GE has today announced a second order for its GT26 HE (high efficiency) gas turbine upgrade.

The first earlier this year was with Uniper for its Enfield plant in London, and this week’s is with Drax for its Shoreham power station, near Brighton in the UK.

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of generation assets across Britain, including Britain’s largest power plant at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies 5 per cent of the country’s electricity.

As well as the turbine upgrade, GE will also provide digital solutions and plant improvement services to help Drax increase the plant’s flexibility. GE’s Asset Performance Management solution is expected to improve Drax’s predictive maintenance capabilities and the availability and reliability of the power station, while GE’s Operations Performance Management software will deliver enterprise data visibility across the power plant, providing a holistic understanding of the operational decisions that can expand capabilities and lower production costs.

Amit Kulkarni, General Manager of H/F-Class turbines for GE’s Power Services business, said: “Not only will this upgrade help Drax improve its efficiency and output, but it will also improve its competitive position in the UK energy marketplace. The power increase will be rewarded in the event of a successful bid in the UK’s capacity auction, and the lifetime improvement will reduce maintenance costs.”

Andy Koss, chief executive of Generation at Drax, said the turbine upgrade “could provide a significant efficiency increase, more flexibility and greater power output”.

“These are critical attributes, which complement the roll out of renewables in the UK and can help to ensure a stable power supply whatever the weather. In addition, our fleet would reap the benefits of GE’s digital solutions to help us react more quickly to marketplace conditions while reducing our operating costs and improving the plant’s carbon footprint.”

GE will perform an enablement inspection this year to allow operation through 2021, which is when the new HE will be implemented on the gas turbine. The upgrade would increase combined-cycle efficiency by about 2.5 per cent and add more than 40 MW of power at baseload.

“Our new HE product is the most advanced solution we’ve ever introduced on a GT26 gas turbine, and it provides significant performance improvements for an F-class combined-cycle gas turbine upgrade,” added Kulkarni.

GE said the GT26 HE upgrade provides “a leap forward in efficiency, output and maintenance interval extensions”.

It is powered partly through advanced technology from GE’s flagship HA gas turbine, with additive manufactured parts and innovations in aerodynamics, material science and combustion dynamics.

GE said that the holistic package “embeds technology breakthroughs across every major component of the GT26 frame—turbine, compressor and combustor—to take turbine performance to a new level, significantly decreasing fuel costs while increasing full-load output and extending maintenance intervals”.

In an interview with PEI, Alex Evans, GT26 Sales Director at GE Power in Europe, said: “We are really proud of this technology – we have poured our heart and soul into it and we have done something genuinely world-first. No-one has taken this step-up of efficiency before. There are very few companies in the world that would have the vision to do this – and also have the ‘corporate memory’ to pull together all the engineering and technological lesson that we have learned.”

He said that the solution was a logical step-up for gas plant operators who are looking position their gas plant at the forefront of Europe’s energy transition as a flexible enabler to more renewables online.

“We are seeing customers that have mid-to-late-term life assets looking at HE as a life -enhancing, future-proofing solution. It is realizing the potential of an existing asset versus the high cost of building a brand new power station.”

With around 100 G26s worldwide, he adds that there are several more deals in development and “we should expect to see a few more announcements in Europe and in the Asia region. This is a fantastic piece of technology that delivers for customers.”