Capstone LPG Turbines: The best solution for cutting energy costs

The partnership between Capstone Green Energy and IBT Group is once again confirmed as a winning partnership in the energy efficiency sector in Italy. A further step in these terms are the Capstone turbines in the LPG version.

THE ADVANTAGES OF LPG FUEL

  • LPG, not being linked to the natural gas market, has not been subject to the same price dynamics; in fact, while natural gas has increased by 1000% with peaks of 1500%, LPG has increased ‘only’ by 30-40%, making it the best solution to achieve excellent economic savings by using Capstone Green Energy turbines in co-trigeneration;
  • The use of the same LPG applications with reciprocating piston engines is not possible, proof of which is that the manufacturers of such engines themselves are informing customers that this traditional technology does not allow the use of LPG;
  • It is possible to convert existing turbines running on natural gas to the use of LPG.

The IBT Group is already developing certain projects with LPG as a leading alternative, with the aim of restoring profitability to existing plants that would otherwise have to be limited or even shut down because they are uneconomical in their current natural gas operation.

THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN IBT GROUP AND CAPSTONE GREEN ENERGY

Capstone Green Energy, a Californian company founded in 1988 and world leader in the production of cogenerative energy systems with micro gas turbines, of which IBT Group is the exclusive distributor for the Italian market, has more than 100 registered patents and 9,000 installations in over 80 countries, of which more than 250 have been installed by IBT Group itself. Among the many advantages of Capstone Green Eenergy’s oil-free technology, of aeronautical origin, are the modulation of the electrical load from 0 to 100%, the reduced emission of pollutants into the atmosphere (NOx < 18mg/Nmc and CO < 50 mg/Nmc, the lowest available today), low vibration and noise emissions and low maintenance costs, with a guarantee of 8,600 continuous annual working hours.

The new classification of gas and nuclear as green energy is underway. Strasbourg parliament includes them among green investments

The European Parliament confirmed a few weeks ago the taxonomy of sustainable investments as proposed by the European Commission. With the complementary delegated act, under which gas and nuclear are included in the green investment classification on a par with wind and solar, the EU stated, in the words of Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, that “we want to ensure that private investment in gas and nuclear, which is necessary for our energy transition, meets strict criteria. Investment in renewables is already a priority in our taxonomy: this is our future. Our proposal provides transparency so that investors know what they are investing in’. However, the proposal does not only aim to include these sources in the list of sustainable energies, but also attempts to outline new future guidelines and the necessary criteria and conditions for implementing the energy transition process.

Despite the confirmation that the inclusion of some natural gas and nuclear activities will remain limited in time and depend on specific conditions, the Europarliament’s decision has raised numerous criticisms, mainly concerning the actual sustainability of fossil gas and nuclear power. These energy resources have always suffered from the prejudice of a lack of clarity, which does not take into account the enormous technological progress that continues to be made, especially with regard to the disposal of the waste produced by the fission process and its subsequent storage in isolated and secure repositories.

However, in a scenario of energy supply crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing, fossil gas and nuclear energy, which are two of the main sources of primary energy because they do not involve any energy transformation as they are already present in nature in a pure state, must be considered as viable alternatives, not least because of the advantages they provide.

Fossil gas is the second most widely used energy source after oil. Easily used and transformed into secondary energy sources, it has a simple storage process: the energy supplied is therefore much cheaper than that from other sources, as well as being significantly more flexible. New technological processes are acting on network efficiency and sustainability; thanks to the implementation of biomethane supply chain processes, we are witnessing a virtuous circularity and optimisation in the use of resources.

With regard to the use of nuclear power, on the other hand, the question of advantages and disadvantages is, especially in public opinion, more difficult to fit into a strategic Green New Deal framework, which takes the form of a pact between citizens and businesses in order to improve the relationship between energy security, environmental protection and energy accessibility. While the use of nuclear power makes it possible to produce large amounts of energy at low cost – it is estimated that one power plant can meet the needs of one or more medium-sized cities -, it also ensures a significant decrease in CO2 emissions, reducing the environmental impact considerably. Furthermore, although start-up is capital intensive, the fact that the life of a plant is very long and with low running costs, it is possible to amortise the initial investment. There is also a geopolitical factor that should not be overlooked: nuclear power plants become secure and continuous sources of electricity, guaranteeing the various states that host them energy independence from foreign supplies.

