GE Forum explains benefits of FlexEfficiency to gas power interests

Old Trafford, home of the Manchester United football team, was the venue last week for General Electric Power and Water’s FlexEfficiency Forum, aimed at getting the most out of gas turbine technology.

GE (NYSE:à‚ GE) chiefs used the event to demonstrate to UK-based gas-fired power sector personnel the benefits of harnessing the company’s big data and analytics resources, GE’s 9E Advanced Gas Path (AGP) and 9F-3 Advanced Gas Path (AGP) upgrade solutions.

The focus of the technology is on helping plant owners fulfil burgeoning power demands more flexibly, efficiently, and while maintaining a low emissions footprint. Ultimately the technology is about bringing more predictability and sustainability to power generation operations.
GE 9F turbine
Predictability is highly sought after for power plant owners and management, and that ability to forecast costly issues is key to the product. The company has invested significantly in a software centre of excellence in Silicon Valley which has as its aim an imperative for power planned owners: having planned rather than unplanned outages, giving them the ability to see failures on the horizon before system failures actually arise.

Explaining the technology in terms of asset management and asset optimization, Eric Kauffman, Director of Product Strategy, Software & Analytics at GE Power Generation, provided a football analogy to bring home the qualities of the product in maintaining performance.

Inspired by the Old Trafford backdrop to the event, Kauffman said that what GE is doing is similar to the practice of teams “using saliva tests on players after games or training to determine nutritional needs so that each player gets a custom energy drink and is then ready for the next game as quickly as possible.”

“When we talk about predictivity we are talking about getting information from instrumented machines with lots of data coming from that, giving that to experts such as engineers, arming those people with the analytical tools to come up with the best solutions.

“The thing we can do for power plants is, we can help plant maintain its maximum performance across the entire power plant ” the scheme cycle, the gas cycle, all of the components.

“We have the analytics to calculate that corrective to standard conditions and track degradation and then remotely monitor it and engage experts when they’re needed. Then we can combine that with the on-site services of testing and evaluation, full plant level, not just the gas part of it.”

For reliability it’s very similar. GE works with its clients and facilitates their objectives through harnessing data-driven insights from 100+ million hours of operating data on what is the world’s largest gas turbine fleet.

“We monitor about a thousand signals from each machine and those also go to our remote monitoring centre. We have algorithms we go to look for issues and we contact customers when we find issues. We combine that with inspection data. For example if a customer has high dynamics in their combustion and let’s say they don’t have auto tune we can identify the high dynamics, tell the customer what the impact is, and remotely re-tune the machine to keep the dynamics in check.”

AGP technology also enables GE customers to benefit from lower fuel consumption, and the industry’s longest gas path maintenance intervals that extend gas turbine assets and parts life.

The AGP solution exemplifies GE’s Power LifeMax, a portfolio of hardware and software-blended solutions that enables customers to improve performance and long-term value of their existing B/E-Class gas turbine assets.

Among the benefits of using the technology are a 2 per cent increase in output combined cycle, a 2 per cent increase in fuel efficiency for combined-cycle and up to 32,000-hour or 1200-start gas path maintenance intervals, which can extend outage intervals up to 33 per cent. There is also the potential to extend gas turbine assets and parts life out to as much as 96,000 hours.

GE’s OpFlex corrected parameter control software suite can further improve AGP performance. For example, it can lead to up to an 8 per cent increase in output with <25 ppm NOx.

It can also enable power to be delivered to the grid in less than 10 minutes and allow turndown to as low as 50 per cent.

In developing the product, the company leveraged more than 30 million hours of fleet operational experience in applying design innovations to key gas turbine components, including hot gas path buckets, nozzles, and shrouds.

In terms of successful deployment, Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL), one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum products, has experienced a 3.4 per cent output increase and a 1.5 per cent fuel efficiency improvement on one GE 9E gas turbine since installing the AGP solution. These performance improvements have delivered nearly an additional 6 MW of power to the site’s power station, and enabled DUBAL to reduce its fuel costs.Lazslo Varro

DUBAL is to install AGP technology on two additional GE 9E units, and expects to gain comparable performance improvements that will translate to nearly 18 MW of additional power across all three gas turbines.

At the launch, the International Energy Agency’s head of gas, coal and power division, Laszlo Varro, said that there was much to be positive about for gas-fired power providers in the UK, and pointed to the expense and environmental pitfalls of competing means of power generation.

“If UK energy policy succeeds, there could be problems for gas-fired power. The business case for gas is less strong if policy is successful. However no nuclear power build has ever been on time.

“Also, the reason lignite coal is dirt cheap is because it is dirt.”

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