Gas-fired combined cycle power plants (CCP) are presently the most efficient systems for producing electricity with fossil fuels. Gas turbines have been and are being improved remarkably during the last years; presently they achieve efficiencies of more than 38% and gas turbine outlet temperatures of up to 610°C.
These high outlet temperatures require modifications and improvements of heat recovery steam generators (HRSG). Presently dual pressure HRSGs are most commonly used in combined cycle power stations. The next step seems to be the triple-pressure HRSG to be able to utilise the high gas turbine outlet temperatures efficiently and to reduce exergy losses caused by the heat transfer between exhaust gas and the steam cycle. However, such triple-pressure systems are complicated considering parallel tube bundles as well as start up operation and load changes.
For that reason an attempt has been made to replace such multiple pressure systems by a modified Rankine cycle with only a single-pressure level. In the case of the same total heat transfer surfaces this innovative single-pressure system achieves approximately the same efficiency as the triple-pressure system. By optimising the heat recovery from the exhaust gas to the steam/water cycle, i.e. minimising exergy losses, the stack temperature is much higher. Increasing the heat transfer surfaces means a decrease of the stack temperature and a further improvement of the overall CCP-efficiency.
Therefore one has to be aware that the proposed system offers advantages not only in the case of a foreseeable increase of gas turbine outlet temperatures but also for presently available gas turbines. Using existing highly efficient gas turbines and subcritical steam conditions, power plants with this proposed Eisenkolb Single Pressure (ESP_CCP) heat recovery steam generator achieve thermal efficiencies of about 58.7% (LHV).