Saturday, April 02, 2011

Thinking Local in Energy Generation

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues

Middle East Technical University Alumni Association organized a full-day workshop in Ankara on Saturday 19 March 2011. We invited experienced professionals highly qualified on the subject, in order to assess the potential of local resources in energy generation and increasing the share of domestic fabrication.

In the workshop, 5 different sub-groups were formed namely "coal", "wind", "hydro", "solar" and "natural gas". 

The basic information of Turkey's indigenous coal reserves and coal types, coal based power generation plants and available coal based energy technologies which are used in the production were listed by the pre-workshop "Coal" group, created and shared with Coal group members.  Domestic reserves of coal samples are specified in the best way to assess the selection of appropriate technology and using the local resources, for construction of electricity generating plants, as one of the goals of this workshop.  

In Energy/ Electricity generating technologies, the five main / essential elements are considered as design, supply of third party materials/ equipment, local manufacturing, site installation, commissioning and smooth operation on-site, each to be taken into account separately, in order to generate consensus in face to face communications between the group members around table.

We know that other than a number of small design works of local companies, there is no large commercial scale steam boiler design created by a Turkish company yet available.  The Pulverized Coal Firing (PCF) and Circulating Fluidized Bed boiler design (CFB) technology are common in Turkey.  IGCC and other clean coal technologies are not yet commercial for our capacities. Nowadays CFB technologies are focused by local firms.
Pulverized coal combustion boiler technologies are used in most of our existing foreign supply thermal power plants and they all have operational problems. They are worn out and shortly out of operation.

CFB coal combustion technology development is still continuing in private companies, universities and TUBITAK-   MAM Research Institute. continuing.   A private firm announced that, they completed a new project and they can burn local lignite in a CFB design steam boiler at an output capacity of 15 MWe. 

Another Turkish company advised that they can burn biomass with local lignite in a 60 MWe steam boiler design, manufactured by themselves. TUBITAK Marmara Research Center, supported by EIE, the General Directorate of Forestry,and Middle East Technical University, it is reported that it is possible to burn local lignite with biomass in a locally designed CFB type pilot plant with an output  capacity of 1 MWth.
We all agree that Afsin-Elbistan lignite coal reserve is of great importance for our country.   Therefore, we should create new coal firing designs which can properly burn large coal reserves in Afsin-Elbistan region with a proper/ efficient coal firing technology. It is very important and needs public support for development.  

In order to accomplish that mission, we would recommend a method, consisting of local private firms and / or the union of public companies. EPC contract could be undertaken for construction of one unit in normal size, provided that a large portion of the design and construction risk to be taken by the consortium of companies.

Public support is to be concentrated in the other models that can be produced. An important issue in advance of the project execution is in procurement law which is similar to the existing electricity generation facility,  referred to the removal of Article which enforces doing business a similar power plant reference in the past. That is completely private sector / university / research center activity which are to be encouraged for their first reference.   

CFB combustion technology to burn local lignite in very near future is expected to reach commercial size. One of the biggest factors limiting the use of domestic technology is lack of basic and detail design obstacle that has to be erased soon. Providing more public support/ finance/ procurement procedures are essential to speed up the local fabrication process.   

With regards to the design stages, we have created a number of recommendations listed below as mission statements to be completed in the short term;

- Planned and organized procedures for more public funds / pre-finance / supplier’s credit / research funds / software support to our manufacturers are needed to ensure local fabrication.
- The private sector, universities and the creation of coordination between studies must be made ​​by the TUBITAK Marmara Research Center,
- Financial support from abroad based on arrangements/ specifications/ certifications are needed to encourage domestic production of energy production facilities,
- Pre-finance packages by local commercial banks must be supported by appropriate public funds,
- Similar to Undersecretariat of Defense Industry (SSM), Energy Industry Undersecretariat (ESM), should be established to encourage local manufacturers in the field of energy markets to play an important role in solving problems,
- Need for basic/ detailed design are required to develop necessary R&D activities, need to be developed in public/ private/ university cooperation,
- Local financing of local contractors are to be encouraged, by all means.
- Investments with local employment/ local participation are to be encouraged.

