GE announced the initiation of a new software platform aimed at increasing the reliability of power plants on Tuesday, on the eve of the POWER-GEN Europe conference, in Amsterdam.

The 445 MW Whitegate combined cycle power station in County Cork, in the south of Ireland is the first such facility in the world to install GE’s Reliability Excellence Software solution. It’s a vital plant for Ireland, as it produces enough power for 10 per cent of the country’s households.
Whitegate power plant
Ramon Paramio, Europe General Manager, Power Generaton Services, GE Power & Water told Power Engineering International at the announcement, “with Ireland’s growing proportion of renewable power capacity, Whitegate is important for the country in terms of balancing. The Irish government is aiming at 40 per cent renewables by 2020 so this technology is integral in back-boning a plant essential for the country’s transmission system operator.”

The pioneering software is set to reinforce the plant’s ability to prove itself in terms of reliable on-demand energy capacity and could well serve as a model for European utilities in general. The (Centrica subsidiary) Bord Gais-run plant needed to reduce operational expenditure, while still increasing reliability all the while in the face of an evolving regulatory landscape.

Through the installation of 141 sensors, 24/7 monitoring and decision support, 300 advanced early warning failure mechanism algorithms and anomaly detectors (including parts degradation), Whitegate is set to hugely benefit with GE’s solution helping Bord Gais make the most of the facility’s planned outages.

The software means operational anomalies such as combustion dynamic issues and parts degradation can be identified and resolved in a timely fashion, avoiding more serious consequences that could put the plant offline for costly unplanned repairs.

Margherita Adragna , GE’s Regional Services Leader, Europe also illustrated at the press conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening some of the credentials offered by GE’s current fleet of software in the gas-fired plant sphere, including the myPlant 2.0 beta solution, which he described as managing uncertainty with asset performance management.

“One such case study involves managing the date involved from over 617,000 managed sensors, 3.5 Terabytes in all, with more than 4500 connected units. This software has the analytic capability to use the data in a productive way,” Adragna said. “What it adds up to is reduced unplanned downtime with 50 per cent of the plant’s issues being fixed remotely. That’s huge for productivity for the customer.”

“We can also evaluate what part is about to fail, and what technician should be sent out. If you have a planned outage, we can wait, moving risk from downtime to planned outages. An example in the case mentioned saw bearing sensors pick up an issue with low lubrication. If that lubricant not added, it would have taken 6-8 weeks to get the engine repaired and back up again. We see that remotely and instruct to add lubrication, saving the consumer $160,000.”

Reliability Excellence technologies are powered by a GE platform called Predix. Representing an industrial cloud-based platform, the fully connected and secure cloud environment unifies the flow of data across all plant and fleet assets, delivering the enterprise visibility and insights needed to help optimise power plant, fleet and business operations.

Paramio says the Whitegate project will demonstrate that greater reliability, ‘while enabling the operator to make better decisions based on real-time operational readiness.’

GE also used the Amsterdam event to announce details of a new long term service agreement for another combined cycle power plant, this time in Russia.

The company signed a 16-year service agreement with OJSC Generating Company for the 410 MW Kazanskaya CHP2 gas-fired power plant in Kazan, Tatarstan where its significant local service presence and gas turbine technology expertise are to be utilised to ensure the plant’s long-term availability.

Director of the plant, Galiullin Radik Zavitovich said, “We expect the services provided by the GE team to help us extend the turbine’s life cycle, improving performance and ensuring CHP operating status.”