Duke Energy’s newest natural gas plant can produce 1,640 megawatts of energy, enough to power the lives of 4.5 million Floridians.
The Citrus Combined Cycle Station started producing power in late 2018 in Citrus County, Fla., about 85 miles north of Tampa. More than 300 community leaders, elected officials and Duke Energy employees attended a grand opening April 4.
Combined-cycle natural gas units generate energy more efficiently and have significantly lower emissions than coal-fired units. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions are expected to drop by 90% compared to the two nearby 1960s-era Crystal River coal-fired units, which were retired in December 2018.
The new station is strategically built on the east side of its 400-acre property to protect a bald eagle’s nest, which currently has two eaglets, and wetlands on the west side of the property.
The station will provide about $13 million to the economy annually during the station’s 35-year operational life and is expected to generate $4 million in Citrus County property taxes for 2019.
The Citrus station receives natural gas through the new 515-mile Sabal Trail pipeline. The $3.2 billion pipeline starts in Alabama, extends through Georgia and ends in Central Florida. Duke Energy is a 7.5% owner. The station can burn up to 293 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. A thousand cubic feet of natural gas is enough to meet the needs of an average home, such as heating and cooking, for four days.
That elevated green box is an inlet. It works like a set of lungs, drawing in air so the combustion turbine generator, which is behind it, can compress air to a high pressure. The pressurized air mixes with natural gas and then burns, creating hot exhaust gases. These gases power the turbine, spin a generator and make electricity.
Combined-cycle natural gas plants are efficient for two main reasons. They burn natural gas uniformly, so customers get more energy for the same fuel costs. Second, they have a heat recovery steam generator – that large tan rectangular structure surrounded by miles of piping. This heat recovery system captures and reuses the hot exhaust gases to generate more energy.
These cooling towers reduce the temperature of water used in the station’s systems before returning the water to the Gulf of Mexico. Two miles of underground piping make this possible.
What’s coming out of the cooling towers is water vapor. It’s not smoke, and it’s not harmful.
The new station combined with the two operating coal-fired units make the Crystal River Energy Complex one of Duke Energy’s largest generators in Florida, capable of producing more than 3,000 megawatts of energy.
About 50 full-time Duke Energy employees work at the station, which has two power blocks, six generators and more than 60,000 components. Inside this power distribution center, electrical switchgears control and power station equipment.
Duke Energy’s transmission team installed 600 devices at 30 locations to send the energy generated at the station from large transformers to distribution systems and then to homes and businesses.
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