GE (NYSE: GE) and CEFLA SC have completed ahead of schedule – and by applying advanced and efficient technologies – the modernization of the ACEA Tor di Valle combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Rome featuring two of GE’s Jenbacher* J920 FleXtra gas engines.

The CHP plant will supply heat to about 40,000 residential customers in Rome. The electrical power will be used at ACEA ATO2’s sewage treatment plant, and the surplus electricity can be exported to the power grid.

These are the first two 50 Hz, 9.5 MW J920 FleXtra units in commercial operation in Italy. In addition, the ACEA Tor di Valle district heating project marks the first time that GE’s J920 FleXtra technology has been selected to modernize an existing power plant. With the downsizing of the plant and the installation of two highly efficient J920 FleXtra CHP solutions, 16,000 tons of CO2 emissions can be saved annually.

The plant was designed and delivered by a consortium made up of GE and CEFLA, with GE providing the Jenbacher J920 FleXtra generator sets, related engineering and associated balance-of-plant equipment. CEFLA developed the engineering aspects of the plant, providing project management, ensuring plant supplies, and taking care of all plant installation, including the civil infrastructure.

The new district heating plant consists of two J920 FleXtra CHP units plus three auxiliary boilers and associated district heating systems. The engines will produce 19 MW of electrical power and about 15 MW of thermal power, achieving more than 80% total efficiency.

Three additional gas boilers will produce another 70 MW of thermal power to cover peak heat load demands, and heat storage tanks will allow heat to be buffered for off-peak demand. The combination of gas engines producing power and heat with heat storage and gas boilers reduces the environmental impact of this new cogeneration plant and makes it more efficient than the power plant it replaced.
GE district heating project in Rome
“This major Tor di Valle project has been a huge challenge, but we managed to complete it ahead of schedule and start up the first engine four months ahead of the original timetable,” said Roberto Cocchi, managing director of the CEFLA Plant Solutions business unit.

The project includes a multiyear service agreement for the two J920 FleXtra engines. GE’s myPlant* Asset Performance Management solution will actively monitor all key engine parameters. myPlant analytics can predict component life, allowing operators to move from a proactive maintenance schedule to a Condition Based Maintenance approach.

“In Europe, we are seeing rising demand for more flexible energy systems in the CHP segment and for the modernization of existing gas- or coal-fired cogeneration power plants under the European climate policy,” said Carlos Lange, president of GE’s Distributed Power business. “We are pleased to collaborate with Cefla to commission this decentralized power plant ahead of time and offer more operating flexibility to ACEA.”

GE and Cefla will help ACEA balance the supply of energy by integrating the engines with a thermal energy storage system. This will help ensure a continuous supply of heat without running the engines in off-peak periods or during periods that already have enough electricity supply from renewables.