Israel Electric Corporation the largest generator and supplier of electricity in the country, recently ordered a second GE 9HA.01 advanced gas turbine for Orot Rabin as part of a strategy aimed at meeting growing power demand with gas fired generation.
Israel’s energy sector is characterized by strong growth in electricity consumption, combined with a desire to increase its use of renewable energy sources, particularly solar photovoltaics (PV). At the same time there is an abundance of natural gas, especially with the start of commercial production at the offshore Leviathan gas field in December last year. Even by conservative estimates, this field alone holds enough gas to meet the country’s domestic needs for 40 years.
Discoveries of offshore natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea over the last two decades has led Israel Electric Company (IEC), the largest generator and supplier of electricity in Israel, to base much of its future power generation on gas fired plants. With the support and encouragement of the government and the Ministry of Energy, electric power plants and large industrial facilities are gradually converting to natural gas.
One such major project is currently under way at IEC’s Orot Rabin power plant, located in Hadera, about 40 km north of Tel Aviv. In January, GE received an order from IEC for a second 9HA.01 heavy-duty gas turbine as part of the utility’s plan to convert the existing power station from coal to high efficiency gas fired generation. It is the second of two advanced gas turbines that are at the heart of the new combined cycle plant.
Commenting on the project, in light of Israel’s energy sector outlook, Yom-Tov Samia, GE Gas Power General Manager for Israel, said: “Israel’s electricity demand is growing at about 2.7% per year. This is a lot. It means that every 27 years, the country has to double its capacity. Also, more and more areas are being connected to the network, so that demand will increase by even more than 2.7% in the coming years. Further, Israel is a sunny country and the government aims to grow renewable capacity to 20 percent [of the generation mix – today it’s less than 5 percent] by 2030.”
At the beginning of 2018, the Minister of Energy announced the energy economy objectives for the year 2030. The current plan poses “ambitious yet realistic” goals, beginning with a total weaning from polluting fuels, while continuously improving energy security. In the electricity sector, the goal is to reach 80% natural gas and 20% or more renewables in the generation mix by 2030.
While keeping the four old steam coal fired plants in Hadera as backup, the other units at Hedera Ashkelon will be converted to gas. In the industrial sector, the target is to achieve around 95% use of natural gas for the production of energy and steam by 2030.
Israel had also endorsed a target of generating 10% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources in 2020. Solar thermal and photovoltaic power plants were expected to account for over 70% of total generation.
Samia notes that the plan to increase renewables is a “big driver” for gas fired projects. “It’s a big driver for electricity,” he said, “because for every 1 MW of solar or wind, you need 1 MW of natural gas for times when there is no wind or sun. This will be the solution until we have a system of storage capacity.”
He says, however, that the most important driver is the electricity marketplace reform in Israel. In 2012 Israel passed a law to open the electricity sector to new competition and break up the monopoly held by IEC
While IEC remains in charge of the grid, managing supply and demand, it will no longer be the sole power producer in the country. The goal is for the private sector to be responsible for 70 percent of electricity generation. The move will see IEC sell 19 production units at five sites over five years and form a subsidiary to manage two yet-to-be-built power stations that will run on natural gas.
“In order to cover growth in demand and population growth, installed capacity will have to increase from about 17 GW to 24 GW in 2025. This means nearly 7 GW has to be built in five years. At the same time, coal and diesel plants have to be replaced with gas by around 2023/24. This presents GE with a big opportunity.
Gas is key
The order for the first Orot Rabin unit, which is also the first HA gas turbine in Israel, was announced in April last year. In the latest order signed in January, GE will also provide a steam turbine, generator, heat recovery steam generator and balance of plant equipment – as well as a 15-year multi-year services agreement.
Once operational, the Orot Rabin combined cycle gas turbines are expected to be the largest and most efficient gas fired power units in Israel, delivering up to 1260 MW – more than 8% of Israel’s current total power generation capacity.