IBT Group will exhibit at Ecomondo Fair 2022

See you at Ecomondo from November 8th to 11th 2022 at the Rimini exhibition center, the reference event in Europe for ecological transition and the circular and regenerative economy.
We will show some of our main solutions with Capstone Green Energy Turbines, of which IBT is the exclusive partner for Italy, looking at circular economy and energy efficiency.
Let’s visit us at Pad. D4 – Stand no. 40 we will illustrate some of our main solutions with the following technological applications:

  • In the “green factories” (citing PNNR) for Capstone turbines we use biogas fuel, obtained from wastewater purification, and produce the electricity needed by the purification plant as well as the thermal energy, collected from the spent flue gas of the turbines, to dry the residual sludge from the process.
  • In the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier to power Capstone Turbine plants.
  • In the various trigenerative applications with the Turbine Capstone and Century Lithium Bromide Absorbers.

Find out more about the event: https://www.ecomondo.com/

IBT and Capstone to make water purification more efficient

The purification of water from civil and industrial effluents is a process consisting of numerous stages that require a high energy input to complete.
One of these stages of the purification process, produces biogas, used like fuel in the cogeneration system with Capstone Turbines. By producing electrical and thermal energy at the same time, the cogeneration system allows for energy efficiency, main significant economic savings, and also results in reduced carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
IBT has been a partner of Capstone Green Energy Corporation for over 20 years for the Italian market. IBT already installed a fleet of more than 260 units in cogeneration and trigeneration applications. To find out how microturbines can energetically optimize sewage treatment plants while reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions, you can get your free copy of the e-book “Wastewater Treatment Efficiency in Our Cities.”

https://www.ibtgroup.at/ebook-sistemi-di-cogenerazione-ibt-per-depuratori/

How Smart Grids can affect energy efficiency

Being defined as smart grids because they use more flexible systems than traditional grids in managing energy production peaks, production drops and information, Smart Grids allow greater stability of the electricity system and maximisation of the energy produced. This approach proves to be more efficient in terms of economic costs and environmental impact, because it allows more timely and reliable control and management of electricity grids. But how exactly?

WHATS DOES SMART GRID MEANS?

When we speak of a Smart Grid, we mean an innovative and highly competitive set of electricity distribution networks linked together by intelligent sensors that enable the regulation of energy flows.
The concept was born and spread in Europe starting in 2006 by the European Technology Platform for the Electricity Networks of the Future, the Smart Grid, and indicates an energy production and distribution network that economically and reliably integrates producer performance and consumer demands.

Referring to this system, we speak of smart grids because the so-called smart electric grids intervene in the production and distribution systems of electricity, and in particular in that produced from renewable energy sources, i.e. cyclically reconstituted and producing clean energy with less environmental impact, such as wind, photovoltaic, geothermal or combined heat and power systems.

SMART GRIDS AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The subject of energy efficiency is closely related to the issue of limiting waste and the use of the planet’s primary energy resources. An efficient system enables high performance with a reduction in the amount of energy resources used.

With the increased use of renewable energy sources, which are by their nature not programmable and whose energy production is not controllable but often discontinuous because it is correlated with weather conditions, it is definitely crucial to have new generation networks such as smart grids.

The need to use highly modulated cogenerators, which produce energy according to the amount of primary energy available. They can also produce in stand-alone mode, automatically disconnecting from the national grid, while continuing to produce energy. Through the use of digital technology, these smart grids can enable timely and remote control of the available energy feed-in and withdrawal points, avoiding interruptions or malfunctions.

