February 13, 2023
6 min read

Ramping up in record time when sun and wind take a break

Hubertus Breuer

Using high speed material simulations and other technical feats. Siemens Energy built the most powerful gas turbine station supplementing Duke Energy’s solar power. It gave them a world record holder to beat dark doldrums whenever needed.

Today, Duke Energy is one of the major providers of solar energy in the United States. Yet, the supply of electricity needs to be ensured even when the sun doesn’t shine.  But how? In North Carolina the Duke Energy’s gas-fired Lincoln Combustion Turbine Station helps out – with top performances, which earned it two entries in the Guinness Book of records in 2022: First the title of the world’s “most powerful simple-cycle gas power plant” with an output of around 410 MW. And then also for the world’s fastest ramp-up rate by a 60Hz gas power plant at more than 100 MW-per-minute, enabling it to reach its full capacity in just a few minutes.

Duke Energy Lincoln Combustion Turbine Station equipped with the new heavy-duty gas turbine from Siemens Energy; Kai Kadau, simulation expert at Siemens Energy in North Carolina, with rotor disks.

Many contributors to success

The power plant’s top performances are thanks to a new heavy-duty gas turbine, which is operating while also being tested under real conditions for the first time in North Carolina. It is packed with numerous innovations, including the combustion system design for hotter temperatures and fuel flexibility, the number of premix burners, the overall thermal management of the turbine, and the compressor- and turbine-blade design.

Last but not least, it also features new rotor disks designed and built based on innovative material simulations. They need to withstand many more quick starts than were previously required as renewable power’s share of electricity is continually rising, while also strongly fluctuating. Gas-fired power stations have to step in at short notice to ensure a stable supply of electricity. As gas turbines are capable of starting up quickly to deliver high power outputs, they´re the preferred choice for this task.

February, 2023

Hubertus Breuer is a science and technology journalist based in Germany.

Combined picture and video credits: Siemens Energy