With significant industry shifts around the world relating to energy mixes, emissions regulations, grid demands, local storage and more, flexibility and efficiency are today’s brass rings for operations managers in gas power-generation facilities. In regions experiencing rapid renewable adoption, such as Europe, parts of Asia and the US, gas plants may operate at base load only a few hours per day, while in growing economies they may cycle frequently between minimum-load and base-load. These demands make capabilities for fast starts, efficient part-load operation, lower turndown and other flexible operation features paramount to keeping your edge in a very competitive industry.  

Flexing your ROI with cost-effective upgrades  

When considering performance advancements for broader operating parameters and/or lower costs, there are some enhancements that can significantly increase the value of an upgrade strategy. For example, coupling a gas turbine upgrade, such as GE’s Advanced Gas Path with an OpFlex* Variable Load Path software solution can achieve GT base load in as little as 10 minutes, reduce fuel consumption during startup by up to 70% and lower start-up emissions up to 50%, for a simple cycle power plant. Adding such digital solutions, is a cost-effective way to significantly enhance the benefits of the upgrade itself – at a reasonable investment.

Beyond typical methods, operators can employ less apparent hardware and software technologies to reduce load times. Adding an automated steam turbine heat conservation solution to the mix conserves heat during shut down and stand still, helping to avoid cold or even warm-start conditions. In the context of a typical European F-Class 2×1 combined-cycle gas plant with 50 “warm” starts per year upwards of $1M in fuel savings alone can be achieved with such technology, while also reducing start time considerably.

High efficiency for high impact

Around the globe, water and fuel are critical resources that require power producers to make the most of what they have access to. Luckily, gas-fired power generation technologies are becoming more resource efficient, requiring less water and fuel, and producing fewer emissions. The catalog of available plant upgrades is expanding thanks to advancements in engineering, new materials and manufacturing innovations.   

Less obvious are the possibilities that economical solutions can bring when paired with upgrades for efficiency gains. For instance, an MXL2 gas turbine upgrade blended with solutions such as GE’s Digital Efficiency Optimizer, which attunes heat rate to lower overall Operations & Maintenance (O&M) costs, can help to increase plant competitiveness.

Consider a power plant with an E-class gas turbine (2×1 multi-shaft configuration) operating 8,500 hours per year on fuel costing $9/MMBtu. In this scenario, the Digital Efficiency Optimizer could provide up to $280,000 per unit, or ~$560,000 in total value per year.

Another example is the HRSG Pressure Wave Plus* Cleaning solution – a cost-effective service that, by removing debris from the HRSG, improves full-, part- and low load combined-cycle efficiency. In the United States, a plant removed 14 tons of debris with this solution. Gas turbine back pressure dropped approximately 20cm / 8 inches H2O, and the stack temperature decreased 16.7°C / 30°F. According to the team’s estimates, this can represent up to of $500,000 in fuel savings and/or increased power generation. To calculate individual fuel savings, you can try our ROI calculator.

Total plant solutions come through a plant-as-a-system perspective

It is critical to recognize that improving profitability and performance involves a holistic plant evaluation. A system-level approach can translate to the highest value in an evolving industry – identifying the best combination of solutions relative to grid conditions, plant mission or duty cycle, and the ongoing march toward low-carbon economies. 

To find out more about GE’s total gas plant solutions, please contact us here.

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