Aldrich Richter
Managing Director
MAN Energy Solutions
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Small LNG plants, Virtual Pipelines Can Meet High Gas Demand

By Cas Biekmann | Mon, 03/22/2021 - 15:16

Q: How has demand for MAN Energy Solutions evolved in the past year?

A: It has been a rather challenging 2020. However, demand for our products and services have not decreased, especially in a country like Mexico, where industrial customers in the petrochemical and steel industry still produce for local and foreign markets, container and tanker ships move products around and there is a need for a lower cost and higher quality energy supply.  Our Power business offers customers firm power supply generated via large gas engines that produce electricity around the clock plus the possibility to increase overall efficiency via a heat recovery steam generator and integrate renewable energies for a perfect combination.  We have invested heavily in solutions for decarbonization, allowing the world to secure the energy we need while lowering the environmental impact.  Power-to-x, ultra-efficient and clean hybrid power plants are among our top priorities.  Our offering in the market is, therefore, well-aligned with Mexico’s needs.


Q: What are your benchmark solutions for the Power Business?

A: MAN Energy Solutions covers several different markets on the midscale demand. The majority comes from industrial customers with a need to generate their own power and heat.  We are well-positioned to cover this demand. We have success stories within the paper industry and also supporting CFE with larger scale power plants. We are working on projects at every stage of development, for every type of industry. This includes mining, food and beverages and manufacturing industry. We are also developing hybrid power plant projects that combine firm power from our core business in gas engines, renewable energy such as solar and intelligent energy storage. We combine these to deliver a complete solution to the market. Typically, renewable energy lowers costs significantly, reduces the carbon footprint and allows for excess energy to be stored and used when most needed. Combining renewables with firm base power supplied by a large gas engine, you get the best of both worlds: reliable, firm energy to meet energy needs whenever, plus the possibility to combine heat and power.


Q: What is your assessment of Mexico’s increasing reliance on natural gas as a fuel for power generation?

A: Mexico needs both natural gas and renewable energy in the mix. Renewables are crucial to fulfill commitments stipulated by the Paris Agreement and clean energy goals. In addition, Mexico needs firm capacity in the grid. Natural gas definitely plays the most important role in delivering firm energy into the grid and at the same time reduce the environmental impact. Even though Natural Gas is a fossil fuel and non-renewable, it is still considered clean because it significantly reduces CO2 and other emissions when compared to other types of fossil fuels. Therefore, I am very much in favor of natural gas. I wish it will soon become available in every corner of Mexico, including both peninsulas.  Baja California Sur and Yucatan, could benefit much more from using this cleaner fuel. 


Q: How does MAN Energy Solutions help bring natural gas benefits to users?

A: In our solutions portfolio, we also have technology that can bring gas closer to users. This can be done most economically for regions in Mexico, that have no access to the pipeline network through compressed natural gas. We have invested in a CNG solution, that enables us and our partners to compress natural gas efficiently and cost-effectively, and then transport it via a virtual containerized pipeline. Combined with our gas engine generation sets either in a power house or a containerized configuration, we can help our customers in Mexico to use CNG in their manufacturing process and the possibility to generate their own power anywhere in the country.  Larger scale LNG projects in Mexico, such as the Costa Azul or Salina Cruz facilities, are all focused on export: they liquefy natural gas on a large scale and aim for the international markets. With our CNG solution MAN ES offers a different type of project, suitable for many locations in Mexico where there is no access to a gas pipeline and power from the grid. With this proprietary compression technology, NG can be provided anywhere in the country In many cases building the virtual compressed pipeline can be much simpler than building another gas pipelines with all the complexity a pipeline brings. Compression and virtual pipeline transport are not difficult at all, because all you need is a road to drive on afterward. I am convinced that CNG will play a significant role in Mexico’s future energy mix.


Q: Where do you see MAN Energy Solutions in 2021?

A: First, our largest business in Mexico is related to turbomachinery. We are suppliers of large-scale compressors and complex turbomachinery trains for the refining, petrochemical, steel and air separation industries. Second, MAN Energy Solutions offers services for the power and marine industry. Most of PEMEX’s tankers that transport refined products along Mexico’s coasts, container ships and cruise ships use our engines for their main propulsion systems. Smaller sized vessels that guard our costs also use MAN ES engines.  This is also an important business for us. The power projects are also extremely important for our future success in Mexico. We feel very comfortable in participating in the range from 10 to 250 MW. However, we also offer small gensets below 0.5 MW for distributed power. Mexico has a great demand for these types of projects. We are also focused on new solutions, such as Power-to-X, where the x can represent hydrogen or other alternative fuels with less of an impact on the environment. Factory LNG is another important focus. We offer a diverse mix of products and services for the market and we are aligned for success in Mexico.

MAN Energy Solutions employs 14,000 people at over 120 sites globally. Its leading portfolio of solutions includes compression technology, gas and steam turbines and high-efficiency two- and four-stroke reciprocating engines for power generation.

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst