Gas Turbines

The process is simple:

In a gas turbine, a blend of air and fuel undergoes combustion, whether from natural gas or renewable gases like biogas or hydrogen, reaching exceptionally high temperatures and propelling the turbine blades into motion. This energy is then converted into electricity via a generator.

Its main components:

  • Compressor: This squeezes and pressurises the incoming air before sending it into the combustion chamber.
  • Combustion chamber: Here, fuel is added and ignited, creating a high-pressure, high-temperature gas.
  • Turbine blades: These blades use the energy from the expanding gas to spin, powering a generator that produces electricity.

The power generation operation:

A gas turbine is a type of internal combustion engine. It is normally driven by high pressure, often high temperature gas. The basic power generation operation – which in turn mirrors the so-called Open Cycle Power Plants (OCPP) – can be described as follows:

Same technology, different fuels:

Gas turbines offer versatility by operating with a diverse range of energy sources. They can utilise fuels beyond natural gas, including biomethane, synthetic methane, or (green) hydrogen, facilitating climate-neutral power generation. The turbine industry is dedicated to advancing this essential trait of fuel flexibility.

Gas Turbines come in various types:

  • Heavy-duty gas turbines: These feature a sturdy, larger frame, enabling them to handle the highest firing temperatures and operate within a well-defined range.
  • Aeroderivative gas turbines: Derived from aircraft engines, these turbines can swiftly adjust to load changes, including shutdowns, with ease.
  • Industrial gas turbines: These turbines have a heavier construction compared to aeroderivative ones, boasting robust frames, bearings, and blading, and are adept at delivering reliable and efficient electrical or mechanical power.
  • Micro-turbines: Simplified versions of gas turbines, roughly the size of a refrigerator, suitable for providing power in various buildings like offices, hotels, hospitals, or schools.

And in two main configurations:

  • Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs): These turbines are designed to meet high flexibility demands and can achieve efficiencies surpassing 40% with comparably low investment costs. In Open Cycle Gas Power Plants, a standalone gas turbine serves as the core component of the power plant.
  • Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGTs): Engineered for optimal efficiency, CCGTs achieve efficiency levels exceeding 60%. In Combined Cycle Gas Power Plants, waste heat from the gas turbine is captured and used to produce steam, which in turn drives an additional steam turbine, thereby generating extra electricity.

All in all, gas turbine technologies offer unique capabilities crucial for the future EU energy system. With their operational and fuel flexibility, they are future proof and well-equipped to support the transition to a decarbonised energy system and economy.

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