In this interview, IAA finds out how improved repair capabilities for energy-efficient GE HA gas turbines will introduce new technology instrumental in easing the transition towards renewables with cleaner, efficient gas power.
Posted: 6 December 2021
Last month, GE Gas Power announced the completion and delivery of the first repaired HA Gas Turbine component from the recently opened Advanced Manufacturing & Repair Technology Center (AMRT). The centre, co-located in Global Repair Solutions Center (GRSS) – as part of a collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) – boasts a robust infrastructure designed to provide H-Class combined cycle power plant operators with faster support. The new facility will help its customers in the Asia-Pacific region slash repair times by sending their equipment to Singapore instead of shipping it halfway around the world. Besides reducing the repair cycling time significantly, it also serves as a significant step forward in Singapore’s decarbonisation journey.
Speaking with Jim Vono, President, Regional General Manager, Services, Asia Pacific and South Asia at GE Gas Power, IAA finds out how improved repair capabilities for energy-efficient GE HA gas turbines will introduce new technology instrumental in easing the transition towards renewables with cleaner, efficient gas power.
Q: Why do repair, services, and advanced manufacturing play a key role in the sustainable energy transition? How can Singapore’s new facility contribute to our net-zero ambitions?
Jim Vono (JV): The complexity and frequency of maintenance and repairs for more advanced, cleaner means of energy generation will correspondingly be set to increase in quantity and quality. Without the required technology and manpower investment, such processes will inevitably face delays that dampen the accessibility and reliability of clean energy technology.
From our perspective, we have also seen an exponential increase in orders for our new energy-efficient HA combined cycle turbines, which have set world records for efficiency, globally in recent years.
That meant that we also had to continuously invest in elevating the services needed for more than 1,000 installed gas turbines in Asia, and the skillsets of more than 4,000 skilled regional employees. It is critical that we are not only self-sufficient in taking charge of the repairs of our growing base but also be timely on delivering productive, reliable services for our customers and their energy needs in different markets.
The deployment of AMRT in Singapore further reinforces our 90 percent self-sufficiency for gas turbine repair in Asia. The expanded site also has expanded research and development capabilities in advanced manufacturing applications, adaptive machining, joining capabilities, and inspection technologies.
This leap forward for HA gas turbine repairs is vital to owners and operators of our HA turbines, who will benefit from more efficient repair lines, and experience a significant improvement to the lead time and delivery of repairs in supporting their outage needs.
The deployment of AMRT in Singapore further reinforces our 90 percent self-sufficiency for gas turbine repair in Asia. The expanded site also has expanded research and development capabilities in advanced manufacturing applications, adaptive machining, joining capabilities, and inspection technologies. – Jim Vono, President, Regional General Manager, Services, Asia Pacific and South Asia at GE Gas Power.
Q: What steps have GE Gas taken to achieve sustainability with the new AMRT facility?
JV: The new Advanced Manufacturing & Repair Technology (AMRT) Centre, which is part of our Global Repair Solutions Singapore Center (GRSS), aims to strengthen repair capabilities in the region, particularly for the HA fleet, which ultimately support customer decarbonisation goals:
- Through rigorous investment and research and development, AMRT has initiated the start of repairs for GE’s HA gas turbines components, which will provide H-Class combined cycle power plant operators faster support, and significantly reduced repair cycle time.
- The shipment of the first HA component repaired at AMRT, also marks a milestone in GRSS’ path towards global leadership in power generation technology development, implementation and repairs, and underscores our commitment to developing next-generation repair capabilities for HA gas turbines.
- GE’s HA advanced gas turbines, which have set world records for efficiency, can be relied on to effectively meet evolving energy needs, and serves as a step forward in solving Asia’s energy trilemma.
- The investments in the new AMRT have also allowed GRSS to grow its talent base to 350 skilled employees in two years, including increased roles in HA and Aeroderivative Repair, with the aim to hire additional talent to handle more complex repairs on high-tech components of HA turbines, such as HA nozzles and blades.
