A combined cycle power plant uses a gas as well as an auxiliary steam turbine to improve its overall efficiency, with the former being the primary power generator and the latter recovering the exhaust gas heat. Individually, gas turbine and steam turbine power plants have an average efficiency between 25 % and 40 %, depending on their fuel source and capacity. However, when installed in combination, it increases to 60%. In terms of capacity, fuel, and number of turbines, the combined cycle power plant can have several configurations such as: 1×1 (one gas turbine, one steam turbine), 2×1 (two gas turbines, one steam turbine), 3×1 (three gas turbines, one steam turbine), and sometimes even 4×1 (four gas turbines, one steam turbine).
The increasing number of laws and regulations on carbon footprint, CO2 & CO emissions, NOx emissions, and other particulate matter has compelled power generation companies to adopt systems such as combined cycle gas turbines and renewable energy. However, while the average cost of renewable energy varies from US$ 1500/kw to US$ 3000/kw, that of power generated from combined cycle gas turbines is US$ 500/kw to US$ 800/kw. Also, the average life span of renewable energy power plants is only 20 years, whereas combined cycle gas turbine plants live for 30. Therefore, the latter are a more efficient, economic, and durable option.
Combined cycle gas turbines also possess the capacity and flexibility to cope with discrepancies in power demands through the day. Furthermore, growing awareness about the need to develop better alternatives and accessories and the subsequent advancing technology are expected to propel the combined cycle gas turbine market. The usage of cleaner fuels such as natural gas to reduce emissions will also increase the adoption of this configuration in future.
The combined gas turbine market is divided into two segments based on design: heavy duty gas turbines (widely used for commercial power generation) and aeroderivative gas turbines. The latter are relatively compact and smaller in size and are employed in applications where space constraints are high and power requirements low. Based on geography, the market can be split into: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. North America and Asia Pacific are currently as also expected to remain the major markets, because of the growing population and industrialization in China and India leading to a monumental surge in power requirements in this region, as well as the regulations on emissions due to global issues such as global warming and climate change in Europe and North America.
There is healthy competition among key market players to increase the efficiency of combined cycle gas turbines beyond the 61% mark by designing and developing gas turbines & steam turbines with better materials, fuel types, and accessories. Leading companies include General Electric, Siemens, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co Ltd., and Solar Turbines.
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