While renewable resources’ benefits include the lowest operational costs and fewest greenhouse gas emissions, they can initially have adverse system impacts when integrated into the grid. When the wind blows or the sun shines to produce greater power than demand requires, overcapacity generation must be evacuated at a loss to avoid overloading existing transmission and distribution assets. The changing mix and natural intermittency of these renewable resources also threatens the grid’s ability to meet supply and demand. Incorporating renewable resources without shutting down the whole grid requires a balance between developing renewable energy and system reliability to avoid power outages and disruptions.

Transmission system operators (TSOs), distribution system operators (DSOs), and supply companies are typically mandated to meet minimum-service standards for grid stability and electricity supply. The push to incorporate renewable energy introduces some new challenges, as the grid must adapt to a greater decentralization of energy generation. GE aeroderivative gas turbines can help meet that need.

What is grid firming?

Grid firming – also known as nameplate capacity firming, capacity firming, or renewable firming – is widely used to address the gap due to intermittent wind, solar, and hydro-power resources to help meet grid code criteria and avoid outages or disruptions. It’s important to balance these typically non-dispatchable resources that do not always align with the required power demand and achieve grid stability. To do that, grid operators must also integrate ancillary resources and services.  

For a grid that starts to see renewable sources displacing conventional ones, indicating a high range of renewables penetration, shutdown of some of the fossil fuel plants on which it previously relied is likely. In this case, grid operators can consider other technologies, such as the GE aeroderivative gas turbines or batteries, to balance any deficit while fully integrating with renewable sources. In California, for example, where penetration of solar power is extremely high, grid balancing and firming services are becoming increasingly more valuable.

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If gaps arise between a solar energy supply and demand due to clouds or sunset, an ancillary resource like a GE aeroderivative gas turbine fills those gaps and helps maintain grid stability. 

How aeroderivative gas turbines provide power grid stability

High renewable penetration grids generally require ancillary services, including frequency and voltage regulation, to maintain stability. The GE aeroderivative gas turbine is an energy solution to balance the intermittency of renewable sources and provide reserve capacity, frequency, and voltage regulation for grids that need help maintaining a reliable and stable operation. Integrating the GE aeroderivatives with renewable source generation improves the power grid’s operational performance by enhancing grid reliability, as well as reducing emissions, fuel consumption, and operational costs.

GE aeroderivative gas turbines’ benefits include:

  • The ability to get on the grid quickly and start producing power rapidly, in as little as 5 minutes
  • High cycling capability, allowing multi-day start/stop cycles without maintenance penalties
  • Flexibility to quickly work within an intermittent grid, quickly getting power to where it needs to be due to a fast ramp rate (up to 50 MW/min), high part-load efficiency, a low minimum load, and deeper turndown
  • Installation in as few as 11 days
  • Better frequency regulation due to:
    • Fast ramp rate to address load changes
    • A better transient response than reciprocating engines as multi-shaft machines that can quickly handle drops and rises in loads
    • Higher inertia and power output than reciprocating engines, which improve grid stability and help avoid both brownout and blackout events
Featured Video

Aeroderivative gas turbines for grid firming

Discover the grid capacity firming capabilities that make GE’s aeroderivative gas turbines great for balancing the electrical grid.

GE’s portfolio of aeroderivative turbines for grid firming

GE offers a variety of aeroderivative gas turbines for grid firming. Learn more about each to determine which turbine is right for you.

High-Efficiency Solution (HES)

Ideal for mid-merit, base load, and mining applications, this solution has a 91 MW power output and 52.8% net efficiency. Its start time for a simple cycle is less than 5 minutes.

Its start time for a combined cycle is less than one hour, and has a ramp rate of 30 MW/minute. The HES offers a standard and modular combined cycle and is quick to install vs. a traditional combined cycle. Plus, it requires less site labor and reduces schedule risk. 

LM6000 aeroderivative gas turbine

The LM6000 allows you to operate on a wide variety of fuels—including natural gas, LPG (propane and butane), isopentane, ethanol, diesel, and Coke Oven gas.

This allows you to quickly switch between fuels to save money, all without stopping or a reduction in power. It has a 45-58 MW net power output and up to 41.3% net efficiency. Its start time for a simple cycle is less than 5 minutes, and its ramp rate is 50 MW/minute. The LM6000 offers 99%+ start and operational reliability, alongside 98% availability. Its fast start allows operators to differentiate their dispatch capability, and its dual-fuel capabilities provide fuel flexibility and help customers meet emissions limits.

TM2500 mobile aeroderivative gas turbine

Recommended for mobile power applications available within three months and fast-track or short-term duration projects, the TM2500 50 Hz and 60 Hz solutions have a 33.6 MW average power output and 36.7%  average net efficiency.

Its start time for a simple cycle is fewer than 5 minutes, and its ramp rate is 20MW/minute. The TM2500 is mobile and easy to transport. Its small block size allows good part-power turndown and efficiency. It is relocatable if project requirements change, and it comes with optional clutch-less synchronous condensing.

LM2500 aeroderivative gas turbine

The LM2500 is the most reliable aeroderivative gas turbine in the world, featuring reliability consistently above 99.8%.

Recommended for combined cycle, onshore and offshore power generation, mechanical drive, and cogeneration, the LM2500 power plants feature 21-34 MW simple cycle output, up to 38.5% efficiency and accommodate a wide variety of fuels. It also comes with optional clutch-less synchronous condensing.

LM2500XPRESS aeroderivative gas turbine

Great for helping to meet needs where flexible power is required quickly and efficiently, the LM2500XPRESS 50 Hz and 60 Hz power plants feature a 34 MW simple cycle power output and up to 39% simple cycle efficiency.

