Closing a nuclear power plant: The economic impact

Various plans to shutter nuclear power plants have been contentious this year. The 2011 German energy law, “Energiewende,” which aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, has proved easier said than done (July/August 2012, p.10). And a Japanese advisory panel’s recommendation to close all nuclear plants by 2040 has yet to be endorsed by the nation’s cabinet.

In the U.S., a proposal to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York State is facing growing opposition. Located 40 miles north of Manhattan, the plant supplies as much as 30% of the New York City area’s daily electricity needs — about 20 million megawatt-hours, enough to power almost 3 million homes. Continuing questions about the safety of nuclear power, including concerns about the plant’s vulnerability to earthquakes and terrorist attack, have led for renewed calls for it to be shuttered.

These calls have been echoed by New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who appears intent on denying the plant a new operating license as well as water quality permits. This means that Unit 2 could be shut down in December 2013 and Unit 3 could be shut down in December 2015.

At a recent meeting of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City, economist Jonathan Lesser, and former City of New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, discussed Lesser’s new report highlighting the economic impacts of closing and replacing the plant.

Lesser pointed out that replacing Indian Point will impose extra expense on all New York’s citizens. For a typical residential customer, this would be an average annual increase of about $100 in the home’s electric bill. Industrial customers could pay as much as $25,000 per year. Transportation customers, such as the NY subway system, would see increases of $1 million to $2 million per year.

Because there are limits on the amount of electricity the New York City area can import from outside, Indian Point, if shut down, would have to be replaced, said Lesser. The possible alternatives are: Building a new gas-fired generating plant; raising the region’s electricity-importing capacity by constructing high-voltage transmission lines; building renewable generation, such as wind and solar resources; implementing aggressive energy-conversion measures; or combining all four of these strategies.

Each of these alternatives will be difficult and costly to implement. A recent study commissioned by the New York Independent System Operator estimated that the cost to construct a 100-MW gas-fired, combined cycle generating unit in New York City would be almost $190 million. At that price, replacing all Indian Point output would run almost $4 billion. In addition, gas-fired generation would require adding natural gas pipeline capacity at more expense.

Constructing new transmission lines from Canada would also be problematic because of high construction cost and opposition to siting. For example, a proposed NewYorkRegional Interconnect, a 190-mile transmission project from Marcy, NYtoRockTavern, NY,was opposed by the NY State Department of Public Service and the state legislature. “Nobody is going to build a transmission line in New York City ever again,” said Giuliani.

Despite heavy government subsidies, wind and solar are expensive. And their dependence on weather conditions requires responsive and reliable carbon-based backups. “If you add wind power, you’ll need transmission lines. All these cost billions,” said Lesser.

For all their merit, energy-efficiency programs are questionable for maintaining system reliability because programs run by utilities have saved less energy than projected. Said Lesser: “It is unrealistic to expect these programs to make up for a shutdown at Indian Point,”

“Closing Indian Pointwill be catastrophic for the economic growth of this region,” added Giuliani. “It will send an impractical message to people who make practical decisions about where to create their jobs. It’s also true of the country.”

Centrax orders

Centrax Gas Turbines has won an order for a CX501-KB7 generator set for a geothermal heating plant on the outskirts of Paris. The 5.3 MW indoor unit will supply electricity and heat to complement the output of a geothermal installation that powers a district heating system supplying more than 12,000 houses, apartments, schools, businesses and a university. The plant’s owner is the Joint Geothermal Syndicate of Maisons-Alfort.

Centrax has also been involved in the expansion and modernization of one of the largest health campuses in Europe, the Foresterhill health campus in Aberdeen, Scotland.ThisCHP plant uses aCentrax 501- KB7 gas turbine package combined with a waste heat recovery boiler, supplemented by a steam biomass boiler fired by locally sourced woodchips and three dual-fuel steam boilers. It produces 5.2MWof electricity plus 12metric tons of steam per hour, ensuring the availability of power.

Man compressor order

German electricity and gas supplier RWE has chosenMan Diesel &Turbo to deliver a complete compressor systemto extend a gas storage cavern in Stassfurt (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany). The hermetically sealed, type HOFIMunitwill increase the capacity of the storage cavern from around 380 million standard cubic meters of natural gas at present to as much as 500 million standard cubic meters.

