Dania Beach Clean Energy Center: A Vital Power Resource for Southeast Florida

Courtesy: Florida Power & Light

Florida Power & Light’s Dania Beach site has been producing power for Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and surrounding communities for more than 95 years. With the latest modernization project, it’s destined to provide power to the area for many more years to come.

There are few more popular places to live in the U.S. than in Florida. And when it comes to living in Florida, there are few more popular places than the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metropolitan area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the sprawling metro area on Florida’s southeast coast ranks ninth in the nation in terms of population with more than 6 million reported residents. And when it comes to living in Florida in the summertime, there are few more important things than air conditioning, which means there are few more important things than power.

A Historic Site in an Important Location

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) was created on Dec. 28, 1925. In its first year, the company served approximately 76,000 customers in 58 communities. FPL’s first power plant was the Lauderdale Plant, which was constructed on a site located along the coast at nearly the midpoint of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area. The location has remained a power generation resource for FPL ever since.

The first repowering of the Lauderdale Plant took place in 1957 when more modern (for its time) conventional steam turbine and boiler technology was installed. Two banks of 12 simple-cycle gas combustion turbine units were added to the site in 1970 and 1972, respectively, giving the site more than 1,000 MW of additional peaking capacity. In 1993, the Lauderdale Plant was repowered again, this time with two 2-on-1 combined cycle generation units adding more combustion turbine generators to the site mix.

The recent modernization of the Lauderdale Plant into what is now known as the Dania Beach Clean Energy Center continued FPL’s commitment to bring the most efficient and cost-effective generation to its customers. The project transformed what had over the years become the company’s least-efficient combined cycle power station, into what is now FPL’s most-efficient plant.

The Dania Beach plant is a state-of-the-art 2-on-1 combined cycle unit. The new units’ heat rate represents a 22% improvement over the approximate 7,800 Btu/kWh heat rate of the previous Lauderdale Plant. This results in significant fuel savings for FPL customers. Dania Beach uses natural gas as its primary fuel, leveraging the existing gas pipeline to the site. In the unlikely event of an extended disruption to the natural gas supply, Dania Beach is also designed to burn light fuel oil with an ultra-low sulfur content as a backup fuel.

FPL has said Dania Beach enhances its system reliability by improving the load-generation balance in the southeastern Florida region of the company’s service territory. Beyond the fuel savings, system reliability improvements, and air emission reductions, Dania Beach is estimated to generate significant economic benefits, including millions of dollars in tax revenues for local governments and school districts, and a number of temporary and permanent jobs.

A Well-Executed Project

FPL signed an agreement with Black & Veatch to perform the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract work for the Dania Beach modernization. FPL, consistent with its typical process, procured the steam turbine generator and heat recovery steam generators directly. Repowering the existing site allowed reusing several existing energy systems at the location. No new offsite power transmission lines or electric substations were needed, and no new natural gas pipelines were required.

GE Vernova’s Gas Power business was selected to supply the gas turbines (GTs) for the project. Beyond the longstanding partnership between FPL and GE, the key drivers behind the combustion turbine selection included the capital and long-term operational costs, availability, and fuel efficiency/heat rate of the technology. These critical inputs ensure the station provides the best levelized cost of electricity to customers. The GTs were ordered in the second half of 2017 and arrived onsite in early 2021.

The Dania Beach GTs are GE 7HA.03 models (Figure 1). The 7HA.03 is a larger version of GE’s 60-Hz HA platform. It is very similar to the 7HA.01 and 7HA.02, which came before it, but the 7HA.03 has larger compressor and turbine sections, allowing for greater air and fuel flow, which results in more power output than previous 7HAs.

1. The 7HA combined cycle plant ramps up to full load in less than 30 minutes and features a novel configuration that supports simplified installation and maintenance. Courtesy: GE Vernova

The 7HA.03 has a simple-cycle net output of 430 MW—a sizable boost compared to its forerunner, the 7HA.02, which is rated at 384 MW, and the 7HA.01, which is rated at 290 MW. The 7HA.03 in a 2-on-1 combined cycle configuration—as is installed at Dania Beach—has an output of 1,282 MW.

The 7HA.03 is also GE’s first 60-Hz gas turbine to use the DLN 2.6e combustion system—a dry low NOx design. GE says this allows the 7HA.03 to burn fuel and produce power more efficiently. The DLN 2.6e combustion system continues to use staged fuel combustion, or axial fuel staging, which is present on all HA gas turbines. It also deploys an advanced premixer, which doubles the fuel flexibility, allowing it to operate on both rich and lean natural gas variants. The combustor’s design continues to use unibody construction where the liner and transition piece have been combined. The DLN 2.6e combustion system also has enhanced capability to burn hydrogen, thus allowing a path to decarbonization as hydrogen availability increases.

The NOx emission rate for the new Dania Beach unit is only 2 parts per million (ppm) when firing natural gas. This is 95% lower than the previous units, which ran up to 42 ppm. FPL said the new GTs reduced primary air emissions by 70%, and provide significant reductions in the carbon dioxide emission rate too. “The plant is performing very well,” said Chris Mastriani, account executive for Gas Power at GE Vernova.

“The largest hurdle was probably that the equipment was manufactured and the plant built during the middle of COVID, with all of the associated logistical challenges,” Mastriani said. Nonetheless, the project was completed on schedule with a commercial operation start date of June 1, 2022. Mastriani said finishing the work on-time in spite of the pandemic was a testament to the project team’s dedication to the job.

A Flexible Station That Benefits the Community

The Dania Beach GTs are incredibly flexible, with an emissions-compliant operating window of 80 MW to 430 MW. The Dania Beach GTs are the only two 7HA.03s (Figure 2) currently in commercial operation, but there are 14 others on order and another 10 have been tech-selected for other clients’ projects.

2. According to GE, the 7HA.03 gas turbine is the most-efficient and highest-capacity 60-Hz gas turbine currently installed in the world. Courtesy: GE Vernova

FPL reported investing about $888 million in the Dania Beach modernization project. However, the company estimates the plant will provide a net cost savings of $337 million for customers over its operating life.

Meanwhile, the Dania Beach site is also an important refuge for manatees during cold weather. FPL said as many as 947 manatees have been documented at the facility in one day. The new units preserve this important warm-water refuge for the iconic creatures.

FPL has said the Dania Beach plant will provide an estimated $297 million in tax revenue for Broward County, the school district, Children’s Services Council, and other taxing authorities as a result of operations. While the company is keenly focused on adding renewable energy to its generation portfolio and is by far the largest producer of solar power in Florida, the fact remains that it needs reliable 24/7 resources to provide power when the sun is not shining and to keep pace with increasing energy use in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The Dania Beach Clean Energy Center fits the bill.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor.

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