint and energy security – require urgent action. We don’t yet have all the tools in place to incentivise and deliver all the changes in investment needed, at the necessary pace.
Franco Rosatelli: In scenarios where renewable power has priority access to the grid, fossil fuel power plants will have to increasingly shift their role from providing base-load power to providing fluctuating back-up power to meet unpredictable and short-noticed demand peaks, in order to control and stabilise the grid. This change in requirements throws down a real challenge to fossil fuel power plants (both CCPP and CHP) and for each component of the plant (Gas Turbine, Steam Turbine, Heat Recovery Steam Generators and other pressure parts) in terms of improving their operational flexibility for cycling and fast start-up and shut-down times.
The challenges shouldn’t be underestimated, but with technology developments promising greater plant flexibility and physical interconnection of the energy systems across Europe, there is an opportunity to build on the progress so far and realise the better balance between affordable, clean and reliable electricity in Europe.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.