The share of renewable energy is growing rapidly driven by the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of electric power which can be supplied to the grid depends on the time of the day and weather conditions. A conventional fleet of thermal power plants is required to compensate for these fluctuations before large scale energy storage technologies will be mature and economically viable. All power market projections expect this to be the case for the next 50 years at least. For a strong expansion of renewables, this fleet has to operate flexibly at competitive cost.
Current power plants cannot fill this role immediately without impeding their efficiency and engine lifetime through increased wear and damage induced by the higher number of (shorter) operating/loading cycles. New technologies need to be introduced to balance demand peaks with renewable output fluctuations at minimal fuel consumption and emissions without negative effects on cycling operation.
The FLEXTURBINE partners have developed a medium to long term technology roadmap addressing future and existing power plants. The FLEXTURBINE project presented hereafter is the first step in such technology roadmap and consists of:
- new solutions for extended operating ranges to predict and control flutter,
- improved sealing and bearing designs to increase turbine lifetime and efficiency by reducing degradation/damages
- an improved lifecycle management through better control and prediction of critical parts to improve competitive costs by more flexible service intervals and planned downtime, and by reducing unplanned outages.
In all areas, individual technologies will be developed from TRL 3 to TRL 4-6. FLEXTURBINE brings together the main European turbine manufacturers, renowned research institutes and universities. It involves plant and transmission system operators to include user feedback and to prepare the take-up of the FLEXTURBINE technologies in power plants world-wide.
The figure below depicts an overview on components to be investigated in FLEXTURBINE.