HIGHER growth in the global electricity demand in the next decade is expected to lead to a stronger outlook in the power generation business scene, say industry experts.
Many envisage that the significant growth in power demand of about 31,000 terawatts (TW) per hour by 2023 will be driven by the growing world population and the world’s economy.
In addition, the changes in the environmental and regulatory policies also warrant displacement of many inefficient and aging power plants worldwide.
In the next decade, new power plants totalling 2,800 GW will be added to the power grids, growing at 4.3% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) globally, bringing the installed capacity to 8,100GW by 2023.
For US-based conglomerate General Electric (GE), the encouraging prospects in the global power generation scene would provide a good growth business opportunity to expand the market reach of its heavy-duty gas turbine and its power generation related products into developing and emerging economies where “higher demand for electricity normally tops the agenda of these nations”.
GE is one of the world’s leader in power generation products ranging from small industrial co-generation to highly efficient utility scale power plants.
The company to date has an installed base of over 10,000 gas turbine and steam turbine generating units representing over a million MW of installed capacity in more than 120 countries.
GE last month hosted a group of journalists from Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for a visit to the GE gas turbine manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina and the GE Power Generation Services’ Monitoring and Diagnostic Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
At the 413-acre Greenville manufacturing facility, also known as “the Greenville Campus”, the media gained first-hand knowledge on GE’s 125-year technology heritage in research, development and technological innovation in the power generation industry.
GE’s gas turbine products are derived from the vast experience from an installed base of over 1,000 GW of power generation equipment, combined with innovations from GE’s Global Research Centre, drive advancements in materials, aerodynamics, combustion and cooling technology.
The media tour of the US$200mil facility include the world’s largest and powerful variable speed, load and non grid connected gas turbine validation test stand, technology laboratory that has the world’s most advanced combustion lab and the GE Advanced Manufacturing site.
The validation test has the capability to replicate a real world grid environment at full capacity – from 50Hz and 60Hz gas turbine beyond normal power plants conditions in the field thus providing GE with the knowledge of turbine performance under a variety of condition.
The latest addition – the GE Advanced Manufacturing – was a sight to behold.
It serves as an incubator for innovative advanced manufacturing process development and rapid prototyping for the GE Power & Water businesses, including wind turbines, heavy-duty gas turbines, distributed power gas engine, nuclear power services and water purification.
The Greenville gas turbine facility has built about 4,500 units totalling some 500 GW. This comprises the E, F and H class heavy-duty gas turbines, which have the capacity ranging from 91MW to 275MW to cater for the 50Hz and 60Hz markets.
At a media briefing in Greenville, GE Power & Water general manager of Power Generation Lifecycle Product Management, Monte Atwell points out that GE is pushing for its H class gas turbine under the HA category, which of late has been attracting worldwide interest.
GE is said to have invested some US$2bil over the years for its H class machine technology.
But the investment is paying off as “GE has secured 16 HA orders for this year compared with 15 orders as at the end of 2014,” says Atwell.
The H class machine was not even in the GE’s product catalogue some 18 months ago but “Now, 53 units have been selected by our customers worldwide.”
The countries which made the HA selections have also increased to include the US, Japan, UK, Brazil, South Korea, France, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Argentina and Egypt, adds Atwell.
GE Power & Water, Power Generation vice-president (engineering) Andrew J. Lammas points out that the GE heavy-duty gas turbine’s combustion system has the capability and flexibility to burn different fuels for electrical power generation.
“Our Greenville combustion lab has the capability to run natural gas, propane, butane, ethane, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and carbon dioxide s well as multiple-liquid fuel types,” says Lammas.
The GE 9HA .01 at 397MW and the 9HA.02 at 510MW – are currently the industry leaders among its H class gas turbine offerings.
These high density gas turbine delivers the lowest life cycle cost per MW with more than 61% combined cycle efficiency enables the most cost effective conversion of fuel to electricity to help operators meet increasingly dynamic power demands, adds Lammas.
On the demand trends for GE gas turbine, he recalls that both the E and F class machine are predominant in the past 20 years and many are still operating in the US, Europe and Japan.
“But after the H class gas turbine was introduced in early 2000, we see this segment increasing quickly and could generate some 30% to 40% to our revenue growth,” say Lammas.
He points out that GE is also working to push the limits of its H class gas turbine
For Malaysia, GE Power Generation general manager (Commercial) Michael Kemp adds that GE would continue to work closely with the Energy Commission, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contractors for the independent power producers.
“We have a long and good working experience in Malaysia.
“We will continue to grow our market in Malaysia given the need for a more efficiently produced and cost saving power generation capacity in many parts of the country,” explains Kemp.
Another major change in the power generation scene in Malaysia and other parts of the world, is the choice of the different fuel sources to power up the power plants – from coal to gas.
“Hence, you can see why Petronas is now bringing in many different gases, apart from the liquified natural gas,” says Kemp.
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