Vendor Neutral

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2010

ABB buys Ventyx; Powerspan and WorleyParsons CO2 capture test results; Honeywell lands Progress Energy contract; Opower releases customer engagement platform; HECO picks Siemens for smart-grid stimulus project; and MORE.


Gas Turbine Efficiency PLC (GTE) is using its experience in water injection and power augmentation to assist energy industry clients by installation of a universal system to help meet more stringent regulatory requirements in NOx emission limits. A recent GTE case study shows how one power generation customer successfully installed a single skid that incorporated both the water injection and power augmentation systems on their two GE MS50001Ps and three P&W FT4A engines. The combined system is capable of interfacing with virtually any control system and gas turbine fuel system. With this enhancement, the energy producer would provide cleaner and lower level emissions while increasing output and optimizing performance.

Wärtsilä and ABB Turbo Systems are cooperating to develop a two-stage turbocharging of large diesel engines. The companies say the technology offers significant advantages in fuel consumption and engine emissions. Wärtsilä is focusing on developing advanced engine technology, and ABB Turbo Systems is delivering turbocharging technology aimed at improving performance in terms of airflow, pressure ratios and efficiency. In the new engine design, two turbochargers are arranged in series to generate increased air pressure, airflow and a superior turbocharging effect. This results in an efficiency rating of up to 76 percent, according to the companies. The increased air pressure, combined with the advanced engine technology, is expected to improve the engine output and power density by up to 10 percent, while reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Powerspan Corp. announced results from an independent review of its ECO2 post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology, conducted by engineering firm WorleyParsons Group. WorleyParsons assessed Powerspan’s CO2 capture pilot test facility and evaluated readiness for commercial deployment on existing coal-fired power plants. Powerspan’s post-combustion CO2 capture process uses a proprietary solvent to capture 90 percent of CO2 from the flue gas of coal-fired plants. Once the CO2 is captured, it is dried and compressed and is ready for pipeline transport and sequestration. The WorleyParsons report concludes that the 1 MW equivalent slipstream ECO2 pilot test facility (approximately 20 tons per day of CO2 capture) operating at FirstEnergy Generation Corp.’s R.E. Burger Plant near Shadyside, Ohio, gave testing results that can be reliably used to design, build, and predict performance of a larger, commercial size plant. The report concludes that a retrofit project could be implemented at less than $40 per ton of CO2 captured and compressed for a project size of 220 MWe net. The cost estimate is based on data derived from the ECO2 pilot for 90-percent CO2 capture with steam extraction for regeneration of less than 1,000 Btu/lb of CO2. This energy requirement is an improvement over previously reported results.

MISTRAS Group Inc. developed and delivered a non-invasive coal flow monitoring system that with remedial action, can significantly reduce out-of-compliance events, and resulting EPA fines. The system detects blockages and imbalances in the flow of pulverized fuel between the coal mills and the burners, allowing plant operators to optimize burner combustion resulting in reduced emissions. The technology is expected to aid in meeting emissions legislation and regulations associated with impending federal energy and climate legislation. MISTRAS says a major Southwestern U.S. utility that implemented the system recognized a $5 million savings in a single year.

Amphenol Industrial, a global leader in interconnect systems, now offers a dual-rated (UL/TUV) photovoltaic (PV) connector to meet NEC 2008 without the need of extra locking collars and locking sleeves. Amphenol’s Helios H4 provides a single, cost-effective interconnection solution for all world markets. The company says its Helios H4 connector was designed to achieve higher current ratings and lower contact resistance, resulting in lower power losses. Amphenol provides a range of solar interconnection equipment, such as cable mounted connectors, bulkhead (panel mounted) connectors, solar cable and junction boxes.

Green Energy Resources (GER) received a letter of intent for a $25 million, five-year, 1-million ton project from a Dutch company to create what the company calls “eco-green coal” in the United States from wood chips. The Dutch company is already producing a prototype in Europe. The Dutch company, in conjunction with GER, plans to develop two locations in the United States, one in the Northeast, the other in Texas. GER has been working since 2005 to develop a torrified pellet-briquette that can be readily transportable and premixed with coal for co-firing. GER says it’s a major breakthrough. Initial shipments of wood will be delivered to the Netherlands for manufacturing using American hardwoods. Shipments will start in 2010 with deliveries to the Netherlands this summer.

Electricity Storage

ABB launched SVC Light (static var compensator) with energy storage as its latest development within the company’s FACTS (flexible alternating current transmission systems) family. The new technology combines SVC Light with a scalable battery storage technology. Rated power and storage capacity is typically in the 20-MW range for periods of approximately 15 to 45 minutes, but ABB says the technology can be scaled up to 50 MW of power for 60 minutes and more. The new product enables dynamic control of active and reactive power, independent of each other, helping system operators to control grid voltage and stability. The dynamic energy storage capacity is intended to level out power fluctuations from variable generation sources, such as wind and solar energy, especially in weak electrical networks.

Mergers and Acquisitions

ABB agreed to acquire Ventyx for more than $1 billion in cash from Vista Equity Partners with the aim of becoming a leading provider of software solutions for managing energy networks. ABB says it will combine its related network management business within the ABB power systems division with Ventyx to form a single unit for energy management software solutions. Company executives say the acquisition will triple the energy management software market available to ABB. Based in Atlanta, Ga., Ventyx serves utilities and industrial companies in the United States and Europe. The company employs 900 people and reported 2009 revenues of about $250 million.

