Microturbines are versatile technical solutions for the production of electrical and thermal power. This term is applied to a new group of small gas turbines being used to provide on-site power and becoming an attractive option to feed the load of small users, especially when co-generation can be exploited.
Most microturbines with a power range from 20 kW to 250 kW are based on technologies that were originally developed for the use in auxiliary power systems, aircrafts or automotive turbochargers.
Major advantages of microturbine systems:
Due to these advantages microturbines are ideally suited to provide energy in applications of distributed energy systems. The following types of applications have been identified:
Target customers for microturbine systems include financial services, data processing and telecommunication companies, restaurants, lodging, retail services, office buildings and other commercial applications. Currently, microturbines are operating in resource recovery operations at oil and gas production fields, wellheads, coal mines and landfill operations, where by-product gases serve as essentially free fuel. Reliable operation is important since these locations may be remote from the grid, and even when served by the grid, may experience costly downtime when electric service is lost due to weather, fire or animals.
In CHP applications, as part of the new decentralised energy concept, waste heat from microturbines can be used to produce hot water, to heat building space, to drive absorption cooling or desiccant dehumidification equipment and to supply other thermal energy needs in buildings or industrial processes.
In the up-coming 20 years, decentralised generation (DG) is expected to play an increasingly important role in the European electricity infrastructure and market. DG technologies have the potential to significantly contribute to savings in CO2-emissions and energy consumption. This applies both for renewable energy and decentralised CHP applications. Therefore, DG technologies are expected to play a key role in strategies needed in order to meet the EU Kyoto-target for greenhouse gas emission reductions.