Tech focus: GE Energy's Frame 7FA gas turbine
GE Energy introduces its new turbine
Using next generation gas turbine technology to increase output and efficiency, GE Energy today introduced its upgraded Frame 7FA gas turbine to meet growing performance requirements for power plant operators. The upgraded turbine is designed to help power plant operators reduce their total cost of ownership and environmental impact by allowing them to use less fuel to generate power.
The continuing evolution of GE’s gas turbine technology supports a growing industry trend toward the use of natural gas. A recent report by the Colorado School of Mines indicated that following recent discoveries, the United States now has 1,800 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the equivalent of 320 billion barrels of oil—more than Saudi Arabia’s 264 billion barrels. That available supply, coupled with the current low cost and the fact that natural gas emits less carbon than other fossil fuels, has spurred many power generators to consider switching from other fuels to gas.
A typical power plant operating two new 7FA gas turbines with a single steam turbine in combined cycle configuration would achieve a fuel cost savings of more than $2.1 million per year at a natural gas price of $6 per MMBtu when compared to a similar plant with an earlier version of the 7FA for equivalent net plant output. This updated plant would also avoid the emission of more than 19,000 metric tons of CO2 per year compared to the earlier version, an improvement equivalent to the CO2 emissions of approximately 3,800 cars on U.S. roads.
“Investing in the needs of tomorrow with R&D and technology is at the foundation of GE and helps us to maintain a competitive advantage in the power generation arena,” said Steve Bolze, president of GE Energy’s Power & Water business. “Today’s announcement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to GE’s leadership in advanced gas turbine technology that helps deliver power more efficiently and flexibly to our customers without compromising their high standards for operational excellence.”
“Since its introduction, our F technology has consistently set industry standards for reliability and efficiency,” said Rick Stanley, vice president of engineering for GE Energy. “The 7FA upgrade underscores our commitment to continue refining the technology to meet the evolving needs of today’s customers.”
“GE is focused on delivering products and services that help our customers save significant operating costs while simultaneously slashing emissions and fuel consumption. We have amassed technological advances from across our expansive portfolio of power generating and aviation turbines and delivered them in this upgraded 7FA turbine,” said John Reinker, general manager of gas turbine and combined cycle products for GE Energy. “Of the 1,000 plus GE F-technology gas turbines shipped worldwide, more than 70% are 7FA units—and the advances now available for the 7FA will ensure that it continues to be the industry's workhorse advanced technology turbine.”
Many companies have already evaluated the new gas turbine technology. Some of the first new 7FA turbines are planned for the proposed Oakley Generating Station in Oakley, Calif. The plant, which is projected to generate 586 megawatts of power, is being developed by Radback Energy, Inc., and is expected to be transferred to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) after it enters commercial operation.
The new turbine is a part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio, due to the increase in net plant efficiency and higher output delivered by this machine compared to all earlier 7FA models, which should result in less fuel consumption and lower emissions on a megawatt per hour basis than delivered by previous 7FA models.
Key regions for the upgraded, 60-hertz 7FA will include North America, Latin America, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The upgraded 7FA will begin shipping in early 2012 and will be manufactured at GE Energy’s gas turbine facility in Greenville, S.C.
Source: GE website