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GE: Developing the Age of Gas

We are living in the Age of Gas.  From the technology to drive huge production to the flexibility of distributed power and small scale LNG plants, GE has helped power this revolution in increased demand for the cleaner and often cheaper alternative to oil based fuels.

With global gas consumption expected to increase to the tune of 36% by 2025, accounting for a 28% share of global primary energy consumption, it’s clear this new age is here to stay.  GE has worked with production, liquefaction, regasification and storage of liquid natural gas since the 1990’s, and their innovation and expertise have produced some truly outstanding projects.

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1.      Leading the way is GE’s goal.  In 2005 GE provided the first super trains ever driven by the GE Frame 9E gas turbines, developed for Qatargas. By providing an increased capacity of almost 8 million tonnes per year for each super train, GE delivered a breakthrough technology to help develop the next generation of LNG production plants, increasing Qatar’s production of LNG by approximately 40 million tonnes per year. The Age of Gas was rising.

 

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2.      Freeport LNG brings the world of E-LNG to the big leagues in the USA.  In September of 2014 GE was selected to provide the technology and capital financing to drive construction of Freeport LNG gas liquefaction and LNG export project in Southeast Texas, making it the first world-scale electric LNG plant in North America. GE’s variable-speed drive electric motors, including the largest electric motor ever supplied for an LNG facility, will enable Freeport LNG to comply with strict emission standards while supporting ambitious production targets and an increased export capacity of 13.9 million metric tonnes per annum.

 

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3.      LNG in this Age of Gas isn’t just dominated by huge projects, the spread of small scale production is also helping to drive change. Gas reserves are rarely found at the site of need, yet in many cases the cost of transport infrastructure can make exploiting a reserve uneconomical. Now with the advanced efficiency of GE’s electric motors, pumps and drives, small-scale LNG plants with an output of 15,000-30,000 tonnes a year have become a viable solution for developing these resources. This reduces the impact of long distance fuel transport, providing greater flexibility to a gas distribution network all while helping meet global energy needs.

 

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4.     But when the Age of Gas calls for a large scale LNG project, GE has the technology to make it work.  In China, GE’s compressor drive technology is driving the largest LNG project in the country’s history. The HuaQi Ansai facility supplies an estimated 2 million cubic metres of LNG per day, all driven by GE’s compressor-drive technology which was specifically chosen for its reliability and efficiency. This project provides the first application of GE’s 24-megawatt converter in China.

 

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5.     In this Age of Gas and rising global demand, there comes a matching demand for the methods of transport to distribute LNG throughout the world. That’s why GE is working closely with international partners like Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to provide the distribution for the future, equipping LNG carriers with our dual-fuel and tri-fuel electrical propulsion systems. GE’s induction-based propulsion motor technology has one of the lowest maintenance costs compared to rival solutions, and offers one of the longest service lives, ensuring reliable distribution to meet global demand all while maintaining rigorous environmental standards.

 

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6.       It isn’t just a sea change, it’s a change on land too. The Age of Gas takes to the rails, echoing the Age of Steam of bygone years. With LNG prices remaining competitive against fuel alternatives, GE transportation is already working on off the shelf locomotive prototypes designed to operate on both LNG and diesel.  At the same time the NextFuel Natural Gas Retrofit Kit provides the chance to convert existing GE Evolution Series locomotives and take advantage of the benefits of LNG as a fuel going forward. By providing a 100% diesel flexibility with up to 80% LNG substitution, these changes could provide as much as a 50% reduction in fuel costs while almost doubling the refuel distance.

 

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7.      To meet the rising demand of the Age of Gas, innovation is key. The revolutionary technology developed to produce floating natural gas platforms provides a fantastic opportunity for GE to work closely with partners in providing their established solutions for key elements of the project. Having provided turbomachinery for PETRONAS’ first FLNG project, GE will now supply gas turbine-driven compressor trains and mechanical drive technology to their latest FLNG facility, currently in development in East Malaysia. This is the first time that a LM6000 gas turbine will be applied to a FLNG project. Once operational, in the first quarter of 2018, the FLNG facility will produce around 1.5 million tons a year of LNG.

 

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8.      GE’s leading LNG technology is constantly developing.  And even in the realms of turbomachinery, size matters.  In the first quarter 2015 GE announced their innovative super-compact, efficient compressor. The high pressure ratio compressor (HPRC) has a train footprint that is up to 50% smaller and 30% lighter, with 5% less installed power, providing onshore and offshore operators with significant reduced installation and operating costs and increased reliability. If energy efficiency is to be our future, then innovation will have to drive efficiency on every scale.

 

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9.      GE’s experience in aviation provides the depth of knowledge which allows them to rapidly adapt to the changing landscape of this Age of Gas.  Their ground-breaking Aeroderivative gas turbines provide power output from 18 to 100 MW, and the ability to utilise LNG amongst other fuels.  This kind of innovation doesn’t simply drive efficient energy production, it can alsosave lives, providing distributed power options to key locations which are vulnerable to power disruption.

 

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10.      This Age of Gas isn’t ruled by a need for large scale centralised production, it’s also an age of distributed power. Flexible, on-site production brings increasingly local solutions to the rising global demand for energy production.  It includes technology such as GE’s TM2500+ mobile aeroderivative gas turbine generators that provided emergency power to Libya in March 2014, the flexibility of Jenbacher engines providing power in even the most remote locations , and efficient local cost and energy saving alternatives to centralised power providers.

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