In the pursuit of increasing their profitability, the design and operation of combined cycle power plants needs to be optimized for new liberalized markets with large penetration of renewables. A clear consequence of such renewable integration is the need for these plants for being more flexible in terms of ramping-up periods and higher part-load efficiencies. Flexibility becomes an even clearer need for combined heat and power plants to be more competitive, particularly when simultaneously following the market hourly price dynamics and varying demands for both the heat and the electricity markets. In this paper, three new plant layouts have been investigated by integrating different storage concepts and heat-pump units in key sections of a traditional plant layout. The study analyses the influence that market has on determining the optimum layouts for maximizing profits in energy-only markets (in terms of plant configuration, sizing and operation strategies). The study is performed for a given location nearby Turin, Italy, for which hourly electricity and heat prices, as well as meteorological data, have been gathered. A multi-parameter modeling approach was followed using KTH’s in house techno-economic modeling tool, which uses time-dependent market data, e.g. price and weather, to determine the trade-off curves between minimizing investment and maximizing profits when varying critical size-related power plant parameters e.g. installed power capacities and storage size, for pre-defined layouts and operating strategies. A comparative analysis between the best configurations found for each of the proposed layouts and the reference plant is presented in the discussion section of the results. For the specific case study set in northern Italy, it is shown that the integration of a pre-cooling loop into baseload-like power-oriented combined cycle plants is not justified, calling for investigating new markets and different operating strategies. Only the integration of a heat pump alone was shown to improve the profitability, but within the margin of error of the study. Alternatively, a layout where district heating supply water is preheated with a combination of a heat pump with hot thermal tank was able to increase the internal rate of return of the plant by up to 0.5%, absolute, yet within the error margin and thus not justifying the added complexity in operation and in investment costs. All in all, the analysis shows that even when considering energy-only market revenue streams (i.e. heat and electricity sells) the integration of heat pump and storage units could increase the profitability of plants by making them more flexible in terms of power output levels and load variations. The latter is shown true even when excluding other flexibility-related revenue streams. It is therefore conclusively suggested to further investigate the proposed layouts in markets with larger heat and power price variations, as well as to investigate the impact of additional control logics and dispatch strategies.

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