Furthermore, the smart grid is based on a decentralised grid model, which is based on distributed generation systems that produce energy from renewable sources, but not only. Usually, this production is developed through smaller but also more diffuse units, which provide for this reason a more capillary, peripheral and quicker distribution, unlike the traditional model, based on centralised production that conveys energy production from large power plants to transmission networks without the possibility of regulation and rationalisation.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO INVEST IN SMART GRIDS

The investment in Smart Grids is necessary in order to be able to implement greater monitoring of electricity distribution and to organise the storage of produced stocks and their rational redistribution. This makes it possible to store surplus production during the summer months, for example, and to balance deficits during periods of lower production. But above all, it makes it possible to optimise the more discontinuous and non-programmable production of energy, from renewable and nonrenewable sources.

To be able to do this, Smart Grids can communicate with each other in every segment of the grid, managing the decentralisation of energy production and the processing of the data provided. This means that at every point in the grid, it is possible to store and optimise the production and transmission of electricity, leading not only to a reduction in costs and consumption by maximising performance, but also to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the primary goal of energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the economy.

Trigeneration plants and their applications

Trigeneration plants are based on a technology that allows the combined production of electrical, thermal and cooling energy. The latter, specifically, uses turbine cogenerators to power cooling systems. The applications of these systems are manifold, both in industrial processes that require a systematic lowering of temperatures, and in air conditioning systems also for civil use.

HOW A TRIGENERATION PLANT WORKS

Trigeneration, commonly referred to by the acronym CCHP ‘Combined Cooling, Heating and Power’, functions in the same way as cogeneration plants, through which the energy produced is not dispersed but collected and reused. The main difference lies in the fact that trigenerative technology, which is essentially an extension of cogeneration, implements the results of the latter through the recovery of thermal energy, which is used in the production of cooling energy.

As in cogeneration, electricity and heat are obtained in these systems from combustion from fossil or renewable sources, whether liquid or gaseous. But in the case of trigeneration, the efficiency of the entire process is even higher: cooling energy is also added to the electrical and thermal energy, achieving the plant’s maximum energy efficiency results.

With the help of an absorption refrigerator, in fact, the heat that has been produced by cogeneration is transformed into chilled water following an evaporation process at low temperatures. The water produced is then combined with an absorbent and cooling substance (based on water, lithium bromide and ammonia) that generates the refrigeration process.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRIGENERATION PLANTS

Trigeneration plants can be of various types since they differ on the basis of the initial fuel, through which the starting engine is fed. For this reason, we can find different trigeneration technologies, such as gas, biogas, biomass or diesel.

IBT Group, as Capstone’s exclusive partner for the Italian market, can boast the use of patented ‘oil free’ technology, of aeronautical origin, in cogeneration and trigeneration systems.

With the use of Capstone turbines in both types of plant, IBT Group guarantees the total absence of lubricating oil thanks to the so-called ‘air-bearings’, special bearings that run on air and avoid mechanical contact with the turbine support shaft, managing to limit friction to just the start-up and interruption phases of the process. This technology has numerous advantages, both from an economic point of view in terms of reducing consumption and limiting greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

INDUSTRIAL AND CIVIL APPLICATION WHERE THEY ARE USED

A trigeneration system finds its use of excellence in all those situations, of industrial operation such as food, chemical, paper, refineries, or other industries, where simultaneous production of electricity and heat is required in addition to cooling. But even in the civil sector we find applications for this type of system, especially for all those structures that maintain a constant demand for thermal and electrical energy and at the same time require cooling systems such as hospitals, nursing homes, shopping centres, and sports centres.

In hot weather, for example, to maximise the operation of air-conditioning devices or in general, throughout the year, to power cooling systems used extensively in industry. The rational exploitation of the heat produced by combustion allows a significant containment of energy, which in turn has a significant impact on saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Industrial cogenerators and their advantages

Industrial cogenerators are energy production plants that manage to combine the production of electrical and thermal energy simultaneously in the same process. The result of this technology is an average saving of the fuel that powers the processes of 30%, thus positively impacting not only the company’s profit and loss account, but also the rationalisation of natural resources, whether from primary or exhaustible sources. In addition to this, there is a broad international initiative underway to decarbonise electricity production.

