Control and automation key to successful plant operation

Paul Boughton

Sean Ottewell reports on how optimum electrical generation relies on the latest automation and control solutions.

Modern electricity generating plants increasingly rely on advanced automation and control solutions in order to meet their performance and environmental targets.

This is highlighted by the case of Asia, where more than half of the 1000MW ultra-supercritical coal-fired generating units in operation now use the Ovation control system from Emerson Process Management.

Although more challenging to control because of the high temperatures and pressures involved, ultra-supercritical technologies can boost the efficiency of coal-based electricity generation by approximately 40 per cent while reducing carbon and other emissions.

Emerson Process Management has now won a further contract, this time to install Ovation at two 1050MW, ultra-supercritical, coal-fired power generating units under construction at the Taean thermal power plant in South Korea. With this latest project, Ovation technology will be installed at five of South Korea's six largest coal-fired power plants.

Expected to come online in 2016, the new units will provide electricity required to support the growth of Asia's fourth-largest economy. The US $11 million (EUR8 million) contract was awarded by Daelim Industrial, one of South Korea's largest construction firms and the primary contractor for the Taean plant. The two new units will boost the plant's capacity to 6100MW, making the 10-unit power-generating facility the largest in the country.

At each of the two new units, the Ovation system will monitor and control all major plant components, including the BHK boiler and Hitachi turbine.

The system's ability to unify boiler and turbine operations was an important consideration in Daelim's selection of Emerson because tight control of boilers, turbines and balance-of-plant processes helps ensure more reliable and efficient plant operation.

Emerson will also supply process-optimisation technologies and a high-fidelity simulator for testing and training.

Ovation is also the technology of choice for a US$21 million (EUR15 million) modernisation of control and monitoring systems on unit two of the Belchatów power plant in Poland.

Owned by PGE Górnictwo I Energetyka Konwencjonalna, the 13 unit, 5354MW plant produces nearly 20 per cent of the power generated in Poland. It is Europe's largest thermal power plant and the largest lignite-fired plant in the world.

Updating the 370MW unit two is part of a major reconstruction and modernisation programme to extend the life of the plant by boosting efficiency and reliability, reducing emissions, and enhancing its ability to meet demand from the national electrical grid.

Automation technologies will include Emerson's Ovation expert control system, Rosemount wireless measurement and analytical equipment, AMS Suite predictive maintenance software, and CSI Monitor for turbine vibration analysis.

This is the 11th Belchatów unit that Emerson has been selected to help modernise and unit two is expected to return to service in 2017.

Predictive diagnostics

In a separate development, Emerson has also introduced an integrated predictive diagnostics and protection system that offers real-time monitoring to improve reliability for all major types of hydro turbines (Fig. 1).

The company says that the predictive diagnostics help maximise availability and reduce maintenance costs while the protection system helps hydro power plants avoid catastrophic failure and comply with safety, health and environment regulations.

"We are applying our expertise with predictive diagnostics to hydroelectric turbines - giving users the ability to proactively address equipment issues before they impact performance or safety," said Nathan Pettus, vice president of Emerson's machinery health management business.

New from Honeywell is the DynAMo alarm suite. It is designed to help the operators of power and other process plants identify and address the most important automation alarms.

According to the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium, ineffective management of nuisance alarms can lead to incidents that cost industry billions of dollars, and pose an increased risk of fatigue and stress for operators who must constantly make instant decisions on how to respond when an alarm sounds.

"When operators are forced to deal with hundreds of alarms at any given point in time, there is increased risk to safety, not to mention process efficiency," said Vimal Kapur, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Process Solutions Advanced Solutions business. "The DynAMo alarm suite is an effective tool for optimising alarm management programmes to prevent alarm floods and 'chatter,' and reduce operator stress. The software offers a layer of protection to minimise unplanned outages, safety incidents and environmental releases."

DynAMo alarm suite can be integrated with Honeywell's Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS), as well as any other control system.

Meanwhile Invensys has unveiled its new Foxboro Evo process automation system that aims to improve operational insight and integrity.

The Foxboro Evo process automation system has evolved directly from Foxboro I/A Series and Triconex technology, both entrusted to control and protect some of the world's largest, most complex facilities and known for their innovative, layered architecture. The system extends this approach through a component object-based platform, which can undergo major upgrades without halting operations.

"With more powerful processing capacity and other new, advanced applications, the system allows our customers to uncover new and hidden value from within their operations," said Gary Freburger, president of Invensys' systems business.

Alliance extends turbine retrofit projects in the Americas

Emerson Process Management and Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas (MPSA) have extended their alliance for turbine retrofit projects in the Americas.

The alliance brings together Emerson's expertise designing and engineering automation and control systems for the power industry with MPSA's extensive experience in gas and steam turbine technology and service, providing power generators with an alternative to their original controls, service and parts supplier for long-term turbine support.

Established in 2008, the alliance supports retrofits of W501F, W501B, W501D5A, W501A, W501D5 and W251 gas turbines, as well as all models of Mitsubishi and Westinghouse technology steam turbines. MPSA has valuable expertise on Westinghouse technology turbines since Mitsubishi was involved in the design and development of this technology through licensing and alliance agreements with Westinghouse.

Mitsubishi's ongoing advancements in 501 series gas turbine technology have resulted in the successful design and operation of the company's high efficiency G-series and J-series gas turbines. Today, the company continues to support and modernise the original Westinghouse technology platform by supplying technological advancements that are directly applicable to the Westinghouse fleet.

Emerson and MPSA have collaborated on a number of turbine retrofit projects and are currently performing mechanical upgrades and installing the Ovation control system at two power plants in Texas.

"The success of our alliance with MPSA is a clear indication that power generators were hungry for an OEM alternative for their gas and steam turbine retrofits," said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson Process Management's Power & Water Solutions.

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