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Power generation turbine maker General Electric (GE) has sued its historic rival Siemens Energy in federal court, alleging Siemens gained and then used GE’s trade secrets to win a bidding contest with a turbine customer.

The lawsuit filed in Virginia federal court accuses a Siemens employee of somehow getting GE trade secrets through an email, then sending them out to dozens of colleagues in the company. Siemens allegedly used that information to win a gas turbine supply and maintenance contract in that state worth up to $340 million.

Other news reports, such as Reuters, indicated the customer for the gas turbines was Dominion Energy.

Siemens has denied any wrongdoing, saying once it discovered the trade secrets the action was identified and the employees involved were disciplined and separated from the company, according to reports.

GE, however, alleged that Siemens waited 16 months before disclosing the theft to its rival, according to the federal court lawsuit.

“The resulting harm to GE is not limited to the loss of the Virginia contract,” reads the complaint. “The trade secrets misappropriated by Siemens are relevant to at least eight other gas turbine contracts that Siemens unfairly won over GE’s competing bid in the sixteen-month period before it first notified GE.”

GE and Siemens join Mitsubishi Power as the three largest global manufacturers of power generation turbines both for gas-fired and coal-fired generation. All three companies date their origins back to the 19th century.

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In its Workforce of the Future report two years ago, research and consulting firm Deloitte highlighted the challenges facing all sectors as we enter what its calls “Industry 4.0,” a sort of fourth industrial revolution but this time led by digitalization, automation and predictive analytics.

The next POWERGEN+ virtual series will focus on the future power plant workforce needs, how to manage crews during the pandemic and, worth noting, the present heavy lifting already being done by operations and maintenance personnel. Registration is free, open to the industry, and sessions are both live and archived for one year.

More information on session specifics and presenters is forthcoming. POWERGEN is always on the lookout for utilities and their partners which can speak to their peers about projects, case studies and every facet of power generation from the plant to the turbine and beyond.

Below is the calendar for editorial sessions in  the February 17-18 series of POWERGEN+. Go to powergenplus.com for registration and more information.

February 17-18

Theme: Workforce and Asset Management

–               Session 1: Future Power Plant Workforce Needs and Challenges

–               Session 2: Planning and Conquering Power Plant Outages

–               Session 3: COVID 19 Era Workforce  

–               Session 4: Asset Management for Plant Life Extension  

In April, POWERGEN+ will tackle issues on optimizing plant performance and digital transformation in the industry, both in the facilities and on remote. Check in with Power Engineering for more details later.

Previous POWERGEN+ sessions have focused on issues such as the future of hydrogen-fired generation, cybersecurity, on-site power, maintenance needs and more. Utilities which have presented in the 2020 POWERGEN+ sessions include Grand River Dam Authority, AES, AEP, Avista, Ameren, Georgia Power, Cordova (Alaska) Electric Cooperative, National Grid, Vistra Energy and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, among others. Sponsoring and presenting companies represented include Mitsubishi Power, Wartsila, UBC Millwrights and Siemens, among others.

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Siemens Gamesa and Siemens Energy have announced plans to invest 120 million Euros ($146m) in a five-year strategy to unlock the potential of harvesting green hydrogen from offshore windpower.

The companies are collaborating on a solution to integrate an electrolyzer into an offshore wind turbine as a single synchronized system to directly produce green hydrogen.

Over the next five years, wind and renewables-focused Siemens Gamesa, part of the parent Siemens Energy, will invest 80 millions Euros, while Siemens Energy will contribute 40 million Euros to the initiative, with a view to unveiling a full-scale offshore demonstration by 2025-26.

Siemens Gamesa chief executive Andreas Nauen said the joint initiative “brings together brilliant minds and cutting-edge technologies to address the climate crisis.”

Christian Bruch

“Our wind turbines play a huge role in the decarbonization of the global energy system, and the potential of wind to hydrogen means that we can do this for hard-to-abate industries too.”