Weighing about 80 m.t., the unit comprises two multi-stage radial compressors arranged in tandem around a centrally positioned 14 MW, high-performance motor drive. The driver, developed and manufactured by Man, is designed for compressor units with magnetic bearings. Because it is hermetically sealed, the compressor unit does not require dry gas seals on the drive shafts. And the sealing virtually eliminates the possibility of any gas escaping into the atmosphere. The rotating shafts are located in magnetic bearings and float freely in the bearing points, eliminating the need for any lubrication throughout the system.

In addition, Man Diesel & Turbo has concluded a long-term service agreement with the Brazilian energy group Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) for the maintenance, repair and operational support of 20 Man THMgas turbine trains on four offshore platforms in the crude oil and natural gas exploration area off the northeast coast of Rio de Janeiro. The agreement spans five years and is the second extension of this service contract, which was originally signed in 2002. The value of the agreement is €150 million.

New Mitsubishi U.S. presence

The U.S. has an enormous market for largesize, industrial-use compressors, accounting for a near 20% share of the global market. And due to the recent sharp increase in shale gas production, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor Corporation (MCO) expects growth in business opportunities in both the gas and chemical fields: In the former, to build gas-related plants and facilities, such as LNG shipping facilities; in the latter, for constructing new ethylene and other petrochemical plants.

Accordingly, MCOhas established aU.S. subsidiary to conductmarketing and servicing activities for large-size compressors. MHI Compressor International Corporation (MCO-I) began operations inOctoberwith its head office inHouston,Texas. Itwill also contribute to MCO’s engineering and after-sale servicing of compressors and related equipment throughoutNorthAmerica andMexico. Gampa Bhat, who was formerly a chief engineer at ExxonMobil Chemical Company and is currently managing a technology consultancy company, has been appointed to serve asMCO-I’s president.

Voith Vorecon gears

Voith has received an order for 60 Vorecon variable-speed planetary gears. The Vorecons will enter service in offshore production over oil fields on the huge pre-salt cluster in the Atlantic, approximately 300 km outside Rio de Janeiro. The operator is a consortium led by the Brazilian mineral oil group Petrobras. Production of the first Vorecon is underway. Delivery of the first gears is scheduled for November 2012.

Mag bearings for gas treatment

SKF will supply magnetic bearings on natural gas turbo expanders for the Ichthys Gas Field project and the Prelude first FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) barge. The IchthysGas Field is located at a depth of 280 m in the Timor Sea, some 200 km off the coast ofWesternAustralia.

At its peak, the field will produce 8 million metric tons per year of LNG. Liquefaction will take place onshore at a facility at Blaydin Point, Australia. The Prelude FLNG barge involves extraction and liquefaction of natural gas at a depth of 250 mfromtheBrowseBasin,WesternAustralia. Once operational, the Prelude FLNG facility will produce at least 3.6 million metric tons per year of LNG.

MHI ships first U.S-made GT

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Savannah MachineryWorks has shipped aM501GAC gas turbine to Virginia Electric & Power Company, a subsidiary of Dominion Resources. The company’s first U.S.-manufactured gas turbine will be installed at the Warren County Power Station in Front Royal,VA.When completed, the power station will incorporate three M501GAC gas turbines and a steam turbine.

Opra’s Russian office

Opra Turbines has opened an office in Moscow. Currently, almost 50 Opra OP16 gensets are in operation in Russia and 10 more have been sold during the first half of 2012.

“The opening of theMoscowoffice is an important step towards realizing the market potential in Russia for power generation in the 1-to-10 MW range and increase local service support for the growing fleet of OP16 gensets in the region,” said Fredrik Mowill, CEO of Opra Turbines. “The need for gas turbines in the 2MWrange to run on flare gas in remote oil fields has been high.”

Cutsforth builds new facility

DCManufacturing, a division of Cutsforth, Inc., maker of brush holders, generator collector rings, and other turbogenerators parts, will break ground this fall to begin construction of a 9,800 ft2 manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, MI. The $2.07 million project will provide expanded manufacturing space benefitted by improved shipping and receiving access, three-phase power, and other site amenities.

