Russia's Surgut-2 power plant
Russia’s Surgut-2 power plant
Credit: EPM

Modern control systems can optimize power plant efficiency, availability, flexibility and cost, and may be one answer to the instability arising from increased amounts of variable power generation on the grid. Here we highlight key innovations in automation projects across power sectors.

Automation upgrade for Russia’s largest thermal power plant

To help improve operational efficiencies and reliability, an 800 MW unit of Russia’s Surgut-2 plant, one of Europe’s largest thermal power plants, went from vintage controls to an upgraded automation system using Emerson Process Management’s Ovation expert control system.

Emerson, the main automation contractor for the project, completed the upgrade during a four-month shutdown. A team of specialists from Emerson’s St Petersburg Engineering Center used their experience on power-industry projects to ensure the timely implementation of the control system. Special software tools, standardized approaches to automation challenges, and the modular architecture of the Ovation system helped minimize adjustments and reduce overall project execution time.

The Surgut-2 station uses natural gas coming from the Tyumen Region’s oil fields. Based on annual output, the plant is one of the biggest thermal power stations in the world, producing more than 35 billion kWh per year.

The new integrated system enables automated operation of the entire power unit, including electrical controls for turbine generators and pumps, boiler and burner controls, and unit power and frequency control and coordination. It also provides real-time monitoring of equipment and timely notification of abnormal situations, and helps determine equipment health so technicians can schedule maintenance and repairs more efficiently.

The upgrade helped to enhance the manageability of station equipment, tighten control across all operating ranges, and improve the unit’s dynamic behaviour.

The upgraded automation enables the Surgut-2 power plant to adjust the unit’s output to meet market needs. As the plant supplies power and heat to Western Siberia and the Ural region and is the most powerful thermal plant in Russia, customers in those regions should notice the improvements soon.

New control system modernizes super-efficient Danish power plant

Avedøre 1 CHP plant
Avedøre 1 CHP plant
Credit: ABB

DONG Energy’s Avedøre 1 combined heat and power plant, in Denmark, was commissioned 22 years ago. To boost the plant’s efficiency and performance, ABB replaced its control systems with the Symphony Plus system with AC 870P controllers.

The plant consists of two units, which produce electricity and district heating for Copenhagen using mainly coal, but also some oil, as primary energy sources.

Avedøre 1 produces 250 MW of power without district heating, and 215 MW of power plus 330 MJ/s of heat in combined operation.

The plant originally used two different control systems for boiler and turbine automation. With the new system, both boiler and turbine will be automated with Symphony Plus. The AC 870P controllers will be used in combination with the operator control system S+ Operations. This harmonization provides significant advantages in operation, maintenance and spare parts inventory.

High-voltage SCADA systems help UK wind farm network reduce costs

RWE npower renewables
Wind assets
Credit: RWE npower renewables

RWE npower renewables, one of the UK’s biggest renewable energy developers and operators, is using high-voltage SCADA systems from Emerson Process Management as part of a standardized approach across its wind assets. The systems provide comprehensive visibility and control of the high voltage electrical network at wind farm and control centre levels, helping to increase availability and reduce costs.

The installations at Novar 2 wind farm in Scotland and at Kiln Pit Hill and Hellrigg in northern England are now fully integrated into the company’s existing portfolio SCADA system DCDAS (Distributed Control & Data Acquisition System). Thirty wind farms are currently integrated into the system with an installed capacity of approximately 800 MW, the majority onshore but with two offshore wind farms off the North Wales coast.

The high voltage SCADA solution at RWE npower’s wind farms is based on Emerson’s OpenEnterprise package, which consists of a single OpenEnterprise Server, ControlWave Micro RTUs (Remote Terminal Units) and third-party OPC Servers.

The ControlWave Micro RTU is a highly programmable controller that combines the capabilities of a programmable logic controller (PLC) and a RTU into a single hybrid controller. The ControlWave Micro can maximize the performance of a wide range of control systems, with a design emphasis on low power consumption, scalability and modularity.

Each wind turbine has a single ControlWave Micro RTU, which is used to control and monitor the turbines’ high voltage switchgear, as well as software interfaces to third-party measurement transducers.

“The DCDAS system provides real-time data for live monitoring and control of our wind assets from our 24/7 control centre in Swindon, UK,” said Paul Witchard, SCADA systems manager at RWE npower renewables. “The high-voltage SCADA system uses the same communications infrastructure as DCDAS to enable monitoring and control of the high-voltage switchgear, either locally or remotely. This will help us maximize availability and revenue, make fewer site visits, and improve maintenance scheduling.”

Performance optimization for large combined-cycle power plants in Italy

Ferrera Erbognone power plant
Ferrera Erbognone power plant
Credit: Enipower

Enipower’s combined-cycle power plant at Ferrera Erbognone in Italy has installed an innovative system to monitor and control the performance of main components, allowing optimization of the overall plant performance.

