Gas turbines have been the favourite technology for new installations in many parts of the world for quite some time, and the main drivers of the market are not expected to be substantially affected by the current state of the economy.
Frost & Sullivan have identified the main drivers of the gas turbine industry as: higher efficiency of combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants, environmental concerns, and shorter construction time. The main restraints to the industry are gas availability, potentially higher future gas prices and a limited supply base.
CCGT plants are expected to remain the technology of choice for new power stations because they are cleaner and more efficient than their alternatives, such as coal-fired power stations. They are also faster to build than coal and nuclear plants. In light of the current market conditions, the restraints of the gas turbine market are becoming less important.
In addition to the general drivers, the following specific factors will support the gas turbines market during this time of economic uncertainty:
• Lower capital costs;
• Lower construction and operation risk;
• Established technology;
• Falling gas prices.
High upfront investment costs are a large deterrent for investors in today's market. Coal-fired power plants are greatly affected by this because they require fairly high capital costs per MW and tend to be quite large, contributing to their initial cost. In comparison, combined cycle plants have significantly lower capital costs and are often smaller than coal-fired plants. Considering the economic climate, gas turbines are much more realistic investments.
Combined cycle plants also carry a lower operation and construction risk than coal-fired plants. Developers of gas turbine plants are often able to devolve all of the construction risk and all or some of the operation risk to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or independent contractor. For coal-fired plants they frequently have to shoulder all the risk. This places gas turbine technology at a competitive advantage due to its lower risk profile.
Gas-fired generation is arguably the most established generation technology, which in these turbulent economic times makes it a safe bet. Although coal-fired technology has also been established for a long time, environmental regulations require that future plants must be based on new technologies that have little track record and are sometimes unproven or even uncertain. The credit crisis has slowed the development of clean coal technologies. Gas turbines, being a well-established and relatively clean energy source, are likely to benefit from delays and possible doubts faced by the coal industry.
Falling gas prices are expected to give a further boost to the gas turbine industry. Following a prolonged period of rising natural gas prices in Europe, an overall decline in prices is underway, although it is too early to judge the effect of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute. Frost & Sullivan feels as though this will not significantly affect the overall position and importance of the gas-fired generation.
"Certainly it is likely to lead to a much greater focus by Europe on diversifying gas supply sources and also an accelerated expansion of gas storage facilities in some countries such as the UK," says Harald Thaler, Industry Director. "There will also of course be renewed calls for even greater investments in renewable energy but even if faster growth in renewables became possible despite credit problems affecting most independent developers, this would not harm gas turbine markets as the technology is needed to counterbalance a growing presence of intermittent generation sources such as wind. The overall position of natural gas in Europe's fuel mix is therefore likely to be secure."
For more information about the European Gas Turbine Market, please send an email to Chiara Carella, Corporate Communications, at chiara.carella[.]frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country. Upon receipt of the above information, a brochure will be sent to you by email.
GIL 2009: Europe
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