What is the future for large frame gas turbines?

In a rapidly changing energy landscape, the role of large frame gas turbines is evolving and adapting at great pace. We asked two of the biggest players in the sector what the future holds for large frame gas turbines in the next five years, and what challenges and opportunities they expect to encounter

Dr Rainer Hauenschild, head of Energy Solutions, Siemens Power and Gas Division

Siemens Power and Gas Division

Taking a look at the energy market around the world shows that we are living in a rapidly changing arena. The global economy can fluctuate at incredible speed and with massive impact, as we can see with the plummeting price of oil.

We see a worldwide trend toward the optimization of national resources, whether renewables such as wind, solar, hydro or biomass, LNG, or local fossil reserves such as unconventional oil and gas. Renewables will have a much bigger share in power supply. By 2030, 20 per cent of the world’s installed capacity will be renewable (excluding hydro).

We also see a transformation from centralized to decentralized energy systems, which vary widely in different parts of the world.

And we also see an overcapacity in the large gas turbine market.

This drastic transformation requires a new way of thinking. The more complex the systems become, the greater the need for flexibility in power generation. Flexible technical solutions in all areas assure the constant availability of power as well as grid stability.

In the face of these transformations we see many opportunities for both small and large gas turbines. They will be employed not only for power generation but also for combined heat and power production, for district heating, as well as in the oil and gas industry.

The Siemens gas turbine range from 5 MW to 400 MW has been designed to fulfill the high requirements of a wide spectrum of applications in terms of efficiency, reliability, flexibility, fuel flexibility and environmental compatibility, and to guarantee low lifecycle costs and an excellent return on investment.

Large gas turbines in gas-fired power plants or large combined cycle power plants will continue to play an important role. In a competitive, market-driven economy, it is more important than ever to reduce power generation costs and to find solutions that provide a rapid return on investment without sacrificing long-term reliability and flexibility.

Furthermore, and with the increasing relevance of unconventional energy sources, fuel diversity gains greater importance.

The largest Siemens gas turbine, the completely air cooled SGT-8000H, is one of the world’s most powerful gas turbines with a gross power output of 400 MW in the 50 Hz market and 286 MW in the 60 Hz market. A combined cycle power output of more than 600 MW at 50 Hz and more than 410 MW at 60 Hz reaches high efficiency levels of more than 61 per cent to date and will reach more than 63 per cent in the future. Combined cycle plants with this turbine as their main driver enable high flexibility and low emissions also in part-load operation. With the Clean-Ramp feature, they even set new standards in transient emissions.

Based on an extensive experience in building power plants, Siemens has developed innovative Fast Start and Fast Cycling combined cycle power plants with great operational flexibility, which is becoming increasingly important. Combined-cycle power plants are among the power plant designs with the best dynamic features in the field of fossil power generation, helping to shore-up the grid in times of shortage. They can be delivered as power islands or built on a turnkey basis.

These plants help investors to meet the challenges of a dynamic market and are designed to optimize planning, implementation times and lower lifecycle costs.

Brian Gutknecht, Power Generation Products, GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water

Customers around the globe are looking for cleaner, more efficient, flexible, larger blocks of power. These large power blocks provide more hours of operation and are both highly efficient and operationally flexible to meet the changing nature of power grids. And there is a drive in the industry to achieve a balance to produce affordable, cleaner and reliable electricity.

Large scale, high efficiency gas turbines provide the lowest cost conversion of gas to electricity.

Over its lifecycle, the large scale GE H-class gas turbine’s total cost of ownership is 5 per cent lower than F-class, and the lowest in the industry, driven by lower CAPEX from the largest gas turbine output and simplest design; lower fuel cost from industry-leading efficiency; and lower maintenance costs, based on extended maintenance intervals and rotor life for H-class technology.

4E-class = 2 F-class = 1 H-classࢀ¦ 10 per cent plant CAPEX, $30 billion lower for 500 units

Most efficientࢀ¦ Less fuel burnࢀ¦ H vs F = $31 MM per year per 1000 MW plantࢀ¦ $8 billion for 500 units.

When customers think about gas turbines, they think of output, efficiency and how long they are going to run. In considering output, economies of scale of larger gas turbines and power plants help to reduce the installed plant CAPEX per kW. The same power from four E-class gas turbines equals that of two F-class gas turbines which equals that of one H-class turbine. So the jump from E to F produces twice the power, resulting in better CAPEX productivity. Now the large scale H-class gas turbines do it again, producing twice the power of F and even better CAPEX productivity. So with the largest H-class gas turbine, the CAPEX productivity is the highest, providing the most CAPEX efficiency for gas power.

On an efficiency basis, E-class is about 50 per cent, the F-class about 55 per cent, and the H-class is more than 61 per cent. This means that high efficiency H-class gas turbines have less fuel burn, which is worth a tremendous amount. Since the H-class does have a lower cost of electricity on the dispatch curve, it will be dispatched more often. In keeping with that, owners of large H-class gas turbines will benefit from the machines running more often than F and E units, giving them the opportunity to bring in more revenue.

Looking at the power generation market between now and 2030, consider the example of building 500 H-class power plants or the equivalent amount of F-class power plants. Customers will select H-class due to size alone because it will result in $30 billion lower CAPEX. The customers’ fleet of H-class machines will also burn $8 billion a year less fuel, year in and year out.

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