Small-scale LNG production

Dresser-Rand has entered into an agreement with Expansion Energy LLC (Tarrytown, NY) to license the latter’s VX Cycle Technology for small-scale production of liquefied natural gas. The VX Cycle provides cost-effective LNG production with capacities as low as 1,500 gallons per day, according to Dresser-Rand.

It is claimed to be smaller than any other LNG production systems commercially available today. The mobile, skidmounted equipment configuration offers a wide variety of applications in markets underserved or not served at all. Upstream applications include the monetization of flared gas; the production of stranded natural gas fields, which are not close to existing pipelines; and onsite fuel supply for drilling rigs converted to run on LNG.

Ansaldo Algerian contract

Societe Algerienne De Production De L’Ecctricite (SPE Spa), a Sonelgaz Group Company, has chosenAnsaldo to supply the Hassi Messaoud (Wilya d’Ouargia) open cycle power plant with a total rated output of 660MW. The plant comprises three generating sets with three Ansaldo AE 94.3A gas turbines and alternators. Last year, Sonelgaz awarded the company contracts to build two open cycle power plants: A 2 x 130 MW extension to the Ain Djasser plant and Labreg rated 2 x 140MW.

Siemens exits solar

Siemens is modifying its renewable strategy by divesting its solar activities. It is already holding talks with potential buyers. Siemens intends to focus its renewable energy activities on wind and hydro power. As part of a companywide reorganization, the Energy Sector will be slimmed down and the Solar & Hydro Division will be discontinued.

“The global market for concentrated solar power has shrunk from four GW to slightly more than one GW today,” said Michael Süß, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of the Energy Sector.

Siemens will continue to offer products for solar thermal and photovoltaic power plants, such as steam turbines, generators, grid technology and control systems which are produced outside of the Solar & Hydro Division. Moving forward, the company will focus its renewable efforts on wind and hydropower.

Carbon capture

MHI is developing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. It is involved in a demonstration project with the U.S. Southern Company utility in which it has begun underground injection of CO2 recovered from emissions from a coal-fired power generation plant. The event marks the world's first integrated CCS project for flue gas from a coal-fired power plant.

The demonstration project is at Southern Company's Plant Barry in Alabama. Sequestration is in a saline formation at a depth of 3,000-3,400 meters. The project captures 500 metric tons per day, with CO2 recovery efficiency above 90%.

It consists of a flue-gas scrubber, fluegas CO2 capture and regeneration system, CO2 compression machinery, and electrical components. For CO2 recovery the facility adopts the KM CDR Process, which uses the KS-1 high-performance solvent for CO2 absorption and desorption that was jointly developed by MHI and the Kansai Electric Power Co.

In addition, MHI is undertaking a technology qualification program (TQP) for Statoil on what will be one of the world’s largest CO2 capture facilities. The approximately 3,400 ton-per-day CO2 recovery system is targeted for installation at a 280MW gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant at Mongstad, on Norway's west coast. Facility construction is slated to commence in 2016. The planned project is aimed at removing, capturing and compressing CO2 emitted from an existing natural-gas-fired CHP plant in operation since 2010 at an oil refinery operated by Statoil.

Texas peaking facility

Wood Group has secured a $24 million contract with NRG Energy subsidiary, Petra Nova, to design and construct a 75 MWgas turbine peaking facility at the W.A. Parish Generation Station, near Houston.

The project involves installation of the complete plant on a turnkey basis, including a GE Frame 7EA gas turbine supplied by Petra Nova. All associated balance of plant equipment will be furnished by Wood Group GTS, which will perform a major inspection and all required maintenance on the gas turbine. 3

Chilling system

Stellar Energy will supply a turbine inlet air chilling (TIAC) system for Frontera Energy Center, a 500 MW gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant in Mission, Texas. The TIAC system will allow for a more than 10% increase in power output for the plant during the summer.

The system includes a water-cooled, modular chiller plant, thermal energy storage with stratified chilledwater, a coil design that simplifies the filter house replacement, and a freeze-protection system for the coils, enabling the TIAC system to remain available for use during warm days in the winter.

