Motivated by energy savings and the possibility of swifter installations, more and more users have begun to opt for Turbine Inlet Air Cooling. Paul Saville of Stellar throws light on the subject in an interview with Naveena Sadasivam
Turbine Inlet Air Cooling (TIAC) or Turbine Inlet Cooling (TIC) is becoming more commonly used in the Middle East, as utility costs have increased and awareness about the technology has spread. Paul Saville of Stellar, explained that there are many benefits of using the TIAC technology to meet the increasing power demand instead of adding backup turbines. “TIACs cost only one-third of the price of a new turbine and siphon up to 30% more power at a fraction of the cost,” said Saville. He explained that the power generation can be realised more quickly, since a TIAC system can be installed in a year, as opposed to a turbine, which can take up to two years.
Saying that TIAC helps increase the efficiency of turbines by cooling down ambient air, Saville emphasised that generally, turbines produce less power output when the temperature is high. He pointed out that, unfortunately, air conditioning loads are also high during such times, and power demand correspondingly increases while the time power output is low. However, TIAC gives it a boost and restores the power produced to the nominal-rated output.
Saville believed that recognising these potential advantages, companies have begun installing TIACs in their facilities. “It is better understood now and clients are looking for power enhancement to meet increased energy demand at a low capital cost,” he said. “The side benefit is that it has a better heat rate, increasing the power per unit of fuel, thus making it more efficient.” As a result, there was an increase in the number of installations, he added, and shared the information that Stellar has opened a new office in Qatar to meet the rise in demand. The technology is also catching on in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, he said.
What are some of the benefits and technical issues involved in Turbine Inlet Air Chilling?
The benefits are that you get up to 30% more power at a fraction of the cost. It is only one-third of the cost of a new turbine. And you get additional power generation more quickly as well. TIAC can be installed in a year, while buying and installing an additional turbine can take up to two years. But you need to know what you are doing. Otherwise, poor design can damage the turbine, as has happened in Saudi Arabia.
How do Stellar TIAC systems deal with high humidity in the desert region? Is it a hindrance?
High dry bulb temperature and low humidity gives maximum benefit for a low-cooling load. High humidity increases the cooling load, which decreases the efficiency of the system, and increases the cost of the TIAC system.
As a relatively new technology in the Middle East, do you feel that TIAC is catching on? What is the current market like and what kind of trends do you see?
There are many TIAC installations in Saudi Arabia and, more recently, in the UAE. There are a few installations in Kuwait. Other countries in the Middle East are looking at it, but it has been a bit slow to take off in other countries.
How is the concept perceived now, compared to 10 years ago?
It is better understood now, and as a result, more installations are taking place.
Are power companies and governments in the GCC turning to it as a solution to increase the efficiency of turbines and to improve power security?
I believe that it helps maximise the output of asset. Turbines produce less power output when temperature is high. When temperature is high, air conditioning loads are high, and power demand is high. At the same time, power output is low. TIAC gives a boost and restores the power produced to nominal-rated output.
Have you seen a growth in business opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar? If so, how are you responding to the change?
We have opened a new office in Qatar last month and established partnerships in Saudi Arabia to target the TIAC markets there.