Efficiency Like You Have Never Seen Before
July 18, 2016 - Interview with Joe Mastrangelo, former President & CEO of GE Power's Gas Power Systems business
A few weeks ago, on June 17, GE celebrated with EDF the inauguration of their Bouchain, France power plant. This history-making plant set a Guinness World Records™ title for the world’s most efficient combined-cycle power plant, which is also the first-ever combined-cycle plant to be powered by GE’s 9HA gas turbine.
We caught up with Joe to get his impressions on setting a world record, what this means for customers and what’s up next for Gas Power Systems.
Insights: Joe, can you give a bit of background on this project? Tell us how EDF came to partner with GE and why the HA is a good fit?
JM: This high-tech power plant comes as a result of the 45-year partnership between GE & EDF. Since the 1970s, GE has supplied EDF with over 100 combustion turbines for its thermal power plants in France and worldwide. GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s Energy business has also strengthened collaboration thanks to their historical partnership with EDF, and its close involvement in EDF’s power plants located in France. For the Bouchain plant, GE and EDF co-developed and designed the installation, bringing together our best practices as technology supplier and utility to make the plant more efficient and to support the energy transition happening throughout Europe.
I: It just so happens that this power plant was also certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s most efficient combined-cycle power plant. What is the new world record and how was it achieved?
JM: The record-setting efficiency is 62.22% as verified by Bureau Veritas and certified by Guinness World Records. Specifically, this number means the plant converts 62.22% of the energy in the fuel to electricity. This history making efficiency was achieved with our heavy-duty 9HA gas turbine powering the gas-fired plant, a combined-cycle plant configuration to best utilize the waste heat of the gas turbine to produce steam, and GE’s digital power plant capabilities for better operations and reliability.
I: What does this mean for our customers?
JM: This is the first-ever natural gas combined-cycle plant equipped with GE’s 9HA turbine, and the performance levels are impressive. The new HA plant takes up just one quarter of the footprint compared to the old coal plant it is replacing, and it generates more power with 50% less CO2 emissions. This is a really big deal. And in addition to achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency, the HA turbine delivers more flexibility than ever before, generating more than 605 MW of power and is capable of reaching full power in less than 30 minutes. For our customers, this paves the way for greater use of renewable energy by allowing partners to respond quickly to fluctuations in grid demand, integrate renewables onto the grid and adapt quickly to weather changes. These advances also support the recent COP21 agreement, where 195 countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, placing more emphasis on cleaner electric power opportunities.
I: The Bouchain plant is digitally-enabled. What does this mean?
JM: In essence, our Digital Power Plant capabilities marry the physical and digital worlds of a plant to help unlock power and knowledge that had previously been inaccessible. Meaning we have employed more sensors and digital protocols connecting the equipment for richer data and analytics, advanced controls software and applications, and a user interface that provides valuable predictive insights.
I: What are the benefits?
JM: These digital advancements readily allow our customers to make better decisions around optimization, avoid unplanned downtime, enhance predictive maintenance, boost output and efficiency, and cut installation and commissioning time by 25% compared to other units. This helps our customers’ drive higher production and revenues, as well as lower operating costs and risks.
I: The HA technology is a critical piece in GE’s digital transformation, a billion-dollar investment, and a world record holder. What can we expect to see next from this technology?
JM: In the near future you, can expect to see continued orders growth and commercial installations that continue to transform the industry in lowering capex, opex, emissions and pairing with renewables. In the long term we are committed to advancing the hardware and software technologies to reliably advance performance, operability, and cost effectiveness with the HA. The EDF Bouchain plant’s 62.22% efficiency mark is just a starting point for what GE hopes to attain in the future. Our technology programs could propel efficiency toward 65% by the early 2020s.
I: A feat such as this would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of your team. Tell me a bit about them.
JM: Achieving this world record is an important milestone for the energy industry, one that would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the many GE employees who are committed to advancing the future of energy efficiency. By tapping into our broader GE Store network, we have been successful on these initiatives to bring together the right hardware and software tools, as well as people to deliver these results. This team of thousands worked together across plant systems, technologies and software with great skill, experience and dedication.
I: We’ve recently heard Steve Bolze say, “We must aim to exceed customer expectations. We have to deliver the future, now.” What is Gas Power Systems doing to meet this expectation?
JM: We are making significant investment in technology, advanced manufacturing, and digital capabilities, along with full-scale validation facilities. These advancements will allow for faster development times, extensive understanding of system and component capability, and new design spaces such as advanced additive manufacturing. And as always, we will continue to drive capex and opex productivity to ensure our customers can offer reliable, affordable, and accessible power to their customers.
I: And finally, looking forward, what’s next for turbine technology? Are you aiming to break your own efficiency record? Or set a new, different world record?
JM: As I mentioned earlier, 62.22% is just a starting point. GE is already working on technology programs that could propel plant efficiency toward 65% by the early 2020s. Along with delivering unprecedented performance levels, we will continue to demonstrate exceptional operating capabilities related to start times, lower minimum loads in emissions compliance, and fast load/unload ramp rates. We’re just getting started!