BY ROBERTA PRANDI
Since it developed its Advanced Gas Path technology (AGP) upgrades for gas turbine power plants, GE said the solution has been installed on 435 gas turbine units in 39 countries, delivering 7 GW of additional power capacity annually, nearly 19.4 million additional MWh of power globally and $775 million in total customer value.
Now for the first time, those benefits have a chance to be seen in southern Europe, as GE has signed an agreement Edison â€“ part of ElectricitÃ© de France (EDF Group) â€“ that aims to enhance the performance of the Candela combined-cycle power plant in Southern Italy.
According to the deal, GE will install its AGP technology, part of its Fleet360* platform of total plant solutions, to the facilityâ€™s existing GE 9F.03 gas turbine. This will increase the plantâ€™s output to 400 MW (up 5%) reducing gas consumption by 2% and gaining a global efficiency rise of 1%, GE said.
Scott Strazik, president and CEO of GE Power Services, said that AGP is based mainly on the use of innovative materials that allows for higher operating temperatures, longer component life and higher turbine power output. The average improvement potential for the AGP technology is between 5 and 10% for power output and between 1 and 2% in efficiency, he said.
Results very much depend on the turbine frame, the balance of the plant and the plant location and its environmental characteristics, Strazik said. For example, GE 9F gas turbines can achieve up to an 8% output increase and up to a 2% efficiency increase, whereas GE’s 9E gas turbines with AGP upgrades have achieved up to a 6.2% output increase and up to a 1.7% efficiency increase.
The upgrade in Italy is seen as particularly relevant, as the country is implementing a new market-wide capacity mechanism which aims at ensuring security of electricity supply (see below).
â€œAligning power generation capacity and transmission systems to meet energy demand while respecting pre-defined security and quality levels has become a critical issue in Italy and most liberalized electricity markets around the world,â€ said Nicola Monti, executive vice president of Edison – Power Asset & Engineering. â€œThe new Capacity Market system, which Italy will implement in 2018, will reward utilities for their capacity availability. For this reason, itâ€™s essential to continually improve our assetsâ€™ performance and availability with the latest technologies and digital solutions. GE is helping us to increase fuel savings, generation capacity and, more importantly, our competitiveness in an evolving Italian energy market.â€
According to GE, AGP can deliver benefits on a global scale to customers both in mature markets â€” including the USA and Western Europe where efficiency and flexibility are crucial â€” as well as in growing markets like Middle East and Africa, Asia, China and Eastern Europe where more power is needed for the grid and industrial use.
While GEâ€™s 7F gas turbine customer fleet alone is enjoying AGPâ€™s benefits, the company is expanding the technology to power producers that operate the entire GE F-Class and the GT 24, GT 26 and 13E2 gas turbine fleets.
To this extent, Strazik, who has been at the helm of GE Power Services for six months, said that the biggest target for his division is now to integrate the service offerings for all products in GEâ€™s power portfolio, starting with the larger frames and including the gas turbines acquired with the Alstom deal and industrial aeroderivative units.
In Iraq and Turkey, GE just completed AGP upgrades for gas turbines. In the first case, AGP was installed on four GE gas turbines at the Iraqi Ministry of Electricityâ€™s (MOEâ€™s) Najibiya power plant, one of the eight sites where GE is installing a total of 36 AGP units as part of the Iraq Power Up Plan 2.
AGP will help each turbine run for up to an additional three months a year when the plant is powered by heavy fuel oil. As a result, GE said the plant will increase the amount of electricity available for both domestic and commercial use and help the MOE to lower annual operations and maintenance costs.
In Turkey the installation of AGP technology was carried out on 10 GE 9F gas turbines atÂ power plants of ENKA Power. GE reported a 6% increase in power output on the units.
â€œOur high-performing AGP solutions have been proven around the world for nearly a decade by improving gas plant performance and competitiveness to help meet growing power demands,â€ Strazik said.
New Capacity Mechanism In Italy
The European Commission has approved Italian plans to introduce a market-wide capacity mechanism for a period of 10 years, during which Italy will also implement market reforms to address the structural supply risks in the electricity market.
Under the measure, capacity providers can obtain financial compensation for being available to generate electricity or in the case of demand response operators, for being available to reduce their electricity consumption.
In terms of market reforms, Italy is planning to upgrade the domestic transmission network, invest in cross-border transmission capacity, among others. However, these reforms may be sufficient to ensure the desired level of security of supply in the short term, meaning the capacity mechanism is necessary for the time being.
The capacity mechanism is open to all potential capacity providers and costs to electricity consumers are limited by regular, competitive auctions.
The Italian mechanism also has a special feature to ensure its effectiveness. When electricity prices reach a certain level, it triggers an obligation for power plants selected in the auctions to pay back some of the state aid. They can finance this payback obligation from revenues they generate from the sale of electricity.
Similar mechanisms were previously approved for Great Britain, France and the Irish â€œall-islandâ€ market. Together with Italyâ€™s program, the EU approved two strategic reserves for Belgium and Germany, a demand response tender in France, an interruptability plan in Greece, and another capacity mechanism in Poland.
(Source: European Commission, www.europa.eu)