Dominion Virginia Power’s Brunswick County Power Station has received “Project of the Year” honors from Power Engineering magazine in recognition of its technological innovation, local impact, capacity, and logistical challenges and innovation. Commissioned in April 2016, the combined-cycle natural gas-fired electricity plant is expected to provide 9% of Dominion’s total energy requirements in its first full year of operation.
The power plant combines three state-of-the-art Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems combustion turbines and a fourth generation unit that runs off the waste heat. Additionally, a 140-foot-tall air-cooled condenser, the largest in the U.S., significantly reduces water consumption. Working under strict air emissions standards, the facility produces electricity with half the carbon as power purchased from the regional grid when operating on peak.
Writes Power Engineering of the plant’s logistical challenges:
Project components were delivered by ship and rail from three continents: North America, Europe, and Asia. For final nighttime delivery to the site, local roads and bridges were temporarily reinforced to accommodate the project’s heaviest load, which exceeded 100,000 pounds. The project also weathered Hurricane Joaquin, which dumped 5.84 inches of rainfall at the site in 10 days. Despite these logistical constraints, the project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
For the moment, the Brunswick County Power Station is one of the most cost-efficient gas-fired power stations in the world, although power plants using next-generation turbines, like the one under construction in Greensville County, will be even more efficient. Dominion estimates that the plant will save rate payers roughly $1 billion over the 40- to 50-year life of the project. The Mitsubishi Hitachi turbines burn gas at higher temperatures, which allows them to extract more energy from the same volume of fuel while polluting less. Additionally, by having access to two gas pipelines — Transco and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, assuming the ACP receives federal approval — the Brunswick plant will enjoy more flexibility than most gas-fired plants to purchase the lowest-cost natural gas.
Innovations in natural gas extraction and combustion technology continue to drive down the cost of electricity, and Virginia rate payer are the beneficiaries.