The system from ABB is based on Symphony Plus, the newest plant automation platform for the power and water industries, designed to provide maximum system flexibility, reliability and efficiency. Symphony Plus provides operators with a complete overview of the plant as well as immediate access to all site assets in real time.

Ferrera Erbognone is composed of three combined-cycle units: two 390 MW twin natural gas fired units and one 240 MW unit that can be fed by syngas or natural gas. The plant’s total capacity is about 1000 MW.

The plant’s power is currently dispatched to the power market, with only 50 MW diverted to a nearby refinery owned by Eni. The gas accounts for 93 per cent of the total plant expenditure and represents the highest cost item: each unit consumes 450 million m3/year of natural gas.

In a strongly competitive power scenario where margins are loose, there is a need to use advanced tools to detect any kind of inefficiencies in the performance of the plant in order to immediately react. ABB’s solution is able to calculate performances and compare them in real time to those expected according to specifications. ABB’s solution has been selected by Enipower for all its combined cycle plants, i.e. Mantova, Ferrera Erbognone, Brindisi, Ravenna and Ferrara.

The monitoring and control system provides the highest accuracy on plant efficiency as it allows for monitoring of the activity of each plant component: gas turbine, heat recovery steam generator, steam turbine and condenser. The system detects the performance ratio and consumption level of each component and highlights main deviations. The real-time calculation takes into account all possible setups. At Ferrera the optimization capacity has been exploited to reduce gas consumption during the winter.

The gas consumption reduction obtained thanks to ABB’s solution has been calculated at over 4 million m3/year, which equals 3547 TEP/year and a CO2 emission reduction of 8500 tonnes/year.


Control systems upgrade for Spanish CHP plant

EnergyWorks Cartagena CHP plant
EnergyWorks Cartagena CHP plant
Credit: EPM

Emerson Process Management has upgraded the control systems at Iberdrola’s EnergyWorks Cartagena combined heat and power power plant in Spain, with the latest version of its Ovation expert control system.

The plant is located in Murcia on Spain’s southeastern coast. Fired by natural gas, the 95 MW combined-cycle cogeneration facility supplies process steam and power to the local plastics factory. The existing control systems needed to be upgraded to improve plant responsiveness, extend the life of the plant and maximise production efficiencies.

Emerson supplied four pairs of redundant Ovation controllers, installed the operating software and implemented the changeover during a scheduled plant shutdown.

The Ovation control system is designed to easily incorporate the latest developments in communications, data processing and advanced applications. The control systems are split into two sections, one covering the CHP plant and the other covering the separate package boilers. While the CHP plant was modernized, the package boilers generated the steam required by the plastics factory. Steam generation then reverted to the CHP plant during the upgrade of the package boilers, ensuring that the steam supply was uninterrupted and that local operation of auxiliary services was maintained.

Since project completion in February 2012, reliability and efficiency have improved and faster system response has enabled the plant to react more quickly to changes in demand.

Automation powers UK electricity demand

Keadby Power Station
Keadby Power Station
Credit: woodtyke

SSE’s Keadby power station at Scunthorpe in England, which began commercial operation in 1996, is a 720-MW combined-cycle gas turbine generating facility. It includes two GE frame 9FA gas turbines, one Alstom steam turbine, two Babcock three-pressure waste heat recovery boilers and a Siemens GT10B auxiliary gas turbine.

When the facility’s moderate-sized Distributed Control System (DCS) was approaching plant-wide obsolescence, SSE decided to upgrade to Invensys’ InFusion environment. InFusion is a delivery mechanism for enterprise control. It consists of the hardware and software components necessary to provide a true aggregated view of information across an organization.

The new DCS had to address the pressing obsolescence issues and remain current for the remainder of the plant’s expected service life. Sufficient expandability in terms of controller memory, I/O capacity and network bandwidth together with simplified online configuration was also a key requirement. Because of the potential impact on operating procedures and other human factors, engineers also specified that the new plant solution should maintain the existing control strategies and HMI interface standards.

“We now have a supportable system with the capacity we need to proceed with control improvements,” said Hugh Ferguson, C&I engineer and DCS upgrade project manager at the power station.

“It has been possible to retain much of the look and feel of the previous system but make improvements to consistency, operability and system configurability,” he added.

Total automation for French coal-fired plants

Cordemais power plant
Cordemais power plant
Credit: Clément Bucco-Lechat

French utility EDF has initiated an extensive programme to modernize its Le Havre 4 and Cordemais 4 and 5 coal-fired units in order to extend the plants’ operating life by 20 years to 2035.

The plants are the largest coal-fired units in EDF’s fleet and were built to an identical design in the early 1980s. Each has a generating capacity of 600 MW.

As part of the modernization programme, which includes revamping the electromechanical and process equipment, obsolete distributed control systems will be replaced with state-of-the-art total plant automation systems from ABB.

The Symphony Plus solution for each unit consists of a distributed control system, turbine control and protection, S+ Operations HMI, and a process optimization package. ABB will also supply a simulator for operator training and process simulation.

The new systems will be installed during scheduled annual shutdowns over a four-year period ending in 2016.

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