New GE combined cycle power plant delivers both flexibility and efficiency; enables greater use of wind, solar and natural gas on grid
GE unveiled the FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant, engineered to deliver a combination of flexibility and efficiency in power generation. GE drew from the company’s jet engine expertise to engineer a single-shaft plant that will ramp up at a rate of more than 50 megawatts per minute, twice the rate of today’s industry benchmarks. By rapidly ramping up and down in response to fluctuations in wind and solar power, the technology will enable the integration of more renewable resources into the power grid, GE says.
|The FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant. Click to enlarge.|
The FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant is rated at 510 megawatts and offers fuel efficiency greater than 61%. The plant is the result of an investment of more than $500 million in research and development by GE; it is a key part of ongoing work to create and manufacture technologies around the globe that deliver cleaner, more efficient energy, the company said.
While power plants today can provide flexibility or high efficiency, this power plant will deliver an unprecedented combination of both. Operational flexibility at these levels will enable utilities to deliver power quickly when it is needed and to ramp down when it is not, balancing the grid cost-effectively and helping to deploy additional renewable power resources like wind and solar. A typical FlexEfficiency 50 plant will deliver enough energy to power more than 600,000 EU homes.
GE engineers were able to avoid the typical tradeoffs between flexibility and efficiency by approaching the plant design from a total equipment and control systems perspective. The FlexEfficiency 50 plant is engineered for flexible operation by integrating:
A next-generation 9FB Gas Turbine with a new four-stage hot gas path that operates at 50 Hz (the power frequency that is most used in countries around the world).
A 109D-14 Steam Turbine, which runs on the waste heat produced by the gas turbine. The steam turbine features a double flow side exhaust low pressure (LP) configuration and synchronous clutch.
GE’s advanced W28 Generator with water-cooled stator.
Heat recovery steam generator.
Mark VIe integrated control system that links all of the technologies.
The International Energy Agency concluded in a new report that large shares of variable renewable energy are feasible as long as power systems and markets are properly configured so they can get the best use of their flexible resources.
As our customers seek to increase their use of renewable energy, the challenge of grid stability sharpens. They are under added pressure to achieve higher levels of efficiency and lower emissions for natural gas power plants. The FlexEfficiency 50 plant creates an immense growth opportunity in a new segment for our gas turbine technology and is in lock-step with our commitment to build a cleaner energy future.
For years we have been working to develop technology that can, in the same breath, deliver breakthrough efficiency and deal head-on with the challenge of grid variability caused by wind and solar. The need for combined flexibility and efficiency is even more pressing today as countries around the world establish new emissions standards.—Paul Browning, vice president thermal products for GE Power & Water
The FlexEfficiency 50 plant is the first product in GE’s new FlexEfficiency portfolio and part of GE’s ecomagination commitment to drive clean energy technology through innovation and R&D investment. The launch follows GE’s recent announcements of the world’s most efficient wind turbine, the highest reported efficiency for thin film solar and $11 billion in acquisitions that strengthen a portfolio supporting natural gas and power transmission.