Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation (SWPC) announced yesterday that the first power plants to use its Advanced Turbine System technology have now achieved commercial operation. This event marks the culmination of almost ten years of research into the next generation of gas turbine technology that has been supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

SWPC has introduced its advanced W501G in both simple and combined cycle applications. The 360 MW, combined cycle Millennium power plant located in Charlton, Massachusetts, and owned by PG&E National Energy Group, achieved commercial operation on April 5, 2001. In addition, the City of Lakeland, Florida’s 249 MW McIntosh Unit 5 simple cycle plant, which will be converted to combined cycle, went into commercial operation on April 16, 2001.

“We’re extremely proud of this accomplishment. We’ve been successful in bringing the next generation of gas turbine technology to the power generation marketplace at a time when the nation continues to face a critical need for highly efficient and reliable generation capacity. With a total of 28 units committed, customers are sending us a clear signal that they are confident in our ability to continue to evolve technology that is able to meet these increasing needs,” said Randy Zwirn, SWPC president and chief executive officer and a member of the Siemens Power Generation Group Board.

In 1992 the DOE, together with equipment manufacturers and research organizations, embarked on the ATS programme. The programme is now approaching completion as evidenced by the success achieved by SWPC. Development in advanced gas turbine and power system development will continue beyond the ATS programme, driven by increasing demand for electricity and tightening environmental requirements.

At a 250 MW nominal capacity and with a net efficiency of approximately 58 per cent in combined cycle applications, Siemens Westinghouse’s W501G is the largest 60 Hz gas turbine in the world and is among the most efficient. The W501G achieves superior performance through advanced technologies developed and validated under the DOE’s ATS program. The W501G is designed to optimize life-cycle costs by balancing capital cost, efficiency and maintenance costs to yield the lowest overall cost of electricity.

The DOE has committed about $250 million to the ATS programme with the balance of funding, which is estimated at $450 million, being contributed by the participants. The support of the DOE has enabled the risks associated with the commercialization of advanced technology to be managed.