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Gas Turbine Plant

Made in Berlin

Herbert Klausner, plant manager at the Siemens Gas Turbine Plant in Berlin, has an important milestone to celebrate. Reason enough to reminisce on 44 years of engineering prowess, innovation, and manufacturing at the Berlin plant, and take a look into the future.

Congratulations, Mr. Klausner! You’ve just delivered the 1,000th Berlin gas turbine to Qatar. How do you go about successfully mass producing cutting-edge technology?

Thanks, but an achievement like this is a joint effort, and the whole team deserves congratulations – our about 3,700 people who work here at Berlin-Moabit, some of whom were already involved in building the first gas turbine 44 years ago. This kind of know-how is priceless, and a great example to the younger generation.

To guarantee high standards of quality we’ve established a sophisticated quality management system here in Berlin. Our people validate their own work by logging and checking every step in the process. This engenders a very high degree of responsibility and precision-mindedness. We also assure quality with the help of computer-driven measurement systems; with gas turbines we’re talking precision down to thousandths of millimeters.

What’s the Berlin site’s recipe for success?

We bundle engineering, R&D, manufacturing, and service. In other words, our site brings together the entire range of competences required not only to build gas turbines, but also to provide the relevant service once they’re sold.

Another important aspect is our ability to innovate: we’re constantly striving to improve and deploy the latest technologies – for example selective laser melting. We build all prototypes on site and test them immediately. Only last year, in February, we inaugurated the Clean Energy Center <http://www.siemens.com/press/en/pressrelease/2015/power-gas/pr2015020130pgen.htm> in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin, and since then have been validating the burner systems and components of our gas turbines there.

Gas turbines are extremely complex products demanding the highest standards of quality.
Herbert Klausner, Plant Manager at the Siemens Gas Turbine Plant in Berlin

 

 

And a further important factor in our success are our short chains of command, which also make innovation cycles shorter. Everyone pulls together. Gas turbines are an extremely complex product demanding the highest standards of quality. We in Berlin have demonstrated the expertise necessary to deliver this quality – a thousand times, in fact.

What’s the most critical moment in the manufacture of a gas turbine?

It’s a challenge from start to finish. But one of the trickiest moments is fitting the gas turbine rotor. This requires all our experience. The rotor for an H-class gas turbine, for example, weighs 120 tonnes, and when you insert it into the lower part of the housing you only have around a millimeter for maneuver. If there was contact anywhere, for example at the blades, you’d chip the coatings, which would be fatal because it would mean that they were no longer capable of withstanding the extremely high temperatures of up to 1,500°C they have to operate in.

But you don’t build a thousand gas turbines without learning a thing or two, and especially at stages like this that require so much know-how and experience our staff are real experts.

The 1,000th gas turbine manufactured at the Berlin plant: the SGT5-4000F’s gas turbine rotor in front of the balancing pit.


What’s the service life of today’s gas turbines?

One of our first gas turbines, delivered in 1972, is still in use as a back-up in Australia. But naturally the service life depends on whether the turbine is serving peak or base load duty. The quality of the fuel and the ambient temperature also influence service life. Another important factor is maintenance. Here Siemens offers customized service solutions – from project-related support to an all-inclusive package spanning decades. We often go to the customer’s site. But with the help of remote diagnostics we can also do maintenance on a gas turbine without removing it from the power plant. Diagnostic tools installed in our gas turbines enable our service team to say precisely when the next service will be due, or how the customer can optimize operation – on a completely individual basis, depending on the type of turbine and operating requirements.

Renewable energy is non-predictable, and flexible gas-fired generation plants will continue to be the perfect complement.
Herbert Klausner, Plant Manager at Siemens’ Gas Turbine Development and Manufacturing Center in Berlin

 

What trends are we seeing in gas turbine technology?

Efficiency is certainly a driver. Customers place a premium on plant efficiency, especially in countries like South Korea and Taiwan with high fuel prices. But that’s merely a lever. There has to be innovation in other areas as well. What’s most important for our customers is that the whole plant should run profitably. This can only be achieved with an approach that takes all aspects into account. For this reason we keep a close eye on the so-called LCoE (levelized cost of electricity). This figure covers the costs of investment (CAPEX) and operating costs (OPEX), with around two-thirds of OPEX stemming from the cost of fuel. Siemens offers customized financing solutions as well as extensive financing know-how for the development of proposals for both the private and the public sector. This is an important aspect of cost-saving investment in power generation assets.
Added to this is our service approach, which I’ve already mentioned. Customers value this very highly indeed. At the end of the day it’s about providing our customers with the most appropriate plants on the basis of the holistic LCoE approach.

Plant manager Herbert Klausner talks with an employee.


Efficiency, technology, economic viability... What’s the most important thing in this connection?

We work on both enhancing our products and technologies, and reducing development times and making our plants more flexible. Flexible power generation is particularly important in constantly changing markets. To be able to give our customers the necessary flexibility and to be able to respond to a wide range of market requirements, we test our gas turbines running on different fuels and in different load states. For example our gas turbine at the Düsseldorf Fortuna power plant, an SGT5-8000H, can deliver full capacity in less than 25 minutes after a hot start, meaning it can also be used as a back-up for renewable energy. We supply proven technology to help customers all over the world use their facilities economically.

How has the gas turbine plant in Berlin responded to the major order for 24 of Siemens’ most powerful turbines, the SGT5-8000H, for three new power plants in Egypt?

A factory is always pleased when orders come in. It’s our people who make the difference, and they’re knuckling down to make sure this order is delivered on time. So far we’ve been well within schedule. We like to show that we were the right choice to build these turbines.

Barbara Simpson is a journalist based in Zurich.
Picture credits: Siemens AG