Carol Brzozowski 2015-07-22 17:41:02
The current market condition is favorable for onsite power generation, notes Jim Crouse, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Capstone Turbine Corporation. “The focus today is on supplying the best quality energy, more steam projects, and microturbines for smaller- and medium-sized industrial customers,” he says. “There continue to be rebates and federal acceptance from policy-makers and regulators for distributed generation. Solar and wind have always gotten favorable treatment when it comes to incentives and rebates and although there are not big dollars being thrown at CHP, we continue to see some money available for the benefit of the technology from an interconnect standpoint and an air permitting standpoint.” Capstone Turbine Corporation manufacturers various sizes of microturbines, including 30 kW, 65 kW, and 200 kW. Products based on the 200-kW turbine also are available in 600-kW, 800-kW, and 1-MW configurations. All of the company’s microturbines operate continuously or on-demand, as standalone or in a grid connect, and individually or multi-pack. The systems run on a variety of fuels, including low- or high-pressure natural gas, biogas, flare gas, diesel, propane, and kerosene. Typical applications are primary, secondary and tertiary in data centers, educational facilities, food processing facilities, government buildings, health care institutions, hospitality buildings, office buildings, military institutions, and manufacturing, public facilities, retail/big box stores, supermarkets, telecommunications facilities, utilities, and waste management operations. Saving money on an annual energy bill is not the only incentive for using turbines and microturbines. One of the biggest driving factors toward energy security was Superstorm Sandy in 2012. At a time when more than eight million electrical utility customers were left in the dark, Capstone microturbines powered through the aftermath, allowing end users across many sectors to continue to operate with power, including shale gas installations, luxury hotels, office buildings, data centers, health care facilities, and industrial customers from Virginia to New Jersey, and New York to Massachusetts. For example, Solers Inc., an information technology software solutions provider for the US government in Arlington, VA, whose technical experts partner with the Department of Defense, intelligence community and other federal agencies, was fully operational. The site utilizes five C65 Secure Power turbines that provide dedicated power to its data center. When the storm was approaching, natural gas production and transmission facilities throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays switched away from their local utility feed to Capstone microturbines that had been installed as emergency or standalone power. At other sites where the Capstone microturbines are the sole source of electric power, the microturbines were left unfazed during the event. At a data center in New York City, Public Interest, Capstone’s C65 dual mode microturbine picked up the data center load when the utility suddenly blacked out, with servers never going down. The Christian Health Care Center, a 292-bed assisted living facility in Wyckoff, NJ, also never lost power with the assistance of its Capstone installation. Of particular note are Capstone’s installations at Salem Community College in Salem County, New Jersey, which served as a Red Cross disaster relief shelter. Its Capstone systems, commissioned in late 2009, enabled the shelter to be fully operational as it was continuously powered and heated by the onsite microturbines. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Salem County Red Cross in Carneys Point, New Jersey asked Salem Community College to continue its 15-year tradition of serving as the local Red Cross disaster relief shelter with the stipulation the campus have a backup power system that provides electricity, cooling, and heating to Davidow Hall, a 65,000 square-foot building serving as the county’s shelter during emergencies. The building houses a gymnasium that can hold 1,000 people during emergencies, as well as a 400-seat performing arts theater, classrooms, kitchens, office space, showers, and bathrooms. Through New Jersey’s Public Utility SmartStart Incentive Program, the college received a $130,000 grant that helped fund the purchase of three Capstone natural gas C65 ICHP MicroTurbines to be used in a combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) application, a 100-ton dual burner Thermax absorption chiller, and a Capstone Advanced Power Server (APS) controller, which monitors the building’s load changes and automatically shuts down the microturbine with the most run hours when it’s not needed, such as on weekends or in the late evening when students are gone. Raymond Constantine, Executive Director of Special Projects for Salem Community College, who led the college’s efforts to secure updated and clean power and HVAC systems, says campus officials wanted a system that could provide electricity, heating, and cooling each day, along with grid-disconnect backup power in an emergency. Capstone provided a CCHP solution that emits “very clean” emissions. When the actual planning for the new energy system began several years ago, the 11-acre main campus was heated and cooled by a longstanding geothermal system. College officials planned for a new “clean” and “green” energy system in Davidow Hall to supplement the campus’ also environmentally friendly geothermal ground source system, installed in 1991. Additionally, two inefficient systems, a direct expansion cooling system that featured freon-based compressors, and natural gas boilers that produced building heat and hot water, also served the massive requirements of Davidow Hall. The Capstone microturbines replaced the old and inefficient systems. A system payback of 10 years had been expected, although Constantine indicates it could be sooner, with an anticipated 30% overall energy savings because of the microturbines. The dual-mode system is standalone capable in the event of a utility power loss. The microturbines currently produce more than 80% of Davidow Hall’s electricity and 100% of the building’s heating and cooling. The dual-mode capabilities are important because of the brownouts and blackouts on the grid that serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, says