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Mobile power gas turbines can be up and running in a matter of hours to effectively get power where it’s needed.
Securing reliable power can sometimes prove difficult, especially if you want it in a hurry. In this article, major turbomachinery OEMs, working alongside installation and packaging service providers, outline one solution: mobile gas turbine power units (MPUs). The story covers what’s driving demand for MPUs, their various design goals, and examples of different customer requirements. In addition, problems facing the industry as well as practically applied solutions are discussed. For example, demand currently exceeds supply in many areas, with further growth anticipated by manufacturers. Below, we examine the cross section among aeroderivative gas turbines, logistics, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), LNG, remote operations, hydrogen blending, inclement weather events, and more, with mobile power at the focal point.
MITSUBISHI POWER AERO
Power producers who strive to supply reliable and affordable power to their customers require dispatchable assets that can provide power when needed. On-demand, aeroderivative power plants complement the rise in renewables while maintaining grid stability and reliability because of their inherent fast-start and flexible design capability.
Mitsubishi Power Aero offers a 31 MW FT8 MOBILEPAC aeroderivative mobile powerplant.
“The modular design of the FT8 enables faster deliveries, quick installation, and commissioning,” said Harsh Shah, Vice President, Sales and Business Development at Mitsubishi Power Aero.
Trailers can be transported and relocated easily. He added that the MOBILEPAC design eliminates the need for concrete foundations, reduces installation time (less than two weeks), and has a footprint of as little as 4,300 square feet. This design, coupled with the MOBILEPAC’s fuel flexibility (diesel, natural gas, hydrogen, and LPG), has resulted in over 130 gas turbine packages deployed globally.
“MPUs provide reliable power to ensure that schools, hospitals, industries, and other basic infrastructure can remain operational,” said Harsh Shah, Mitsubishi Power Aero.
“In these cases, MPUs provide reliable power to ensure that schools, hospitals, industries, and other basic infrastructure can remain operational,” said Shah.
Rapid deployment and black start capability make the FT8 MOBILEPAC unit ideally suited for emergency power needs arising from weather-related events or other unforeseen situations.
“For some applications —such as distributed power, crypto-mining operations, and e-fracking a—mobile power solution is necessary,” added Shah. “Customers select FT8 MOBILEPAC because of installation ease and relocation capabilities.”
The high reliability and 5-minute fast start capability of these packages provide flexibility when dealing with uncertain load forecasts. Fast relocation allows the FT8 MOBILEPAC to be applied to electric well-stimulation systems powered by natural gas, resulting in less disruptive and safer fracturing operations. “Mitsubishi Power Aero provided three FT8 MOBILEPAC gas turbines on top of eight stationary operating units to Puerto Rico,” said Shah. These gas turbines continue to secure reliable power on the island. The equipment provides power and can be relocated to isolated areas in case of an outage or disaster.
In 2021, Mitsubishi Power Aero completed a turnkey installation and commissioning of five 30 MW mobile units in 120 days from contract to commercial operation prior to peak season in Mexicali, Mexico. An additional three units were added to the same site to support summer 2022 peak requirements and offset the shortfall while optimizing the existing power infrastructure.
For another example, 54 MOBILEPAC packages were installed at 12 sites across Algeria. Since initial installation, almost half of the units have been relocated to support even more remote communities. In one region, a special control system has been implemented to manage output of several mobile units, which has greatly improved grid stability and significantly reduced instances of blackouts. Factors to consider when purchasing an aeroderivative mobile power unit are delivery and installation lead times, fast relocation capability, fast startup, minimal space requirements, high reliability, and minimal maintenance downtime.
GE GAS POWER
Naidu Balachandar, Leader of the Aero Product Management Organization at GE Gas Power, discussed the OEM’s active mobile gas turbine fleet. GE’s trailer-mounted TM2500 gas turbines are derived from jet-engine technology. They can be mounted on a wheeled trailer for enhanced mobility. This provides a baseload bridge to permanent power installations, or for generating backup power in the wake of natural disasters, plant shut-downs, grid instability, or in isolated locations. They can run on natural gas or diesel, as well as sustainable aviation fuel blends. In addition, the TM2500 is hydrogen capable, with the ability to burn up to an 85% H2 blend, ensuring a pathway to help utilities and other stakeholders reduce their carbon emissions.
GE’s LM2500Xpress package is built on LM2500 aeroderivative dry low emissions (DLE) gas turbine technology. It can be installed in two weeks. Its plug-and-play nature provides flexible power efficiently wherever needed. It is available in simple and combined cycle configuration, and is also hydrogen-capable.
“Customers need two things in any mobile power package: the ability to put power on the grid within a short time frame and reliability,” said Naidu Balachandar, GE Gas Power.
“These units can reach production capacity in a short time, which enables power providers to quickly meet peak demand and ramp down units to avoid wasting energy when demand is lower,” said Balachandar.
Balachandar added that customers need two things in any mobile power package: the ability to put power on the grid within a short time frame —TM2500 packages can deliver power within 10 days—and reliability.
“Over 4,000 aero derivative gas turbines have been used in power generation, marine, and oil and gas applications,” said Balachandar.
Solar Turbines has sold a variety of mobile power unit configurations since 2000. Currently, the company offers two solar mobile turbomachinery (SMT) versions. The smaller mobile unit (SMT60) is powered by Solar’s Taurus 60 engine and offers 5.7 MW of power at ISO conditions in a single frame. The dual frame SMT130 offers 16.5 MW ISO of power with the Titan 130 engine at its core.
