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Communication Feature | November 2016

The challenge is incorporating renewables into existing electrical infrastructure

Nasir Mulani, Managing Director, Citec India

In the context of climate change, what are the prospects of renewable energy?
With the past few years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal, renewables have found a favourable environment for growth. The sector is now enjoying twice as much global funding as fossil fuels, specifically the solar investments in 2015 by passed all records. The major reason being the competitive costs of production; Solar panels and storage batteries have seen an appreciable drop in prices over the years. Government subsidies have facilitated stronger grounds for investments in wind and solar globally, helping renewable be viable against fossil fuels. However, the challenge for developed countries is incorporating renewables into existing electrical infrastructure. Though fossil fuels in some countries have seen declining investment affected by the climate policy, they will continue to contribute their share in non-OECD countries with stronger dominance of state-owned utilities and IPP´s. Indian coal production continues to be supported by strong investment. Enough known oil reserves, rise of shale gas and abundance of coal, give room for the conventional production of power globally.

What is the ´state-of-the-art´ in thermal and solar energy that you have contributed to?
Citec has offered services for a substantial solar thermal power plant in Israel. Designed to provide 250 MW (2.5 per cent of the Israeli consumption), it would be the largest of its kind in Israel and the 5th largest in the world. The station will combine solar thermal energy, photovoltaic energy, and natural gas. The technology used employs thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a central receiver atop a tower to produce high temperature steam at the highest levels of solar efficiency. The steam is then piped to a steam turbine and generator which produces electricity. As this can operate at the highest steam temperature ranges, the system benefits from high efficiency and performance, and therefore lowest cost per MW among solar technologies.

List benefits of super-critical technology? How can this be adopted in India?
Supercritical technology for coal-based plants were developed to achieve greater power output per unit and higher efficiency. The basis of the technology is the fact that energy conversion efficiency of a steam turbine cycle can be enhanced by increasing the main steam pressure and temperature. The technology benefits fuel costs reducing them to a great extent due to improved plant efficiency. Reduction in CO2 emissions and other emissions like NOx, SOx further makes it environmental friendly. The cost when compared to other clean coal technologies is considerably lower. Furthermore the system can be fully assimilated with suitable CO2 capture technology. The world has enough proven reserves of coal dominating coal based power globally. With environment policies becoming more stringent, adopting this cleaner technology is beneficial immensely in all respect.

There is a huge need for R&M in India due to the large number of plants running at lower efficiencies and higher emissions. Since R&M decisions have been very slow and usually concluded at the verge of performance breakdown, the government´s mandate comes in as a proactive approach towards curbing these limitations. However there are challenges like limited sources of implementation, cost of new technologies, risk sharing between owner and vendor, the activity´s dependence on shut downs etc.

What are some projects you have undertaken in India?
In India we have offered services varying from owner´s engineering to complete engineering design scope. We have worked on thermal power plants to gas based plants, biopower plants and coal-based plants including supercritical technology for leading boiler and turbine manufacturers. We have provided engineering services for two of the supercritical thermal power plants in India. We have offered basic design review and recommendations for a biomass plant with a local customer. We also offered engineering and documentation services for a large number of engine power plants in India.

What is your experience within the engine power sector?
Engine power has been one of our core sectors before we diversified to the other power sources and industry verticals. We are the preferred engineering and documentation partners for Wärtsilä, a prominent engine manufacturer. We have designed more than 1,000 such power plants globally. We have developed several modules for power plants, having a special team working on modularisation solutions. We have also offered documentation solutions to hundreds of Wärtsilä projects per year. Presently we are working on an engine test cell project for a leading global locomotive manufacturer, further enhancing our experience within the sector.

How do your services for managing projects?
We have been flexible enough to provide our customers with the services they want, be it EPCM services or specific services. Every project comes with a different challenge and there´s something to learn from whatever task and areas we work on. Concerning protocols, we develop way of working guidelines for each of our key customers in conjunction with our customer´s processes. Our solutions are tailored to fit our customer´s needs. From flexible engagement models to localisation services, our offerings are customised in the best possible way. We have developed customer specific standard modules for many of our customers offering them the advantages of reduced cost and delivery time.

What is your take on domestic manufacture/resourcing?
Increased cost effectiveness and shorter delivery time make domestic resourcing a preferred alternative, unless specifically impossible. Also you have better control over your materials. There is also a benefit of being able to customise things to some extent.

Do you see the current standstill in the oil & gas sector changing any time soon?
In the last few years, India has seen a drastic decline in domestic gas production. Exploration activities for development of new fields have also largely been suppressed for lack of remunerative gas prices. The number of participants in the gas market too are few. There have many challenges like gas prices are not market-drive, government intervention in the sector, inadequate infrastructure etc. The policies and regulatory movements are still at a budding stage and yet to materialise. It is only when the market matures that investors will gain confidence. The Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy with an intention to make India more energy independent, has come in as a ray of light within the present gloom in the sector. By reducing interference from the government, providing freedom of pricing and marketing of crude oil, the policy is seen by the oil industry as a move that could create a fair ground for investors. The implementation is hoped over the next decade which is sure to attract new investments.

What are your specific offerings for Project Management?
We specialise in providing multi-disciplinary engineering services, documentation services and project services including procurement assistance and construction management for thermal power plants both coal and gas based, engine power plants, refineries, skids, fertilizers and chemicals, pulp and paper plants etc. We have recently also established our foot prints in the cement industry. We believe some of the factors that distinguish us from the competition include our flexibility in adapting to changing customer and market needs and our readiness to diversify to new areas. We are also unique in the sense that we offer both engineering and documentation services under the same roof making it very convenient for the customer to get the whole process flow streamlined. Specialised solutions like modularization are further a USP.

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17 Oct 2016
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20 Sep 2016
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20 Jun 2016
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