To tap the market for carbon control technology, GE announced launch of a Global Powering Efficiency Center of Excellence, to offer solutions for reducing emissions by up to 11 per cent.
In India, it will focus on getting a share in the Rs 50,000-crore market for renovation and maintenance, besides replacing older plants and efficiency services.
Speaking to this newspaper, Ashok Ganesan, leader of the Powering Efficiency COE and GE’s Power India managing director, says India has the advantage of doing emission control
in phases. “There is cost of doing capital expenditure and bringing in efficiency, gains from which can be a big offset to the capital cost. Besides, controlling auxiliary power loss will be an ongoing big dream to tap. This becomes an equation that we have to balance. The bad part is that as a country, we are trying to do all this together but the good part is we have a chance to leapfrog,” he said.
COE will bring together cross-business experts in its energy businesses to apply a ‘total plant hardware and software solution approach’ to boost the efficiency of new and existing coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce their emissions. The global COE, headquartered in Baden, Germany, will create integrated solutions; regional teams will focus on engineering capabilities and local implementation.
“By bringing together the combined experience of a cross-business group of experts from GE’s Power Services, Steam Power Systems, Global Research Center and Global Growth organisations, we are showing operators how they can achieve emissions compliance and increased efficiency with their coal-fired power plants,” said Michael Rechsteiner, executive sponsor of the global COE and vice-president of product lines for GE’s Power Services.
Ganesan said India needed to be explore differential emission control, given the need to be flexible.
“If a plant is going to work 20-30 per cent of the time, it is not going to pollute much.” Building flue gas desulphurisation plants to lower SO2 levels for these units will make the electricity cost prohibitive, as there’d be no electricity generation to support this. “We believe there is a path to exempt those plants and make up for it through stricter norms for plants that are fully base-load. Those are where the cost of making those plants efficient are far more palatable. As a country, we can achieve efficiency goals while making sure the cost is not prohibitive,” he said.
Technology, he said, exists to improve efficiency by three to five per cent.
“Add digital to that and it becomes attractive. The second piece is emission. The third is auxiliary power that needs to be controlled.”
Indian power plants use on an average six to eight per cent of the total generation as auxiliary power against the world average of three to four per cent.
This power goes to run the equipment. Emission control
requires more equipment to be run, which adds more auxiliary power. So, there is further efficiency loss by emission control.
In 2015, GE acquired the global power and grid businesses of French major Alstom. This was GE’s largest ever industrial acquisition. Ganesan said the acquisition in India gave GE a good hold and presence in gas and hydropower, coal services and grid systems. According to a recent study by the company, carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s steam fleet can be reduced by 11 per cent when existing hardware and software solutions are fully applied.
Coal-fired power generation provides electricity for about 40 per cent of the world. It also accounts for nearly 75 per cent of the electricity sector’s carbon emissions, as many plants are older and inefficient.
“The installed base of coal assets will not disappear overnight, and while GE supports the increased use of renewable energy sources, we also realise the need for flexible and efficient coal solutions to help reduce emissions and bring reliable energy supplies to power producers,” said Rechsteiner.
GE is offering a suite of steam upgrades and emission management technologies that, when combined with digital technologies, can increase efficiency on average by four per cent. The newest coal plants being built using GE’s latest technology can deliver up to 49 per cent efficiency rates, says the company,compared to the global average of 33 per cent.
Every point of efficiency reduces operating costs over the lifetime of the plant, while also reducing CO2 emissions by about two per cent.
Besides the global COE, the company’s regional entities will help on power plants’ local needs. In addition, the centre will provide a set of financing solutions, to help customers toward a lower carbon-intensity power generation mix.
The first project showcasing GE’s Powering Efficiency COE commitment in the country is with India’s largest thermal utility, NTPC, for its three 200 Mw Ansaldo steam turbines, installed a little over 30 years ago at the Ramagundam Super Thermal Power Plant in Telangana. GE will help NTPC improve the efficiency of each steam turbine by up to 14 per cent, increase plant output by approximately 30 Mw and reduce its carbon footprint by five per cent.