With more than 35 units shipped, the SMT60 is a popular unit to support emergency power, back-up power applications, and electric fracturing (e-FRAC) operations to name a few, said Jay Mistry, Mobile Turbomachinery & Electric Motor.
“With the continuing need for global power and challenges in grid development and implementation, the need for flexible mobile power will continue to grow,” said Jay Mistry, Solar Turbines. Compressor Business Manager at Solar Turbines.
After hurricane Nicholas hit Houston, Texas, in September 2021, two SMT60s were deployed to provide power for the displaced population. It offers a compact footprint with a 56-foot long trailer that is 8.5-feet wide and 13.5-feet tall that can be setup in less than four hours.
These units are capable of digital load sharing and can be integrated with any solar products. Add-on options for multi-unit power management or microgrid controls are available.
Greek company Mytilineos has expertise in gas turbines including mobile units. It has developed a fast-track approach with trailer-mounted balance of plants. All packages are delivered assembled and pre-commissioned, limiting on-site installation requirements.
“The mobile plants are dual-fuel capable (natural gas or distillate/DFO) with related fuel handling and treatment systems packaged in trailer mounted form for quick delivery,” reported Kostas Horinos, Executive Director of Mobile Power Projects at Mytilineos.
Mytilineos undertakes the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) activities through to project completion. It supplies solutions based on the needs of the client. “Our portable MPUs using aeroderivative gas turbine equipment generate up to 32 MW per unit,” said Horinos.
“Mytilineos undertakes EPC activities through to project completion, supplying customized, fast-track solutions,” said Kostas Horinos, Mytilineos.
One project was in Takoradi, Ghana. Operation and maintenance for 10 GE TM2500+ mobile gas turbine power generating sets. And in Algeria, Mytilineos provided EPC for 38 mobile gas turbine power generating sets with a total output of 775 MW.
For over 20 years, USP&E has specialized in the supply of new and surplus power plants, EPC, and managing the reliable operations of the plant. The company specializes in the mobile power market. “Building a new power plant from scratch can take years, and this time is not always available”, said Will Gruver, Founder and Group CEO at USP&E. “Production lead times with major OEM’s can be as long as two years, while we have the same equipment ready to dispatch in a matter of weeks.”
For immediate power, USP&E has a large number of GE TM2500 mobile turbines available and is currently seeing high demand. These trailer-mounted units offer 26 MW.
“Building a new power plant from scratch can take years, and this time is not always available,” said Will Gruver, USP&E.
USP&E is sending six TM2500’s to crypto mining projects where the client moves them every couple of months to new gas sources. Another client is using 10 TM2500’s to solve a utility crisis. The company is also involved in hydrogen generation projects.
LifeCycle Power provides 5 MW to 35 MW mobile packages for utility and oil and gas applications in the United States. Its fleet utilizes Solar SMT60, Solar SMT130, Mitsubishi FT8, and GE 2500 machines. “Many current applications require fast deployment and movability,” said Geoff Bland, Director of Engineering & Operations, LifeCycle Power. Emissions and fuel variety is increasingly important.
Lifecycle Power’s turbines generate as little as 0.15g/bhp-hr (grams per brake-horsepower hour) NOx. There is little to no methane slip, and they can run on diesel and untreated gas. Another benefit is that installation only takes a few hours. Being able to start on diesel and transition to natural gas is a major factor for many customers. The market for natural gas MPUs is gaining ground due to regulatory mandates around NOx and particulate matter at low load that reciprocating engines find difficult to achieve.
“Many current applications require fast deployment and movability,” said Geoff Bland, LifeCycle Power.
“Natural gas isn’t available for every location, although the shortage of high horsepower diesel engines has driven an increased market in virtual pipeline transport of CNG and LNG and an increase in natural gas engine sales,” stated Bland. “Turbine solutions that can meet the demands of the market are maxed out and held back by build speed and supply chain restrictions.”
DYNAMIS POWER SOLUTIONS
Dynamis Power Solutions offers a variety of mobile turbine generator packages, ranging from 5 MW to 35 MW. The kits are Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant and are easily transported and installed. “Dynamis uses technologies such as GE’s LM2500+ G4, rated at 35 MW, coupled to Brush generator technology,” said Travis Simmering, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Dynamis.
“Dynamis units can operate in numerous locations and applications, providing reliable and efficient power,” said Travis Simmering, Dynamis.
Dynamis integrates power generation assets onto a hyper-mobile trailer system, with additional ancillary support and an optional control trailer. The packages go from parked to power in 6 to 8 hours. An auto leveling system enables site-to-site transport without a concrete mounting pad. The turbine assembly has an automatic transfer switch, allowing the package to operate in island mode post startup. Simmering said features such as an integrated gas filter and air pre-filter maximize uptime increase the span between maintenance intervals. Recently, Dynamis supplied DT35’s (based upon the GE LM2500+ G4 prime mover) to rental customers in the oil and gas market. “Dynamis units can operate in numerous locations and applications, providing reliable and efficient power,” said Simmering.
Dynamis has seen a steady rise in demand for natural gas mobile power, larger turbine power blocks, and non-detrimental emission reduction solutions.
Over the last decade, the market has had an in-flux of natural gas power, replacing older diesel technology with cleaner, more sustainable fuel, reported Simmering. The growing demand for cleaner technology and larger power continues to challenge the mobile power market to innovate mobile turbine modularization design and production.