Celebrating its 50th year, the 2018 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), which was held in Houston, brought together energy sector leaders to navigate challenges and identify opportunities in energy production and usage. Through its exhibition and 350+ peer-selected technical presentations, professionals in the field exchanged ideas to help “advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters.” Two presentations which CSA Group attended brought some of these ideas to light, and how standards, testing, and certification play a role in the energy sector’s evolution.
Technology Outlook 2018: Technology’s Potential to Evolve Energy Production and Usage to 2050
As the energy sector is changing faster than at any previous time, it’s important to understand the role of technology in shaping the future of global energy. Two challenges the sector currently faces are the need to provide more energy than ever due to the world’s increasing demand, and the transition to a lower carbon future.
Heading toward 2050, a few key trends were identified that will help evolve the energy market:
- Renewable energy, specifically wind and solar, continue to be big players in the changing energy landscape. According to a 2017 Fortune.com report, U.S. solar jobs rose 24.5%in 2016, surpassing those in the fossil fuel industry.
- The drive towards energy efficiency in everything from appliances to power plants, combined with the growing energy storage market, will lead to lower costs. One aspect of the lowering of costs can be attributed to the use of better decarbonized energy resources, such as biogas.
- With digital innovation occurring in the energy sector, it is estimated that the cost of running a plant will decrease by up to 30% by 2050.
All of these emerging and growing trends mean that energy sources and distribution will soon be able to reach more of the population at a lower cost.
The reference to the growing energy storage market, and its place in the evolutionary road to energy production and usage, was very relevant to some key areas of focus for CSA Group. We recognize that this evolving global landscape for electrical distribution and use has created a need for energy storage systems (ESS), making them among the fastest growing electrical power system products. As with any complex electrical system component, safety remains the foremost priority in ESS design, installation, inspection, and ongoing operation.
Standards, testing, inspection, and certification are critical to safety issues associated with ESS projects. As a world leader in testing & certification of primary and secondary batteries, energy conversion devices, and other electrical system components, the presentation showed that we are “on the right track” in helping to evolve energy production and usage.
The Hebron Project
The Hebron Project is Eastern Canada’s latest offshore oil production project. The oil field was discovered in 1980 and first production started in 2017. Within that time, Hebron had both successes and challenges. A major success was the design, construction, and installation of the platform often in harsh environmental conditions that included rain, fog, cold, ice, and icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. Intelligent engineering practices, new technologies, and a state-of-the-art communication strategy were used to achieve a successful and safe project to completion.
The Hebron field has been developed using a stand-alone concrete gravity based structure (GBS). The GBS consists of a reinforced concrete structure designed to withstand sea ice, icebergs, and meteorological and oceanographic conditions. The GBS supports an integrated topsides deck, weighing 65,000 tonnes, which includes living quarters and facilities to perform drilling and production. As one of the safest offshore rigs to date, the Hebron project has worked 42 million hours with zero lost-time incidents.
The Hebron project represents a global evolution in industry technology. This project developed a new electro-static process to separate water from the extraction process more efficiently and the use of fiber-optics over satellites has created more effective communication and data collection. The use of a boots-on-the-ground strategy improved engineering, construction, and the safety of all involved, and led to improved solutions and communication among all teams.
With a project as large as this, it is critical that the equipment function efficiently and safely. This is where CSA Group comes in – We assisted in the certification portion of the many pieces of equipment produced, installed, and used during the construction of the Hebron project. As the project evolves, we are able to offer evaluation, verification, field certification/evaluation, and product certification to current and new standards. This service helps to ensure that safety and reliability are built into new developments within offshore technology.
The energy sector is undergoing a significant transformation, evidenced by the many discussions and technological breakthroughs featured at OTC. But making this transformation work for people and businesses requires the expertise of third-party standards development organizations and testing & certification providers to help promote reliability and safety.