Turbomachinery investment thrives as demand for power grows

Paul Boughton

Sean Ottewell reports that all around the world investment in existing and novel turbomachinery technology is growing in-line with demand for power.

Helping to meet Turkmenistan's growing power requirements, GE will provide its aeroderivative gas turbine technology to Çalik Enerji, one of the leading energy companies established in Turkey. Three power plants will be built at the Akhal, Mary and Lebap sites as part of a 360MW fast-track project, with the Akhal and Mary sites expected to enter commercial service by the end of 2013 and Lebap to follow in February 2014.

"As demand for power grows throughout Turkmenistan, we wanted to ensure that our customers continue to receive power in a timely manner and that social and living conditions in towns, villages and settlements improve thanks to additional power plants and the electrification of all regions of the country, including the most remote ones. Therefore, we chose to build three power plants," said Saim Dinc, Çalik Enerji ceo.

Aeroderivative gas turbines

Under the contract GE will provide nine of its ecomagination qualified LM6000 aeroderivative gas turbines to Çalik Enerji, the Turkish engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm handling this project.

The Akhal site, located near Ashgabat, will feature two LM6000-PF units and one LM6000-PC unit; the Mary site, located in the city of Mary, will feature three LM6000-PC units; and the Lehab site, located in Turkmenabat, will feature three LM6000-PF aeroderivative gas turbines.

"As the first project in Turkmenistan using our aeroderivative technology to produce power in power plants, Çalik Enerji is leading the way in helping to address the increasing power demands in the country using proven technology," said Darryl Wilson, vice president and chief commercial officer - distributed power for GE Power & Water. "The flexibility, fast-start capabilities and overall performance of our LM6000 units will help provide reliable on-site power for the region."

GE's innovative LM6000 aeroderivative gas turbines operate at high reliability and flexibility and are capable of zero water consumption while achieving lower emissions compared to other units in their class.

The LM6000 offers reliability of greater than 99 per cent and availability of more than 97 per cent, along with a high level of operating flexibility and proven dry low nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions technology that guarantees NOx emissions as low as 15ppm at 15 per cent oxygen.

The machine's high efficiency enables lower fuel consumption per unit of power output than competitive technologies, notes the company, yielding fuel cost savings and carbon dioxide reductions for turbine operators.

Compressed air energy storage

Dresser-Rand has won a contract from Apex Compressed Air Energy Storage for the supply of equipment to be used in a new 317MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility to be constructed near Tennessee Colony, Texas, in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market.

The Apex Bethel Energy Centre would be the first CAES facility to be built in the USA since the Power South facility in McIntosh, Alabama, in 1991. This also uses Dresser-Rand turbo machinery. The company says the latest contract is worth approximately US$200 million (EUR150million).

Vincent R Volpe Jr, president and ceo of Dresser-Rand, says the project is of both financial and strategic significance to the company.

"First, it validates the view that the value of large energy storage in the form of CAES is a viable economic investment. Secondly, we are pleased that we have been chosen by Apex on this important project, which we believe will lead to further CAES projects in the coming years. We believe this order represents the first step in the development of a compelling market opportunity," he said.

According to Jack Farley, president and ceo of Apex, Dresser-Rand had the most proven technology and experience. "The flexibility of SMARTCAES technology makes Dresser-Rand a clear choice to provide the equipment and life cycle services. They have a unique cycle and equipment design that has proven itself over 22 years of successful CAES operations. The flexibility of this cycle provides industry-leading dispatch flexibility and low cost, in compliance with air emissions requirements over an expansive operating range. We believe this contract will be the start of a long-term, successful relationship with Dresser-Rand for this project and others to come, both in the US and elsewhere around the world," he added.

Re-emerging technology

Meanwhile, Jim Heid, Dresser-Rand's senior vice president for CAES development, believes this power generation technology is on the cusp of re-emerging: "A CAES system provides two different services either sequentially or concurrently - high pressure air compression and electric power generation derived from expanding the compressed air. Industry sources estimate that there are more than 40 such projects being contemplated over the next 5-10 years. A number of these potential projects are linked to growth in renewable power generation sources such as wind and solar farms."

If all goes to plan Apex's CAES plant will have twice the operating range and more than double the ramp rate per minute of a combined cycle gas turbine - ERCOT's primary resource for providing flexibility today. Flexible generation is critical to maintaining grid reliability through periods of volatile demand as well as integrating intermittent wind and solar resources 24hours a day, 365 days a year.

Lower dispatch costs

Apex CAES achieves lower dispatch costs than conventional generation by efficiently redeploying inexpensive off-peak power. Off-peak power is used to compress air into an underground cavern, converting electricity into potential energy. The compressed air is released during periods of higher demand, and supplemented with natural gas, to drive expansion turbines and generate electricity. Natural gas consumption associated with CAES is significantly lower than that of a combined cycle gas turbine, says the company.

As grid operators constantly depend upon flexible generation to maintain reliability, the facility is being designed for high reliability to ensure that it can provide energy and regulation to ERCOT at the lowest cost possible.

"Storage assets are my number one tool for maintaining reliability," noted Terry Boston - ceo of PJM Interconnection, the largest transmission organisation in the USA - recently.

Finally, Tokyo-based Hitachi is to supply the steam turbine, generator and boiler for an ultra-super critical (USC) coal-fired thermal power plant project in Malaysia.

The 1000MW plant is being constructed under a turnkey contract by a consortium made up of Sumitomo Corporation and major South Korean construction company Daelim Industrial.

This order marks the first time that Hitachi has supplied equipment for a USC coal-fired thermal power plant in south east Asia.

The plant is being planned by Malaysian power company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) at Manjung site in the state of Perak, which is located approximately 300 km north of Kuala Lumpur. Completion is scheduled for October 2017.

Curbing emssions

Hitachi boasts sophisticated technological capabilities for achieving world-class highly efficient power generation and stably operating USC coal-fired thermal power plants even with low-grade fuel. Highly efficient power generation curbs carbon dioxide emissions, reducing the burden on the environment. Hitachi also has an extensive track record of 50 orders for USC coal-fired thermal power plants in Japan, China, South Korea, Europe and the USA.

The company says it aims to actively participate in the large number of new coal-fired thermal power plants that are expected to be constructed in Malaysia and south east Asia in the near future.

Gas turbine driven pipeline compressors is Kasakhstan

Rolls-Royce has won a US$175 million (EUR132 million) contract to supply Asia Gas Pipeline (AGP) with equipment and related services to power the flow of natural gas through Kazakhstan's Line C gas pipeline, part of the 1833km long Central Asia-China gas pipeline network.

The company will supply AGP, a joint venture between Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz and China's National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), with twelve RB211 gas turbine driven pipeline compressor units which will operate at four compressor stations along the 1115 km Line C Pipeline.

When it reaches full operating capacity in 2016, the Central Asia-China Gas pipeline network will transport up to 55billion m3/y of gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. The Line C pipeline in Kazakhstan will contribute up to 25billion m3/y of the total capacity, including potential to supply gas domestically to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The contract is in addition to an award for eleven RB211 gas turbine driven pipeline compressor units secured by Rolls-Royce in 2009 for AGP's Line A and B pipelines.

Rolls-Royce will manufacture and package the equipment at its energy facilities in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Mount Vernon, Ohio, USA.

Beimbet Shayakhmetov, AGP general director, said: "The AGP pipeline will help to meet Kazakhstan's domestic energy needs and to stabilise China's energy consumption with cleaner natural gas. Rolls-Royce proven technology provides an excellent fit and we are delighted to again cooperate with them to support us in transportation of the gas."

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