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Testing methanol in micro power plant

August 9, 2002, 11:00 CEST

Two newly-developed methanol-fuelled turbines for generating electricity and heat are to be tested and launched on the market by Statoil.

“As far as we know, this is the first time anyone has tried out methanol in a micro-turbine solution,” reports Sjur Haugen, business development manager for methanol in Manufacturing & Marketing.

Statoil’s head office in Stavanger will be supplied with power, heat, hot water and cooling by one of these machines.

Work begins this autumn on burying the methanol tank, with part of the power supply at the Forus East complex due to come from this fuel after the New Year.

The other turbine will be placed at the Fjell housing association in Drammen near Oslo during the same period.

Statoil is cooperating over the tests with ABB, which owns 50 per cent of turbine manufacturer Turbec. The Vardar power grid company and the Fjell housing association are also partners.

The project, which aims to commercialise this type of technology, is partly sponsored by the European Union.

A total of 18 turbines are due to be installed and tested with such fuels as natural gas, diesel oil, biogas and methanol. This programme is headed by Denmark’s Dong energy company.

“Statoil will face a growing challenge to find non-pipeline solutions for gas delivery,” says Mr Haugen. “A future market for large, stationary and decentralised power plants could open up.”

This will make it possible to supply natural gas to areas which are otherwise beyond the reach of pipelines.

Building small power plants could also be a better solution than ugrading the grid in areas where the latter has limited capacity, Mr Haugen observes.

He expects the new machines being tested by Statoil to release no sulphur, particles or soot. Emissions will largely comprise carbon dioxide and water.