Coal, Gas

Gas turbine to dominate with coming advancements

Issue 5 and Volume 101.

Gas turbine to dominate with coming advancements

The EIA forecasts 172 GW of new generating capacity will be needed by 2010 to meet expected growth in electric power demand. Moreover, a significant portion of existing generating capacity is expected to require replacement or undergo repowering during this time period. Such trends and developments portend a growing need for more efficient, cleaner advanced gas turbine and cogeneration systems (see figure).

The move toward a more competitive power generation market may further increase the role of the nonutility segment of the industry and enhance opportunities for cogeneration. Industrial users and nonutility power producers often choose gas turbine systems because they are easier to site and quicker to develop than similar-sized alternatives. In addition, emissions from natural gas-fired turbine systems are significantly lower than emissions from similar-sized coal or oil power plants. Simple- and combined-cycle gas turbine systems are expected to be employed in almost 60 percent of the 61 GW of new capacity planned by the nonutility power industry through 2000.

The efficiency, flexibility, reliability and other benefits of simple- or combined-cycle gas turbine systems are prompting utilities to employ such systems as well. Though designed to meet peak and intermediate load requirements, these systems are able to meet baseload requirements if necessary.

Despite the advantage of gas turbines, power producers must meet increasingly stringent emissions requirements, new capacity needs and increasing competitive pressure to improve efficiency. Improved turbine systems are needed to ensure reliable and economic electricity supplies, to help meet national energy efficiency and environmental goals and to maintain the world leadership position of U.S. turbine manufacturers, according to a recent report from the Department of Energy?s (DOE) Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT). To achieve significant improvements, advanced turbines are needed that operate at higher firing temperatures while maintaining low emissions levels. However, manufacturers are reaching the limit of traditional technology. Future advances in turbine technology will require significant design changes, development and application of new materials, and the use of innovative power cycles.

Advancements are also needed to ensure that U.S. gas turbine manufacturers remain competitive in the growing world market as the global market for power generation equipment becomes increasingly important to U.S. manufacturers. Gas turbine exports, with a total value of $2 billion annually, will grow to $3.5 billion annually, according to OIT statistics. While U.S. manufacturers have traditionally been strong in this overseas market?40 percent of all gas turbine sales between 1988 and 1994 were from U.S. manufacturers?foreign manufacturers are aggressively pursuing technology improvements to challenge this position.

Although many of the turbine advancements for the private sector resulted from technology developed through military R&D programs, direct government funding for civilian turbine development has historically been minimal. However, the technical and economic risks involved in the next generation of advanced turbine systems will be much greater than in the past, and private industry is not expected to pursue these advances without risk-sharing in the form of a government-industry/cost-sharing program.

OIT?s Advanced Turbine Systems and Cogeneration Program conducts research, development and demonstration to meet the technical and market challenges associated with enhancing industrial cogeneration and moderate-sized independent power production opportunities.

OOIT: Enhancing the Competitiveness, Efficiency and Environmental Quality of American Industry through Technology PartnershipsO is available through DOE at P.O. Box 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116, or by phone at (800) DOE-EREC. OIT?s Internet address is