Microturbines Market- Snapshot
Microturbines can be defined as a small scale power generators that produce electrical power by burning gaseous and liquid fuels. The combustion of these fuels in the turbine results in high speed rotation of the turbine shaft, which then turns an electrical generator for producing electrical power. Microturbines operate at high speeds and can be used only for power generation or for CHP (combined heat and power) applications similar to gas turbines. Microturbines are capable of operating on an array of fuels including natural gas, biogas, sour gases, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, heating oil, etc.. Microturbines are designed in such a way that they combine the reliability of an aircraft’s auxiliary power system along with the manufacturing economics of a turbocharger.
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Microturbine systems are usually air cooled with some designs utilizing air bearings.Therefore, these turbines eliminate both oil and water systems that are commonly used in reciprocating engines. Microturbines have low emission combustion system, whose emission performance is comparable to that of larger gas turbines. Microturbines also have potential for reduced maintenance with their uptime being around 99% and are highly reliable and durable for generating continuous and high quality power.
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Shift toward On-Site Power Generation and Low Cost Power Generation from Microturbines Likley to Drive the Market
Aging power infrastructure and poor grid connectivity across various regions is expected to fuel demand for on-site power generation technologies such as microturbines. The maintenance of aging power infrastructure, especially in developed regions such as North America and Europe, is expected to lead to down time of the grid in the region. This is likely to affect overall productivity of key industries and hamper the daily life of local residents. On-site power generation is estimated to become more feasible for reliable for power supply in these regions. Moreover, poor grid connectivity in developing and underdeveloped nations is projected to lead to rise in demand for on-site power generation as power demand in these nations increases. Furthermore, factors such as reliability, customized power demand, and reduced power generation costs are expected to increase demand for microturbines.
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Microturbine systems can be installed easily in comparison to complex conventional power plants and can produce low-cost energy from much cleaner energy sources. The energy generation cost from microturbines is reduced mainly by utilizing them for CHP applications. CHP systems not only increase the overall efficiency of a microturbine but also provide economic benefits to end-users. Governments and regulatory authorities offer incentives for the installation of microturbines. In Europe and North America, governments have already laid plans for providing incentives and subsidies to end-users who are installing microturbines for either CHP applications or for power generation.
High Initial Investment and Low Fuel-to-electric Efficiency can Restrain the Expansion of the Market
The installation costs of microturbines lie in the range of US$ 700–1100 per KW, which is high in comparison to substitutes such as reciprocating engines. High upfront costs of microturbines makes it difficult for them to compete with reciprocating engines. In order to be competitive, the installation costs of microturbines for large scale applications should ideally fall in the range of US$ 400–US$ 600 per kW, which is similar to those of reciprocating engines. Microturbines also suffer from low fuel-to-electric efficiency, which is a major restraint. Unrecuperated microturbines have fuel-to-electric efficiency of about 15%, while recuperated microturbines have slightly greater efficiency in the range of 25% to 30%. These efficiency levels are quit incompetent with respect to reciprocating engines. Moreover, the efficiency of microturbines further decreases with increase in part load, which is not the case with reciprocating engines.
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