DOE - Fossil Energy Techline - Issued on:  December 30, 2003

Advanced Natural Gas Turbine Hailed as Top Power Project of 2003

Power Engineering Cites Product of Energy Department's Advanced Turbine Systems Program

Washington, DC - A power plant featuring a next-generation gas turbine developed as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's advanced turbine systems program has been selected by Power Engineering magazine as one of three "2003 Projects of the Year."

Baglan Bay Power Station, South Wales, U.K. - Photo Courtesy of GE Power Systems
Baglan Bay Power Station, South Wales, U.K.
Photo courtesy of GE Power Systems

The Baglan Bay Power Station near Cardiff, Wales, UK reached a major milestone for the global power industry when GE Power System's H System gas turbine debuted there earlier this year. The most advanced combustion turbine in the world, the H System is the first gas turbine combined-cycle system capable of achieving 60 percent thermal efficiency.

Citing this achievement, Power Engineering magazine picked the Baglan Bay Power Station as one of its top three power projects in 2003. The H System gas turbine is the product of a jointly funded development effort between GE Power Systems and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy.

When the Energy Department started its advanced turbine systems program in the early 1990s, the best turbines available had efficiencies of only 50 percent. Today, the most efficient systems operate in the 57- to 58-percent efficiency range. The efficiency is important because each percentage point gain can mean as much as $20 million in reduced operating costs over the life of a typical gas-fired combined-cycle plant.

"Not only does increased fuel efficiency reduce costs, but it extends the life of our natural gas resources and helps protect the environment-both important goals of the President's National Energy Policy," said Mike Smith, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. "By squeezing more energy out of a fuel, emissions are reduced on a per-unit-of-energy basis, resulting in clearer skies and healthier air."

GE's 9H Gas Turbine
GE's 9H Gas Turbine

First introduced in 1995, GE has designed and built two H System gas turbines: the 50-hertz "9H" (the model installed at Baglan Bay, suitable for the overseas market) and the 60-hertz "7H" (suitable for the U.S. power grid). At 39 feet long and 16 feet in diameter, the 9H weights in at 811,000 pounds, and is believed to be the largest gas turbine in the world.

Both H System turbines derive their performance from advanced materials and a new steam-cooling system that allows operation at firing temperatures of 2,600 degress Fahrenheit - some 200 degrees above previous-generation turbines. The higher firing temperatures are the key to the system's higher efficiency.

"The technology operates more cleanly than any of today's utility gas turbines," said Chuck Alsup of the Power Systems Projects Division at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which managed the project for the Energy Department. "Its 9 parts-per-million nitrogen oxide emissions will be half the average of gas turbines now in use, making it suitable for siting in environmentally constrained areas."

Natural gas turbines are expected to make up more than 80 percent of the power generating capacity to be added in the United States over the next 10 years. The global turbine market also promises to be significant, with worldwide power generation approaching $100 billion over the next decade.

- End of TechLine -

For more information, contact:

  • David Anna, DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, 412-386-4646,