Technology Merit: Low Carbon & Renewable Power


Solar Reserve for receiving the go-ahead from the California Public Utilities Commission to develop what may be the first large-scale concentrating solar power facility to use energy storage-a key to making solar energy truly dispatchable and improving the economics of CSP technologies which use the sun's thermal energy to generate power.

Solar Reserve's 150 MW Rice Solar Energy Project will be designed to provide eight to 10 hours of stored electricity to the grid. "This capability will be crucial as California progresses towards its 33% renewable target," said SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith in a news release.

"We are also making tremendous strides in exporting this proven U.S. technology worldwide to markets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, and our projects in Nevada and California help establish the U.S. as an innovation leader in alternate energy."

SolarReserve has a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Pacific Gas & Electric for the output of the Rice facility and is pursuing financing, expecting to break ground in early 2014.

Siemens Energy for completing NRG Energy's El Segundo Energy Center, a 560 MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power that combines high efficiency with the ability to ramp much more quickly and with less O&M impacts than traditional CCGT plants-a requirement for Southern California grid operators to integrate more capacity from variable wind and solar power generators. El Segundo Energy also increases the reliability of California's electricity system.

According to Siemens, the new units will use 30% less natural gas than the units they are replacing, helping meet California's mandatory GHG standards. With the Siemens Flex-PlantTM 10 technology the highly efficient units at El Segundo can be online in 10 minutes, providing back-up support for wind and solar power. These and other design features like low water consumption and low environmental impact help in meeting stringent environmental requirements.

El Segundo is the second Siemens Flex Plant to be developed in Southern California, the first being Northern California Power Agency's 300 MW Lodi Energy Center. According to Gas Turbine World, Siemens has achieved the elusive combination of CCGT flexibility with low CO emissions through changes in the heat recovery steam generator technology, supplying steam turbines with stress controllers and optimizing control logic in a fully integrated control system.

Alstom for continuing to invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for coal power plants and other applications despite significant reverses in the market for CCS since 2008.

Alstom's effort to advance CCS includes activities currently underway in China, by far the top producer and user of coal for power and industrial production worldwide. Within the last two years, Alstom has established an engineering office for CCS and environmental control system (ECS) development in Beijing and is working with Chinese partners on two ambitious CCS demo projects: A 350 MW coal-fired power plant to be equipped with Alstom's oxy-firing technology; and a 1000 MW coal-fired power plant that will be fitted with Alstom's chilled ammonia process (CAP) for post-combustion carbon capture. Both projects will use the captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, and both technologies can be used to retrofit existing coal power plants-an urgent need given the rapid pace of coal power build-out that has occurred in the last 10 years and is likely to continue before CCS is commercially available.

While there are different opinions about whether China will ever widely deploy CCS on its enormous coal power fleet or is simply investing in CCS for export purposes, Alstom's CCS leaders aver that China's leaders know they have to do address GHGs from coal.

Additionally, Alstom is performing R&D on a flameless chemical looping process that produces 950¡ã-1030¡ã C steam with no visible flame and a clean stream of CO2 which can be captured relatively easily. The process uses tiny metal oxide particles moved between an air reactor-where oxygen molecules attach to the particles-and a fuel reactor where the fuel reacts with the oxygen. Alstom has built and operated two systems, a 1 MW system in Germany and a 3 MW system that its lab in Windsor, Connecticut. In 2013, Alstom told CCBJ that it was working with U.S. and European companies to form a consortium and apply for co-funding of a 10 MW demo project.

Lockheed Martin for signing a contract with Beijing-based Reignwood Group to develop an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plant at a site to be determined. Lockheed Martin will design and build the 10 MW facility, which the company says will be the largest OTEC project developed to date.

OTEC uses the temperature difference in the water column in tropical seas to operate heat engines that can produce electricity. It has been studied in pilot projects, but hasn't yet proven to be commercially viable. Lockheed Martin has been engaged in advancing this technology for decades, and constructing a multi-megawatt OTEC power plant for Reignwood Group is considered to be a crucial step toward the full commercialization of OTEC.