Its start time for a simple cycle is fewer than 5 minutes, and its ramp rate is 30 MW/minute. The LM2500XPRESS is a modular and scalable, prefabricated, skid-mounted, pre-commissioned solution with reduced on-site installation and commissioning and a zero gas turbine water consumption requirement.

LMS100 aeroderivative gas turbine

The LMS100 aeroderivative gas turbine is one of the highest-quality simple-cycle efficiency gas turbines in the world.

Its simple cycle output is 117 MW, and its combined cycle output (1x1) is 142 MW. The LMS100 features up to 44.2% net efficiency, 99.6% reliability, and 96.7% availability. Its start time for a simple cycle is less than 8 minutes, and its ramp rate is 30 MW/minute. The LMS100 can provide power at part-load as efficiently as most gas turbines at full load, and can operate with very little power loss, supporting the grid in times of high demand. Its intercooled gas turbine system provides rapid startup, with an 8-minute start to full load and emergency ramp speeds of up to 500 MW/minute, and construction includes a modular “supercore”, which can be exchanged in less than four days to enhance plant availability.

Customer stories

Powering Indonesia’s pearl paradise with grounded jet engines

When pearl farmer Fauzi Se wanted to take advantage of nature’s bounty and expand production of his jewelry business on the Indonesian island of Lombok, he was stymied by a problem only humans can solve — his workshop depended on the grid and didn’t have enough electricity to power his machines. But the country’s geography creates a special set of challenges. You can’t just build big power plants and string wires across the sea.

lower emissions than diesel

10 minutes 

full power

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“Because of the archipelago, you need to have lots of microgrids. That’s where you see the benefits of fast power.”

Matt Patterson

Engineer

Instead of building a conventional power plant, which can take years, GE Power deployed two fast power units on Lombok, truck-mounted mobile gas turbine generators that were connected to the grid able to start producing more than 25 megawatts each less than a month after delivery. GE’s TM2500 aeroderivative gas turbines are essentially a ground-based version of GE’s popular CF6 jet engine — the same engine that powers many Boeing 747s. Since 2016, GE has installed 14 mobile power plants in Indonesia, which generate 500 MW of power, enough to supply about 4 million homes.

Taking eco-friendly, grid-firming power to Tobago

GE’s LM2500 aeroderivative gas turbine, deployed by the Trinidad & Tobago Electricity Commission’s Cove Power Plant in November 2018, supplies 20MW of electricity—enough to power approximately 28,000 households across the island nation. The small-footprint turbine helps deliver power with a reliability greater than 99% to support the islands’ grid, which is frequently affected by extremes in weather and storms.

+ reliability

2,200+

LM2500 units sold around the globe

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“The island of Tobago is poised for productive growth and our current electricity transmission and distribution systems can at this time meet demand with great reliability. To fuel this growth and the corresponding rise in demand for electricity, it made sense to tender publicly for an additional generator. Consequently, the GE LM2500 aeroderivative, with its small footprint and high level of reliability was chosen and we look forward to its performance for years to come.”

Courtenay Mark

Chief Technical Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission

The turbine’s cycling capability allows for multiple starts and stops every day, along with high partial load efficiency and deep turndown flexibility. This makes the turbine suitable for small islands with fast-growing grids that are seeking to integrate renewable energy sources. Cove Power’s LM2500 produces electricity in an eco-friendly way by reducing harmful emissions and water consumption.

Bringing grid stability to the Bahamas

In early 2020, Bahamas Power & Light Company Ltd. (BPL), the state-owned electric company that provides service to approximately 110,000 customers, installed GE’s TM2500 mobile aeroderivative gas turbine in its Blue Hills plant. The unit supplies up to 34 MW, enough energy to power the residential consumption of between 12,000 and 18,000 customers and may help stabilize the country’s grid.

42 days 

installation and commissioning time

5 minutes 

cold metal to full power

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“The highest peak of energy consumption during summer in New Providence is 250 MW and in winter goes down to 160-170 MW. Having an additional of up to 34 MW is significant for our operation and will allow us to deliver a better service to our customers and to the millions of tourists who visit us every year.” 

K. Quincy Parker

Director of Public Relations of BPL

Solar energy has always been a potential renewable power resource for the Bahamas, but its efficiency depends upon connection to a stable grid. Currently, the grid is at its limit and the frequency is not stable, as a result of the 6.6 million tourists that visit the island every year. The gas turbine could help bring that stability.

Working to firm a wind-powered grid

Southern California has become a hotbed for renewable energy projects. To offset the intermittency of Coachella Valley’s 700+ MW of wind power capacity, Competitive Power Venture (CPV) set out to build a natural gas-fired power plant capable of providing efficient and reliable summer peaking and backup power. Unique operating requirements for the plant included: varying capacity, flat efficiency curve, rapid start, and load changes.

At 800 MW, CPV constructed the world’s largest facility utilizing GE’s intercooled LMS100 aeroderivative gas turbine. The turbine was selected for its rapid start (10 minutes) and ramp rate (greater than 10 MW per minute) capabilities. Eight total turbines provide a wide range of dispatch loads—from 50 MW to 800 MW—and a variety of ancillary services, like spinning- and non-spinning reserve, to help stabilize the grid and support intermittent renewable power sources.

103 days 

Project completed ahead of schedule

731,000+ 

hours to project completion

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"With California's San Onofre nuclear plant off-line and power reserve margins expected to be tight, it is more important than ever that the CPV Sentinel Energy Project be available to support electric reliability this summer. Gemma Power Systems did a fantastic job of working with GE and our team to complete this project ahead of schedule and on budget."

John Murphy

Senior Vice President of Engineering and Construction for CPV