The future of gas turbines. Is there one?

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No question, the gas turbine business is on its heels!

The price of oil, combined with the move to renewables has been punishing on the industry and the question rightfully asked is “what’s the gas turbine future look like?”

I have been labeled as unconventional most of my career and do not plan to change anything now.


Here is my take:

  • The gas turbine will see substantial growth in the hybridization of Gas Turbine/Battery technologies to provide Grid-Scale UPS with extended storage.
  • The industry will have to deploy 85-90% post-combustion Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) to compete with renewables. It will no longer be acceptable to deploy unabated Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) units. The AEO2018 2050 acknowledges that any marginal improvement from coal-to-gas switching is more than offset by the projected economic growth. It also suggests a trajectory that is 4x what is required to reach 2°C/450ppm.
  • It will not be practical to apply post-combustion CCS to a NGCC unit that is forced into rapid start/stop cycling in order to accommodate the intermittent wind and solar supply variations.
  • The state level Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) that require 30-40% renewable generation, also give renewables first dispatch and will have to change. This first dispatch concession/subsidy, intended to encourage renewable, is in direct conflict with CCS deployment and will have to be eliminated. Renewables will have to compete on level playing field without this generous subsidy. Such a change will have a significant and positive impact on the gas turbine future.
  • Post-combustion CCS will have to be deployed on the just completed 10-year gas turbine build-out. You remember, “Capture Ready”?
  • In exchange, the current discussions around NOPR Grid Stabilization and “keeping Nukes and Coal Plants open” will cease Both of these initiatives, intended to pay utilities to support renewables integration, will be eliminated by the market forces of a level playing. And, the renewables will no longer propagate their variability into the grid by default.
  • You cannot argue that these changes will be too hard to implement. I take the view that we have no choice.
  • In the world of surprises, did you see where China has undertaken a 16 million acre reforestation plan by 2020? The area is about the size of Rhode Island and is ahead of schedule.
  • This is what leadership looks like.