GE Power Plant Enables Greater Use of Wind, Solar and Natural Gas on Power Grid

GE has unveiled a first-of-its-kind power plant engineered to deliver an unprecedented combination of flexibility and efficiency. By rapidly ramping up and down in response to fluctuations in wind and solar power, the technology will enable the integration of more renewable resources into the power grid.

The FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle1 Power Plant is rated at 510 megawatts and offers fuel efficiency greater than 61%. The plant is the result of an investment of more than $500 million in research and development by GE and a key part of its ongoing work to create and manufacture technologies around the globe that deliver cleaner, more efficient energy.

While power plants today can provide flexibility or high efficiency, this power plant will deliver an unprecedented combination of both. GE calls this combination of flexibility and efficiency ‘FlexEfficiency,’ which is essential if renewable power is going to cost-effectively integrate into power grids around the world on a large scale.

GE drew from the company’s jet engine expertise to engineer a plant that will ramp up at a rate of more than 50 megawatts per minute, twice the rate of today’s industry benchmarks. Operational flexibility at these levels will enable utilities to deliver power quickly when it is needed and to ramp down when it is not, balancing the grid cost-effectively and helping to deploy additional renewable power resources like wind and solar. A typical FlexEfficiency 50 plant will deliver enough energy to power more than 600,000 E.U. homes.

“As our customers seek to increase their use of renewable energy, the challenge of grid stability sharpens. They are under added pressure to achieve higher levels of efficiency and lower emissions for natural gas power plants. The FlexEfficiency 50 plant creates an immense growth opportunity in a new segment for our gas turbine technology and is in lock-step with our commitment to build a cleaner energy future,” says Paul Browning, vice president—thermal products for GE Power & Water. “For years we have been working to develop technology that can, in the same breath, deliver breakthrough efficiency and deal head-on with the challenge of grid variability caused by wind and solar. The need for combined flexibility and efficiency is even more pressing today as countries around the world establish new emissions standards.”

The FlexEfficiency 50 plant is the first product in GE’s new FlexEfficiency portfolio and part of GE’s ecomagination commitment to drive clean energy technology through innovation and R&D investment. The launch follows GE’s recent announcements of the world’s most efficient wind turbine, the highest reported efficiency for thin film solar and $11 billion in acquisitions that strengthen a portfolio supporting natural gas and power transmission.

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