Benefits of Turbine Inlet Air Cooling system

What are the benefits of a Turbine Inlet Air Cooling system? As energy costs escalate and sustainability becomes a key concept on the table, operators are looking for new ways to enhance their power production.

In such a context, the Turbine Inlet Air Cooling (TIAC) system represents an effective solution. This system comprises a set of technologies whose aim is to augment power output by cooling down the intake air of gas turbines. 

A common feature for hot climates, it allows operators to meet peak power demands while also achieving energy efficiency and reducing downtime. This is particularly important as worldwide energy demand increases: systems should not only respond effectively but also, ideally, reduce their use of resources.

Keep reading to find out how and why the TIAC system presents advantages as a complement to current air cooling technology. 


How does Turbine Inlet Air Cooling work?

Turbine Inlet Air Cooling (or TIAC) represents a reliable technology to reduce air temperatures without resorting to humidity increases. 

TIAC models mean an inlet air heat exchanger is incorporated. This piece of equipment is in charge of circulating a chilled water flow, which effectively improves the system’s overall performance, output and efficiency, along with other benefits we outline below in this article.

As a general rule, the cooler the temperatures are when reaching the turbines, the better their performance. In fact, optimum temperature values for peak efficiency are typically around 15 Cº (59 F).  

This is where TIAC systems come in, taking air temperature and historical data into account for each location to effectively make air attain optimum temperatures. In fact, as peak demand often takes place at the same time as peak daily temperatures, TIAC systems remain an effective way to maximize power and ensure operators can meet their clients’ demands.

Additionally, Turbine Inlet Air Cooling systems have experienced increased benefits when paired with Thermal Energy Storage (TES). Generating what are known as TESTIAC systems, they are in fact able to enhance the model’s flexibility and energy savings which, again, we examine more closely below.

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Advantages of a Turbine Inlet Air Cooling Systems 

Increased overall power output

Installing this technology translates into a constant inlet of air temperature for turbines. In other words, temperatures reaching the turbine remain stable even through changes in ambient conditions, providing an increase in power output and maintaining it stable against temperature changes.

In fact, TIAC systems are able to increase power output in values that range between 20-25%. This represents a major benefit in a market dominated by increasing costs related to energy resources paired with growing demands for energy. The result is an air cooling system that is able to cope with power demand even in challenging situations, such as peak hours, reducing downtime risks.


Better turbine efficiency

An advantage of Turbine Inlet Air Cooling Systems directly related to the increase of power output and improvement of heat rates is the capacity of this model to provide turbine efficiency optimizations of around 2 to 3%. 


Savings in the cost of power 

TIAC air cooling technology generates overall savings of around 30 to 40% in the cost of power, as well as a reduction in fuel costs. This is due to the fact that the incorporation of TIAC translates into overall reduced electrical consumption for the plant. Additionally, this fact has shown to provide a consistent balance to the initial capital costs of installing the equipment. 


Improved sustainability

TIAC in fact qualifies for carbon credits when available, as it’s considered a green technology. This is not only related to the increase of turbine efficiency, but also to the fact that this model provides an improved combustion with less fuel usage and an overall decrease in emissions. In other words, TIAC generate a smaller footprint than other options.


Reduced maintenance and operational costs

Adding the right type of TIAC models generates little to no increase in maintenance costs. Besides, it represents a chance to reduce operational costs, particularly while paired with TES technologies, as we’ll see below.

Another advantage related to economic costs is the reduction in total capital investments, as chiller capacities decrease when TIAC technologies are in place.

In fact, ARANER’s TIAC System creates two ways for direct economic benefits: on the one hand, it increases the annual average output MW, which in turn means more services to more customers; on the other hand, it saves capital costs in comparison to additional turbine installation; finally, it provides a decrease cost per MW of power and reduced fuel costs. 


TIAC and TES for maximum power

The TESTIAC approach involves adding Thermal Energy Storage systems to improve a plant’s overall efficiency and guarantee extra power production is available for certain key hours per day (ranging between 3 to 8 hours per day).

In order to do so, chilled water produced when cooling the turbine’s inlet air is stored in the TES tank, so that the whole chiller system capacity is not required.

This model provides the following benefits:

  • Increase in power input, particularly for facilities situated in areas with extreme weather conditions or with difficult access to water
  • Possibility to use seawater cooled chillers if the water is located near the sea
  • Reduced requirements for chillers installed capacities, leading to cost reductions

In order to reach this system’s maximum potential, it’s key to access the professional advice of experts in energy solutions. At ARANER, we work to provide clients with state-of-the-art technology that is also cost-efficient and fits each project’s applications and locations.

Find out more about our approach by downloading our free ebook about turbine inlet air cooling systems or get in touch with us to learn more.

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