Cooling of the steam cycle
SPG Dry Cooling designs and builds Aero-Cooled Condensers for thermal power plants. Cooling of the steam cycle is necessary to create a vacuum at the outlet of turbine, as this vacuum determines the amount of electricity produced and therefore ultimately also directly affects the net efficiency of the power plant.
Today the power utility market is undergoing major changes. The 3D’s : Decarbonization, Decentralization and Digitalization which have a great impact on how power plants do operate.
Wind and solar power are contributing more and more to the decarbonization of power systems around the globe. However, given their specific characteristics, these technologies fundamentally change electricity systems and markets.
Decentralized and more variable power production increases the flexibility requirements placed on the overall power system, both on the supply and demand sides. Existing conventional power plants have to cope with the weather-dependent generation of wind and solar power.
Since flexibility (rather than baseload generation) is the paradigm that shapes modern power systems, increasing the flexibility of existing coal and gas power plants should be partially understood as necessary for bringing them up to date. Flexibility does not make thermal power plants clean but making existing coal-fired and gas plants more flexible enables the integration of more wind and solar power in the system.
Hence thermal power plants need to provide large operational flexibility. They are adjusting their output on a 15-minute basis (intraday market) and even on a 5-minute basis (balancing market) to variation in renewable generation and demand.
Numerous technical possibilities exist to increase the flexibility of existing thermal power plants. Improving the technical flexibility usually does not impair the efficiency of a plant, but it puts more strain on components, reducing their lifetime. Targeted retrofit measures have been implemented in practice on existing power plants, leading to higher ramp rates, lower minimum loads and shorter start-up times.