The latest issue of Power Magazine contained an article titled, “World’s Most-Efficient Combined Cycle Plant: EDF Bouchain.” This plant is located in France and entered service in 2016. Guinness World Records has recognized the plant as the most efficient combined cycle power plant in the world, with a net efficiency of 62.22%. For those of you more comfortable using heat rate to describe efficiency, this is equal to a 5,484 heat rate. (You can see more about converting heat rate and efficiency at the EIA’s website here.) Usually any gas plant that has a heat rate under 7,000 is considered pretty efficient, so this new plant’s efficiency is really outstanding. The article also contains a quote saying that technology programs at General Electric could lead to efficiencies toward 65% by the early 2020’s. (That would be a 5,250 heat rate)
Now don’t think this means that all existing power plants with a heat rate over 7,000 are about to be replaced. For one thing, according to the article there were numerous logistical challenges that were overcome to get the super-efficient plant built. For example, the transportation of the combustion turbine to the plant site required a vehicle that was over 350 ft. long, and weighed about 800 tons when loaded. Not every power plant location is going to be able to receive equipment deliveries like that. Some power plant sites won’t have as good a water supply or other constraints that will keep them from reaching the efficiency of this new French plant. However, this new plant is a sign that the threat of new gas plants will continue to put pressure on merchant generators to improve existing plants or have them replaced.