Natural gas has long been used for energy production, and its popularity is on the rise. Not necessarily a cheap option, it is the cleanest fossil fuel and its combustion generally results in less pollution. More efficient gas-fired power plants help lower emissions while increasing output, a proverbial win-win. This year has seen combined-cycle efficiency records broken not once but twice, a telling sign of future trends. General Electric is currently the record holder with an impressive efficiency rating of over 62 percent; however, it was Siemens who previously led the pack.[i]
Located on the Rhine in Düsseldorf, the Lausward plant’s “Block Fortuna” went on line in January of this year. The combined-cycle power plant is built around the Siemens SGT5-8000H gas turbine, which combined with a steam turbine produces an electrical efficiency of 61.5 percent.[ii] The system also provides heat for the surrounding area, and as a side note, the plant looks architecturally stunning.
The SGT5-8000H is an advancement over previous turbines that can trace their lineage back to the merger between Siemens and Westinghouse Power Generation. Using technologies from both companies, Siemens developed a turbine that is powerful, efficient, and currently winning worldwide contracts. Egypt, most notably, placed an order for 24 SGT5-8000H turbines in 2015, and overall production is forecast to spike in 2017 to fulfill that order. Forecast International expects the remaining production through 2025 to average about 15 units per annum.
Despite Fortuna’s and the SGT5-8000H’s impressive figures, a plant in Bouchain, France, has since taken the title of the most efficient combined-cycle plant. GE also powers the heart of this plant, with a 9HA.01 gas turbine in a combined-cycle arrangement.
The increased efficiency of these two turbines is a benefit not only to business but to the environment. This year has indeed been an important one for natural-gas-fired energy and we look forward to the next milestone.
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[i] GE Reports. “Here’s Why The Latest Guinness World Record Will Keep France Lit Up Long After Soccer Fans Leave.” GEReports.com.
http://www.gereports.com/bouchain/ (accessed August 26, 2016)
[ii] Siemens. “Siemens sets new performance and efficiency world record at Düsseldorf power plant.” Siemens.com
http://www.siemens.com/press/en/feature/2014/corporate/2014-02-lausward.php?content=Corp&content=PG (accessed August 25, 2016)