“Gas will play a significant role in Israel’s energy future due to its sustainability, generation flexibility, low capital costs, natural resource efficiency, and rapid deployment capabilities,” said Michael Rechsteiner, Vice President and CEO of GE’s Gas Power business in Europe. “We are pleased that our state-of-the-art HA technology will be a large part of the modernization of the Orot Rabin Power Plant.”
IEC’s modernization project, announced in 2018, comes as a result of the Government of Israel’s Clean Air Law 2011. GE’s 9HA.01 gas turbines are expected to have a net efficiency rate of more than 61% using natural gas as the primary fuel and fuel oil as secondary fuel. Each of the 9HA.01 units is expected to produce 630 MW to replace the production from four of the existing coal fired units.
The existing coal fired plant, which will remain on standby, has a capacity of 1.4 GW produced by four 350 MW steam turbines. The plant has been operating since the mid-1970s.
“Israel has been in emergency times for over 70 years so the coal plant will be kept in case of an emergency such as a problem with the natural gas supply,” said Samia. “So Israel will keep its capability to use coal in the ten steam coal units – six at Hadera and the four at Ashkelon – in case there is no natural gas for the gas turbines.”
The new plant is being built at a site just north of the Hadera coal fired facility. Once it starts-up, the coal fired plant will be switched off and checked each month to ensure it can be re-started in a matter of hours.
Advanced GT engineering: 9HA.01
One of the main reasons behind IEC’s decision to use GE’s HA technology for the new plant was its efficiency and size base, according to Samia.
GE’s 9HA.01 features the advanced compressor first developed for the 7F.05, which has accumulated over 500,000 fired hours of experience across more than 40 units. The compressor features a 14-stage configuration with 3D aerodynamic field-replaceable airfoils and 1 stage of inlet guide vanes with three stages of variable stator vanes.
The combustor is the Dry-Low-NOx (DLN) 2.6e that leverages the best features of DLN2.6+ combustor with over 3 million fired hours and over 10 years of experience combined with evolutionary enhancements for advanced premixing, GE DLN 2.6e combustion systems enables the 9HA gas turbines to reduce NOx emissions while enabling high plant efficiency and robust manoeuvrability..
Dual fuel capability is available with No. 2 distillate as standard backup fuel. The unit can start on either gaseous or liquid fuel and can transfer under load. The combustion system can achieve 25/15 ppm NOx/CO on liquid fuel with water injection for NOx abatement.
The turbine for the HA has evolved from the proven, original H-class 4-stage gas turbine (7/9H) with simplification by eliminating steam cooling of the first turbine stages.
The HA configuration utilizes passive cooling and proven alloys from GE’s F and H-class with over 70 million fired hours of experience – it does not rely on externally cooled air nor the associated heat exchangers. This greatly reduces plant capital cost, space requirement and schedule needs during installation. It also allows for a simpler engineering that increases reliability.
In each unit, exhaust heat from the turbine is fed to a triple pressure HRSG operating at a steam temperature of 580°C. As the plant is next to the Mediterranean Sea, both units are seawater cooled which contributes to the high plant efficiency.
The units will operate in baseload with any flexibility needed to meet demand in the grid being met by peaking power plants.
There is a 6-8-month stagger between constructing the two combined cycle units due to the gap between placement of the two orders, which in turn was largely due to the terms of the marketplace reform. Samia explained: “The government decided to carry out the reform step-by-step in order to avoid objections. IEC is required to sell some of its generating capacity to the private sector. Only after IEC had sold one of its generating units in the north of the country (Alon Tavor), did the government allow the contract for the second [HA] unit to be signed… it’s like a domino effect – sell one plant before you buy another unit.”
The official cornerstone for the plant was laid on February 25th, although piling began about six weeks before that. “The piling started, using a local EPC contractor, as soon as we had the official notice-to-proceed,” said Samia.
Currently manufacturing of the first gas turbine is ongoing in Belfort, France and we are focused to deliver equipment per our contractual commitment during this crucial time. The first unit is expected to enter commercial operation in 2022 and the second unit in 2023.
Completion of the plant will mark a significant milestone in Israel’s strategy to meet increasing demand while achieving cleaner energy ambitions through the use of natural gas and renewable energy sources.