A big obstacle to large-scale integration of renewable power from solar and wind sources into the grid is intermittency – those periods when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. GE Energy has taken a major step forward in addressing that issue with its new FlexEfficiency* 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant, the result of a more than $500 million R&D investment, being announced today at an event in Paris.
The way that natural gas turbines work to support renewable energy in a power grid is simple: when a period of intermittency begins, the gas turbine is capable of firing up quickly to continue supplying power to the system without interruption. In designing the FlexEfficiency 50, GE drew from its jet engine expertise to engineer a plant that can ramp up at twice the rate of today’s industry benchmarks – and just as quickly and efficiently, ramp down again when the renewable sources come back online. That ability to ramp down quickly is what makes the new technology flexible – and when combined with high efficiency, it results in big cost savings and emissions reductions.
Check out the infographic and schematic below to see how the FlexEfficiency 50 works:
With the new tech, a utility will save approximately $2.6 million per year under typical operating conditions, and each plant will cut annual CO2 emissions by more than 12,700 metric tons — equivalent to removing more than 6,000 cars from EU roads. They’ll have annual fuel savings of 6.4 million cubic meters of natural gas, which is equivalent to the annual natural gas consumption of more than 4,000 EU homes.
* Read today’s announcement.
* Watch a webcast from the Paris event at 8 a.m. ET
* Read about GE’s recent big investment in solar energy, the deployment of which will be aided by the new natural gas tech announced today.
* Read about GE’s new wind turbine, the most efficient ever.
* See why FlexEfficiency is part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio.
* Trademark of the General Electric Company