New GE natural gas combined cycle plant is designed to enable wind, solar power

Paris, May 25, 2011 — GE unveiled a new power plant that the company said is designed to enable the flexible, efficient use of wind power, solar power and natural gas-fired power.

By rapidly ramping up and down in response to fluctuations in wind and solar power, the technology will enable the integration of more renewable resources into the power grid.

The FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant is rated at 510 MW and offers fuel efficiency greater than 61 percent.

The plant is the result of an investment of more than $500 million in research and development by GE and a part of its work to create and manufacture technologies around the globe that deliver cleaner, more efficient energy.

While power plants today can provide flexibility or high efficiency, this power plant will deliver an unprecedented combination of both. GE calls this combination of flexibility and efficiency ‘FlexEfficiency,’ which is essential if renewable power is going to cost-effectively integrate into power grids around the world on a large scale.

GE drew from the company’s jet engine expertise to engineer a plant that will ramp up at a rate of more than 50 MW per minute, twice the rate of today’s industry benchmarks.

Operational flexibility at these levels will enable utilities to deliver power quickly when it is needed and to ramp down when it is not, balancing the grid cost-effectively and helping to deploy additional renewable power resources like wind and solar. A typical FlexEfficiency 50 plant will deliver enough energy to power more than 600,000 E.U. homes.

GE engineers were able to avoid the typical tradeoffs between flexibility and efficiency by approaching the plant design from a total equipment and control systems perspective. The FlexEfficiency 50 plant is engineered for flexible operation by integrating a next-generation 9FB Gas Turbine that operates at 50 Hz, which is the power frequency that is most used in countries around the world; a 109D-14 Steam Turbine, which runs on the waste heat produced by the gas turbine; GE’s advanced W28 Generator; a Mark VIe integrated control system that links all of the technologies; and a heat recovery steam generator.

The International Energy Agency concluded in a report issued that large shares of variable renewable energy are feasible as long as power systems and markets are properly configured so they can get the best use of their flexible resources. The FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant offers levels of flexibility that will simplify this challenge without sacrificing fuel efficiency.

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