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Publication Title | Combined Heat and Power Technology Fact Sheet Series

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Combined Heat and Power Technology Fact Sheet Series
Gas Turbines
Gas turbines are available in sizes ranging from approxi- mately one to more than 300 megawatts (MW) and are used to meet diverse power needs, including propulsion (e.g., aircraft, ships, and trains), direct drive (e.g., pumps and com- pressors) and stationary electricity generation. For electric- ity generation, gas turbines are available in a wide range of capacities and configurations, ranging from relatively small microturbines (described in a separate fact sheet1) to very large turbines used for central station power generation.
For CHP applications, gas turbines typically have favorable economics in sizes greater than five MW. Gas turbines are well suited for industrial and institutional CHP applications because the high temperature gas turbine exhaust can either be used to generate high pressure steam or used directly for heating or drying. Table 1 provides a summary of gas turbine attributes.
Gas turbines are used extensively for CHP, particularly at industrial and large institutional sites. Gas turbines account for 52 GW of installed CHP capacity in the U.S, representing 64% of the total installed CHP capacity.2 More than 80% of this
gas turbine CHP capacity is in large combined cycle plants3 that export power to the electric grid. The re- maining gas turbine CHP capacity is made up of simple cycle gas turbine CHP systems, typically less than 40 MW. Gas turbines are ideally suited for CHP applications because their high-temperature exhaust can be used to generate process steam at conditions as high as 1,200 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) and 900 °F or used directly in industrial processes for heating or drying.
1 U.S. Department of Energy, Combined Heat and Power Technology Fact Sheet Series – Microturbines, 2016.
2 U.S. DOE Combined Heat and Power Installation Database, data compiled through December 31, 2015.
3 Combined cycle CHP systems use some of the thermal energy from a gas turbine to produce additional electricity with a steam turbine.
Gas turbine CHP installation at a university.
Photo courtesy of Solar Turbines
Table 1. Summary of Gas Turbine Attributes
Size range
Simple cycle turbines are available in sizes from 30 kW (known as microturbines) up to 300 MW (there are a few products that exceed 300 MW).
Thermal output
Gas turbines produce high temperature exhaust, and thermal energy can be recovered from this exhaust to produce steam, hot water, or chilled water (with an absorption chiller). The exhaust can also be used directly for industrial process drying or heating.
Part-load operation
The electrical generation efficiency of gas turbines declines significantly as the load is decreased. Therefore, gas turbines provide the best economic performance in base load applications where the system operates at, or near, full load.
Gas turbines can be operated with a wide range of gas and liquid fuels. For CHP, natural gas is the most common fuel.
Gas turbines are a mature technology with high reliability.
Gas turbines have relatively low emissions and require no cooling. Gas turbines are widely used in CHP applications and have relatively low installed costs.

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