Opportunities in stationary markets
One unexpected consequence of decarbonization requirements is the potential for new opportunities for ICE installations in stationary markets, such as power generation. The rapid rise in renewable energy generation around the world is creating additional demand for power generation capacity, with very high response rates to stabilize the grid.
The need for accompanying investments in load balancing capacity becomes increasingly important once the proportion of renewable power generation from solar power or wind powered sources exceeds a certain threshold, with a variety of technical reasons including the possibility of natural fluctuations in wind and solar generation, as well as the inertia that certain types of power plant provide to the grid.
Combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) have replaced a good proportion of internal combustion engines when it comes to power generation, as their responsiveness and the low cost of natural gas have made them attractive solutions to meet peaks of energy supply alongside base load generation. However, the introduction of renewable energy generation at high levels into some local and national grids is creating different loading patterns, with reserve power generation sometimes standing idle for extended periods of time. We are starting to see that change the economics of CCGT compared with internal combustion engines.
CCGTs also tend to suffer from low cycle fatigue when started up irregularly to a greater extent than ICEs, while ICEs also tend to have a higher efficiency over a wider load range than CCGTs, which are typically ‘tuned’ for an optimal load. While batteries can potentially meet short-lived spikes in demand, the internal combustion engine may remain a better solution for meeting longer-term fluctuations in demand.
We have already seen projects in the US, Italy, the UK and Ireland, and this opportunity in the power market is quite distinct from existing demand for internal combustion engines for base load power generation in geographically remote areas, islands or an urgent need for capacity build-up.
Whether we look at power generation, the marine industry or the off-highway market, one thing remains clear; for technology providers and engineers, there are busy years ahead, with lots of different areas to explore. And for us, this is incredibly positive.
Christoph originally discussed upcoming possibilities for Accelleron with The Motorship’s Nick Edstrom. Read the full interview here.