Maintenance and operations key to efficient energy production

Paul Boughton

The need for power plants to be reliable, flexible and efficient is driving demand for maintenance and operations services and technologies,

GDF SUEZ Energy North America has awarded Alstom a long-term service contract to give its power plant fleet new flexibility. Under the terms of this EUR360 million contract, Alstom will provide comprehensive maintenance services and gas turbine upgrade packages for four GDF SUEZ natural gas-fired power stations. The plants together use 14 Alstom GT24 gas turbines and generate enough electricity to power more than three million homes in Texas and Massachusetts.

"Reliability, flexibility, and efficiency drive performance in our generation business," said Herman Schopman, president and ceo of GDF SUEZ Energy Generation. "This service contract underscores the importance we place on those attributes, and we are pleased to partner with Alstom to continue working on them for the long term."

Alstom's responsibilities for the Midlothian and Hays plants in Texas, and Bellingham and Blackstone power plants in Massachusetts, include management and provision of replacement parts, technical field advisors and gas turbine services for their 14 power generating units over the life of the contract. The first upgrade installation is scheduled for the end of 2014.

Maximising power output

Alstom will upgrade the turbines with features enabling plant operators to switch between operating modes based on electricity market demand without taking the plant offline. The first operating mode included in this upgrade package maximises power output during periods of peak demand while the second lowers the cost of running and maintaining the gas turbines by increasing the time between service inspections. This boost in operational flexibility is particularly important in the highly-competitive Texas electricity market where plants are often called on to rapidly increase and decrease power output.

"Alstom has invested heavily in advancing its natural gas power generating technologies to better meet the long-term needs of its customers," according to Hans-Peter Meer, senior vice president of Alstom's thermal services business. "For GDF SUEZ Energy North America, those investments will translate into bottom-line benefits once the GT24 upgraded fleet is performing to the new standard in operational flexibility."

The four power stations included in this agreement constitute the largest fleet of Alstom GT24 gas turbines owned by a single customer, and the company has provided service support for the plants since they entered commercial service.

Hydro plant upgrade

Meanwhile RusHydro and Alstom have signed two agreements extending their co-operation within the AlstomRusHydroEnergy joint venture (JV) for the reconstruction and upgrading of the Cascade Kubansky hydro power plants in south Russia.

The first agreement covers the strategic development of AlstomRusHydroEnergy. With the aim of strengthening the cooperation of the two companies in the field of hydro power, the agreement extends the scope of the JV to services including the inspection of power plants, supply of spare parts and components, retooling and the repair and upgrade of equipment. Both parties also intend to extend their cooperation to include innovation and R&D activities.

The second agreement details the key principles and timelines of the contract signed in 2011 for the reconstruction and upgrade of the Cascade Kubansky hydro power plants. The project is for the modernisation of eight hydropower plants and the pumped storage plant. Alstom will manufacture and deliver the equipment as well as supervising the installation, tests and commissioning of the power plants, using its advanced technical know-how and state-of-the-art technologies, particularly for the automation of the Nevinnomyssk control centre.

Diablo Canyon contract extension

For its part, Fluor has announced that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has awarded the company an extension of its operations and maintenance (O&M) contract for work at PG&E's Diablo Canyon Power Plant Units 1 and 2 in Avila Beach, California.

At Diablo Canyon, which produces 18,000GWh annually, Fluor will continue to provide ongoing maintenance, modification and outage services for PG&E's two nuclear generating units. The work encompasses mechanical, electrical and civil tasks during non-outage and outage periods. Fluor was awarded the initial O&M contract in May 2010.

"Fluor is pleased to extend our operations and maintenance services for PG&E," said Matt McSorley, senior vice president and head of Fluor's Power business. "Diablo Canyon features an exemplary safety record while providing clean, reliable energy to millions of Californians. Fluor looks forward to continuing that tradition of safety excellence while maintaining this significant facility."

The Diablo Canyon power plant, which has operated since 1985, features two pressurised water reactor units to produce energy for more than three million residents of northern and central California.

Fluor has also been awarded a five-year operations and maintenance services contract by Arlington Valley Solar Energy II (AVSE II), a member of LS Power Group, for the company's new solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in Arizona.

"Fluor is looking forward to continuing our work on the AVSE II project as we complete the construction phase and move into operations and maintenance," said Matt McSorley, senior vice president of Fluor's power business. "Fluor has a 35-year legacy of providing O&M services to our customers in the power sector, and we are pleased to expand our work in the renewable energy market."

The nominal 125 MW PV facility, which Fluor is currently constructing, is located on approximately 1160 acres of land in Maricopa County, Arizona (Fig.1). When complete, the facility will supply renewable energy for the region and help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In October 2011, AVSE II awarded Fluor a lump-sum engineering, procurement and construction contract (EPC) to design and build the facility. Fluor is also responsible for the EPC of the Centinela solar energy facility, also owned by LS Power Group, in Southern California.

Turkish moves

ESB International has announced two major achievements for its international business. The company has won its first contract in Turkey and has also completed a major stage in the energy project it is managing in Tanzania, with the official switching in of a new 132kV submarine interconnector from Tanzania to Zanzibar Island.

The EUR30 million, six-year Turkish contract is being undertaken in partnership with investment company UNIT and will see ESB International operate and maintain the YeniElektrik power station, which is located south west of Istanbul. ESB International will also provide technical and engineering support to the plant.

ESB International and UNIT have formed a 50/50 joint venture company known as UNES to manage the contract for the plant, which will generate electricity as a merchant plant into the Turkish market.

ESB International operates in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia, establishing its first office in Turkey in 2012.

Commenting on the two achievements, John McSweeney, head of innovation at ESB, said: "We are delighted to be able to announce these projects, which we believe will impact positively on people's lives in both Tanzania and Turkey."

He added: "The Turkish power plant is capable of generating up to 3 per cent of electricity consumption in Turkey and the expansion of the electricity infrastructure in Tanzania will transform people's lives and offer new generations a bright future as it did in Ireland in the 1950s."

Yokogawa eyes Korea expansion

Yokogawa Electric Corporation subsidiary Yokogawa Electric Korea has won an order from Korea South-East Power (KOSEP) to supply control systems for the number 1 unit of the Yeosu thermal power plant in the city of Yeosu, which is located in Korea's South Jeolla Province.

The Yeosu plant has a 200 MW heavy oil-fired unit and a 329 MW coal-fired fluidised bed (CFB) unit with a current total capacity of 528MW. The number 1 heavy-oil fired unit is going to be replaced with another coal-fired CFB boiler and a steam turbine that will generate 350MW. The renewed unit is scheduled to start operation in November 2015.

This order is for a comprehensive range of control and instrumentation including CENTUM VP integrated production control systems for the power plant's boilers, turbine, and auxiliary facilities as well as engineering and installation. While turbine manufacturers generally also supply the control systems for their products, Yokogawa will be providing the turbine control system for this project.

Yokogawa Electric Korea has recently received many orders for international projects undertaken by Korean engineering, procurement, and construction contractors, and is a top supplier of control systems in its home market. The company says it was able to win this order because of the high reliability of Yokogawa's control systems, its excellent engineering capabilities, and its comprehensive maintenance services.

Encouraged by the success in winning this order, Yokogawa says it will expand its power business in Korea by offering appropriate solutions to developers of innovative technologies that generate power more efficiently and are environmentally-friendly.

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