Siemens Energy chief executive Christian Bruch said that the two companies “are in a unique position to develop this game-changing solution”.

“We are the company that can leverage its highly flexible electrolyzer technology and create and redefine the future of sustainable offshore energy production.

“With these developments, the potential of regions with abundant offshore wind will become accessible for the hydrogen economy. It is a prime example of enabling us to store and transport wind energy, thus reducing the carbon footprint of economy.”

In today’s announcement, Siemens Gamesa explained it will adapt development of its SG14-222 DD offshore turbine to integrate an electrolysis system, while Siemens Energy will develop a new electrolysis product built to withstand harsh offshore maritime conditions.

Together, both companies say these measures will “create a new competitive benchmark for green hydrogen”.
The companies believe the solution will lower the cost of hydrogen by being able to run off grid, opening up more and better wind sites.

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Georgia-based utility giant Southern Co. has published a sustainable financing framework which guides it toward clean energy and social project investment.

Southern published the framework earlier this month, focusing how it allows Southern and its subsidiary utilities to issue and allocate financing and net proceeds toward investments in renewable energy, access to education and telecommunications for communities and employment advancement and development.

For more stories about Southern Co.

The company says this framework aligns with its announced goal to become a net zero-carbon company in the future. Southern Company is one of numerous U.S. utilities to set bold, industry-leading goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its system and has set a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Eligible social projects under the Framework include the procurement of products and services from diverse suppliers, education assistance for minority populations, as well as economic advancement and development opportunities for underserved employees, communities and students.

The inaugural bond under the Framework, a $400 million green bond, was issued on January 8 by Southern Power Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company.

Following Southern Power’s $400 million green bond offering, the Southern Company system has now issued a combined total of nearly $3.9 billion in green bonds, which ranks within the top five among all U.S. corporate green bond issuers.

In addition to Southern Power, other utility subsidiaries include Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Mississippi Power.

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Get ready for some power generation capacity coming online this year – and most of it will be renewable energy.

The latest inventory by the federal Energy Information Administration indicates that about 39.7 GW of new generation is expected to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar and wind energy will account for about 70 percent of that (39 and 31 percent, respectively), while three percent will be introduced from the new Unit 3 nuclear reactor at the Vogtle plant in Georgia.

Here is the breakdown of expected, newly operational electricity generation this year. The EIA forecasts that:

Solar photovoltaics. Developers and plant owners expect the addition of utility-scale solar capacity to set a new record by adding 15.4 GW of capacity to the grid in 2021. This new capacity will surpass last year’s nearly 12 GW increase, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and scheduled additions for the last two months of 2020 (5.7 GW).

More than half of the new utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is planned for four states: Texas (28%), Nevada (9%), California (9%), and North Carolina (7%). EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts an additional 4.1 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2021.

Wind. Another 12.2 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2021. Last year, 21 GW of wind came online, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and planned additions in November and December (14.9 GW). Texas and Oklahoma account for more than half of the 2021 wind capacity additions. The largest wind project coming online in 2021 will be the 999-MW Traverse wind farm in Oklahoma. The 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, is also scheduled to start commercial operation in early 2021.

Natural gas. For 2021, planned natural gas capacity additions are reported at 6.6 GW. Combined-cycle generators account for 3.9 GW, and combustion-turbine generators account for 2.6 GW. More than 70% of these planned additions are in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Battery storage. EIA expects the capacity of utility-scale battery storage to more than quadruple; 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions are slated to come online by the end of 2021. The rapid growth of renewables, such as wind and solar, is a major driver in the expansion of battery capacity because battery storage is increasely paired with nearby renewable energy assets.

The world’s largest solar-powered battery (409 MW) is under construction at Manatee Solar Energy Center in Florida; the battery is scheduled to be operational by late 2021.

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The U.S. Department of Energy has selected John Hairston as administrator and CEO of the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency providing electricity in the Pacific Northwest. The appointment became effective Thursday.

