Coal, Gas

Alstom re-launches advanced gas turbines

7 November 2003 – Alstom said Wednesday that it had begun marketing its GT24/26 advanced gas turbines again, having successfully overcome the technical problems which have haunted the “B” models ever since their launch in late 1999. Alstom now has 72 models in operation and is involved in ten power project tenders where the model is being proposed.

At a press conference at Alstom’s Manchester, UK office marking the re-launch, executive vice president Nick Salmon said, “This has been a difficult story for us, with a positive ending.” Salmon admitted that out of €8bn ($9.1bn)in orders for the 400MW machines, compensation costs had been &euro4bn. “Because of the difficulties of the GT24B/26B machines, Alstom’s share of the world power generation market is small at around six per cent. We missed an opportunity because we didn’t have the right machines,” said Salmon.

Alstom have now fully addressed the main three technical problems which impacted the performance of the gas turbines. This involved adding a strengthening component to the liner of the first combustor section to alleviate cracking and making modifications to the blading in two sections of the low pressure turbine. Each of the modifications has now been fully tested over a minimum period of 1 1/2 years and performance is now at the level originally envisaged for the machines – an efficiency of around 57.5 per cent.

Alstom has been carrying out testing at its facility in Birr, Switzerland, which is a simple cycle power station delivering more than 280 MW to the Swiss grid. The testing facility incorporates more than 200 measuring points and is able to operate at higher temperatures to test components at the extremes of operation. Alstom said that the re-engineering of the GT24/26 range was made easier through the acquisition of knowledge and technology available as part of a technology sharing arrangement with Rolls Royce.

Alstom is carrying provisions of €1.53bn against liabilities arising from the machines, which were originally developed under a joint venture with ABB, which Alstom subsequently acquired in its entirety.

Alstom say that its large GT24/26 gas turbines are now operating reliably worldwide with no long unplanned outages reported. It says that performance and lifetime improvements are being deployed and that current performance levels can compete with GE, Siemens or MHI. Chuck Davies, vice president of Intergen, the power plant developer that is operating the GT26 turbines in two power plants in the UK, said, “Intergen has regained confidence in Alstom and now regard its turbines on a par with GE and Siemens.”

Intergen confirmed that within the last few months it has settled its ongoing litigation against Alstom over the performance of the turbines. Intergen said that the terms of the out-of-court settlement were confidential.