Combined cycle power plants (CCPP) have many advantages compared to other fossil power plants: high efficiency, flexible operation, compact design, high potential for combined heat and power (CHP) applications and fewer emissions. However, fuel costs are relatively high compared to coal. Nevertheless, major qualities such as high operation flexibility and low emissions distinctly increase in relevance in the future, due to rising power generation from renewable energy sources.

An accelerated start-up procedure of CCPPs increases the flexibility and reduces the NOx-emissions, which are relatively high in gas turbine low load operation. Such low load operation is required during a cold start of a CCPP in order to heat up the steam turbine. Thus, a warm-keeping of the thermal-limiting steam turbine results in an accelerated start-up times as well as reduced NOx-emissions and lifetime consumption.

This paper presents a theoretical analysis of the potential of steam turbine warm-keeping by means of hot air for a typical CCPP, located in China. In this method, the hot air passes through the steam turbine while the power plant is shut off which enables hot start conditions at any time. In order to investigate an improved start-up procedure, a physical based simplified model of the water-steam cycle is developed on the basis of an operation data set. This model is used to simulate an improved power plant start-up, in which the steam turbine remains hot after at least 120 hours outage. The results show a start-up time reduction of approximately two-thirds in comparison to a conventional cold start. Furthermore, the potential of steam turbine warm-keeping is discussed with regards to the power output, NOx-emissions, start-up costs and lifetime consumption.

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