Siemens Power Generation has achieved first firing of its 8000H gas turbine at the Irsching 4 power plant in Germany, marking a major milestone in the commercialisation of Siemens’ latest and most advanced gas turbine technology.

The SGT5-8000H is the world’s largest and most powerful gas turbine and will, says Siemens, play an instrumental role in the fight against climate change.

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Consequently the objective is to not only meet the continuously increasing demand for electrical energy reliably and economically, but above all in a manner that is climatically-compatible,” said Dr Uriel Sharef, member of the board at Siemens AG.

Siemens says that first firing was achieved on schedule on December 20, 2007. The turbine will undergo an 18-month trial operation at the E.On-owned Irsching plant.

After the trial operation, the 8000H unit will be converted to a 530 MW combined cycle power plant with a peak load efficiency of over 60 per cent. Handover of this plant to E.On Kraftwerke is expected to take place in 2011.

Siemens and E.On are together investing a total of Euros 500 million in the Irsching project, which is a major part of E.On’s planned investments in environmentally benign generating technologies.

“Combating climate change has become one of the cardinal challenges in our business. E.On is planning investments totaling 60 billion euros by 2010,” said Dr. Klaus-Dieter Maubach, chairman of the board at E.On Energie AG. “The major part of this will be in new and environmentally benign generating capacities. The Irsching location is an outstanding example of this: Irsching 4 will achieve an efficiency of over 60 per cent, in itself a quantum leap in power plant engineering.”

At Irsching the 8000H unit will undergo extensive field testing and validation under real operating conditions. After start-up, part-load and base-load validation operation of the plant, a comprehensive endurance testing phase will be conducted. The prototype engine will be equipped with about 3000 measuring sensors.

The 8000H marks the latest addition to Siemens’ advanced gas turbine product line and was developed following the merger of Siemens’ and Westinghouse’s power generation businesses. An international team of over 250 engineers and 500 employees was involved in the development and manufacture of this first unit, according to Siemens.

Development of the 60 Hz version of this latest technology, the SGT6-8000H, will be completed after validation of the 50 Hz unit at Irsching. Siemens also plans to develop a 60 Hz combined cycle power plant in multi-shaft configuration.

The SGT5-8000H is an advanced, air-cooled machine that incorporates a number of technical innovations as well as current, proven technologies. It features a new compressor that has been tested at Siemens’ test bed facility in Berlin, while all key gas turbine components were pre-validated prior to final assembly of the turbine.