Location: 123 Main Street, White Plains, New
Host: New York Power Authority
Rating: 30 kilowatts
Installation Date: November 2001
Fuel: Natural Gas
Microturbines Hold Macro Promise
They can generate electricity right where it's needed,
at hospitals or shopping malls, schools or scientific research labs,
including locations far from the transmission grid and where the loss of
power could be catastrophic.
They're microturbines. The Power Authority is
rigorously testing a 30-kilowatt (kW) unit at its White Plains
headquarters to ensure that its potential for lower costs, high
efficiency, quick startups, dependability, protection from power
interruptions and clean operation, all in just 10 square feet of space,
can be realized for a multitude of potential markets.
Because of their diminutive size—about as big as a
modern refrigerator—they've earned the "micro" label. But such units
hold major promise: They can provide up to 100 kW of electricity each,
and can be configured in sets to increase output and run on natural gas,
propane or kerosene—even on methane-based waste gases from landfills,
oil fields and wastewater treatment plants. Where power is expensive,
microturbines can step in to meet demand for less than half the cost of
conventional generation sources.
do this through continuous combustion, whereby a turbine shaft, rotating
at up to 100,000 revolutions per minute, drives a compact generator.
Since microturbines generate power right at the point of use, the
normally wasted heat generated can be put to good use, driving overall
efficiency up toward 70 percent. On top of that, they are relatively
quiet, with few moving parts, and promise little maintenance.
While they'll never replace large power plants, they
can replace or supplement such power in peak or emergency periods—key
benefits at a time of growing energy demand and opposition to new plant
and transmission line construction.
NYPA, a national leader in demonstrating alternative
power sources, is operating several additional microturbines on behalf
of customers in New York State and exploring additional applications.
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