Gas turbine power plants are one of the power generation plants that uses gas turbines to generate electricity for usage. It is also known as a combustion turbine and consists of a gas turbine, generator, and heat recovery system that helps generate the required electricity for usage in areas like aircraft propulsion, and other industrial applications. It works on a simple mechanism where the burning of the fuel produces steam that allows the generator to produce electricity. The heat recovery system allows the capturing of the waste heat from the turbines and uses them for other industrial purposes.
Gas turbine power plants adhering to their efficiency and reliability have become a major source of energy development these days. It is becoming a mainstream of energy generation and has many advantages. That being said there are a few disadvantages of the system too and we’ll look to analyze both sides of the coin below in our article. Read along.
Advantages of Gas Turbine Power Plants
1. Highly efficient
Gas turbine power plants have a high efficiency compared to other types of power generation plans. They are known to provide 40% more than thermal efficiencies allowing far better results than when normal power plants are put to use. It also consumes less fuel to produce electricity allowing the power generation company to reduce their operating costs. Furthermore, this reduction in usage of fossil fuels will help lower greenhouse gas emissions and help sustain the environment.
2. Quick and smooth start-up and shutdown
Gas turbines do not require a long startup or shutdown like other power plants. They can be switched on with ease and can start generating electricity right away. This helps in getting the turbine up to full capacity within minutes and improves the efficiency of operational capacity. For say, solar panels are dependent on the sun and can take lengthy startup time. Same with the nuclear plants or hydroelectricity which tend to be dependent on other means. This can be useful at times when the demand is hiked and needs a sudden increase in the production capacity.
Gas turbine plants are reliable and durable in nature as they can operate for a long period of time without any downtime or maintenance issue. This is crucial for areas like aviation where uninterrupted power supply is vital to the functioning of the system and machine. They also have a less prone nature to the wear and tear when compared to other reciprocrating engines giving them a longer shelf life and less maintenance overheads.
4. Versatile in Fuel Intake and Sources
Compare gas turbine power plants to other streams of energy generation, hydroelectricity is dependent on water sources while solar is ever dependent on the sun and the same for windmills depending on wind flow. All the while gas turbines can burn a wide range of fuels ranging from diesel, biofuels, kerosene, natural gas and more. This flexibility and versatile nature allows it to provide energy anytime when needed without the issue of input fuels.
5. Effectively lower emissions
Gas turbine based power plants have a relatively lower emissions and in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity generated. This couple with the emission control techniques and designs like particulate matter and nitrogen oxides give gas turbine a lower emission than other power generation techniques.
Disadvantages of Gas Turbine Power Plants
1. High Capital Outlay
Gas turbine power plants have a very high initial capital investment. This is down to the need for purchasing turbines, generators and other infrastructure to run it. All of these add costs and make it an expensive capital investment. Such expenditure isn’t suitable for mid-range or small scale power generation companies and brands and is limited to those who can handle such large investments.
2. Lower Efficiency at times
Gas turbines are known to provide high levels of efficiency but there are few instances when they can provide lower efficiency too. This is when there is partial loads, the power demands fluctuate and entire efficiency of gas turbines drop as a result. To counter this, there needs to be addition of combined cycle systems or even storage system for energy, which in turn increases the cost further.
3. Highly dependent on fuels
We talked about how gas turbines aren’t dependent on natural causes like sun, water wind, or even nuclear generation for the input giving them a flexible routine. But one thing that can affect them at times is their dependency on fuel. Since gas turbines need fuels, any disruption in the fuel supply or barricades in that nature can affect the power generation and output levels.
4. Environmental Basis
Gas turbines despite being known for lower emissions, still work on the combustion method of fossil fuels. This means that even though the consumption of fuels can be less with technological advancement, the combustion will create pollutants and affect the environment’s emissions and our overall earth’s climate.
5. Sound and Noise Issue
Use of gas turbines and the combustion of fuels generate significant noise in and around the area. This creates sound pollution and disturbance for people and societies if such gas turbine power plants are nearby. Furthermore, visually, these are industrial-sized and can mean that they can be a nuisance if they are near the housing or residential areas.
Gas turbine power plants are known to be versatile and provide a lot of advantages. Its ability to provide a new avenue of energy source is much needed and applauded. However that being said, there are a few nuances of it too and we hope that this article sheds light and gives a glimpse of both sides of the case.
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