GE introduces new gas-fired power plant designed to integrate with renewables

GE (NYSE: GE) has announced $1.2 billion in orders for its new FlexEfficiency 60 power generation portfolio, technology aimed at addressing the anticipated worldwide increase in natural gas generation.

The $1.2 billion of secured orders announced by GE have come from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Japan. GE says that the technology will save fuel, reduce emissions and save money for power companies by allowing a plant to rapidly increase or decrease its power output in response to fluctuations in wind and solar power. The technology is designed for the FlexEnergy 60 Combined-Cycle Power Plant, which has the ability to reach 61 percent thermal efficiency.

The new portfolio is being released in anticipation of a continued worldwide shift toward natural gas generation, said Steve Bolze, CEO of GE Power & Water. “The balance between coal, nuclear, renewables and gas is altering greatly around the world. Natural gas is becoming the baseload fuel of choice for power companies and governments.”

The FlexEfficiency 60 will be manufactured and tested at GE’s gas turbine manufacturing facility in Greenville, S.C. GE estimates that if just one equivalent-size coal plant were replaced with a FlexEfficiency 60 Plant, the offset of carbon emissions would be 2.6 million metric tons per year.

“Other parts of the world are trying to reposition their portfolios to be more sensitive to emissions and greenhouse gases,” said Eric Gebhardt, vice president of thermal engineering. “Natural gas is a great option because it’s lower capex to install and it’s abundant.”

The shift toward natural gas is expected to continue in the U.S. “Over the summer was the first time that natural gas created more kilowatt hours of generation than coal did in the U.S.,” Gebhardt said. GE also says they agree with studies projecting that natural gas will generate more kilowatt hours than coal in 2017.

The FlexEfficiency 60 portfolio includes four gas turbines: the 7F 7-series and the 7F 5-series, which are currently available; and the 7F 9-series and 7F 3-series, which will be available in the future. The portfolio will offer a broad size range of gas turbines, from 185 MW to 300 MW. The FlexEfficiency 60 portfolio also includes an enhanced D-17 steam turbine, H26 hydrogen-cooled generator and Mark Vie Integrated Control System.

In 2011, GE made the promise that it would deliver FlexEfficiency technology to countries reliant on 60 Hz power, such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Japan after having released its FlexEfficiency 50 line for plants operating at 50 Hz. The FlexEfficiency 60 is the answer to that promise, said Gebhardt. “This is the fastest launch in history for the thermal division.”

In total, the $1.2 billion of orders represents 19 gas turbine orders. In Japan, GE will provide six 7F 7-series gas turbines to Chubu Electric Co. Inc’s Nishi-Nagoya thermal power plant in Nagoya City, Japan. The plant will produce more than 2,300 MW of combined-cycle generation. GE will also partner with Toshiba to provide the engineering, procurement and construction for the project. The first unit will be shipped in February 2016, and all six turbines are expected to be in service by 2018.

In Saudi Arabia, GE will supply eight 7F 5-series gas turbine generators for the expansion of Saudi Electricity Co.’s PP12 project, which will generate more than 1,900 MW. PP12 is expected to be the largest air-cooled combined-cycle project in Saudi Arabia.

In the U.S., two GE 7F 5-series gas turbines have been ordered for the Cherokee project in Denver, which will convert an existing coal plant into a natural gas combined-cycle facility. The new plant will be owned and operated by the Public Service Co. of Colorado, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL). GE expects to ship the gas turbines in the fourth quarter of 2013, which commercial operation beginning in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Also in the U.S., GE will provide two 7F 5-series gas turbines and a GE D11 steam turbine to Hess Corp. for an upcoming project in the U.S. Additionally, GE will provide one 7F 5-series gas turbine for an undisclosed industrial application in the Western U.S., in which a new combined-cycle power plant will replace a coal-fired power plant.

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