Engineers have created a groundbreaking mobile floating combined cycle power plant with a self-supporting barge – now arriving in the Dominican Republic.
A growing population needs an efficient, reliable and affordable supply of power—now, and for the future. At the same time, land is a precious commodity for our ever-expanding cities.
With SeaFloat, our engineers have created a trailblazing, highly efficient floating power plant on a mobile, self-supporting barge. One of our most recent projects is the Estrella del Mar III power station, which is being deployed in the tropical Dominican Republic.
Our Business Owner Hamed Hossain explains how this project was built across the world, in the midst of a pandemic. The 41-year-old engineer and his team tackled the challenge of putting a combined cycle power plant on water, and how shipyard workers and power plant workers successfully combined the worlds of the shipyard industry and the power generation sector.
While floating power stations have been around since the mid-90s, reinventing them with today’s efficient, low environmental impact technologies is a first. SeaFloat does just that. And it’s proving very popular.
Hamed Hossain explains the recent resurgence in demand for floating power plants: “We are putting highly efficient combined cycle power plants on a barge. So far, these have only been on land. And we can include a battery on the barge as well, that’s also new. In this way, we can always ensure maximum grid efficiency. Additionally we are able to provide the entire value chain installed on a fully integrated vessel with LNG storage, regasification and power unit.”
Hamed is proud to see various departments, such as the industrial gas turbine engineering and manufacturing team in Finspong, Sweden, or the steam turbine innovation campus in Goerlitz, Germany, working together harmoniously, tackling the weight of the power plant, modularity and customer needs: “Siemens Energy is a great environment to develop new ideas. Having the support of top management and the support of each team member makes the difference. The SeaFloat team has a strong connection built on friendship.”
It’s clear that our whole team is focused on making tomorrow different today. “I think we’d all like to live in a world where everybody has access to clean and reliable electricity,” says Hamed. “I want my children to live in a better world. Everyone at Siemens Energy is committed to reducing the carbon footprint and serving society, because we are all a part of society. It’s as simple as that!”
The Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo sits at the mouth of the Ozama River. It is one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities, and with 3.3 million inhabitants, it’s also the most populous. Over the past decade alone, this burgeoning, bustling melting pot has added around 700,000 inhabitants.
With 1,600km of sandy coastline, national parks and dramatic mountain ranges, the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. Santo Domingo, however, is also among the world’s cities that are most at risk of rising sea levels caused by climate change. By 2050, parts of the city could be under water. A water-based power plant could be one very valuable asset.
Estrella del Mar III offers a host of benefits to the people of lively Santo Domingo, with a more reliable energy supply, reduced LCoE (levelized cost of electricity), and less noise—residential housing is close to the power plant. Hamed explains: “It’s more ecological and economical, and combined cycle power plants are not as maintenance-intensive as other plants, so downtimes are reduced.”
In addition, blackouts can be reduced, and the city can meet its growing demand for reliable power. The steady flow of electricity can support both tourism and Santo Domingo’s innovative start-up scene. Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa described the Dominican “appetite for noise” in his book The Feast of the Goat. A city that’s already pulsating doesn’t need any extra noise from a power plant.
The power plant has now arrived at its destination in the Caribbean and been placed in its final position on the Ozama River. Construction, however, was carried out more than 17,000 kilometers away in Singapore. With a multinational task force working on engineering, manufacturing, construction and commissioning, the project team had to develop Estrella del Mar III amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our construction team faced a lot of challenges,” Hamed says. “There were many restrictions concerning the local job market. Dormitories were closed for many months, and there were entry restrictions in Singapore, which affected our specialists and suppliers from around the world. Despite this, we still managed to pull together to make this project happen.”
Jakob Tyroller, General Project Manager of the Estrella del Mar III, says work continued despite the restrictions: “It wasn’t possible to fly to Singapore to have face-to-face meetings. I compensated with a lot of calls and live meetings. Many of them were early in the morning or late in the evening. We all had to be flexible. Clear communication between the teams is important, especially if you can’t meet in person. Plus, not flying around the world once a month was certainly appreciated by my family!”
Hamed also pointed out his positive experiences: “Working from home actually made a big difference to my daughters’ understanding of my work.” He grins, “of course, they wonder why I speak English in calls—not my usual German—and they ask about the colorful PowerPoint slides, but one day, one of my girls came in with a SeaFloat plant made of Lego bricks. I found it very impressive, and she was really proud.”
Restrictions caused by the global pandemic weren’t the only obstacle we faced. Engineers had to find their sea legs as they started working on SeaFloat, as Hamed explains: “The Singapore construction team was made up of people from very different occupations, from ship builders to power plant engineers. Engineers had to get to grips with nautical terms, such as port and starboard, fore and aft. They learnt what a booby hatch is (the enclosed stairway from the main deck into the hull), and different terms for walls, depending on how they’re used (frames or bulkheads).
Despite their different backgrounds and different nomenclature for various tools and elements, they worked together very successfully.” Jakob Tyroller agrees: “As a consortium, we always have the common goal in mind—to deliver the SeaFloat to Seaboard and show how we can make a difference.”
With its limited construction area, Estrella del Mar III is characterized by an innovative, flexible power plant design, performed by the Finspong team, along with vessel design performed by ST Engineering. To maximize space utilization, each component is optimized with regard to function and footprint – e.g. the best-in-class gas turbine, SGT-800, is used as a pre-assembled single lift complete package with small footprint. Additionally, the equipment is exposed to sea movement (roll & pitch), which required structural reinforcements affecting the overall layout and barge deck characteristics.
The equipment also includes the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), compensating for power shortages and frequency drops on the grid. Overall, the barge provides optimal space utilization and high power density. Furthermore, the concept is being continuously optimized by the SeaFloat team to improve weight, space, efficiency, emissions and to be an integral part of the global energy transition to decarbonization and decentralization.
Ship builders collaborated with plant engineers to successfully create a sturdy water-based power plant. Hamed summarizes: “Equipment must be able to withstand the water. Our equipment has been 'marine-ized'. We've optimized our gas turbines to withstand motions and hull deflections.”
As SeaFloat isn’t built at its final destination, the old power station can continue running. This means there’s no disruption to the existing energy supply. “With SeaFloat we want to bring about change! Ageing assets can be easily substituted—in fact, the existing asset can continue operation during off-site construction of the new SeaFloat plant,” says Sales Lead SeaFloat, Stavros Zissis.
Stavros is also keen to see how SeaFloat will be used in the future: “I’d love to see SeaFloat being used more broadly, especially in more difficult environments where we can leverage building the power plant in a safe, controlled environment rather than in more unstable parts of the world.”
The world’s population is estimated to be 9.7 billion in 2050, and we’re running out of space on land. While it may seem like an evolutionary step back to return to the water, it might end up being the idea that helps save humanity. SeaFloat is just as efficient as a land-based power station, but doesn’t take up valuable space on land. As for the broader future of SeaFloat, our next step is to provide SeaFloat solutions with LNG storage and regasification unit, bringing clean fuel to people without access to LNG and directly converting it to electricity.
Estrella Del Mar III has arrived its destination in the Dominican Republic! Sailing through the Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Carribean Sea, it has successfully reached its destination on Ocoa Bay, Santo Domingo and into commercial operation on June 1, 2022.
Copyright: 3. Picture (Triphticon): 2x Getty Images/ Walter Bibikow, Getty Images/ Maremagnum; 5. Picture (Triphticon): left on top: EPS Este Project Service GmbH ; 8. Picture: Seaboardship