GE-Powered Combined Cycle Plant Sets New Efficiency Record

Guinness World Records recognized GE’s HA gas turbine for powering the world’s most efficient—up to 62.22%—combined cycle power plant.

The first unit equipped with an HA turbine officially began operation on June 17 at EDF’s plant located in Bouchain, France.

“Today we are making history with this power plant for the future,” said Steve Bolze, president and CEO of GE Power. “We are thrilled to be acknowledged by Guinness World Records for powering the world’s most efficient combined-cycle power plant, and we are also very proud of the industry-leading flexibility and reliability this turbine provides to our customers. We look forward to continuing to work with EDF and providing services to ensure the ongoing high performance of the Bouchain plant in the years to come.”

According to GE, the airflow through the 605-MW Bouchain plant’s HA compressor could fill the Goodyear blimp in 10 seconds. The tip of the last blade in the 9HA.01 is said to move at 1,200 miles per hour—one and a half times the speed of sound (Figure 1).

1. Record breaking efficiency.
With an efficiency of up to 62.22%, the 605-MW unit is capable of powering more than 680,000 homes. Courtesy: GE

The HA gas turbine is capable of reaching full power in less than 30 minutes, offering flexibility for companies integrating renewable generation into systems or responding to weather changes and grid demand fluctuations.

During a media event announcing the Bouchain plant’s accomplishment, Bolze said GE has invested more than $1 billion developing the HA gas turbine. Joe Mastrangelo, president and CEO of Gas Power Systems, said the plant’s 62.22% efficiency mark is just a starting point for what the company hopes to attain in the future. He suggested that GE’s technology programs could propel efficiency toward 65% by the early 2020s.

Paul McElhinney, president and CEO of Power Services, said the design of the HA turbine allows significant maintenance improvements. He said the turbine has hundreds of additional sensors, allowing for meaningful data capture. When married with GE’s digital capabilities, McElhinney said operation can be optimized, unplanned downtime can be avoided, predictive maintenance can be enhanced, and efficiency can be boosted. He also said installation time has been cut by 25% compared to other units.

The Bouchain location (Figure 2) had been host to two 250-MW coal-fired units, which were retired in 2015. The new combined cycle unit has reduced site CO2 emissions by 65%, reduced SOx emissions by 95%, and cut particulate emissions to zero.

2. The Bouchain power plant.
EDF’s new combined cycle plant drastically cut emissions from the previously coal-fired site. Courtesy: GE

“For those areas in the world where footprint is an issue this thing is significant in terms of power density,” Bolze said. “It replaces a coal plant. It is on 25% of the footprint of the old plant. It generates more power with 50% less carbon emissions. This is a big deal.”

EDF expects to operate the Bouchain unit up to 3,000 hours each year, starting and stopping the machine more than 100 times annually.

Bolze said GE is seeing strong demand for the unit in the marketplace. The company shipped five HA turbines in the first quarter 2016. He said GE currently has 39 firm orders while approaching 90 technology selections.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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