It is presumed that there is no need to allocate any source to develop and fabricate high technology / high capacity GT/ST turbine generators at this time since the OEM’s are well positioned in the international markets, development of such sophisticated high capacity equipment is not necessary due to high initial R&D cost, but their O&M activities are to be supported, as a further step to fabricate in first partnering then increasing the local scope in future.

Boiler tubes/ alloy equipment are high-quality materials / we have deficiency/ difficulty in the production of high quality steel pipes locally.   Investment costs for these materials are very high because the material is difficult to fabricate in production facilities.  We can purchase these special materials from abroad to discard long-term problems. Indigenous R&D for production of high-quality equipment/ material will help our manufacturers in future.

Our fabrication experience in manufacturing of steel construction for heavy industry is quite good although they are not so serious in areas requiring high technology. Manufacturing / steel construction stands out the most powerful capability of the domestic industry,  provided that if detailed technical drawings are furnished from abroad, many local companies can provide local fabrication  in Turkey at a very reasonable prices and create local employment.  

Some local companies even came to the point to produce the necessary technical details in the event of a turbine fabrication.   Manufacturing is important, who / whom wants to make.   If you have your own design firm, and your own fabrication plant, then the local EPC contractor, has better capability to manufacture locally.

Otherwise, many products that can be produced easily by local firms are purchased from abroad. That procedure will damage our local industry.  Although there are very strong relationship between design and manufacturing company,  the leader EPC contractor plays the decisive role, to who will design and manufacture of basic equipment.

Coal group of the workshop, advises to encourage domestic production of the two units of 22 MWe Tunçbilek thermal power plant, plus  Afsin-Elbistan A power plant units. A unit should be selected for renovation entirely by domestic firm(s).  Such an initiative for the domestic industry in design, manufacturing, and site installation will bring in serious gain/ experience and confidence.

The formation of a plant, capable of mounting in place, putting the whole system together to form a variety of equipment, there are experienced companies.   But the main / as long as companies did not take a leading role as the EPC contractor, do not receive a decisive role in the process.
Electrical generation power plants have production losses due to break-downs/ operational failures.   Power plants are to be operated with the optimum efficiency, with high availability with minimum emissions, minimum erosions and with maximum efforts which is only possible with implementation of serious operator training programs.

Choosing sustainable and continuous education of operators of the power plants is a must with serious training programs, periodic maintenance and repair works.


The most of our Coal reserves are of the low-quality (high moisture and high ash content and with low calorific value) lignite coal. Energy production of existing thermal power plants is based on using lignite coal, with pulverized coal technology.  

Circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology, which can burn Turkish lignite, has not been tested yet with the full meaning at high capacity commercial utility size.   CFB boiler designs which are based on technology from foreign firms, with experience elsewhere at high-capacity steam boilers can also burn the Turkish lignite with high risk. So foreign companies do not wish to take the main role as the EPC contractor.   Domestic boiler design / manufacturing could be sufficient to stimulate domestic market; however they have not received enough support by the public.

There is no local EPC contractor to be able to design and manufacture of boiler that can burn local lignite coals. This reality prevents better energy production and use of indigenous technology development.   Private companies need credit financing / pre-financial agreements that need to pay the design / manufacturing.  Difficulty in local contributions is very high negative impact on our industry.

Boiler design for the domestic energy equipment fabrication industry is seen as the most important starting point.   TUBITAK Marmara Research Center together with the private sector, with continued work for the design of CFB boiler are deemed necessary. These studies are to receive more public support for speeding up to commercial size.   It should be a priority to create public/ private partnerships together with universities and research centers which are specialized in basic/detail design in consortium of public support as soon as possible.

Local industry has a very serious experience in manufacturing.  Many  special technological products / equipment can be manufactured locally. Since the project finance/ suppliers’ credit are within the framework of agreements made ​​abroad, simple fabrications are lost to foreign markets.  We must encourage the creation of strong EPC contractors with strong local project financing capability.

For the production of high quality material, universities, research institutes and domestic manufacturers should be encouraged to work together to start research and development projects.

Thermal power plant operators with business experience and regular/ continuous  on-site training are necessary to improve smooth non-stop plant operations.       

For public announcement of the results of the workshop, Middle East Technical University Alumni Association is planning to organize a panel for the general public tentatively on 30th April 2011 Saturday at 13:00 hours in Alumni premises in Ankara. Attendance is open to everyone interested.

With deepest regards

Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst
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