日期:2012-08-17 10:39


Electric power.
Slow burners.
Cheap gas will boost makers of giant turbines.
THE boom in shale-gas production in America, using "fracking" technology, is becoming a bust for some big drilling firms. On August 3rd BHP Billiton announced a near-$3 billion write-down on some of its American gasfields because soaring production has made prices crash. Three days later Chesapeake Energy revealed a slump in quarterly profits because of the glut. However, if gas is cheap and abundant, more of it will be used to generate electricity. This should help the handful of global firms that make the massive turbines used in gas-fired power stations.
由于"水力压裂"技术的使用,美国的页岩气开采迅速发展,但这却使一些大型钻井公司破产。 8月3日,必和必拓公司宣布美国部分气田预估值将减少近30亿美元,这是由于页岩气开采量的猛增导致了天然气价格的暴跌。三天后,切萨皮克能源公司透露,由于页岩气供大于求,最新一季度利润大幅下跌。但是,如果天然气供应充足,价格低廉,那将有更多的天然气用于发电。那么为数不多的几家生产大型燃气发电涡轮机的国际公司将由此获益。
Even before their fuel became so plentiful, gas-fired stations had hefty advantages. They are quick and cheap to build-perhaps a third of the cost of coal-fired stations, and less than a quarter of the cost of nuclear ones. Gas-fired stations emit much less carbon dioxide, per unit of electricity, than coal, which also gives off all sorts of other nasties when burned, from sulphur dioxide to mercury.
Strict new air-pollution laws, approved in America last year, will accelerate the retirement of old coal-fired stations. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein, a bank, reckon that 66 gigawatts of coal-fired generation-around 6.5% of America's capacity-will shut by 2015. Gas will replace much of the coal. Other countries with huge shale-gas reserves, such as China and Australia, have barely begun to exploit them. When they do, some of the new supplies will be used to generate electricity.
去年,美国通过了严格的新空气污染法规,这将加速淘汰老式燃煤电厂。美国Sanford C. Bernstein银行的分析人员估计,发电能力为66千兆瓦(约占全美总发电量的6.5%)的燃煤电厂将在2015年前关闭。天然气将取代大部分燃煤,成为新的燃料。其他页岩气储量丰富的国家,比如中国和澳大利亚,还几乎没有进行开采。等这些国家开始开采时,新供应页岩气中的一部分将用于发电。
So the world's four main makers of gas turbines-GE of America, Siemens of Germany, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan and Alstom of France-are looking forward to a surge in new orders. There are early signs of this in America. If recent trends continue, Bernstein's analysts reckon that about 74 new gas-turbine projects will get started in America, up from 64 last year. But this is still below the level in the boom before the financial crisis and nothing compared with the mad dash for gas seen in 1999-2001 (see chart).
One reason why the growth in gas-fired stations will be more gradual this time is that American regulators are ordering power utilities to make more use of wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy. Another is that utilities in many states have plenty of spare capacity. Widespread "brownouts" across the country in 1998 made power companies scramble to build new gas-fired stations, only for these to come on line in time for the 2001 recession.
But that is just America: although historically it has represented 15-50% of world demand for utility-sized gas turbines, the growth of emerging economies means that it is now just 8%, reckons Bernstein. Power-hungry China generates only 4% of its electricity from gas but that share is growing fast. Both GE and Siemens have joint ventures in China. Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are likely to build many new gas-fired stations; as is Japan, after the Fukushima nuclear accident last year.
So the global market for utility-sized gas turbines, now worth up to $15 billion a year by Bernstein's estimates, is set for years of growth. Emerging-market makers, in places such as Russia, are keen to muscle in. But it will take time, and huge sums of money, to catch up with the big four rich-country firms: Siemens and GE each spent around $500m developing their newest turbines. Even for challengers with deep-pocketed governments to support them, that is quite some barrier to entry.

  • emitvt. 发出,放射,吐露
  • turkeyn. 土耳其 turkey n. 火鸡,笨蛋,失败之作
  • emergingvi. 浮现,(由某种状态)脱出,(事实)显现出来
  • jointadj. 联合的,共同的,合资的,连带的 n. 关节,接
  • strictadj. 严格的,精确的,完全的
  • entryn. 进入,入口,登记,条目
  • widespreadadj. 分布(或散布)广的,普遍的
  • replacevt. 取代,更换,将物品放回原处
  • massiveadj. 巨大的,大规模的,大量的,大范围的
  • plentifuladj. 丰富的,多的,充裕的