Constantine, adding that because of the grid vulnerability, having its own onsite power plant enables Salem Community college to relieve grid pressures. Students also benefit from the installation. For the college’s Sustainable Energy Technology program and Environmental Science classes, instructors use the Capstone system as a lab for students. Crouse emphasizes the benefits of turbines in general include reliability and simpler technology than other options due to fewer moving parts, compact size, light weight, lower emissions without any exhaust after-treatment, lower energy costs, and the ability to utilize a broad range of fuel sources. With air bearings there is not lubricating oil or coolant, thus requiring less maintenance, Crouse points out. Most end users are not looking to get into the power generation business, says Crouse. “They’re looking to become more competitive to try to reduce their energy costs, be more environmentally friendly, and have power security,” he says. Crouse notes a trend of facilities wanting to have a reliable source of backup power in case there’s an issue with a power utility—a trend that strengthened following Superstorm Sandy. “A lot of our projects go in not only to run 24/7, but also if there’s an issue with the utility where somebody has run into a telephone pole and the power is out for a couple of hours or there’s a weather event such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake,” he says. “The microturbine system is going to be able to be the top power, sometimes for several days.” End users are excited about the opportunity to become energy independent,” says Crouse. “There’s a lot of talk about energy storage and microgrids. The technologies, including our microturbines, complement each other. We’re seeing more projects where customers are using solar to help cover peak loads, but installing microturbine generation to cover base load thermal energy needs. “We’re seeing more customers take advantage of combining different onsite generation technologies to get a much better energy profile for the building, reduce costs, reduce carbon footprint, and reduce emissions. People are realizing that solar is pretty, but it doesn’t give us all of our energy needs, so let’s put in something to cover the peak load.” “Most of the technology deployed today is pretty clean and turbine and microturbine technology has very low noise, no vibration. It’s easy to attenuate,” says Crouse. “Even in a very urban setting, building, hotel, or residential application, we can quite easily go in and not disturb the tenants or building occupants.” The footprint for a Capstone microturbine is smaller compared to other technologies, says Crouse. “Our projects tend to be multiple units in smaller building blocks, so if the need is for 600 kilowatts, they would put in three C200s, or 10 of our C65s,” he says. “The range and configuration minimizes the footprint and in some cases allows them to put it in multiple locations in their facilities. They could put three of them in one building and two in another building.” Capstone offers a factory protection plan that covers all planned and unplanned maintenance in a five-year to nine-year plant. “This takes the risk of maintenance costs and some of the operational costs and fixes it so when they look at the economics, they have higher confidence that they’re going to get the return that they’re planning out of it,” says Crouse. Long Operation Time Dresser-Rand offers custom-engineered rotating equipment solutions with centrifugal and reciprocating compressors, steam turbines, gas turbine packages, expanders, and control systems. The company is involved in the process from initial concept to equipment retirement for the oil and gas, chemical, power, and petrochemical industries. One such product is its 2-MW KG2 gas turbine. Introduced in 1972, nearly 1,000 units have been installed in 62 countries worldwide, with onshore and offshore continuous duty operations in all types of environments, notes Thomas Palkovich, Project Development Manager, KG2–Engines & Small Gas Turbines, Dresser-Rand. “The versatile gas turbine generator sets are used for a variety of base load and emergency power generation applications, from fixed and floating installations offshore to onshore oil fields, on rooftops as well as integrated into buildings for simple cycle and combined heat and power duties,” says Palkovich. The product has proven itself in many installations, which have clocked a total of more than 25 million operating hours with an availability of approximately 99%, he adds. “Some long service engines have achieved more than 245,000 hours of continuous duty over a lifetime of more than 30 years,” says Palkovich. “The KG2 gas turbine is equipped with a market-leading fuel efficiency and dry-low emission [DLE] combustion to meet ever more demanding emission regulations.” KG2 turbine users benefit from the turbine’s capability to accept a wide range of different fuels, ranging from pipeline quality natural gas to low heating value gas such as wellhead or synthetic gas fuels with significant hydrogen content, Palkovich says. “With the capability of accepting fuel gas with 1.5% H2S as standard—higher levels are subject to review—the KG2-3G turbine is considered a reliable source of electrical power from associated gas that might otherwise be flared at the well head,” he adds. Palkovich points out that further operational benefits of the KG2 turbine include: • low-fuel gas supply pressure of 11 bar for operation, and even lower pressure at startup • capability to allow for major load changes of up to 100% with insignificant change in the generator frequency • capability to operate with a heat recovery unit to produce more than 6 tons of steam at 12 bar • overall efficiency exceeding 90% when operating the installation in CHP mode • retaining the simplicity of the earlier models while adding state-of-the-art turbine materials and combustion technology, allowing users to operate with a minimum of maintenance and high availability • maintenance intervals of 8,000 hours between inspections and 40,000 hours between major overhauls Such benefits lead to energy and cost efficiencies, especially when power availability and negligible downtimes are important for end users, notes Palkovich. “With long operation time between inspections and the capability to accept a wide fuel range, KG2 gas turbines can offer good exhaust gas properties