A new 2-GW natural gas-fired power plant in China, being built to support the coming retirement of a large regional coal-fired complex, will feature three GE 9HA.01 gas turbines. GE Gas Power and Harbin Electric on March 7 announced that Chinese state-owned power utility Shenzhen Energy Group Corporation Co. has ordered the equipment for its Guangming combined cycle power plant, located in the Shenzhen Guangming district of Guangdong province in China.
The plant is sited in China’s most populous province; Guangdong is home to about 126 million people. GE on Monday said the new plant should be operational by year-end 2023, helping replace electricity output that will be lost when the remaining units of the Guangdong Shajiao coal-fired power complex are retired. The Shajiao complex at its peak included three plants, and a total of 10 coal-fired units, with generation capacity of nearly 4 GW. Half those units were retired in 2018 and 2019; the plant today features five operating units, with total generation capacity of 2,310 MW. Those units are expected to close in 2025.
A plan to build two additional coal-fired units at Shajiao, which would have provided another 2,000 MW of generation capacity, was abandoned after China in 2016 announced new restrictions on the development of coal-fired power generation capacity.
“Gas power generation is playing a significant role in China’s energy future due to its reliability, flexibility and with the lowest CO2 emissions of all fossil power generation fuels when blended with hydrogen,” said Ramesh Singaram, president and CEO of GE Gas Power Asia. “We are optimistic about the prospects of gas power in China and committed to supplying the most advanced gas power generation technologies. In this journey, we continue to strengthen our cooperation with Harbin Electric towards bringing more HA class fleets to China, from Junliangcheng to Ningzhou, from Huizhou to Guangming, while powering growth and prosperity for the country.”
China Increasing Gas-Fired Capacity
Gas “Gas can play a significant role in China’s energy future due to its sustainability, flexibility, low capital costs, ability to integrate with carbon capture systems, and rapid deployment capabilities.” said Ma Jun, Utility Sales General Manager of GE Gas Power in China, on Monday. “Natural gas-fired generators have the lowest CO2 emissions of all fossil power generation fuels—and are ideal for countries including China where the need to transition from coal at scale while retaining reliability of supply is paramount. We are excited to work together with Harbin Electric in support of increasing natural gas-fired power generation in China.”
China, in addition to rapidly ramping up its supply of renewable energy, also is building new gas-fired plants as the country looks to reduce its reliance on coal-fired power. Coal-fueled generation accounted for more than 72% of the country’s power in 2005; that number dropped to about 57% in 2020. The country has said it wants emissions from the power sector to peak before 2030, and wants carbon neutrality before 2060.
“We’re committed to supplying the most advanced power generation in alignment with China’s national emissions reduction goals and commitment to building a lower-carbon, safer and more efficient energy system,” said a representative of Shenzhen Energy Group in a news release. “GE and Harbin Electric will provide us with the highest standard of quality and reliability for our Guangming power plant. We ordered GE’s H-Class technology for its ability to generate significant electrical output in a flexible and efficient way—crucial for the population of Guangdong province—while helping to ensure reliability of supply.”
The 9HA gas turbine has been recognized for its efficiency. It was first used by GE and EDF in 2016 at a power plant in Bouchain, France, where the turbine converted fuel to electricity at a 62.22% efficiency rate. The turbine also has the capability to burn up to 50% by volume of hydrogen when blended with natural gas.
Harbin Electric is providing steam turbines and generators for the project. GE and Harbin Electric in 2019 formed a joint venture, known as General Harbin Electric Gas Turbine (Qinhuangdao) Co., Ltd., “to focus on heavy duty gas turbine localization, aiming to deliver efficient and reliable support for China natural gas power plants.” GE and Harbin have also recently announced orders including three 9HA.02 gas turbines for the Guangdong Energy Group’s Dongguan Ningzhou power plant, and two 9HA.01 gas turbines for Guangdong Huizhou power plant, which are expected to burn up to 10% by volume of hydrogen blended with natural gas upon start of operation. In addition, GE is providing the equipment to support the coal-to-gas transition of China Huadian Tianjin Junliangcheng Power Generation Co., Ltd.’s Junliangcheng power plant.
“As one of the most economically developed provinces in China, Guangdong is also the pilot for cleaner energy transition with highest gas power capacity among all provinces in China,” said Singaram. “I’m looking forward to the operation of the first unit of this facility in 2023, in time to support the retirement of Shajiao coal-fired power complex targeted in 2025.”
GE has operated in China for more than 40 years, and has installed more than 200 gas turbines, with total power generation capacity of 46 GW.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).