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Heat Rate, Efficiency and Feedwater Heater Performance

Improving Your Power Plant’s Feedwater Heater Efficiency Can Reduce Your Heat Rate

With fuel accounting for as much as 80% of production costs, power companies are striving to improve reductions in heat rate, efficiency savings and other means of shaving costs from their bottom lines. They recognize that a key way to reduce a power plant’s heat rate – and fuel costs – is to enhance its feedwater heater performance.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expresses heat rates in British thermal units (Btu) per net kWh generated. Net generation is the amount of electricity a power plant or generator supplies to the power transmission line connected to the power plant. It accounts for all the electricity that the plant consumes to operate the generator(s) and other equipment, including fuel feeding systems, boiler water pumps, cooling equipment, pollution control devices and more.

Therefore, by optimizing the efficiency of systems such as the feedwater heater operation, a power plant can make a direct, positive impact on its heat rate. In fact, it’s estimated that a one percent improvement in heat rate can save up to $500,000 in fuel costs annually (based on a fuel cost of $1.25/million Btu, capacity factor of 85% and boiler efficiency of 88%).

Is your feedwater heater costing you money? Magnetrol has put together a comprehensive information kit to help you answer this question. Our informative Heat Rate Reduction Kit demonstrates how you can manage controllable losses through effective, accurate feedwater heater performance, which in turn reduces heat rate and fuel costs.

Heat Rate Facts for the Power Industry
Average Operating Heat Rate for Selected Energy Sources, 2011

Coal 10,444 Btu/kWh

Petroleum 10,829

Natural Gas 8,152

Nuclear 10,464

Average Tested Heat Rates by Prime Mover and Energy Source, 2011

  Coal Petroleum Natural Gas Nuclear



10,128 10,414 10,414 10,464
Gas Turbine - 13,637 11,569 -
Internal Combustion - 10,428 9,923 -
Combined Cycle - 10,650 7,603 -

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration