Thailand's, along with many developing countries', recent social and economic progress has propelled it from a low to upper-middle-income level. But, while capital has been pouring in, reliable electricity is still hard to come by as power plants are expensive and take time to build.
"There is demand for power everywhere, but there is also demand for environmental responsibility," says Sherif Mohamed, an engineer with GE Power & Water. "Nowadays, you need power, but you also need higher efficiency, flexibility and reliability in any power generation project."
The LM6000-PF+ gas turbines are built around technology originally developed for aircraft engines. These 'aeroderivatives' can be installed and start generating electricity in as little as three months, the system has most recently been implemented in Egypt.
The turbines operate with, what is claimed to be, an industry-leading 56% efficiency and burn both gas and liquid fuel. A single unit can pump out up to 58MW of electricity, enough for the equivalent of 50,000 homes. Each unit has a footprint of around 350m2 so that it can be installed in places where space is limited.
Just like a jet engine on a runway, the turbines can quickly kick into high gear when power is needed. "For the Gulf Energy Development project, we should be able to reach full power - about 300MW between all six units - from a cold start in 10 minutes," said Nasser Chraibi, the product line manager at GE Power & Water. "Many places throughout the developing world need this kind of flexibility."