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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Combining Technologies to Cut Energy Costs

CSIRO's solar air turbine meets BTOLA's indirectly-fired gas turbine

The CSIRO solar air turbine may be adapted to operate as BTOLA's indirectly-fired gas turbine - powered by either solar thermal energy or any combination of renewable biofuel or fossil fuel.

The result is a solar thermal power station that can generate electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - on sunny days and cloudy days. The cost of solar thermal storage is avoided.

The BTOLA power generation system has reduced fuel-costs because the solar thermal heliostat field generates electricity from solar energy during sunny periods.

The capital cost of the integrated system is less than building 2 separate systems: the gas turbine and electricity generator are shared.

An indirectly-fired gas turbine used in a combined-cycle has slightly lower efficiency than a conventional combined-cycle gas turbine power station, but has lower maintenance costs as its turbine blades are not exposed to any combustion gases.

This approach complements the work CSIRO and GE are conducting with SolarGas power generation. In that approach, solar thermal energy is combined into the chemical bonds of biogas and/or fossil fuels.

This alternate approach leaves the different energy sources and fuels unchanged, and then uses them in any combination in an innovative power station design.

Both of these approaches overcome complaints that renewable energy sources are unreliable.

There is also a growing awareness that as the number of solar panels grows, the cost to consumers of an electricity grid and central power stations also grows as these energy resources are pushed to the margins in providing backup capacity on cloudy days.

The approach adopted by GE and CSIRO  with SolarGas, and the approach described here - avoid this problem. No "stranded assets" are created. The same power generation infrastructure can be used with any combination of renewable and fossil fuels. A transition from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy need not be expensive or difficult.

Update - October 2015
Australia's largest solar thermal research hub

CSIRO has designed and built Australia's largest solar thermal research facility which consists of a 30 metre high solar tower (the tallest in Australia) and high temperature receiver, and a 4000 square metre field of 450 heliostats. The facility is capable of concentrating solar energy at temperatures beyond 1000 ÂșC.

CSIRO will use the facility to develop and test one of the world’s most powerful solar air turbines to generate electricity from air and sunshine alone (almost all current systems require water as well as fossil fuel).

This 200 kiloWatt solar air turbine generates electricity which is then fed into the grid.

The pilot site covers an area of 4000 square metres and although this site is being used for research, a site of this size could generate enough electricity to power nearly 200 homes.

BTOLA Indirectly fired gas turbine technology

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Technology Overview
BTOLA converts existing proven gas turbines to indirectly fired gas turbine engines allowing them to run on Biomass, waste products and other fuels lowering fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

This is accomplished by

  • Removing existing combustion chamber
  • Installing BTOLA combustion chamber
  • Installing BTOLA start-up combustor
  • Installing BTOLA heat exchangers
  • Utilizing BTOLA heat recovery
  • Installing BTOLA control system

Cleaner Fuel Options
The gas turbine has been tested and achieved excellent results with these alternative fuels.

Why ?
Because the BTOLA solution is up to 70% cheaper to purchase, install and operate.
Capital Cost – Purchase and Installation costs over competing technology to utilize cheaper fuels

BTOLA IFGT $2 - $3 / Watt
Gasification and turbine or IC engine      $7 / Watt
Boiler and steam turbine $6 / Watt

Operating Costs
Regular Gas Turbine Fuels           BTOLA IFGT Fuels
Kerosene $25 / GJ Waste Biomass $ -2 - $0 / GJ (disposal cost avoidance)
Diesel $30 / GJ Energy crop Biomass      $2 / GJ
Natural Gas      $7 / GJ Coal $10 - $20 / GJ
LPG $20 / GJ      Municipal Waste $ -2 / GJ (disposal cost avoidance)