Setting sail to efficient floating power

Putting combined cycle power plants on water
“In rapidly growing cities, SeaFloat is a pioneering solution that ensures a reliable supply of power without taking up space on land.”
Hamed Hossain, Business Owner SeaFloat

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 the most recent projects is the Estrella del Mar III power station, which will be deployed in the tropical Dominican Republic. For our Business Owner Hamed Hossain, this project was particularly unusual—built across the world, in the midst of a pandemic. Let’s take a look at how 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. 

Bringing electricity to where it’s needed

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.

 

Our SeaFloat Business Owner 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.”

 

Hamed is proud to see various departments 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!”

Meeting a growing city’s power needs

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 people.

 

With 1,600km of sandy coastline, national parks and dramatic mountain ranges, the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. It’s also at risk of rising sea levels, and Santo Domingo is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities when it comes to 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 will provide a host of benefits to the people of lively Santo Domingo, says Sales Director Omar Laredo, with “a more reliable energy supply, reduced LCoE (levelized cost of energy), and less noise—residential housing is close to the power plant.” He continues: “It’s more ecological, and combined cycle power plants are not as maintenance-intensive as other plants, so there are reduced downtimes.”  

 

In addition, blackouts can be reduced, and the city can cater to its growing demand for reliable electricity. Tourism needs can be met and the steady flow of electricity can support 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. In a city that’s already pulsating, we don’t need any extra noise from a city power plant.

“The SeaFloat Estrella del Mar III will help meet Santo Domingo’s increasing demand for electricity and can support in case of power cuts—all without having to acquire precious land.”

 

Omar Laredo, Sales Director CA & Caribbean

Pushing on, despite a pandemic

The responsible project team has developed Estrella del Mar III amid the coronavirus pandemic. With a multinational task force working on construction, the pandemic put a spanner in the works. “Despite the impact that covid-19 has had on business around the world, we still managed to pull together to make this project happen,” Hamed says. “All tasks need to be completed remotely. Honestly, prior to covid-19, I was very skeptical of working from home. Now, I admit it works exceptionally well, and I am proud that our team has collaborated so effectively.”

 

While the power plant’s final destination is a river in the Caribbean, construction is taking place in a controlled, high-security environment in Singapore’s docks. There too, the coronavirus complicated things. “In Singapore, our construction team faced a lot of challenges. There were many restrictions concerning the local job market. Dormitories were closed for many months, and there were restrictions regarding entry into Singapore, which affected our specialists from around the world, as well as suppliers,” Hamed notes.

 

Jakob Tyroller, General Project Manager of the Estrella del Mar III, says that despite the ongoing restrictions, work continues: “For me, it is currently impossible to fly to Singapore to have face-to-face meetings. I compensate with a lot of calls and live meetings. Many of them are early in the morning or late in the evening, but we’re all flexible and it’s important to communicate clearly between the teams, especially if you can’t meet in person. Plus, I’m not flying around the world once a month at the moment, which is certainly appreciated by my family!”

 

Hamed also pointed out his positive experiences: “Working from home actually made a big difference to my daughters understanding 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.”

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Withstanding the water

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.”

 

We had other challenges to overcome too. “The plants have to cope with the movement of the water, the rolling and pitching caused by swells,” Hamed says. Jakob expands on the nautical focus of the ship: “The overall barge design had to be reviewed based on draft and stability, using terms like heel angle and righting arm.”

 

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. We didn’t build new gas turbines—we came up with pioneering solutions to optimize existing ones.”

With SeaFloat we want to bring about change

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,” Sales Lead SeaFloat, Stavros Zissis, says.

 

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.

 

When our team has finished constructing the power plant in Singapore, it will begin its journey to Santo Domingo via the sea. We’ll keep you up-to-date with the power plant’s progress—stay tuned!

“I have two little daughters and I take decarbonization very seriously. We owe it to the next generation.”

 

Stavros Zissis, Sales Lead SeaFloat

Floating combined cycle power plants

The SeaFloat concept adapts our proven equipment and reliable technology, optimizing these solutions for a floating application. Depending on project specifications, we have a range of gas turbines that can be installed to generate highly efficient power. Discover which configuration best suits your needs with our whitepaper.

Change the future of energy

Hamed’s role is just one of our innumerable opportunities to change the future of energy. Help us to make tomorrow better today and explore your options at Siemens Energy.

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