GE has launched the FlexEfficiency 50 combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant rated at 510 MW with fuel efficiency greater than 61 per cent.
In a statement, GE said the plant is the result of an investment of more than $500m in research and development.
GE drew from the company’s jet engine expertise to engineer a plant that will ramp up at a rate of more than 50 MW per minute, twice the rate of today’s industry benchmarks.
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.
“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,” said Paul Browning, vice president—thermal products for GE Power & Water.
“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."
Browning told PEi that GE expects the FlexEfffciency CCGT to enter commercial operation in 2015, but declined to state whether a customer had been lined up for the first unit. GE has invested $170m in an expanded test facility at their Greenville site in South Carolina, USA, he said.
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.
“Much of today’s power generation technology is serving yesterday’s power grid. Institutions and individuals everywhere are looking for cost-effective ways to use solar, wind and gas energy on a large scale. But they often assume that renewable energy can simply plug in to the existing power grid,” said Steve Bolze, president and CEO of GE Power & Water.
“We expect this FlexEfficiency breakthrough to help take advantage of abundant natural gas while we simultaneously carve a fresh path to accelerate wider adoption of renewable energy, all with less impact on natural resources.”
GE said its engineers were able to avoid the typical trade-offs 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 that operates at 50 Hz, which is 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; GE’s advanced W28 generator; a Mark VIe integrated control system that links all of the technologies; and a heat recovery steam generator.