- The expansion of our skilled labour pool in Singapore, is in addition to deploying further capabilities in adaptive machining, joining capabilities, and inspection technologies through research and development, building on the facility’s 24/7 ability to support a global customer base.
- The reduced repair cycle times, coupled with a lower cost stemming from the efficiency afforded by the advanced machinery capabilities, significantly decreases the lead time and delivery of repairs for both our outage as well as our customers’ emergent demands.
Q: While Singapore has further pledged to reduce temperatures by 1.5 degrees, what are the pitfalls that can be encountered in our decarbonisation journey and how can we avoid them?
JV: To hit the climate targets of the Paris Agreement, Singapore is looking at partnerships and alliances to harness low-carbon technologies, including the deployment of solar energy infrastructure and also international collaboration in areas such as carbon markets and regional power grids. Examples include tapping on carbon energy imports from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Laos.
It is estimated that by 2030, 14 percent of Singapore’s energy needs will come from renewables. The government is also actively exploring hydrogen as a fuel source as well as Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage.
GE Gas Power believes that the accelerated and strategic deployment of both renewable energy and gas power can make substantial progress in helping Singapore combat climate change in the near-term, while enabling a path to a lower-carbon emitting world in the future.
GE is committed to working with local partners to advance gas technology. GE’s H-Class gas turbine portfolio currently has the capability to burn up to 50 percent by volume of hydrogen when blended with natural gas. This capability is enabled by the DLN2.6e combustion system that is standard on current HA gas turbines offerings.
Q: Why has Asia as a region continued to struggle with the energy transition, despite renewed commitments? How should economies rethink the approaches to reducing emissions? Are there any solutions or roadmaps for your customers on becoming environmentally sustainable?
JV: Asia currently faces the reality of ever-increasing energy demand, which already accounts for 45 percent of the world’s energy consumption and 60 percent of the world’s population. Energy dynamics across the region also vary. While strong infrastructure growth drives power demand in ASEAN, North Asia has been shifting towards replacements and renewables. Meanwhile, grid firming is rising in popularity to complement renewables growth in India, Australia, and New Zealand.
The energy trilemma (affordability, accessibility, sustainability) is especially pertinent in emerging markets like Indonesia and Vietnam, where there is much less flexibility around affordability, due to constrained government budgets and higher costs of access to capital.
Successful decarbonisation strategies in Asia will require global action, national commitments, and consistent policy and regulatory frameworks. As Asian countries move away from traditional sources such as coal and nuclear, to more energy efficient sources such as gas and renewables, economies require stronger commitment from industry players for reduced or near zero carbon emissions for operations, while ensuring power that is sustainable and reliable.
At GE, we believe that gas power, together with renewables, will be part of the solution for the energy trilemma. And to advance progress to address climate change, there needs to be a push to accelerate `coal-to-gas switching’ and strengthen efficient power generation with low-to-zero carbon gas technologies.
Meanwhile, existing and future gas power plants can be decarbonised and avoid Carbon Dioxide’ lock-in’ by using Hydrogen blends or via carbon capture. GE has an important role to play with that technology.
Additionally, beyond technology providers, all stakeholders across the energy supply chain have a role to play, be it utilities or independent power producers. Educating consumers, regulators, and policymakers will also be key.
Q: What are your thoughts about the global energy market’s price volatility impact on Singapore and the markets in this region?
JV: With the advent of new methods for oil and gas production and a sharp increase in global gas liquefaction and regasification capacity, the International Energy Agency is projecting that global natural gas production could increase nearly 30 percent by 2040 from 2019 levels.
The result of the new gas production methods and expansion of both liquefaction and regasification capacity is a natural gas fuel resource that is expected to be available at relatively low and stable prices for the foreseeable future.
Hence, while there is current sustained price volatility in Singapore and across Asia, we anticipate that such market conditions will not be prolonged that much further.
For developing Asia where price sensitivity is a challenge, it is important to develop policies that value energy, flexibility, and dependable capacity separately, to encourage the optimum mix of technologies that are complementary in nature, provide energy security, and drive the greatest carbon reductions in an affordable and practical way.
Pictured at top: GE’s HA gas turbine. Image credit: GE Gas Power.
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