In the current industrial landscape, environment policies and growing demand for greener power generation alternatives is the need of the hour. Further, provisions are in place to reduce dependency on fossil fuels for power generation and increase adoption of environment-friendly alternatives such as natural gas. In addition, several power generation companies are focusing on curbing global warming by reducing their environmental footprint by implementing research and development activities. All these factors combined are fueling the growth of the natural gas turbine market.
In recent years, natural gas turbine market witnessed steady growth owing to factors such as, advancements in technology, availability of natural gas, modernization of existing power generation infrastructure, and environment policies. In addition, the high availability of low-cost-natural gas significantly reduced the demand for coal in developed regions such as North America and Europe.
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Global Natural Gas Turbine Market: Snapshot
Concerns pertaining to global warming has expanded considerably in the past decade and the world has come together to make the paradigm shift off fossil fuel and onto greener alternatives, if not renewable. This factor has given a strong thrust to the exploring and extraction of natural gas, which is turn is stroking the demand for the turbines that serve the purposes.
A number of research and development activities are currently underway to further advance the possibilities with natural gas, and thereby the costs are reducing to make them more affordable for general masses. According to a recent research study from the North Carolina State University, the demand for coal has significantly reduced in the past decade owing to the availability of low cost natural gas.
Natural gas turbines have improved significantly too, working as a combustion engines that can serve purpose of converting natural gas into mechanical energy, which can be then used to feed a generator that can transform it into electrical energy. These primarily are indirect systems wherein a heat exchanger is utilized and only cleaner air is passed with no combustion products traveling through the power turbine.
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Global Natural Gas Turbine Market: R&D Investments to Surge
In order to boost the procedure of new product cycles, while seeking improvements in design, efficiency and performance of their products, manufacturers in the natural gas turbine market are focusing on making R&D investments. For example, researchers from B&B Agema, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) have collaborated for an R&D initiative dedicated toward a novel design approach, which would increase temperatures at high-pressure natural gas turbine stage inlet and the combustor exit.
The research aims at boosting efficiency without putting much strain on blades and vanes, considering the fact that temperature of modern turbine stage inlet exceed melting points of the turbine blade materials. As the natural gas turbine market perceives consolidation, R&D initiatives will gain more emphasis among manufacturers. As noted in November announcement of Siemens, global natural gas turbine producers possess the capability to manufacture 400 large units with capacity of over 100 MW.
However, current demand is nearly 110 large units annually, which in turn will intensify the competition in the global market for natural gas turbines. Despite low demand, opportunities prevail for advancements in natural gas turbine technology on several levels ranging from technology & rating capacity to design & application. This has further rubbed off on R&D activities in the global natural gas turbine market.
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Global Natural Gas Turbine Market: Growing Emphasis on Reduced Emissions
A key challenge backing up the intermittent power generation with gas is significant increase in emissions, which is attributed to several factors such as high level of NOx and Co emissions by operating gas turbine at low loads. Rapid changes in the turbine output are linked with disruption of equilibrium between the selective catalytic reduction and fuel.
Additional pilot fuel needed during the load alterations further results into increased NOx emissions. Moreover, maintaining accurate ammonia injection level in SCR is more challenges when the turbine load is changing. In a bid to curtail emission challenges, fast ignition turbine technology, imperative for combined cycle plants to initiate & ramp, while responding to grid fluctuations, is a key attribute of R&D efforts currently.
Major turbine manufacturers such as Siemens have recently introduced a fast-starting plant technology, which is designed to address emission-related problems. A prime example of such technology is Siemens Flex-Plant employed at Lodi Energy Center, California. Improvements in design of heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) enable fast start up of such plants, and eliminate low load holds, thereby reducing emissions.
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