The FLEXTURBINE project will have major impacts with regard to the EU policy objectives for electricity generation, defined in the energy roadmaps 2030 and 2050:
- To cope with climate change the EU aims at progressively reducing fossil energy sources (FES) in all domains of human activity. This will imply the substitution of FES as a source for generating electricity. By 2050, the aim is to have renewable energy source (RES) share of up to 97% of electricity production.
- To guarantee a secure electricity supply, which is critical for the wellbeing of society and economy. Risk to supply stability are unacceptable in our modern society. The supply may also be threatened by uncertainties with respect to the sufficient and efficient electricity supply from RES.
- To ensure economic effectiveness of electricity supply regarding cost of electricity for the customer on one side, i.e. private or industry sector, which is key to EU economic competitiveness. On the other side the plant and network investments and operations must be affordable for the electricity operators. The latter is even more difficult for many operators as they have to cope with the implications of major long-term energy policy decisions.
These three policy objectives have to be pursued simultaneously, are mutually interdependent and have to be balanced against each other.
Increased efficiency leads to reduced emissions and lower cost of electricity. Faster ramping and increased cycling enable fossil fuel plants to balance the fluctuating renewable energy from solar and wind. This will help ensure energy security and supply via a stable grid without the need for unnecessary over capacity or excessive grid development. Increased flexible fossil energy supply allows the portion of renewable to rise to significantly higher levels, which will help the EU achieve the low carbon targets. The economics of energy supply should be better if fossil power generation can be extended instead of having to create new capabilities to fill the renewable fluctuations such as storage.
FLEXTURBINE significantly contributes to the social target of Low-Carbon-Energy at different levels:
- Enhancement of health: using more efficient and flexible production of electricity in fossil fuel power plants, namely retrofitting already existing power plants will lead to a reduction of amount of lignite extracted from quarries in Central and Eastern Europe. This reduction will slow down pace of extraction of those quarries and result in less polluted areas by dust. This leads to a positive impact on health of population, especially children and seniors, in regions where those quarries are situated.
- Enhancement of quality of life: newly developed technologies will enable higher penetration of renewables on the grid and at the same time ensure that the grids will remain stable due to more flexible operation of the conventional back-up power generation capacity. Overall, emissions will decrease and power supply will remain stable - both have a positive impact on society and quality of life.
- Sustainability: with proper turbomachinery design it will operate under flexible conditions and provide energy in the grid when needed. With the extended use of renewables the limitation of energy production linked to natural environments will be overcome, enabling a more sustainable use of energy for current and future generations. In addition, specific critical high value components used within the turbines will be expected to sustain more intense cycling over the scheduled operating periods, thereby minimising component scrap rates and the associated material recycling issues.
- Job creation and education: The investments made in research and innovation in the course of the FLEXTURBINE project and beyond will secure and generate highly skilled employment in industry as well as in academia. A high level of academic education will be maintained at the academic partners to educate high-level young engineers. Labour market will be strengthened by securing and creating new employment opportunities in the field of engineering and highly qualified craftsmen on production sites.
- Cost efficiency: The newly developed technologies will increase endurance of the parts, thus, leading to larger maintenance intervals. As another important aspect of the extended lifetime newly developed parts do need to be replaced after considerable longer intervals which means reduced manufacturing needs of spare parts and, as a consequence, a saving on natural resources.