Steam Turbines Adapt to the Changing Power-Generating Landscape

by Carter Palmer, Power Systems Specialist, Forecast International.

Steam Turbine Production at LMZ.

Steam turbines have been the cornerstone of electrical power production since the late 19th century. Found to be more efficient than reciprocating engines, the steam turbine helped usher in a modern age. Utilizing steam gives the turbine flexibility in the fuel used to produce that steam. Anything that can burn is basically a candidate; however, lately the fuels themselves have become questionable. Countries around the world have been struggling to mitigate the burning of potentially eco-unfriendly fuels to create energy. So what is to become of the highly efficient steam turbine?

The steam turbine’s end is not near, as some have postulated.  Rather, its future seems bright assisting what was once seen as a rival, the gas turbine. Combined-cycle power generation continues to grow in popularity as energy producers look for cleaner ways to ply their trade.

Rather than wasting heat generated by a simple-cycle gas turbine – i.e., one in which a gas turbine is connected to a generator, a combined-cycle plant uses that excess heat to generate steam which then powers a steam turbine and in turn a generator. Recent advances in this system have resulted in an impressive 60 percent efficiency, and the mark is steadily increasing. Powered mainly by natural gas, these systems promise efficient, clean energy.

The steam turbine has therefore found a niche in the electrical power generation market.

The companies producing these turbines for combined-cycle generation span the globe and are forecast to maintain steady production to 2031. The major players producing steam turbines are GE Energy, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Siemens, Alstom, and Doosan Škoda. Combined, these companies account for over 80 percent of the world market share in terms of value.

According to Forecast International, worldwide unit production for the 2017-2031 period will hover at an average of 186 combined-cycle steam turbines a year. This translates to an $8 billion-a-year market for the 2017-2031 timeframe. The top five companies will account for close to 80 percent of the total steam turbine unit production for combined-cycle plants. The remaining companies still account for a sizable portion of the market and will include names such as LMZ, MAN and Toshiba.

Steam turbines are far from being resigned to the scrapheap. To the contrary, their use in combined-cycle installations proves that an old dog can learn new tricks.

Please feel free to use this content with Forecast International and analyst attributions, along with a link to the article. Contact Ray Peterson at +1 (203) 426-0800 or via email at ray.peterson@forecast1.com for additional analysis.


The Industrial & Marine Turbine Forecast (Gas & Steam) covers turbines ranging from 1,200 kW to over 300 MW in power. This product features detailed coverage of simple- and combined-cycle power generation turbines, mechanical drive equipment used in the oil and gas industry, and marine propulsion units, providing unique insight into the market trends that dominate the I&M sector and the operational requirements that drive those trends.