Power plant operators to spend $122 billion this year

This is the conclusion reached in the McIlvaine Utility Tracking System published by the McIlvaine Company.There are 730 new units which will be commissioned this year and many more under construction. There is a mix of peaking single cycle units and combine cycle units. The turbine, as furnished by GE, Siemens, Alstom or others, is the main piece of equipment in a single cycle plant. A complete intake air system with filtration, cooling and weather protection is supplied by companies such as Nederman, Donaldson and others. Silencers and exhaust stacks are also required.In combined cycle plants, there are heat recovery steam generators (HRSGS) boiler feedwater treatment systems and cooling towers. Dry cooling, using big fans, is an alternative which is popular in China due to the arid conditions. In the U.S., dry cooling is being utilised in some of the new projects where there is ample water. The reason is that avoidance of water permitting shortens the construction cycle. Many plants also opt to install big diverter dampers so that the turbines can operate in the single cycle mode.At one point in time, only the combined cycle units were forced to install selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment. Now many of the peaking plants must also implement this NOx control technology. Cooling water blowdown is another environmental problem. Zero liquid discharge systems use evaporation to avoid any water discharges. Increasingly treated municipal wastewater is being used for the raw water.McIlvaine adds that air filters and water treatment chemicals are among some of the consumables which must be purchased. Instrumentation is a challenge as today's fleet of gas turbines must operate at widely fluctuating loads. This is due to the fact that gas is used in tandem with wind and solar. These two sources are unable to deliver a steady power supply. Energy efficiency and emissions are important parameters requiring constant monitoring. Gas turbines are larger versions of airplane engines and, as such, need frequent servicing.

Table 1: Power plant expenditure
Subject MetricNew plantsExistingTotal
Installations1,000 MW731,1761,249
Installations# of units73023,52024,250
Hardware sales$ millions36,000 10,00046,000
Instrumentation$ millions1,4409002,340
Consumables$ millions1,20030,00031,200
Services $ millions3,00040,00043,000
Total expenditures$ millions41,64080,900122,540