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Trying to catch up to GE in the U.S. turbine market as power companies are demanding that their manufacturers link high power capacity with high efficiency, Siemens recently delivered a third 637,000-pound unit to a power plant in Florida. Siemens has agreed to pay $7.6 billion, including an assumption of debt, for Houston’s Dresser-Rand, a firm that makes such turbines.
The gas turbine Siemens sent to the Florida Power & Light Co.’s plant in Port Everglades, Fla., has a capacity of 286 MW, one of which could power 500 Texas homes under normal conditions. However, Siemens isn’t touting its turbine’s capacity as much as its advances in thermodynamics, aerodynamics, and cooling technologies that allow the units to operate safely at higher temperatures.
Siemens’ 319-ton delivery follows GE’s news in September that it would build four of the so-called H-class gas turbines for two power plants in Texas. The units’ firing temperatures can get 200 degrees hotter than an erupting volcano. The price tag for all four: $500 million. FPL already has two of Siemens’ H-class gas turbines and a steam turbine. H-class turbines, as the name suggests, emerged after the G-class turbines, and followed a long line of models going back to the 1960s.
Siemens said the new plant would generate $400 million in savings for its customers and $20 million in tax revenues for local governments over its 30-year lifespan. Much of that is because the turbines give more for less. “The challenge is that as every unit evolves, typically you have to go to higher temperatures for more power,” said John Wilson, Siemen’s vice president of product sales in the Americas. “The trick is to do it safely.”
FPL expects the $1.2 billion plant to come online in 2016, a few years after demolishing a 1960s-era power plant and starting to build a replacement. The massive turbine, the ninth that Siemens has built for use in the United States, arrived at the plant in Florida on Monday, after a trip by rail in North Carolina and then by barge to Florida.