Coal, Gas

DOE Eyes Mid-Size Turbine Development

Issue 2 and Volume 104.

DOE has kicked off an effort to develop next-generation gas turbine systems, issuing a solicitation to the turbomachinery power industry to conduct initial studies of innovative turbine systems of more than 30 MW. DOE’s goal is the development of turbine systems that are significantly more efficient, cleaner and more fuel flexible than current products.

Five or six projects are expected to be selected for DOE assistance this spring. These projects will fill a hole in the department’s current advanced turbine systems program.

Combined-cycle or combustion turbines, running on natural gas or on both oil and gas, are expected to power up to 88 percent of new generating capacity built across the nation through 2020. DOE is already developing micro and industrial-scale turbines and a joint government-industry development is expected to produce new high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbine systems in the 400 MW range soon.

A recent DOE co-sponsored study, however, has indicated that as much as half of the projected demand for gas turbine systems could be for units in the 30 to 200 MW size range. These systems could be used in a variety of power plant applications, from baseload to quick-response peaking power.

Such units would be ideal for distributed power applications where turbine generators would be installed at or near the location where the power is needed; for repowering existing coal-fired plants to achieve reduced emissions and higher efficiencies; and for greenfield coal-fired plants using clean coal technologies.

DOE also notes that these turbine systems could be used as power modules in its futuristic Vision 21 energy plant. Vision 21 is a concept for a fleet of non-polluting advanced energy plants that would run on multiple fuels and produce a slate of clean liquids, chemicals and feedstocks, as well as electricity, to meet regional market needs.

DOE has called for developers to create systems that improve current technology by:

  • Increasing lower heating value net system efficiency to 15 percent or more,
  • Improving turndown ratios by 50 percent or more,
  • Reducing the cost of electricity production by 15 percent or more,
  • Improving service life,
  • Reducing emissions of carbon and NOx,
  • Reducing operations, maintenance and capital costs by 15 percent or more,
  • Offering flexibility for at least 400 starts per year and rapid startup capability, and
  • Improving reliability, availability and maintainability.

Selected companies must provide at least 20 percent of the total cost of the system studies. If the development effort is successful, the first next-generation turbine systems could be ready for market entry by around 2008. Integration of technology into Vision 21 plants is expected around 2010 to 2015.