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Lessons From Lodi

New turbine technologies offer unprecedented flexibility.

Fortnightly Magazine - April 2010

switch online between two turbine operating modes. The “M” mode increases power output, while the “XL” backs it off, thereby extending component life. An operating data counter tracks operations in both modes to give the customer a running tally of the unit’s start-stop operations, which helps in scheduling the unit’s next maintenance outage.

“When market demand is high you can instantly switch to M mode for maximum power and efficiency,” Meier explains. “When demand is lower, you can switch to XL mode with a temperature drop that reduces the operating stress on components. Regularly operating in this mode can extend a unit’s inspection interval by up to 4,000 equivalent operating hours.”

Of course all these developments come at a price.

Though OEMs acknowledge added performance measures will boost the cost of their machines and combined-cycle systems, they demur when asked by how much. Whether U.S. power producers will be willing to pay the extra premium hinges on some of the very uncertainties that are driving the need for flexibility in the first place. In other words, depending on how market conditions and regulatory factors evolve, the value of these new systems might increase substantially.

“The investment is prudent in high-priced emissions markets for NOx, CO 2 and VOCs,” Siemens’s Wilson concludes. “CO 2 mitigation will make it worth the added investment everywhere.”