Equipment Efficiency across Renewable Energy SectorsWed, 02/19/2014 - 16:06
Dresser-Rand, the supplier of custom-engineered rotating equipment, is working closely with PEMEX to help Mexico’s national oil company optimize its energy efficiency levels. For example, the company installed 15 DATUM compressors at the cryogenic plants in Reynosa, which have since then operated without unscheduled shut-downs or malfunctioning in their operation. “This equipment uses less energy and turns residue or lean gas into an exportable asset that brings in more revenue instead of burning it,” explains says Jesús M. Pacheco, Executive Vice President of New Equipment Worldwide for Dresser-Rand. This success has seen DresserRand’s machinery prove popular in the oil and gas, with over 3,000 pieces of equipment installed across the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. However, Pacheco emphasizes that Dresser-Rand does not just supply the oil and gas industry. It has long been a technology supplier to the entire Mexican energy sector and has begun providing solutions to the renewable energy sector.
The efficiency of its equipment enables Dresser-Rand’s clients to require less equipment while also getting better results, states Pacheco. One of the main arguments given in favor of Dresser-Rand’s equipment is that there are often hidden costs involved in buying cheaper equipment that has a much larger footprint or weighs a lot more. Weight has a multiplication effect, he explains, every ton of steel put on an oil platform needs three or four tonnes of steel below it to support its weight. “You might think of this technology in terms of the support it lends to upstream tasks, but in fact we are impacting the sustainability of the processes. It is all about doing what you need to do with the least amount of resources possible. We are producing the most efficient solutions that have the least environmental impact and that can most reduce our footprint,” Pacheco says. When less energy is used to produce the same amount of resources on a large scale, efficient solutions can have a larger impact on the entire value chain. On a national level, Mexico’s goals of increasing the roles of natural gas and renewable energies in the energy mix are a challenge that Dresser-Rand is gearing up for as it caters to both markets. “Dresser-Rand impacts the better utilization of natural gas resources by bringing in technology that reduces the use of less natural gas to achieve the same results in quantifiable ways,” he adds.
Dresser-Rand also sees a smaller but evolving market in environmental solutions. For example, changes in legislation have made it attractive for sugar mills to produce electricity from biomass and export electricity to the grid. Dresser-Rand provides needed products for the process, such as a steam turbine generator set, or the complete solution which is the power aisle. Pacheco recalls that the company provided a 33-38MW steam turbine generator for a large sugar group. Another segment that has caught the attention of the company is the smaller power sector, or producers of less than 10MW. DresserRand has a dedicated engine product line to cover this segment, it includes gas and diesel engines that use combined heat and power systems. These products can be used in landfills to burn gas to generate power. They can even be applied in municipal wastewater treatment plants, where the gas they produce can be burnt to generate power.
Pacheco emphasizes that Dresser-Rand is very focused on creating green solutions that reduce carbon footprints and reuse as many resources as possible in many sectors. “We created an environmental solutions team to develop answers to several problems that are created in the oil and gas sector as a result of resource mismanagement. We also formed that team because we realized that the technology we already had could be applied to other environmental solutions as well,” he points out.
Since 2006, as part of its goal to develop alternative energy sources, Dresser-Rand is working on wave energy. The company patented a variable radius turbine called HydroAir to be used on oscillating wave column power plants. Pacheco explains that the company is using its impulse steam turbine technology to use this renewable resource in power generation. “We are taking core building blocks of high speed highly engineered rotating equipment and applying that. We are not deviating from our core, we are finding new applications for what we know how to do. HydroAir uses steam turbine impulse technology as part of a larger device that captures the oscillating wave and pushes air up and down the turbine with the movement of the wave. That is how power is generated.” Mexico’s wave energy potential is particularly interesting and can be perceived just by looking a map. The country has an average of 17kw per meter of wave frontage. With the potential in Mexico and the technology Dresser-Rand has available, a lesser amount of specific power can be obtained, but since the coastlines are so ample, this issue can be easily solved by installing more devices to generate power from the waves, says Pacheco.