to allow high-quality process steam production,” he says, “Total plant efficiencies can exceed 90%.” Additionally, KG2 gas turbines are packaged in noise attenuating enclosures, securing noise levels down to 75 dBA, and with the state-of-the-art DLE combustions emissions below 24-ppm NOx. Dresser-Rand has provided the Max Bögl Group with an indirectly fired KG2-3G gas turbine for its new biomass cogeneration plant in its Bavaria, Germany, facility. Max Bögl wanted to produce electricity with low emissions at its Bavaria plant. Heat from the biomass cogeneration plant will be used to produce 5 tons of saturated steam, which, in turn, will be used to produce concrete for prefabricated components as well as for electricity conversion. A significant part of the clean, hot air from the turbine cycle will be used in the asphalt production process and grinding plant. Chips made from untreated wood, which will come from local agriculture and foresting farms or short rotation forestry, will be used as a CO2 neutral fuel. By producing 2 MW of energy using renewable sources, Max Bögl will receive compensation from the German Renewable Act, which provides incentives and compensation to companies producing energy using renewable sources. “Max Bögl needed a generator set that was reliable, required little maintenance and was specifically designed to meet the requirements in the two-megawatt range of power, and the Dresser-Rand KG2-3G gas turbine was the best fit for their needs,” says Odd Guldsten, vice president and general manager, Dresser-Rand Norwegian Operations, adding that the solution helps the company meet its sustainability goals. The new cogeneration plant constructed by Gammel Engineering GmbH replaces a gas-fired steam and heat process, and is expected to save 3,2 MM m3 (93,2 million normal cubic meters) of natural gas annually. The plant went into operation in the spring of 2013. Small Footprint Solar Turbines, Inc. manufactures gas turbine-driven generator sets from 1 to 22 MW for combined heat and power (CHP), baseload electricity, distributed power, combined-cycle, peak shaving, district heating/cooling, mobile, modular, and standby power. Solar Turbines partners with Turbomach in Switzerland to package solar gas turbines for power generation worldwide. In 2004, Turbomach became a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc. The company’s power generation products are installed in a wide variety of facilities, including colleges and universities, hospitals, industrial/processing facilities, commercial buildings, government facilities, rural and electric cooperatives, and mobile or distributed power plants. Because of their small footprint and light weight, solar gas turbines are ideally suited for mobile and distributed power applications that bring power closer to the point of use, notes Claudette Carmine Harris, marketing communications for Solar Turbines. Solar gas turbine generator sets can achieve overall thermal efficiencies of 80% or more in CHP or combined-cycle configurations, where the heat from the turbine exhaust is recovered to produce steam, preheated combustion air or hot air for drying or heating processes, she says. “A Solar gas turbine system in a CHP application provides an efficient, clean and reliable solution to generating power and thermal energy from a single fuel source,” says Harris. “This system is designed to meet a facility’s thermal and electrical base loads while increasing operational efficiency, decreasing energy costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. With this system in place, the customer can use the utility grid supply as a backup or supplementary source of power, greatly increasing power reliability.” Environmental compliance and sustainability are strong drivers of Solar’s product design and development programs, says Harris. “Solar gas turbines produce low exhaust emissions that meet or exceed emission standards around the world,” she adds. “With the goal of reducing pollution, Solar gas turbines operate on a wide variety of fuel sources including alternative and waste fuels such as methane gas from landfills and synthetic gas from biomass. In certain applications, such as CHP, Solar equipment increases energy efficiencies and reduces pollution by recovering rather than releasing turbine exhaust.” In the industrial sector, Solar has reduced the steel industry’s carbon footprint in China by burning hydrogen released from the conversion of coal into coke used in the production of steel, says Harris, adding that the coke oven gas was previously wasted by flaring or releasing it into the atmosphere. Solar offers gas turbine engines with pollution-prevention SoLoNOx dry lean-premixed combustion technology. “This advanced combustion system provides the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach to reduce NOx emissions,” says Harris. “More than 26,900 gas turbines with SoLoNOx technology have been installed worldwide, logging more than 132 million operating hours.” Solar Turbines provides customer support such as machinery management, field service, certified parts, overhaul, refurbishment, and technical training throughout the life of its products. The company’s InSight System technology provides an online approach to equipment health management, including advanced remote Web-based monitoring and predictive diagnostics capabilities, with servicing based on real-time equipment conditions rather than time intervals. “This saves customers time and money on repair and maintenance, resulting in more uptime, greater productivity, and optimized product life cycle,” notes Harris. Going forward, Crouse sees more fuel flexibility in future developments with microturbines and turbines. “I think when you look at hydrogen as fuel or some of the renewable fuels—whether it’s natural gas, digester gas, or syngas—those markets continue to evolve,” he says. “The other part of it is oil and gas, which is still a big part of our business. It’s a little bit challenging right now due to oil prices and some of the political issues around the world, but that’s an area where the amount of gas that is being wasted around the world in flares can be used in our product quite easily and would help out some the areas where they are flaring gas today and people are starving for energy.” Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to energy and technology.
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