GE's 'Traveling Power Plants' Head Off Potential Energy Shortages; 'Revolutionary Approach' First Used in Chicago, Next Stop Ireland.
While some areas of the U.S. struggled with power shortages during this summer's record heat, Commonwealth Edison of Chicago had a unique "insurance policy" to protect its customers against any interruptions in service. The utility rented five first-of-a-kind, portable power plants from GE capable of quickly producing additional electricity to meet any short-term demands.
Immediately following the successful completion of the Chicago project, the traveling power plants headed to Ireland, to help the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) meet its increased demand for power during the coming winter months.
These assignments mark the debut of a new product that is literally a power plant on wheels: the TM2500, or trailer-mounted, gas turbine-generator offered by GE Energy Rentals. The largest mobile unit of its type in the industry, each TM2500 is capable of producing nearly 23 megawatts of clean power, or enough electricity to serve more than 8,000 average-sized U.S. households.
"We ran the TM2500s for about 90 hours which was less than expected, because of our mild summer weather," said Kris Zadlo, technical studies director for Commonwealth Edison in Chicago. "But they gave us the security of knowing we were ready if additional power was required. And reliability was excellent. When we needed the power, the entire facility was up and running within half an hour."
Zadlo added, "Speed and mobility are certainly among the real advantages of the TM2500. Normally it would take 18 months to a year to build a gas-fired power station. These units can be rolled onto the site and ready to produce power within three days. That's a revolutionary approach in the power industry."
Spending the Winter in Ireland
After completing the Chicago assignment, the five TM2500 units were disassembled and shipped to Ireland, and now are located at two different sites in the country, ready to supply up to 115 megawatts of temporary winter peaking capacity through the end of February, 2001, or longer if required. The five units represent about 2.5% of ESB's total grid capacity of 4,500 megawatts, and will give the utility a safe margin in the event of unusually heavy winter demand from domestic and commercial customers.
For the application in Ireland, the GE units use distillate fuel with water injection for NOx suppression, operating at an electrical frequency of 50 hertz. In Chicago, the same units operated on natural gas at 60 hertz. "These two projects clearly demonstrate not only the mobility, but the fuel and operating flexibility of the TM2500," said Martin Moore, president of GE Energy Rentals, part of GE Power Systems. "With this product, we are redefining the large portable power market."
Benefits of the TM2500
Portable power isn't a new concept. Diesel engines, for example, have been used for years to meet immediate, short-term power requirements. But the TM2500s offer some key features in addition to speed and mobility, including low emissions and space savings.
Burning natural gas, one of the cleanest of the fossil fuels, the TM2500 keeps emissions levels well below the most stringent local and federal regulations. While diesel engines also meet federal standards, their emissions levels are considerably higher. A fully assembled TM2500 trailer covers approximately 70 x 100 feet, up to 60% less space than would be occupied by the diesel units required to achieve a comparable power output. These compact and portable units can be placed closer to the consumer to reduce the need for long-distance transmission lines.
Introduced by GE Energy Rentals in late 1999, the TM2500 is a trailer-mounted version of GE's LM2500, an aeroderivative gas turbine that has been proven in millions of hours of service. Totally assembled, the TM2500 includes a gas turbine-generator trailer, an inlet filter trailer, an exhaust trailer and an auxiliary trailer.
About GE Power Systems
GE Power Systems (http://www.gepower.com) is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation technology, energy services and energy management systems with 2000 revenues estimated at $15.2 billion. The business has the largest installed base of power generation equipment in the global energy industry. GE Power Systems provides turnkey equipment, service and management solutions across the power generation, oil and gas, distributed power and energy rental industries.