U.S. LNG export

GE Oil & Gas will supply gas compression trains for Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction expansion project in Cameron Parish, LA, about 170 miles west of Baton Rouge. Adding liquefaction capabilities will transform the existing Sabine Pass LNG terminal into the first U.S. LNG terminal capable of importing and exporting liquefied natural gas.

GE is providing 12 PGT25+G4 aeroderivative gas turbines to drive the first two liquefaction trains currently under construction. Each train will have the capacity to produce about 4.5 million metric tons per year of LNG. Cheniere has received regulatory approvals from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct up to four liquefaction trains at Sabine Pass. Cheniere is expected to reach a final investment decision on its third and fourth liquefaction trains in the first quarter of 2013,with construction of those trains expected to commence shortly thereafter.

GE Energy andOil&Gas orders

GE will supply turbines for a 450 MW combined-cycle power plant in the city of StalowaWola in Poland using a Frame 9F 5-series GT and generator.

The company has also received a contract to supply eight 7F 5-series gas turbine-generators for the expansion of Saudi Electricity Company’s Riyadh Power Plant 12. The projectwill add nearly 2,000MWwhen it enters commercial operation in 2015.

GE Oil & Gas will supply a gas turbinedriven compressor train technology to Malaysia’s national oil and gas company, Petronas, for a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility scheduled for startup in 2015. The facility will produce 1.2 million tons per year of LNG.

GE’s scope of equipment supply includes four PGT25+G4 gas turbine generator systems, two PGT25+G4 gas turbine driven compressor units and two electric motor driven centrifugal compressors modules.

LM6000 control upgrade

Wood Group GTS has released a control system upgrade for GE LM6000 gas turbines to replace the original hardware and software. This enables operators to reconfigure turbines operating in-house. It uses the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx platform.

Fuel valve conversion

Turbine Technology Services (TTS) has completed a gas fuel systemvalve conversion project for a GE Frame 5001 gas turbine at a Mississippi area power station. The unit, whichwas originally installedwith aGEFuel Regulator Control System, supplies power to the grid and process steam via an HRSG.

The fuel regulator controller was removed in the early 2000s and replaced by a more modern digital turbine control system. The original gas fuel and pressure ratio valves were not upgraded and the associated hydraulic and pneumatic systems were left in their original configuration, which meant that the responsiveness and reliability of the gas systemwas not significantly improved as a result of the control system upgrade.

The fuel conversion project undertaken byYoung & Franklin (Y & F) and TTS simplified the gas fuel delivery system. The pressure ratio and gas control valves were replaced by a singleY&F electrically actuated gas control valve, and the hydraulic stop valve function was replaced by aY&F electrically actuated isolation valve configuration, thus eliminating the need for the associated hydraulic and pneumatic systems. The electrically actuated control valve is driven via electrical signals fromthe existing digital controls system.

GT construction project

NAES Corporation has been awarded a GE LM 6000 gas turbine construction project near Soldotna, Alaska. Homer Electric Association (HEA), doing business asAlaska Electric and Energy Cooperative (AEEC), is installing an LM 6000 simple cycle gas turbine at the Soldotna Power Plant.

NAES is responsible for turbine placement, stack assembly and erection, installation of ancillary systems and equipment, and start up and commissioning. The plant is scheduled to be operational by October 2013. NAES has also taken over operations and maintenance of the 748 MW Salem Harbor Power Plant recently purchased by an affiliate of Footprint Power.

SalemHarborwas a four unit, pulverized coal and fuel oil-fired facility that entered service in the 1950s, with the last unit entering service in the early 1970s. Units 1 and 2 were removed from service in late 2011, with units 3 and 4 scheduled to be shut down in mid-2014.

Elliott opens Abu Dhabi office

Elliott Group has opened a regional office in Abu Dhabi to support the growing demand for its equipment and services in theMiddle East. Elliott has offices in Saudi Arabia and a service center in Bahrain. “We can now provide a single point of contact for new equipment sales and aftermarket services,” says Alan Gilvear, General Manager of Elliott’sMiddle East Operations.