Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plant offer operators both environmental and economic benefits. The high efficiency achievable across a wide load range reduces both fuel costs and CO2 emissions to atmosphere. However, the scale of the power generation plays a major role in determining both cost and efficiency: a modern large centralized CCGT of 600MW output or more will have a full load efficiency in excess of 60% and a very competitive installed cost on a US$/kW basis. The smaller gas turbines required for distributed power applications are not optimized for combined cycle operation, with potential full load efficiencies of a combined cycle scheme ranging from a little over 40% to the high 50s depending on the power output of the gas turbine, the exhaust gas conditions and the plant configuration, while the installed cost is around twice that of a large centralized CCGT on a US$/kW basis.
The drawback of a conventional combined cycle plant design is the need for water, which is a scarce commodity in some regions. Air cooling of the CCGT plant can be used to reduce water consumption, but make-up water will still be required for the steam system to compensate for steam losses, blowdown etc.
While the lower exhaust gas temperatures of the smaller gas turbines impact the combined cycle efficiencies achievable, they do allow Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology to be considered for an alternative combined cycle configuration. This paper compares both the capital and operating costs and performance of combined cycle power plants for distributed power applications in the 30MW to 250MW power range based on conventional steam and various different ORC configurations.