MAN ES to deliver back-up power to support UK grid

26 March 2020

MAN Energy Solutions has won orders from Statera Energy, the UK-based flexible energy company, for the supply of 8 × MAN 20V35/44G TS engines for two 50 MW power plants.

The orders represent the first part of a recent framework agreement between the two companies for the supply of 20V35/44G TS natural-gas reciprocating engines to Statera’s UK power plants. 24 such engines, the first of their kind to be deployed in Britain, will deliver a total of 300 MW of highly efficient back-up power to the national grid, and will be installed in six new power plants over the course of the next 18 months.

Wayne Jones, chief sales officer of MAN Energy Solutions, said: “Our gas engines provide market-leading fuel efficiency and saving fuel ultimately means cutting emissions. As soon as it is available, the engines can also be operated on synthetic natural gas, a fuel that can be generated from renewable energy and is 100% climate neutral. Studies expect the production of such green gas to ramp up within the next 10-15 years. In this way, Statera’s new plants are future-proofed and have the potential to contribute to a fully decarbonised economy.”

The United Kingdom’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 means that renewable sources of energy
– such as wind and solar – will need to be deployed at scale over the coming years. As a result, balancing the supply and demand of electricity will become increasingly challenging as back-up forms of generation will need to respond rapidly to fluctuations in the output of renewable sources of power. Aurora Energy Research predicts that by 2050, 50 TWh of back-up power will be needed to support renewables which will represent around 9% of the energy mix. In all its Future Energy Scenario analysis, National Grid predicts that gas will play a key part in meeting this requirement.

Statera’s new plants mark an innovative step change in the way natural gas can be used to meet the urgent nature of an energy deficit or peak demand on the UK electricity network when compared to combined cycle gas turbine power plants. The Statera plants can reach full capacity from standby within around five minutes (versus 60 minutes minimum for a CCGT) and their design has been optimised to be the most efficient way of turning natural gas to electricity for short runs of 4 hours or less. Analysis conducted by Aurora Energy Research predicts that the most common duration requirement for back-up power to support the renewable energy mix by 2050 will be for under 4 hours, which is why these new power plants are essential to meet this changing need. In addition, each of Statera’s power plants will be fitted with a selective catalytic reduction unit, which will ensure that exhaust emissions are not only within Environment Agency limits but are consistent with levels already measured in the atmosphere.

Tom Vernon, managing director of Statera Energy, said: “The UK has set some of the most ambitious carbon and sustainability targets anywhere, which will require a fundamental rethink of the way energy is produced, stored, and used. Renewables are going to be the dominant source of power in the future, and while batteries will balance the grid for daily fluctuations in supply and demand, flexible gas generation will play a crucial role in efficiently guaranteeing security of supply for those prolonged periods where there is low renewable generation.”

Each of the new plants consists of four MAN 20V35/44G TS-type gas engines that can be introduced to – or removed from – service as required, offering customers optimal operational and market-oriented flexibility.

The MAN 20V35/44G TS is a spark-ignited, two-stage turbocharged gas-engine. Engines with two-stage turbocharging come with both a low-pressure and high- pressure compressor, which work connected in series to deliver improved power density and efficiency. Such a set-up significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and offers a more compact plant design.

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