Driving Turbine Generator Efficiency Improvements

A combination of more plentiful natural gas from shale formations, more global liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities to transport it globally, and global political pressure to reduce carbon emissions has been shifting the mix of fuel sources for electrical power generation. Here in the U.S., natural gas has surpassed coal as the leading source of fuel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas-fueled turbine generators have played a large role in this shift. A Power magazine article, Efficiency Improvements Mark Advances in Gas Turbines, opens:

Engineers from several companies have worked on upgrades to the technology, including designs that emphasize faster starts, quicker ramp-ups, increased efficiency, and better performance in a tight global market for manufacturers.

This trend toward increased turbine generator use is:

…fueling upgrades in efficiency at a rapid pace. Fast-starting turbine technology, important to allow combined cycle plants to start and then ramp more quickly, particularly in response to grid fluctuations often caused by the introduction of variable power sources, has been a key component of R&D efforts.

The article’s author quotes Emerson’s Bob Yeager, president of the Power & Water Solutions business unit:

Emerson's Bob Yeager


Emerson understands the impact efficient turbine control has on achieving optimal levels of reliability and availability. Our Ovation technology [hyperlink added] uses the same hardware and software platform for turbine control as it uses for other plant controls, such as heat recovery steam generators, burner management systems, generator excitation and high-fidelity embedded simulation.

This single platform architecture significantly reduces [operation and maintenance] automation-related expenses and simplifies lifecycle management and planning.

The article shared a customer project based on the Ovation distributed control system:

ENGIE awarded Emerson a contract to replace legacy combustion turbine controls with Ovation turbine control technology… at its 800-MW DK6 combined cycle plant in Dunkirk, France. The new technology will be retrofitted onto the plant’s two Alstom GT13 combustion turbines during planned 13-day outages, with the first turbine expected back online in September 2018, and the second in July 2019.

The plant manager at the facility noted:

We considered different suppliers, and ultimately chose Emerson because its Ovation system met our requirements for support and maintenance over the expected 20-year life of the plant.

Read the article for insights from some of the turbine generator suppliers and control providers.

You can also connect and interact with other power industry and Ovation experts in the Power and Ovation groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Monday, March 19th, 2018 under Power.