EXERGY recently had a talk with Enrico Mauri, Oil &Gas Business Development EAME for Solar Turbines, on the future perspective for the Oil &Gas market towards the new era of energy diversification and the role waste heat recovery technology can play for application in the Oil & Gas industry.
To today fossil fuels have led the way in the energy market, but carbon neutral energy systems with a higher weight of renewables and alternative sources are set to become the future model. To drive this transition, however, the IEA in its World Energy Outlook 2017, stated that the oil & gas sector will continue to play a crucial role until 2040. How will the oil & gas sector adapt to the new era of energy diversification?
MAURI: The O&G sector has clearly embraced new initiatives for a sustainable future and they have set goals for reducing emission and increasing their overall efficiency; each player will have a different approach moving forward however many of the major OG companies are already investing in the renewables, diversifying their energy sources with a key focus on Natural Gas as the transition fuel for the future. Solar is investing in a number of different areas including the ability to burn alternative fuels such as bio fuels, and high hydrogen fuels. We are also looking at investments in gas turbine products with higher simple cycle and combined cycle efficiencies, as well as in energy storage systems.
How can Waste Heat Recovery applications impact on the oil & gas sector in this future energy scenario?
MAURI: Waste Heat Recovery could have a significant advantage in any energy intensive business provided that they demonstrate high level of reliability and easiness of operation. The Oil and Gas sector has a very strong focus on safety and reliability of operations, technologies for Waste Heat Recovery can be widely adopted to increase overall plant efficiency once they demonstrate that their operation meets the industry standards.
In the last decade the demand for natural gas has been steadily growing and this trend is projected to continue also in the future. How will this redesign the shares and weight of the different energy sources within the global energy mix?
MAURI: Being the cleanest burning fossil fuel, we see the demand for natural gas continuing to grow for decades to come as it displaces more carbon intensive fuels. As an example, we see a big future for natural gas as a transportation fuel. We expect that both natural gas and renewables will be the fastest growing segments of the world’s energy mix. Ultimately, we also see co-opportunities for both natural gas and renewables in the future as part of integrated micro grids
Trump is transforming the USA into an energy exporter and low-cost supplier, changing global market dynamics and balances. Do you agree?
MAURI: This is a clear trend started few years ago with the Shale Gas revolution in the USA. The USA now has an abundant supply of low cost natural gas and has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas. Other countries with large shale gas deposits such as Argentina, China, and Algeria, are taking notice and ramping up their investments in their domestic shale gas resources.
In November 2017 you have celebrated your 90th anniversary. What would you suggest as overall strategy to keep up with the market needs and remain competitive over the years?
MAURI: Solar’s 90 years of history is an incredible example of innovation and transformation driven by great people with one goal in mind “We make our customers successful”. There is no simple strategy to achieve such a result except listening to our customers and to the market needs, being truthful to our values and principles while retaining the best motivated talents.
Your turbines can be applied to diverse applications as renewables, oil & gas, power generation and industrial processes. On which of these applications will you suppose to invest more in the future?
MAURI: We already have a strong presence in all the mentioned applications and we keep developing our products to ensure the best in class performance; however we are working to become a “solution provider” more than an equipment manufacturer mainly thanks to our strong presence worldwide and our proximity to our customers both with sales and aftermarket.
There is a growing interest in heat recovery systems for gas turbines based on ORC units, but the market has not boomed yet. What are the main factors that discourage the investment in these kind of systems in the oil and gas market? Do you have any suggestion for Exergy in new product development in this field?
MAURI: The OG sector likewise to many other energy intensive industry are looking at possible solutions to support their sustainability goals by increasing efficiency, reduce emissions, avoid flaring and waste in general; ORC is definitely an interesting technology to achieve these goals. There are two main factors that discourage the investment in these systems:
- Proven reliability
Any additional equipment is perceived as a potential threat to plant availability unless the technology is well known, after market support strong and the product application is proven. Due to the variety of competing technologies, any newer entrant has do demonstrate better returns on investment if compared with existing/proven solutions.
If the goal is entering into the OG sector, more than focusing on newer products I would work on establishing/proving to be a reliable technology partner for the OG sector; this could be achieved by identifying few key applications and pilot projects to demonstrate the validity of your product and service support.