Facilitating access to renewable energy

Facilitating access to renewable energy

Facilitating access to renewable energy
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John Cockerill’s technological solutions are designed to use sun, water, biomass or wind to generate electricity. They also enable the storage of the produced electricity and make it accessible wherever and whenever it is needed. In 2019, our teams also:
– Launched a first thermal-solar plant using molten salts (China)
– Guaranteed the perfect operation of 100 wind turbines in the North Sea (Belgium)
– Channeled the energy power of the River Meuse (Belgium)

Storing the sun's energy to regulate the production of green energy

Regulation of green energy

Luneng, a Chinese energy player, is developing an electricity production complex in Haixi (China) bringing together several renewable energy sources: photovoltaics, wind and thermo-solar power. The aim is to optimize their yield and better control their intermittency. John Cockerill is involved in this project.

John Cockerill solar receiver

The thermal-solar power plant at this complex began operations in late summer 2019. Viviane, Project Manager: “Our teams designed the solar receiver. A structure 40 meter high, which was hoisted to the top of a 150 meter tower. The field of solar mirrors that is located at the foot of this tower concentrates the sun’s rays towards our receiver, which will heat melted salt to a very high temperatures (565°C). This allows water to be heated, which will then enter the steam supply that, ultimately, is necessary in order to generate electricity. The point of this melted salt is that it stays hot for dozens of hours. This makes it possible to decide when to produce electricity. Not just when the sun is shining, but when you really need it.”

In addition to the solar receiver, the John Cockerill teams have also designed a remote-control system for the variations in the temperature. “This software allows us to detect temperature variations in our exchangers, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure both the integrity of our equipment and the correct temperature of the molten salt. As the icing on the cake, we are able to control this from our headquarters in Seraing (Belgium). By combining this stored energy with the energy generated directly by photovoltaic and wind, we can better regulate green energy in order to be able to release it at the right time.”

John Cockerill is currently equipping other molten salt thermal-solar power plants in Chile and Dubai.

Ensuring the optimum performance of offshore wind turbines

Belgium is banking on wind energy in its energy transition. Wind energy accounts for 10% of its electricity production, and almost half of this wind power is generated in the North Sea, where there is more wind, and where it is possible to install very large and powerful wind turbines. Belgium ranks 4th in offshore wind power in Europe. John Cockerill is positioning itself as a partner of choice to ensure the maintenance of these offshore wind farms and to guarantee their availability and best possible performance.

40% of Belgian offshore wind power

Marie-Anne, Project Manager: “We have been ensuring the maintenance of offshore wind turbines in Belgium since 2011. These wind turbines are impressive: more than 100 m high and with blades that are 75 m long on the larger units. In 2019, John Cockerill signed a maintenance contract for a new park in the North Sea. In all, we are currently ensuring the correct operation of more than 100 wind turbines, or 40% of the Belgian offshore wind power. A considerable investment was required in technical and safety training. Not surprising given that the transport of the ‘wind turbines’ is carried out by boat and helicopter. We also operate onshore, on request, in Belgium, but also in the Netherlands or the United Kingdom.”

Channeling the power of water

Hydraulic force

The Meuse, an important river transport route between France and the Port of Antwerp, is a capricious river. Downstream of Liège (Belgium), its flow frequently varies from 50 to 2 000 m3/s, with a capacity of 3 000 m3/s in the case of a 100-year flood. The Monsin Island Dam Bridge (Pont-barrage de l’Ile Monsin) was built by teams from John Cockerill in 1928. Due to its variable flow, it allows the maintenance of a navigable level in the Meuse and the Albert Canal between Ivoz-Ramet and Genk (Belgium), a stretch of more than 60 km. In parallel to the dam, EDF Luminus also uses part of the flow to produce hydroelectricity. The floodgates had to be replaced to ensure the safety of the river, both upstream (the city of Liège) and downstream (the city of Visé and the Netherlands), as well as access to the oil port of Wandre, a strategic reserve of the state. The Walloon authorities have once again chosen the teams of John Cockerill for the implementation of this huge project.

Impressive valves

Fabian, Project Manager: “This project is spread over three low-water periods (April to October) in order to be protected from winter floods and to reduce the impact on the water flow. Two valves are being replaced at each low water: we replaced two of them in 2019, as well as their maneuvering mechanisms. Each weighs 145 tons and is 27 meters long. The entire intervention is supported by John Cockerill: the gearboxes and electric panels were manufactured in our workshops and, on site, we combined the mechanical, electrical and automation expertise of our different teams. A remarkable inter-entity synergy! The effective coordination with the civil engineering teams has allowed maximum safety.”

This whole operation will ultimately ensure the safety of the river, and will continue to provide green electricity to 14 000 households.