Germany’s energy transition requires that the energy supply system should be designed to be both climate and environment friendly and that dependence on energy imports should be reduced. At the same time, the energy supply must remain affordable and reliable. In the electricity market, this means that by 2035, electricity produced from renewable energy sources is to be increased to 55–60 percent (target for 2050: 80 percent). At the same time, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 80–95 percent, compared to 1990 levels.
Due to the high output variability of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and photovoltaic systems, it is still necessary for almost all the necessary guaranteed generating capacity (2030: more than 80 percent; 2050: 75 percent) to be available from conventional power plants. Furthermore, to reduce emissions, by 2020, 25 percent of electricity production is to be provided by combined heat and power generation (CHP, or cogeneration).
Based on these constraints, it is crucial that there is a consistent increase in the efficiency of energy conversion and use of alternative fuels, while simultaneously minimising pollutant and carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, to ensure efficient integration of renewable energy production, conventional power plants must significantly increase their flexibility by means of a reduction in minimum partial load and an increase in allowable load change rates.
For the successful implementation of these ambitious objectives, highly efficient, ultra-flexible and low-emission decentralised power plants based on gas turbine technology can make a significant contribution for sustainable and grid compatible electricity and heat production.
At present, CHP plants based on liquid and gas fuelled reciprocating engines are primarily used for decentralised power and heat generation. When compared to Micro Gas Turbine (MGT) technology, one of the reasons why electrical efficiency is still slightly higher for the mature systems is the long development time for sophisticated engine technologies. However, MGT technology offers significant advantages in terms of fuel flexibility, with significantly lower pollutant emissions; therefore, a wider range of liquid and gaseous fuels can be used. Further advantages of MGTs are the significantly longer service intervals, low operating and maintenance costs, simpler design and low noise emissions. Due to their higher exhaust gas temperatures, gas turbines are better suited for the production of process heating and cooling.
The focal areas of research activities for the Gas Turbines Department are the development, design optimisation, construction and testing of micro gas turbine based power plants and combustion systems for decentralised power and heating supply. Both the optimisation of existing systems and the development of new innovative system concepts are under consideration. MGTs are usually based on non-cooled, single-stage, radial turbine components.
Research priorities in this department have included the topics:
Different laboratories are available for this, to study combustion systems and complete MGT-based power plants: