NOVEMBER 2018 – In just six months, a pipeline company that transports much of North America’s natural gas added 16 Capstone Microturbines to its 70-unit fleet in the Western United States.
Over the past 15 years, the company has replaced reciprocating engines with microturbines purchased from Capstone distributor Horizon Power Systems. The pipeline company has turned to microturbines because of their cost effectiveness. Capstone microturbines average 99% power availability, have much lower maintenance that requires fewer staff visits and thus lowers labor costs, and are environmentally friendly since no oil or lubricants are needed.
For the pipeline company, the clean and low-maintenance Capstone microturbines generate prime power to remote cathodic protection systems that produce electrical currents to help stop corrosion of metal pipelines. The microturbines also power gas monitoring, metering, and remote communications equipment.
Uninterrupted 24×7 power to the cathodic protection systems is critical to thwart corrosion that can result in leaks that endanger the environment and expensive repairs. The average 99 percent power availability of microturbines can result in a better safety record for the company’s pipelines that cross the continent.
Capstone microturbines outperform reciprocating engines in many ways. Reciprocating engines require regular maintenance and are environmentally unfriendly because of oil and lubricants that can leak and require careful disposal. In contrast, microturbines have only one moving part and don’t require oil or lubricants to operate.
“The cathodic protection systems are located in some remote areas where the pipes may transverse rugged terrain making service difficult during some seasons,” said Mark Williams, Corporate Account Manager for Horizon Power. “The company chose our microturbines because of their low maintenance, no threat of oil or lubricant leaks, and reduced labor costs since staff won’t need to visit each site as often to repair or maintain the power source. Together, these make the microturbines more cost effective.”