COGENERATION PLANTS

Cogeneration is a technology that was created to increase the efficiency of systems that produce electricity, by recovering the heat that is produced in the process, which would otherwise be considered no waste, and thus preventing its dispersion. Cogeneration plants consist of three elements:

  • the initial engine from which the process starts. It can be of different types: internal combustion, with gas or steam turbines, or mixed, i.e. comprising a gas turbine and a steam turbine;
  • an electric generator: after being activated by the engine, it transforms mechanical energy into electricity;
  • heat exchangers whose purpose is to collect and prevent the loss of the heat produced. The two types of energy, electrical and thermal, are produced in the form of water, hot air, steam and thermal oil.

The technology is constantly evolving and there are already applications of turbines powered by a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF IMPLANTS

Cogeneration systems have numerous advantages; the first of all is undoubtedly the reduction in primary energy required, because the portion used in the process is used to produce two different types of energy at the same time. This means that consumption is cut by more than 30 per cent, making these systems more economical and ecologically sustainable.

As a result of the application of cogeneration technology, there is a significant cut in utility bills, and with the lower consumption, the CO2 emissions that are produced by energy production are also considerably reduced. Other advantages relate to the plants themselves, which are very often close to the utility that uses them, preventing the dispersion of energy during transmission and transport.

Since they are also integrated systems that can also have a stand-alone function, blackouts due to grid malfunctions can be avoided. With the use of the IBT Group‘s ‘oil-free’ Capstone Turbine, for example, not only can the heat produced be recovered, but also the reliability and autonomy of an all-in-one system can be exploited, in which, by means of an electrical backup, operation is guaranteed even in the event of grid failure.

As a final advantage, it is worth mentioning that, since 2005, cogeneration plants have been eligible for Energy Efficiency Certificates, the so-called White Certificates, which demonstrate the achievement of annual energy savings.

WHEN IT PAYS TO INVEST IN A COGENERATION PLANT

Investing in a cogeneration plant represents, first and foremost, a significant increase in performance and is part of the general path of an ecological transition model devoted to the gradual abandonment of fossil fuels due to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In order for this investment to be maximised as much as possible, bringing an immediate benefit and significant savings in the long term, it is necessary that the number of hours in which the plant is in operation is high, and that the plant is designed on the basis of the specific energy needs of the company facilities in which it is integrated, and that it is also possibly expanded with applications aimed at increasing its efficiency. Another reason to equip oneself with a cogeneration plant is that these plants can become a supply back-up as an energy reserve at times when the electricity grid cannot respond to demand or when there are malfunctions or slowdowns.

Cogeneration plants and the advantages for companies

Also known as CHP, or Combined Heat and Power, cogeneration plants are systems that allow the simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy, using less fuel for the entire process, rather than keeping the two production processes separate.

Thanks to this technology, a system efficiency improvement is achieved which allows an average saving of 30% in primary energy use. This saving is both economic and in terms of safeguarding the natural resource used, which can come either from a renewable or exhaustible source.
The thermal energy produced, in the case of a cogenerator with an internal combustion engine, is in the form of hot water. If produced by an oil-free turbine, it is in the form of hot air, and with the introduction of other equipment also steam and thermal oil.

On this basis, the plants can be further expanded and even very complex “applications” can be obtained that can ensure very high yields in terms of primary energy use.
Exceeding a certain efficiency threshold, it is possible to take advantage of the European Directive 2004/8/EC for High Yield Cogeneration plants, implemented in Italy by Legislative Decree 20/2007 and Ministerial Decrees 4/8/2011 and 5/9/2011, of incentives for cogeneration through dedicated support schemes, represented by TEE energy efficiency certificates, the so-called White Certificates.

WHAT ARE GAS-FUELLED COGENERATION UNITS?

