A panel of marketing representatives for several industrial giants was convened in mid-May by the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) to look at how quick-start natural gas-fired generation can mitigate the increased variability on the electric grid due to increased wind and solar-based power supplies.

Siemens, General Electric (GE), and Wartsila touted their technologies in the quick-start, efficient realm of gas-fired combined-cycle baseload generation plants as part of WIA’s spring board meeting in Jackson Hole, WY.

Each representative provided details on the performance capabilities of their respective technology, including ramping capabilities from start to full power output; impact of performance based on elevation, heat rates, cooling methods and other attributes.

Wartsila’s Dennis Finn, the company’s Rocky Mountain regional sales manager, talked about his company’s fast-start generation taking five minutes from start to full capacity and how that can equate to cost savings and efficiency in the smart power grid (SPG) that includes renewables and a lot of added gas-fired combined-cycle generation.

Besides gas-fired generation and the flexibility to use liquid fuels, the SPG, according Finn, involves agile dispatching, low generation costs, high plant reliability and low environmental impacts. It also requires locating major new generation plants within major load centers, something that is sometimes easier proposed than done given the continuing NIMBY attitudes in many communities across the nation.

GE Power product manager Ty Remington said the market dynamics for increased gas-fired generation continue to grow with abundant domestic supplies and carbon-reduction incentives for burning more gas rather than coal.

“Renewable penetration increases variability and uncertainty,” Remington said. “Thermal generation resources must (a) ramp faster and more often, (b) cycle on/off faster and more often, and (c) provide more short-term reserves.”

While in the recent past, the preference has been in siting more simple-cycle, gas-fired peaking plants, Remington made a case for the “new paradigm” being flexible combined-cycle and peaking generation, while acknowledging that a series of simple-cycle peakers is still a good solution in certain applications.

GE is selling its rapid-response combined-cycle (CC) gas-fired technology, compared to what it called conventional CC technology.

Similar to the other two turbine makers, Siemens’ John Copen, business development director, had a fast-start, gas-fired technology as a solution and profiled installations across the United States with some of the nation’s major utilities and power generators.

Copen pushed a Siemens small-scale plant, the 150 MW “Flex-Plant 10,” as being an ideal partner with renewables, which his company also develops. “It has higher efficiency than a simple-cycle plant and uses much less water than convention solutions,” he said.

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