“John has made a lasting and significant impact on the Bonneville Power Administration over the past 29 years, and I am proud to announce him as the new Administrator,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “BPA is an important provider of reliable, renewable hydroelectric and clean nuclear power to the Pacific Northwest, and John’s commitment to serve BPA will support the Department’s critical energy mission.”

Hairston has served as acting administrator and CEO since September 2020, following Elliot Mainzer’s departure after seven years in the agency’s top role.

“I am truly honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead Bonneville during this dynamic time, when we are not only challenged to meet the pressing needs of our customers but must also position BPA to be their long-term provider of choice for low-cost, reliable and responsible carbon-free power,” said Hairston. “I will continue to work closely with BPA’s utility customers, federal partners, state and local elected officials, tribal leaders and other stakeholders in the region to ensure the federal power system continues to meet a diverse set of needs and purposes as we address the energy and environmental challenges facing the Northwest.”

Hairston has served in numerous leadership roles throughout his 29 years at BPA, most recently as chief operating officer and chief administrative officer.

“I’m also grateful to work alongside so many highly skilled and dedicated BPA employees who are committed to Bonneville’s mission, which is so essential to the region’s economy, the quality of life for Northwest citizens and our clean energy future,” Hairston said.

Once officially sworn in, Hairston will become the 16th administrator in BPA’s 83-year history.

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Italian power manufacturing firm Ansaldo Energia will supply and maintain a natural gas-fired turbine for a Polish industrial power plant.

Ansaldo was awarded the contract for an 80-MW AEG4.3 gas turbine by Synthos, a chemical company producing rubbers and polymers. The AEG4.3 will be part of the combined cycle gas turbine power infrastructure in Synthos’ Oswiecim plant.

It replaces a previous coil boiler. Once operational, the turbine will provide production resiliency and process steam need by the manufacturing plant.

The deal has a financial value of about 50 million Euros, or $61.3 million U.S. Ansaldo also will provide maintenance duties on the gas turbine.

The CCGT facility will be part of the Polish capacity market and fit into the context of the planned European Union coal phaseout.

The AE64.3 offers fast start, fast ramp-up and hot restart capabilities. Its gross efficiency measures about 37 percent, while its net plant power output measures 120 MW in a 1×1 configuration and 243 MW in a 2×1.

Ansaldo Energia is 88 percent owned by Italian state-owned Cdp Equity investment group, and 12 percent by China’s Shanghai Electric.

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Canadian nuclear power operator Bruce Power has extended the contracts by Candu Energy to service its generating station on the shores of Lake Huron.

 Candu, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, has existing contracts to provide fuel channel inspections and tooling maintenance and refurbhisment in support of their reactor inspection and maintenance work. The deal extends these contracts by one year.

Three fuel channel inspection outages will be conducted as part of the Bruce station’s regular outage schedule this year. This contract is within SNCL Engineering Services.

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“SNC-Lavalin looks forward to the renewed opportunity with Bruce Power and supporting its continued safe operation of CANDU units by performing inspections to meet the regulatory codes and standards,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin. “SNC-Lavalin bolsters a strong team of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) specialists, technicians, engineers, designers, programmers and software developers which uniquely positions itself to execute these complex projects as a one-stop-shop for all reactor inspection and reactor maintenance needs. This award demonstrates the continued strength of our nuclear business, where we have long-term clients and partnerships, and our innovative services and technologies have many opportunities for growth.”

The Bruce Power fuel channel inspections have been performed using the Bruce Reactor Inspection and Maintenance System – Advanced Non-Destructive Examination (BRIMS-ANDE System) for over five years.

Bruce Power is the license operator of the eight-unit Bruce Generating Station, which produces close to 50 TWh of electricity annually. The overall capacity is more than 6,400 MW, according reports, and is nearly a third of the electricity used on the Ontario power grid.