Cogenerators can be fuelled with different fuels, both fossil and renewable.
Methane gas but also LPG, diesel and fuel oil are fossil sources and therefore exhaustible. Biogas produced in landfills or sewage treatment plants, or from biomass from agricultural or forestry waste are renewable sources.
Today, most cogenerators are powered by natural gas and biogas, achieving efficiencies of around 80%.
One fuel, which may or may not be sustainable depending on how it is produced, is hydrogen, which is still the subject of studies and technological updates to facilitate its use.

CAN WE MAKE COGENERATION WITH HYDROGEN AND SOLAR PANELS?

The use of hydrogen in cogeneration plants is encouraged by the environmental advantages of this fuel: hydrogen is a clean gas, produced by the electrolysis process, which can be stored and used to power generators with efficiencies approaching 100%.
The big problem with this source is storage, which is still a very critical process: even in its natural form, hydrogen is comparable to gas, i.e. it has a very low density. So to store it, it is necessary to increase its density a lot.
There are still technological hurdles to overcome, although hydrogen technology is already applicable, but it is not yet widespread and is very expensive. For this reason, the European Union is providing funding to support its development, helping to reduce costs and maximise energy efficiency.

Capstone Green Energy is confirming its position as a global leader in energy efficiency systems by installing two C65 microturbines at Austrian company Innovametall Stahl- und Metallbau, which will be used in an ultra-low emission Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system. This will pro-vide on-site power to a powder coating plant and will be designed in a hybrid configuration, where solar panels installed on the roof of Innovametall’s industrial hall will be responsible for generating renewable electricity. Excess electricity will instead be used to generate hydrogen, which will then power the micro-turbines. From there, hot exhaust air from the turbines will be captured and used in the facility’s powder coating oven. The application will initially operate with 10 per cent hydrogen mixed with natural gas, but the amount is expected to increase gradually as Capstone approves higher blending levels.

The use of a cogeneration plant in a company not only allows significant economic savings and an increase in performance, but also implements an energy transition model aimed at progressively phasing out fossil fuels and reducing polluting emissions.

Energy saving for companies: where to start

According to the Digital Energy Efficieny Report 2021 (DEER 2021), the energy efficiency market has been significantly impacted by the COVID19 health emergency, with investments declining by 19.6% in 2020.
The aspect that will most influence the direction of investment in the energy efficiency market will be the evolution of the regulatory environment.
In this context, both the 2030 National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (NIPEC 2030) and the EU strategy towards zero net emissions by 2050, the European Green Deal, should be taken into account.
The PNIEC 2030 is a fundamental tool that marks the beginning of a major shift in our country’s energy and environmental policy towards decarbonisation.
The aim is to implement a new energy policy that ensures the full environmental, social and eco-nomic sustainability of the national territory and accompanies this transition.
The environment and consumers require the market to adopt solutions that reduce emissions and the impact of industry on the environment.
Therefore at IBT we are convinced that energy efficiency and decarbonisation are no longer an op-tion or a revolutionary choice.

WHY SHOULD COMPANIES INVEST IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY?

The measures envisaged by the European Green Pact range from radically cutting emissions to creating jobs in clean industry and supporting the European regions most affected by this transi-tion.
To do this, a number of main objectives are set, namely:

  • Starting the journey towards a profound economic and social transformation to achieve full climate neutrality
  • Becoming the global driving force towards a green economy
  • Implementing an effective and sustainable circular economy strategy
  • Increasing energy efficiency and reducing dependence on external energy sources

Energy saving is not only about cost containment, but today more than ever it involves cultural aspects, the elaboration of an ethical concept of distinction between willingness or unwillingness to take charge of our future on this Earth.

