A new hybrid power plant to be built in Turkey will combine a traditional gas-fired steam turbine with solar thermal power and wind power, according to GE. It's a step toward integrating renewable sources into the traditional power grid, using steam and mirrors.
The solar component is a field of sun-tracking mirrors that will focus sunlight on a tower to produce steam, which will be fed into the steam turbine to increase the plant's output. A small wind farm connected to the plant will provide another 22 megawatts of power.
The plant will produce 522 megawatts in total, with 450 of that coming from the natural gas plant, so its renewable portfolio is not exactly robust. But the real gain may be in the ease with which wind and solar are being added to the power grid. Instead of localized solar arrays, or distant behemoth wind farms, the renewable sources are being added to a traditional-style power plant. The varying systems can share a control center as well as connections to the grid, which can make them cheaper and easier to integrate. GE says it can cut the cost of a solar thermal system in half, according to Technology Review.
The natural gas component also smooths out the variability problems inherent in wind energy. When it's not blowing, natural gas will generate steam to spin the turbines.
The solar thermal technology comes from a small company called eSolar, which uses thousands of small, pre-fabricated mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight toward a receiver, which uses the heat to generate steam. Algorithms automatically track and focus the sun's rays, according to a news release from GE.
The gas turbine is a new design — GE unveiled it last month — and the company says the plant will be 69 percent efficient, more than double the efficiency rate of other natural gas power plants. The technology is designed for countries that use 50 hertz electricity, Technology Review points out — the US uses 60 hertz, so it's not clear whether this could work on our soil.
GE is set to break ground later this year and the plant should be operational by 2015, the company says.
There was a prison in Texas 30 years ago that was built to use solar heat to up water that would later be more heated with gas. While the solar factor didn't get the temps up to steam it was supposed to save a bunch of gas. I suspect this is how they are getting this efficiency number.
"The technology is designed for countries that use 50 hertz electricity, Technology Review points out — the US uses 60 hertz, so it’s not clear whether this could work on our soil."
Using all this natural gas to subsidize propellers and mirrors is a waste of transportation fuel.
A much better idea is to use the natural gas for autos and nuclear for electricity.
Let me see if I get this strait... It's a natural gas plant with some solar panels and windmills tacked on. Also, the article said it was generating 522 Megawatts, but how fast? 522 per day? Year? Millennium? Good that it's a more efficient natural gas plant, though.
Megawatts is the term used by everyone to describe the size of a power plant. It's inferred that its MW/HR.
Watts don't work that way. It's a unit of energy per time. A MW/HR is a megawatt over one hour. The total output is measured in megawatts (so that no one has to ask "over what period of time.")
And yes, this still looks like a waste of time, if the "renewable" sources produce less than 15% of the energy. I don't know what irritates me more lately - the good press for natural gas or the bad for nuclear. It would be nice if people could be a little less shortsighted about what constitutes "safety."
finally. this is be interesting.
Energy is measured in Joules. Power is measured in Watts, and is the rate at which energy is generated or consumed. As power is the derivative of energy, 1 Joule/second is 1 Watt.
If a plant is rated at 500MW, it is producing 500MW every instant (assuming it is operating at capacity). If a plant produces 500MW for one hour, you get 500MW*hr, which is now a quantity of energy (500 MW*hr = 500 (MJ/s)*3600s = 1,800,000 MJ).
MW/hr is mostly a worthless construct for our purposes, as it would be the derivative of power, that is, the rate of the change in power produced or consumed with respect to time. It may be a useful metric in describing how a power plant starts or stops, or possibly how the power changes in response to changes in demand from the grid. Unless you are an engineer designing or operating the plant, it probably isn't an important metric.