Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has begun converting a combined-cycle plant in Japan to prepare for verification testing of its long-anticipated J-Series gas turbine in February 2011—a system that the company claims has the most power generation capacity and highest thermal efficiency in the 1,600C turbine inlet temperature class (Figure 3). The work being carried out at the Takasago Machinery Works facility in Hyogo Prefecture (where the company’s G-Series gas turbines were tested) includes installation of the J-Series turbine, and it marks another major milestone in the technology’s development.
Though electricity generation has entered a key period of transition—as investment shifts to low-carbon technologies—world electricity demand is set to grow faster than any other “final form of energy,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its latest annual World Energy Outlook.
European carbon trading is gradually pushing down coal-fired capacity factors, and operating costs are rising. The U.S. may not have a carbon market, but increasing regulatory requirements are having the same effect on coal-fired generation capacity factors and operating costs. In the meantime, gas-fired assets are enjoying increased usage and lower unit costs.
If Hollywood were scripting the power industry story for 2011, it would be a sequel to 2010—more of the same, but just not quite as good. Natural gas gets top billing and the accolades, wind power drops to a supporting role, and new nuclear answers the casting call but has yet to get a speaking part. Coal is like Mel Gibson—a talented Oscar winner unlikely to get another leading role. In this, our fifth annual industry forecast report, the story may be familiar, but the price of admission is going way up.
A 9.5-MW gas engine unveiled by GE this October for decentralized, independent power producers in remote, hot, or high-altitude regions features a 48.7% electrical efficiency and promises to reduce lifecycle costs by lowering fuel consumption.
Turkey, a country that has seen rapid economic growth since the 1980s, largely spurred by a shift in governmental strategy to open up markets and increase private participation, has been actively overhauling its power infrastructure to meet soaring electricity consumption. According to grid operator Turkish Electricity Transmission Co., national consumption increased to 17 billion kWh this September—an 11% increase over the 15.3 billion kWh consumed in September 2009.
Microturbine technology has evolved from early systems of 30 kW to 70 kW to today’s systems, which can have individual ratings of 200 kW to 250 kW. Packages up to 1 MW are now available that can be assembled into multipac units for projects of 5 MW to 10 MW. These modern units are packaged with integrated digital protection, synchronization, and controls; they produce high combined heat and power efficiencies; and they are capable of using multiple fuels.
The University of California, San Diego has been accumulating awards for its savvy use of a constellation of power generation and energy-saving technologies. The campus already controls a fully functioning microgrid—including a cogeneration plant—and, as befits a research institution, is constantly looking for new ways to make its energy system smarter. This “living laboratory,” as campus leaders like to call it, demonstrates what it takes to build a smarter grid and why the effort is worth it.
The CSB has made urgent recommendations to the NFPA and the International Code Council to prohibit indoor purging and require companies and installers to purge flammable fuel gases to safe locations outdoors, away from workers and ignition sources.
Renewable electricity generation has many environmental advantages, but adding large amounts of far-flung renewable resources to a grid requires increased operating flexibility from dispatchable generators when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. One promising option: A combined-cycle plant based on Alstom’s GT24/GT26 combustion turbine can be “parked” at approximately 20% plant load while producing emissions comparable to those during baseload operation—with little loss in thermal efficiency. When demand returns, the combined cycle can return to baseload within minutes.