Under new scenarios with high shares of variable renewable electricity, combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) are required to improve their flexibility, in terms of ramping capabilities and part-load efficiency, to help balance the power system. Simultaneously, liberalization of electricity markets and the complexity of its hourly price dynamics are affecting the CCGT profitability, leading the need for optimizing its operation. Among the different possibilities to enhance the power plant performance, an inlet air conditioning unit (ICU) offers the benefit of power augmentation and “minimum environmental load” (MEL) reduction by controlling the gas turbine inlet temperature using cold thermal energy storage and a heat pump. Consequently, an evaluation of a CCGT integrated with this inlet conditioning unit including a day-ahead optimized operation strategy was developed in this study.

To establish the hourly dispatch of the power plant and the operation mode of the inlet conditioning unit to either cool down or heat up the gas turbine inlet air, a mixed-integer linear optimization (MILP) was formulated using MATLAB, aiming to maximize the operational profit of the plant within a 24-hours horizon. To assess the impact of the proposed unit operating under this dispatch strategy, historical data of electricity and natural gas prices, as well as meteorological data and CO2 emission allowances price, have been used to perform annual simulations of a reference power plant located in Turin, Italy. Furthermore, different equipment capacities and parameters have been investigated to identify trends of the power plant performance. Lastly, a sensitivity analysis on market conditions to test the control strategy response was also considered.

Results indicate that the inlet conditioning unit, together with the dispatch optimization, increases the power plant’s operational profit by achieving a wider operational range, particularly important during peak and off-peak periods. For the specific case study, it is estimated that the net present value of the CCGT integrated with the ICU is 0.5% higher than the power plant without the unit. In terms of technical performance, results show that the unit reduces the minimum environmental load by approximately 1.34% and can increase the net power output by 0.17% annually.

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