Skip to main content

Ultra Super Critical: These Badass Machines Help Make 30 Percent Of The World’s Power

Tomas Kellner
January 07, 2016
When GE acquired Alstom’s power and grid business last fall, it bought some of world’s largest wind and water turbines, “ultra-super-critical” steam turbines - that's their real name - massive generators and other advanced technology for making lots of electricity. So much so that with Alstom, GE technology can now generate one third of the world’s power. That share will grow as utilities start connecting power plants to the cloud and use data analytics to optimize them and make them more efficient. For the first time here, we are taking a look at some of the most brass-kicking Alstom machines.
Hubs of Alstom's massive Haliade turbines, which can generate 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity, at a factory in Saint-Nazaire, France. They will power America's first offshore wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island. Top: A Haliade turbine off the coast of Belgium. Image credits: GE Power

Wind Offshore Project - 2010 - Belwind Wind Farm - Belgium - Haliade 50-6MV - For BELWIND (VEISSEL) The rotor diameter of each Haliade turbine equals to nearly one-and-a-half times the length of a football field, or 150 meters. Image credit: GE Power



Emosson dam Massive Alstom generators at the Nante de Drance pumped storage power station in Switzerland produce 900 MW. The power station uses electric pumps to send water into the reservoir when electricity consumption is low and releases it to generate power at peak times. Image credit: GE Power

NANT DE DRANCE Rotor - RET Alstom made this massive rotor for one of the generators of the Nante de Drance plant. Image credit: GE Power

1. Hydro Project - 1980-2007 - Itaipu - Brazil - Run of river Dam - Turbines Francis (x6) & Generators SLV (x6) - For ITAIPU BINACIONAL (DAM) The Itaipu Dam on the Parana River holds a row of 20 huge Alstom water turbines like the one below. They supply Brazil with a quarter of its power, and Paraguay with 90 percent of its electricity. In 2008, the turbines generated 94,684 MW, the largest amount of power ever produced by a single dam in a year. Image credit: GE Power

36284-HiRes-FrancisTurbineGrenoble-AubesRoueFrancisPlavinasnb A worker is finishing a Francis hydroturbine. Image credit: GE Power

ALST_37803 Alstom’s Arabelle is the world's largest turbine. It converts steam produced by boiling water with heat from nuclear reactors into electricity. It delivers 1,550 MW and it has extremely high reliability (99.96 percent). Image credit: GE Power

45653-Original-ConcreteVolutePumpNuclearpowerplant-ALSTOM59 Alstom's massive volute pumps cool off a nuclear power plant's secondary loop. The pumps circulate cold water into the condenser. Image credit: GE Power

32665-Original-GIGATOP2poleturbogeneratorstator-IMG7081 Alstom's GIGATOP generator can produce 800 MW of electricity. Image credit: GE Power

Boxberg Turbine Hall_3 Alstom's "ultra-super-critical" steam turbine at the Boxberg power plant in Germany can produce 600 MW. The technology allows power plants to operate at pressures and temperatures above the critical point where there is no difference between water and steam. It allows utilities to build more efficient power plants with fewer emissions. Image credit: GE Power

1200kV Disconnector - Noventa Di Piave - Italy An otherworldly Alstom disconnector in Noventa Di Piave, Italy. It can stop a 1,200,000-volt current. That's about equal to a tenth of the electricity carried by a lightning bolt. The disconnector is an isolator switch used to make sure that an electrical circuit is completely de-energized for service and maintenance. Image credit: GE Power

Gas Insulated Substations GIS T155 substation - France This high voltage substation in France is using sulfur hexafluoride gas for insulation. The gas is an excellent electrical insulator and minimizes losses during operations. Image credit: GE Power

Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems -FACTS technologies - Canada The Empire doesn't strike back here. These aren's baby AT-ATs but FACTS - Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems. They allow utilities to transmit alternating current (AC) over long distances without suffering from natural voltage drop along the way. Image credit: GE Power