General Electric plans to demolish a 750-megawatt natural-gas-fired power plant it owns in California this year after one-third of its useful life due to non-viability of the plant, Reuters reported.
GE is selling the California power plant site to a company that makes battery storage, which is used to make wind and solar power. Closing the power plant will eliminate about 23 jobs in the state.
The power plant — the Inland Empire Energy Center — uses two of GE’s H-Class turbines, developed in the last decade, before the company’s successor gas turbine, the flagship HA model, which uses different technology.
The closure illustrates stiff competition in the deregulated energy market as cheap wind and solar supply more electricity, squeezing out fossil fuels. Some utilities say they have no plans to build more fossil plants.
It highlights the stumbles of Boston-based GE with its first H-Class turbine. The steam-cooled H design takes hours to start, suffered technical problems and sold poorly, experts said.
“We have made the decision to shut down operation of the Inland Empire Power Plant, which has been operating below capacity for several years, effective at the end of 2019,” GE told Reuters. The plant “is powered by a legacy gas turbine technology … and is uneconomical to support further.”
GE’s newer HA turbine can power up in under an hour, more quickly than the H to match fluctuating supplies of wind and solar power, GE said. The large market for the H turbine that GE anticipated did not develop and has resulted in an orphan technology installation at IEEC.
GE will no longer support or make replacement parts for the H turbine. Only one other plant uses H turbines, Baglan Bay in Wales.
GE has been promoting its “H-Class” turbines amid a severe downturn in demand for fossil-fuel power plants.
The two “H” turbines being demolished in California differ from GE’s current HA, which uses air cooling. Premature closure of a turbine marketed as “H-Class” is a negative for GE as it struggles to restore profits at its power business.
Power, once GE’s largest division, lost $22.8 billion last year as the company grapples with slack demand for fossil-fuel plants. The company is set to lose up to $2 billion in cash this year.