Supporting the Use of Renewable Energy with Consistent Inlet Air Temperature

The changes in U.S. electricity supply and usage levels are rapidly reshaping utility load profiles and thus generation and transmission requirements for both new and existing resources.

The recent discovery of relatively cheap natural gas in the U.S. and growing use of the fuel as a baseload power generation source has also coincided with the rapid adoption of renewable resources in many parts of the U.S.  These new components of the electricity supply stack continue to displace more traditional and older forms of baseload power generation, coal and nuclear units, for both economic and public policy motivations.  Unfortunately, these growing pieces of the U.S. generation supply side all are subject to weather related intermittency. 


The Use of Turbine Inlet Air Chilling for the LNG Industry

The market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is booming.  International LNG trade is expected to exceed $120 billion this year, making it second only to oil as the most valuable world commodity, according to Goldman Sachs Group.[1]

Demand for the product positions the United States – with its abundant natural gas — nicely to build an LNG export market. This is a big switch from a decade ago when the U.S. was experiencing tight energy supplies and thought by now it would rely on foreign LNG imports.

As a result of the industry shift, we are seeing keen market interest in development of liquefaction plants in the U.S. (and other parts of the world). The nation now has plants under construction to produce 44.1 million tons per annum (MTPA) of LNG and has proposed an additional 268 MTPA of capacity.[2]

LNG plants can cost in excess of $8 billion to site, develop and build. So efforts are underway to make these new plants as cost-effective as possible – which is one of the reasons why the LNG industry is examining Turbine Inlet Air Chilling (TIAC).

water air cooled

Water versus Air Cooled Chillers: Which is Best for Power Plants?

Fabrication of a modular chiller plant

To call water a hot commodity is an understatement.  From controversial water trading to desalination, a slew of efforts are underway to solve water scarcity issues in many regions of the world.  Some, like the massive undertaking by Israel to reuse wastewater and desalinate water from the Mediterranean Sea, are having an impact.  But as population and urbanization continues to grow worldwide, so does water consumption, and, naturally energy use.

Water and energy are closely tied. Consider that thermoelectric power plants – which currently provide the vast majority of US electricity — consume a lot of water.  In fact, the power industry is one of the largest water users in the United States.

Presently, in the US, coal plants are being displaced by natural gas plants.  However, gas turbine efficiency is the lowest when the demand for power is the highest, during hot summer months. To offset this negative effect of high ambient temperature, gas turbine inlet air can be cooled via mechanical chillers.