Over the course of #SkanskaPowerWeek, we’ve examined what increased domestic energy production means for consumers, taken a closer look at natural gas and fracking, and explored how LED lighting is saving energy on our projects. To close out this week, we talked with Keith Chouinard, Skanska USA vice president of operations, to get his insights on the key trends in power and what they mean for the construction industry moving forward.
What are the biggest changes you see in the power industry? How are these changes impacting the projects Skanska is taking on? One of the biggest changes we see is the effect of new government regulations on coal plants, which are required to keep carbon emissions below 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour. These regulations are impacting the coal market, and we’re seeing that the retirement of coal power plants will provide opportunities to retrofit more coal plants to run on natural gas, and more new ground-up gas-fired power plants.
What do you think will be the biggest trends over the next decade in power ? Gas-fired plants are currently in demand, but I also believe that alternative energy – such as solar, wind or energy storage – will have an important role moving forward.
What kinds of power plant projects is Skanska taking on? Skanska has the capability to perform projects of varying sizes and types – everything from $10 million projects to those in the multiple billions of dollars. We are mostly seeing gas-fired projects, but we do not limit ourselves to just one technology.
Is there any new technology that is really shaping the power plant construction space? Prefabrication with 4-D modeling is an approach with which we are having the greatest deal of success. Prefabrication makes a huge difference in the markets that we work in because labor is one of our biggest risks both for cost and safety. If we can pre-fabricate in a shop atmosphere then we can increase quality, lower costs and put our employees in a more controlled atmosphere and safer environment.
We’ve found that using 4-D modeling on these projects is a huge time and money saver. Here are a few other key benefits:
– clash detection
What are three ways increased domestic energy production will impact the construction industry?
1. Naturally, more energy production means that the economy is really starting to recover, which means more jobs for all
2. Additional alternative energy will require more gas-fired plants. Because renewable energy supplies – such as solar and wind – need back-up fuel sources when there is not enough wind or sunlight, gas-fired plants will be needed because they can respond very quickly with power.
3. More efficient technology will replace older units.