Tampa Electric Company (TECO) has completed the first phase of its coal-to-gas modernisation strategy at the existing 50-year-old coal-fired Big Bend power station in Florida. It is powered by two GE 7HA.02 gas turbines and associated H65 generators and started operating in December last year. The project is said to have helped significantly change TECO’s fuel mix with the natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant almost halving CO2 emissions compared to the older facility it replaced.

GE and Tampa announced at the beginning of April the start of commercial operations for units 5 and 6 of the TECO plant at Apollo Beach, in Florida. In replacing existing coal fired units at the 1090 MW power plant and allowing the switch to natural gas, CO2 emissions per MWh of electricity generated will be reduced by 67%; and initiate lower emissions levels for other pollutants such as mercury, NOx, SOx and particulate matter.

Initially, Big Bend’s new units will operate in simple cycle mode, with more efficient combined-cycle operation targeted for implementation in late 2022. Operation of the 7HA.02 GTs will improve TECO’s power plant efficiencies from the mid-30% levels of the previous steam plant operations to greater than 60% while operating in a combined cycle configuration. The plant will also increase its operational flexibility. GE’s integrated Mark VIe control  system will provide gas turbine generator control and performance  visibility, and data collected from sensors throughout the facility will be monitored and analysed 24/7 at GE’s monitoring and diagnostics centre in Atlanta.

Tampa Electric’s ‘green’ journey began in 1999. Since then, the company has reduced coal usage by more than 90 % nad cut carbon dioxide emissions in half. The Big Bend modernisation project plays a key role in this – its gas turbines can burn 15-20% hydrogen by volume in the gas stream initially, and is expected to have the capability to transition to 100% hydrogen over the next decade.