Combined Cycle Power Plants Use Less Energy

GE and eSolar logos

We continue our short series on energy storage technology with something that might reduce the amount of energy storage needed. Earlier this June, GE made a splash with the unveiling of their FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant. The plant utilizes several different advancements in power plant efficiency and the integration of different energy-generating technologies to operate at a 60% efficiency.

Shortly after introducing the FlexEfficiency 50, GE announced that it was becoming an investor in eSolar, a concentrating solar thermal technology. This means that GE now offers concentrating solar as one of the power sources for the FlexEfficiency. Of course GE already manufactures wind turbines, and the addition of a concentrating solar technology to their lineup of power generation options only improves the effeiciency of the FlexEfficiency 50. Now the plan is expected “to achieve better than 70 percent fuel efficiency, while providing reliable power, day or night,” according to a GE press release. To truly appreciate the efficiency of the combined cycle plat, it’s worth noting that current programs in the research and development phase for gasification technology only expect to achieve 45-47% efficiencies.

So, sure, the FlexEfficiency plant isn’t a pure energy storage option, but we think it belongs in this category because less energy wasted at a combined cycle power plant means less energy burned at an older plant.

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