WHY IBT GROUP IS THE LEADER IN HIGH EFFICIENCY SOLUTIONS

Innovative technology exists and has been offered for more than 20 years.
IBT Group, exclusive partner of Capstone Green Energy since 2001, realizes energy efficient projects and solutions with the most modern and innovative technological applications. Starting from the realization of a technical and economic feasibility study, IBT can study and present the best customized solution to maximize investments and achieve high performance.
Among the energy-efficient solutions, IBT Group can provide, thanks to the partnership with Capstone Green Energy Corp. and Century Coroporation, cogeneration and trigeneration plants that optimize the consumption of primary energy and ensure the reduction of environmental impact, cutting emissions and significantly lowering costs. Capstone’s oil-free gas turbine technology, the only patent in the world and the result of ten years of research, guarantees the total absence of lubricating oil inside the turbines thanks to the use of air bearings.
In cogeneration plants, which simultaneously generate electrical and thermal energy in the form of water or hot air, steam and thermal oil, the average saving is over 30%. As an extension of the cogeneration systems, IBT’s trigeneration plants provide a further improvement in efficiency. By combining Capstone technology with Century Corporation’s absorption chillers, the heat carrier produced by cogeneration can be used to operate an absorption chiller, which in turn produces chilled water for use in air conditioning systems.

Green data centres and energy saving solutions

Data Centres are Data Processing Centre facilities created to store and manage data and computer applications (e.g. servers and computers etc) that serve a company. The electricity consumption of a Data Centre is enormous, to say the least.
The electrical energy consumed by these facilities produces a lot of heat, which must be dissipated because it is known to be detrimental to the operation of IT facilities.

This huge and growing need for energy production contributes significantly to global warming and the increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, as well as considerable economic costs.

HOW MUCH ENERGY DO DATA CENTRES CONSUME AND WHY?

The general increase in data production and dissemination, together with the large-scale expansion of remote working due to the Covid 19 pandemic, has made it necessary to have data centres of ever greater size and performance. Increased size and performance means increased energy consumption. Ensuring that the equipment runs without interruption every day also requires a considerable amount of energy, as does powering the cooling systems that are essential for reducing the heat produced by the machines in operation.

According to a study by the Milan Polytechnic Foundation, a large data centre in a single building can consume up to 3,000 kilowatts. This is close to the consumption of 1,000 flats.
This has made it necessary to have modern data centres that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Hence the name Green Data Center!

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DATA CENTRES ON THE ENVIROMENT?

A report by the International Energy Agency has estimated that digital data centre traffic has increased 7 times over the previous decade. Over the next four years, 3% of CO2 emissions will be attributable to data centres.
The data acquired, processed and stored in these infrastructures, which are in turn made up of computers, optical fibres, routers and storage, constitute the digital traffic responsible for the consumption of huge amounts of electricity which, if it does not come from renewable sources, produces greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the electricity consumption of the equipment, thousands of servers operating in data centres produce a lot of heat that needs cooling. Industry studies calculate that, on average, around half of the electricity consumed by a data centre is used to cool the servers.

IBT’S TRIGENERATIVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY SOLUTIONS FOR GREEN DATA CENTRES 

IBT Group offers energy efficiency and CO2 reduction solutions with new trigeneration systems based on turbines from Capstone Green Energy Corp.
Capstone technology systems made by IBT Connecting Energies, applied as an alternative energy source for Data Centres, also make it possible to implement other functions that are essential for Data Canter themselves, such as back-up power supply (UPS) in the event of a power blackout.

The starting point for a CCHP (Combined Cooling Heating & Power), i.e. trigenerative, application for a Data Centre is to understand the type of consumption involved.
On average, about 45% of the electricity consumed in the operation of a data centre is used for air conditioning, about 25% to power the UPS and the electrical distribution network, and about 30% for the various IT components on the premises (e.g. servers, computers, etc.).

The energy efficiency that can be achieved with CCHP systems can significantly reduce CO2 emissions by 30% to a maximum of 100%, contributing to decarbonisation targets. Capstone technology has the lowest emissions on the market today in terms of Nitrogen Oxides (Nox < 18 mg/Nm3) and Carbon Monoxide (CO< 50 mg/Nm3), for Green Data Center applications.