A major automotive joint venture in China recently opened its first combined heat and power plant, featuring gas turbines from MAN Diesel & Turbo. Tildy Bayar spoke with MAN about the project, China’s changing energy sector and future plans.

Steam towers at the Anting plant

Credit: MAN Diesel & Turbo

An opening ceremony on January 19 saw a new gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant put into operation at SAIC Volkswagen Automotive Company Ltd, a joint venture between China’s largest automaker SAIC and Germany’s Volkswagen Group.

The plant contains four sets of gas-fired MGT 6200 turbines, the latest range from MAN Diesel & Turbo (MDT). Attending the ceremony were Prof Jochen Heizmann, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China, and Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MDT.

‘The inauguration of this combined heat and power system is a landmark for our car production in China,’ said Prof Heizmann. ‘The new plant not only provides steam and electricity for our Car Plant 3 here at SAIC Volkswagen, it also means we no longer use coal boilers so CO2 emissions will be reduced by 59,308 tonnes each year.’

The plant also marks the first market entry of MDT’s latest gas turbine series in China.

Each of the four turbine sets delivers electrical power by driving a generator. Additional use of the waste heat for producing process steam at the SAIC Volkswagen plant increases the plant’s overall efficiency to more than 80%.

‘We are elated to be involved in this project,’ said Dr Lauber after the ceremony. ‘Today, we have inaugurated a gas-fired power plant that covers almost 25% of the energy needs of one of the biggest car production sites in the country, which is low in greenhouse gas emissions and utilizes more than 80% of the invested fuel energy.

‘MAN and the Chinese industry look back at a decades-long tradition of partnership in many technological fields. Now that the Chinese government has set ambitious goals to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, our gas turbines and engine technology can help to reach these goals and reduce CO2 emissions.’

China’s energy sector is changing

With awareness of air pollution in China increasing, the government is pursuing an active programme to lower emission levels and increase energy efficiency. The new CHP plant fulfils this objective by producing electricity to cover 100% of the annual demand in Car Plant 3 and the neighbouring gearbox plant in Anting, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 23%, MAN said.

At the opening ceremony

Credit: MAN Diesel & Turbo

According to figures from the National Energy Administration, China’s gas supply is expected to reach 400 billion cubic metres in 2020, and natural gas will increase to represent 10% of primary energy consumption. Indeed, given the government’s growing attention to gas as a cleaner energy source, it is expected to gradually become one of the backbones of China’s energy supply.

The project

MDT received the order for its turbines in December 2014. The impetus behind it was China’s increasingly stringent emissions policies, under which the government has asked all companies in industrial capitals to switch off and replace their coal-fired boilers before 2018. Aiming to set an example, SAIC Volkswagen shut down its last coal-fired boiler in October 2015, replacing it with seven gas-fired boilers and the CHP system. The Anting CHP system is the first large-scale industrial heat and power system for industrial use in Shanghai.

MAN says it was able to win the project in spite of heavy competition. The turbines were manufactured in Germany and shipped to the site in October 2015, with construction work beginning in November. In January the first turbine was fired and the plant was ready for commercial operation on 31 January.

The CHP system installed in Anting is a trigeneration system, simultaneously producing power, steam and hot water from a single fuel source. The system consists of four MDT gas turbines as prime movers. Each turbine is 6 MW and drives one waste heat recovery unit for steam generation at 13 bar and hot water production at 88°C. The total power production of the trigeneration plant is in the range of 26 MWe, the total steam generation is around 56 t/h and the total hot water production is 4.4 MW. The overall net CHP efficiency of the plant is around 83%.

The CHP system not only meets most of the electricity demands for SAIC Volkswagen’s Car Plant 3 and other plants, but can also meet the basic steam load demands for the entire Anting Plant.

According to MAN, the reduction in annual energy consumption is equivalent to 11,594 tonnes of standard coal, while CO2 emissions can be reduced by 59,308 tonnes, equal to the absorption amount of 487,463 trees in one year.

With a mechanical efficiency rating of 34%, the MGT6200 is setting standards in the 6 MW output class. Each of the four gas turbines manufactured by MAN at its German Oberhausen plant delivers 6.9 MW of mechanical power and 13.9 MW of thermal power at an overall level of efficiency of over 80%.

‘It thus optimally utilizes the energy content of the natural gas used with convincingly low levels of pollutant emissions,’ says Manfred Biedermann, Chairman and Head of China at MAN Diesel & Turbo. ‘In addition to the particularly high efficiency, one of our primary development aims was that the MGT 6200 had to be equally economic and environmentally-friendly,’ he continues. ‘It is a comparatively small machine that can be used wherever off-grid electricity is needed.

‘From its idle state, an MGT needs less than ten minutes to reach full-scale output. It is also very service-friendly with all parts being easily accessible by service technicians and a breaker to breaker interval of only three days.’

MAN in China

‘Thanks to MAN Diesel & Turbo’s long tradition, vast experience and substantial footprint in the Chinese market, the project was handled very smoothly and efficiently,’ says Biedermann. ‘MAN is a reliable partner of the Chinese industry in many fields and for a long time.’

The first MAN steam turbine was installed in China as early as 1898. To date, MAN operates more than 750 units in China and employs around 600 people in Changhzou, Bejing and Shanghai, where the firm has received an award as an Energy-saving & Emission Reduction Advanced Enterprise in 2015. Compressor and turbine production is located in Changzhou, whereas Shanghai is the main hub for PrimeServ Diesel.

‘MAN has been co-operating with leading players from the Chinese marine and power sectors for many years,’ adds Beidermann. ‘Our technology helps to maintain the leading position of Chinese shipyards, close to 20 of which are licensees of MAN’s 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines and hence build MAN engines in China.’ The oldest of these partnerships began in 1980. ‘We also run R&D projects together with its licensees and support two universities in Shanghai and Dalian in training. And we are building power plants all over the world together with Chinese EPC companies,’ says Beidermann.

What’s ahead

China’s new requirement that companies in industrial capitals, such as Shanghai, replace their coal-fired boilers before 2018 ‘also applies to Bejing and Guangzhou, and we can sense an increase in projects in these areas,’ Beidermann says. ‘China is an important market for MAN’s business development worldwide. Our solutions can help to facilitate a cleaner energy production and safer supply of natural gas in China. The Chinese government has set ambitious goals to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, and our gas engine and turbomachinery technology can help to reach these goals and to reduce emissions. That holds true with regards to energy generation, but also with regards to gas transport and the marine sector.’

Looking to the future, ‘we are engaged in various tenders for projects in China – gas turbines and otherwise,’ says Beidermann.