Power-Gen International, an annual summit of energy-industry professionals, draws attendees from every corner of the globe. But at this week’s gathering in Orlando, Florida, GE heralded a deal to benefit electricity customers just down the road: The company announced it will work with Tampa Electric (TECO), an Emera company, on a major modernization project at TECO’s Big Bend Power Station. GE will provide Big Bend with two of its mightily efficient 7HA gas turbines, as well as facilitate a comprehensive upgrade of the station’s steam turbine island, to help provide the equivalent electricity needed to power more than 750,000 Florida households.
It was just one of two orders booked in the third quarter announced in Orlando for HA turbines, the fastest-growing fleet of gas turbines today. Chiahui Corporation will also rely on the industry’s most efficient heavy-duty gas turbine, the 7HA.02, to increase the generation potential of its power plant in Chiayi province, Taiwan.
That HA will be Taiwan’s third. Since their debut in 2016, the well-traveled GE machines have received 83 orders by 35 customers in 16 countries, logging more than 220,000 hours of service and adding 19 gigawatts of new capacity globally. HA turbines in France and Japan have helped set world records for efficiency, but there’s more than just bragging rights at stake: Efficient gas power plants form a bridge to the future, which will involve an diverse mix of energy sources. With its ability to help stations throttle up quickly to meet demand and provide cost-effective flexibility, natural gas can fill gaps left by renewable — but less reliable — sources like solar and wind.
In a new white paper, GE expanded on the role it believes gas-fired generation will play as the world races to confront climate change caused by C02 emissions. “Natural gas generation will continue to fuel the future of our world with its ability to support increased levels of renewable energy and provide efficient and flexible electricity to people who need it,” said Scott Strazik, CEO of newly announced GE Gas Power. Strazik was named to the position in late October, when GE CEO Larry Culp announced the creation of a gas life-cycle business collecting GE’s decades of experience, domain expertise, services prowess and technological innovation into a single organization.
In another significant HA milestone, the company shared news that a couple of turbines — HA units at power stations operated by Invenergy in Pennsylvania and Aluminum Bahrain, or Alba, in Bahrain — recently achieved what’s called first-fire status, an important step for plants preparing to become commercially operational and provide electricity to the grid.
It’s important to note that natural gas power plants have life spans measured in decades, and customers look to GE to provide total plant solutions across the entire life cycle of their power generation assets. To that end, GE also announced today that it has completed Europe’s first 9EMax gas turbine upgrade at Czech Power Station to help the plant achieve greater power, greater efficiency and incremental revenue generation. The first 9EMax upgrade in Europe, this project marked the fifth 9EMax project GE has undertaken worldwide — the sort of endeavor that allows the company to draw on its deep experience with a global fleet totaling more than 700 9E gas turbines.
Top: A GE 7HA gas turbine on a test stand in Greenville, South Carolina. Image credit: GE Power.