A gas-fired power plant, sometimes referred to as gas-fired power station or natural gas power plant, is a thermal power station that burns natural gas to generate electricity. Gas-fired power plants generate almost a quarter of world electricity and are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.[3] However, they can provide seasonal, dispatchable energy generation to compensate for variable renewable energy deficits, where hydropower or interconnectors are not available.

A cogeneration plant in Berlin
Share of electricity production from gas

2019 world electricity generation by source (total generation was 27 petawatt-hours)[1][2]

  Coal (37%)
  Natural gas (24%)
  Hydro (16%)
  Nuclear (10%)
  Wind (5%)
  Solar (3%)
  Other (5%)

Basic concepts: heat into mechanical energy into electrical energy Edit

A gas-fired power plant is a type of fossil fuel power station in which chemical energy stored in natural gas, which is mainly methane, is converted successively into: thermal energy, mechanical energy and, finally, electrical energy. Although they cannot exceed the Carnot cycle limit for conversion of heat energy into useful work the excess heat may be used in cogeneration plants to heat buildings, produce hot water, or to heat materials on an industrial scale.

Plant types Edit

Fingrid Oyj's gas turbine power plant in Forssa, Finland

Simple cycle gas-turbine Edit

In a simple cycle gas-turbine, also known as open-cycle gas-turbine (OCGT), hot gas drives a gas turbine to generate electricity. This type of plant is relatively cheap to build and can start very quickly, but due to its lower efficiency is at most is only run for a few hours a day as a peaking power plant.[4]

Combined cycle gas-turbine (CCGT) Edit

Gateway Generating Station, a combined-cycle gas-fired power station in California.

CCGT power plants consist of simple cycle gas-turbines which use the Brayton cycle, followed by a heat recovery steam generator and a steam turbine which use the Rankine cycle. The most common configuration is two gas-turbines supporting one steam turbine.[5] They are more efficient than simple cycle plants and can achieve efficiencies up to 55% and dispatch times of around half an hour.[6]

Reciprocating engine Edit

Reciprocating internal combustion engines tend to be under 20MW, so much smaller than other types of natural gas-fired electricity generator, and are typically used for emergency power or to balance variable renewable energy such as wind and solar.[7]

Greenhouse gas emissions Edit

In total gas-fired power stations emit about 450 grams (1 lb) of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated.[8][9] This is about half that of coal-fired power stations but much more than nuclear power plants and renewable energy.[8] Life-cycle emissions of gas-fired power stations may be impacted by methane emissions such as from gas leaks.[10]

Carbon capture Edit

As of 2022 very few power plants have carbon capture and storage or carbon capture and utilization.[11]

Hydrogen Edit

Gas-fired power plants can be modified to run on hydrogen[12] and according to General Electric a more economically viable option than CCS would be to use more and more hydrogen in the gas turbine fuel.[13] Hydrogen can at first be created from natural gas through steam reforming, or by heating to precipitate carbon, as a step towards a hydrogen economy, thus eventually reducing carbon emissions.[14]

Economics Edit

New plants Edit

Sometimes a new battery storage power station together with solar power or wind power is cheaper in the long-term than building a new gas plant, as the gas plant risks becoming a stranded asset.[15]

Existing plants Edit

As of 2019 a few gas-fired power plants are being retired because they are unable to stop and start quickly enough.[16] However, despite the falling cost of variable renewable energy most existing gas-fired power plants remain profitable, especially in countries without a carbon price, due to their dispatchable generation and because shale gas and liquefied natural gas prices have fallen since they were built.[17] Even in places with a carbon price, such as the EU, existing gas-fired power stations remain economically viable, partly due to increasing restrictions on coal-fired power because of its pollution.[18]

Politics Edit

Even when replacing coal power the decision to build a new plant may be controversial.[19]

See also Edit

External links Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "Data & Statistics". International Energy Agency. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  2. ^ "World gross electricity production by source, 2019 – Charts – Data & Statistics". International Energy Agency. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Clean fuel? Methane leaks threaten natural gas' climate-friendly image". Reuters. 29 June 2018. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Simple cycle gas plant - Energy Education". energyeducation.ca. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Power blocks in natural gas-fired combined-cycle plants are getting bigger - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". www.eia.gov. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Combined cycle gas plant - Energy Education". energyeducation.ca. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Natural gas-fired reciprocating engines are being deployed more to balance renewables - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". www.eia.gov. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b Rueter, Gero (27 December 2021). "How sustainable is wind power?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 28 December 2021. An onshore wind turbine that is newly built today produces around nine grams of CO2 for every kilowatt hour (kWh) it generates ... a new offshore plant in the sea emits seven grams of CO2 per kWh ... solar power plants emit 33 grams CO2 for every kWh generated ... natural gas produces 442 grams CO2 per kWh, power from hard coal 864 grams, and power from lignite, or brown coal, 1034 grams ... nuclear energy accounts for about 117 grams of CO2 per kWh, considering the emissions caused by uranium mining and the construction and operation of nuclear reactors.
  9. ^ Rosselot, Kirsten S.; Allen, David T.; Ku, Anthony Y. (5 July 2021). "Comparing Greenhouse Gas Impacts from Domestic Coal and Imported Natural Gas Electricity Generation in China". ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. 9 (26): 8759–8769. doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.1c01517. ISSN 2168-0485. S2CID 237875562.
  10. ^ "A satellite finds massive methane leaks from gas pipelines". NPR.org. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  11. ^ Chemnick, Jean (9 May 2022). "Why EPA might make new gas plants catch carbon". E&E News. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  12. ^ "The plan to convert the North to run on hydrogen". Utility Week. 30 November 2018.
  13. ^ "GE: Hydrogen trumps carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) in preserving gas turbines in a carbon-free grid". Utility Dive. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  14. ^ "H-vision: blue hydrogen for a green future". Gas World. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  15. ^ Andrew Burger (7 October 2019). "Natural Gas Power Stranded Asset Risk Reaches a Tipping Point". Solar Magazine. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  16. ^ Geuss, Megan (26 June 2019). "A 10-year-old natural gas plant in California gets the coal plant treatment". Ars Technica. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  17. ^ Ram, R. Sree (28 June 2019). "Torrent Power shares make a powerful leap after Gujarat arrangement". Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Natural gas price plunge signals greener start for 2019 in U.S. and EU". www.worldoil.com. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  19. ^ Harrabin, Roger (7 October 2019). "UK overrules block on Drax power station plans". Retrieved 20 October 2019.