It is ranked as one of the two largest nuclear power plants in the world.

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Mark C. Christie was sworn in this week as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during a ceremony in the chambers of the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Judge G. Steven Agee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit performed the swearing-in ceremony.

Commissioner Christie comes to FERC from the Virginia State Corporation Commission, having served three terms totaling almost 17 years, most recently as Chairman. He is a former president of the Organization of PJM States, Inc. (OPSI), which is comprised of regulators representing the 13 states and the District of Columbia that form the PJM region.

He also is a former president of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (MACRUC).

A West Virginia native, Commissioner Christie earned Phi Beta Kappa honors upon graduating from Wake Forest University, and received his law degree from Georgetown University. He has taught regulatory law as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia School of Law and constitutional law and government in a doctoral program at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Commissioner Christie also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

FERC includes recent appointees Christie and Allison Clements, Richard Glick, former chairman Neil Chatterjee (whose term ends in June) and current chairman James Danly.

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Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced in late December that it requested California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approval of six additional battery energy storage projects totaling 387 MW of capacity, intended to further integrate clean energy from renewable generation sources while helping to ensure future reliability of the electric system. 

The six project agreements complete PG&E’s procurement requirements outlined in a November 2019 CPUC decision that identified potential electric system reliability issues beginning in summer of 2021. In that decision, the CPUC authorized PG&E to procure at least 716.9 MW of system reliability resources to come online between August 1, 2021 and August 1, 2023. 

In May, PG&E announced the results of its first round of procurement: 423 MW of battery energy storage capacity, scheduled to be online by August 2021. 

 “The next few years will be pivotal for the deployment and integration of utility-scale battery energy storage onto the grid. PG&E has awarded contracts for battery energy storage projects totaling more than 1,000 MW of capacity to be deployed through 2023, all of which contribute to meeting California’s ambitious clean energy goals while ensuring grid efficiency and reliability, reducing the need to build additional fossil fuel generation plants, and keeping customer costs affordable,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president, Energy Policy and Procurement, PG&E.

Project Details

The project agreements resulted from a competitive request for offers (RFO) PG&E launched in July. The six new projects listed below all feature lithium-ion battery energy storage technology, each with a four-hour discharge duration. 

  • Nexus Renewables U.S. Inc. – The AMCOR project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a fleet of behind-the-meter battery energy storage resources totaling 27 MW located across a variety of sites in PG&E’s service area. 
  • Lancaster Battery Storage, LLC – The Lancaster Battery Storage project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a 127 MW transmission-connected stand‑alone battery energy storage resource located in Lancaster, Calif. (Los Angeles County). 
  • LeConte Energy Storage, LLC (a subsidiary of LS Power Associates, L.P.) – The LeConte Energy Storage project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a 40 MW transmission-connected stand‑alone battery energy storage resource located in Calexico, Calif. (Imperial County). 
  • North Central Valley Energy Storage, LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources Development, LLC) – The North Central Valley Energy Storage Project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a 132 MW transmission-connected battery energy storage resource located in Linden, Calif. (San Joaquin County). 
  • Daggett Solar Power 2, LLC (a subsidiary of Global Infrastructure Partners) – The Daggett 2 BESS project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a 46 MW transmission-connected battery energy storage resource co-located with the Daggett 3 BESS Project in Daggett, Calif. (San Bernardino County).
  • Daggett Solar Power 3, LLC (a subsidiary of Global Infrastructure Partners) – The Daggett 3 BESS project is comprised of a 15-year agreement for a 15 MW transmission-connected battery energy storage resource co-located with the Daggett 2 BESS Project in Daggett, Calif. (San Bernardino County).

The AMCOR project, the Lancaster Battery Storage project, and the LeConte Energy Storage project – totaling 194 MW – are scheduled to come online by August 2022. 

The North Central Valley Energy Storage project and both Daggett projects – totaling 193 MW – are scheduled to be online by August 2023. 

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