GE Energy Selected to Improve Efficiency for One of America's Largest Boilers

In an effort to increase reliability and reduce operating costs, Xcel Energy and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) have contracted GE Energy to supply online impulse cleaning systems for their largest U.S. generating unit (900 megawatts). By using GE’s Powerwave+ Impulse Cleaning System, the project is estimated to save $20 million over the next six years by eliminating tube erosion and helping to prevent a major boiler tube replacement project.

Xcel Energy, one of the nation’s leading utilities, and SMMPA, a Minnesota joint action agency, chose GE based on their comfort with GE’s broad experience and references. Xcel also tested the ability of the Powerwave+ Impulse Cleaning System in the area where cleaning proves to be most difficult and found it to be effective at keeping their heat transfer surfaces clean.

“The installation of this technology will decrease the number of unplanned outages in the affected section of the boiler and provide greater value for our customers,” said Aaron Brixius, Xcel Energy project manager. “The Sherburne County boiler engineering team, led by Dave Anderson, has been monitoring this technology for five years and worked with the project team to develop this project. Several site inspection visits to previous installations were made, and a thorough trial test was completed over a period of two months. Xcel Energy and SMMPA are committed to operational excellence and providing our customers reliable energy at a greater value. The review of the Powerwave+ technology made us comfortable that this project would satisfy those ideals.”

The Powerwave+ Impulse cleaning technology can clean boiler surfaces more efficiently than traditional methods, reduce emissions and improve the overall efficiency of coal-fired boilers without the tube erosion issues caused by other cleaning systems.

The high-energy impulse technology—a derivative of acoustic cleaning—has earned a spot in GE’s ecomagination portfolio, following a rigorous review process confirming its environmental and economic benefits. Ecomagination is GE’s clean energy business strategy to drive growth and solve the world’s energy challenges. It brings technology, innovation, investment and partnership to deliver a sustainable future for generations to come.

“This is a new and innovative approach to online cleaning which fits with Xcel Energy’s goal to be an environmental leader in the industry while maintaining focus on its core business,” said David Chapin, GE’s Powerwave lead project manager. “The payback for Xcel and SMMPA is twofold: the reduction in tube erosion and also improved efficiency. This should result in a decline in coal consumption, CO2 and SO2 emissions, maintenance and cleaning costs during outages and the number of forced outages throughout the year. Powerwave+ cleaning system is smarter technology that changes the game for anyone having these issues, and we’re working with numerous customers who we expect will see similar results, including potentially significant savings.”

The ecomagination product review process confirmed the following benefits of the Powerwave+ cleaning system:

Environmental Benefits
Installing Powerwave+ cleaning systems on 10 percent of all coal-fired boilers in the United States could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 790,000 metric tons per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions from approximately 151,000 cars on U.S. roads annually.

Operating Benefit
If GE Powerwave+ cleaning systems were installed on 10 percent of all coal-fired boilers in the United States, boiler operators could produce an additional 1.09 million MWh of electricity per year without burning additional coal. This represents an additional revenue opportunity of $76 million at an electricity price of $70 per MWh.