When are simple-cycle natural gas turbines used?

The eia article U.S. simple-cycle natural gas turbines operate at record highs in summer 2022 by Mark Morey (3/1/2023) reports:

The average monthly capacity factor for simple-cycle, natural gas turbine (SCGT) power plants in the United States has grown annually since 2020. Average capacity factors surpassed 20% for two consecutive summer months in 2022—the first time on record—to meet peak electricity demand, based on data from our Electric Power Monthly.


Electric grid operators can use SCGT power plants to respond quickly to fluctuating demand for electricity. The need for more electric grid support during the day is growing as the share of electricity generation from intermittent renewables grows. SCGT power plants can meet demand if there is a lull in wind or solar output. SCGT power plants can best provide grid support because they can produce electricity quickly to immediately fill gaps in electricity output on the grid, and they can ramp down just as quickly. Other natural gas-fired electricity generators, such as CCGT or steam boiler plants, can take two to three times longer than SCGT power plants to start and ramp up to full load.

The data is available from the article. Now, go and impress your friends with the fact that you know the difference between SCGT and CCGT.


About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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