AMS Utiliserv, a utility field services company based in Monroe, La., completed its merger with Olameter Corp., a utility service and technology firm based in Arlington, Tx. Terms of the agreement between the two private companies weren’t disclosed. AMS says field services and related technologies will remain within the AMS Utiliserv structure, with the 250 associated employees continuing their tenure with the company. Existing field service offerings include meter reading, meter installations, pole testing, underground locates and field collections. Olameter Corp., meanwhile, will continue providing services surrounding meter data management and presentment, billing, call center, workforce management, and advanced metering infrastructure monitoring and maintenance.

United States Infrastructure Corp. (USIC), a portfolio company of Kohlberg & Co. (Kohlberg), entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by OMERS Private Equity. USIC provides outsourced sub-surface utility locating services across 20 states on behalf of over 400 telecom, electric, gas, cable and water utilities, including all major national and regional utilities throughout the Midwest, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest. OMERS Private Equity manages one of Canada’s largest pension funds, and has over $4 billion of investments under management.

Badger Meter Inc. purchased Cox Instruments LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., and its subsidiary companies Flow Dynamics Inc., and Exact Flow. The entities supply flow measurement instrumentation systems. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed. The acquisition combines the companies into Cox Flow Measurement, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Badger Meter.The subsidiary will continue to be based in Scottsdale and the Cox management team will remain with the company.

Efficiency & Conservation

Honeywell entered into two separate, three-year contracts with Progress Energy to manage and deliver energy efficiency programs for residential customers in North and South Carolina. The Home Energy Improvement and Neighborhood Energy Saver programs will help customers save energy and money through: home energy assessments; education; and rebates for efficiency improvements. The programs target more than 1.4 million Progress Energy residential customers. Honeywell will provide training, marketing and customer service support to drive enrollment.

T&D and Smart Grid

Tropos Network’s GridCom architecture was selected as a core element of Glendale Water & Power’s (GWP) smart-grid initiative. GridCom is based upon Tropos’ wireless broadband mesh network system and will be used as the utility’s private distribution area network to deliver high-speed communications among the utility, utility applications and utility customers. Investments in GWP’s smart-grid initiative total $51 million, $20 million of which is being funded by the DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Glendale’s mayor, Ara Najarian, commented, “Glendale is honored to be the first city in the nation to receive funding from the $3.4 billion in grants the DOE announced last October for modernization of the nation’s power infrastructure.”

Hawaiian Electric Co. selected Siemens Energy to provide a smart-grid system to integrate automation of the distribution grid as part of the utility’s $5.3 million share of federal smart-grid stimulus funds. The East Oahu Transmission Project Phase 2 is expected to automate high-load distribution circuits feeding sections of eastern Oahu. Siemens says its system design and operations approach will minimize construction impacts and reduce outage times from hours to minutes. The project includes establishing an automated 46-kV substation feeder infrastructure integrated with the existing control-center systems, and installing intelligent substation controllers, automated switches and reclosers for self-healing capabilities and more.

Iberdrola selected CURRENT Group to provide smart-metering communications, advanced sensing and network management systems as part of the first phase deployment of smart-grid solutions in Castellon, Spain. The Iberdrola deployment is expected to demonstrate end-to-end interoperability using the open PRIME metering standard, for which more than 20 companies are now members or have applied for membership. Iberdrola plans to deploy an initial 100,000 meters and transformers incorporating two-way medium voltage and cellular communications, grid supervision and control, and meter collection infrastructure before expanding to territory-wide deployments of smart meters in early 2011.

OPOWER released its next generation platform for advanced customer engagement (ACE). Designed as a comprehensive front-end solution for smart-grid deployments, OPOWER 3.0 aims at providing customer engagement and energy savings on a large scale. The upgrade includes a new web portal and the introduction of in-home displays and mobile phones as content delivery mechanisms. The company says several leading utilities, including Commonwealth Edison, will deploy the new platform. In addition to the mail, web and phone, utility customers will receive energy information through in-home displays and mobile phones. The cross-channel approach is designed to enable all customers to engage with their energy data and save on their bills.

Enterprise Software

Envista Corp., which provides infrastructure project coordination software, announced that Washington Gas Light Co. has selected its software-as-a-service (SaaS) application to help manage construction and maintenance projects. Washington Gas serves more than 1 million residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It’s joining the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the D.C. government in deploying Envista’s map-driven software to manage thousands of miles of infrastructure, identify conflicting construction and maintenance projects and facilitate real-time communications to resolve them.

Convergys Corp. announced the worldwide availability of Convergys Smart CIS billing and customer care systems for the utility and energy markets. The company said existing utility billing and customer care options can’t fully realize the vision of the smart grid without a fundamental shift in the way utilities leverage data, manage customer relationships, and develop rate structures. Convergys designed its Smart CIS Solutions specifically to improve current utility operations, while extending next-generation functionality and scale for future utility operations.

Axia Software Corp. announced that San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Co. have gone live with implementations of Axia’s REVEAL asset investment planning software. The software supports investment decisions and long-range planning. “We are confident that our REVEAL solution, one of the first enterprise software products in the space, will be a contributor to the success of the utilities’ Asset Investment Support Project,” said Graham Carter, president and CEO of Axia Software. Axia says REVEAL can work with existing asset management solutions. It uses a set of commonly defined organizational objectives and metrics to evaluate and compare investment.