Italian utility A2A Group is reaping the benefits of deploying digital technology at four of its gas-fired power plants.

The company has seen an improvement in the flexibility, efficiency and reliability of the Chivasso, Sermide, Cassano and Monfalcone plants in Piemonte and Lombardia.

The digital boost is the latest result of a long-term partnership with GE, which originally installed the steam turbine at the Chivasso plant in 1952.

“We are continuing to digitize our power plants to both modernize the facilities and improve their efficiency,” said A2A chief executive Valerio Camerano. “These initiatives are putting us on a path that will help us make the four plants more flexible to quickly adapt to market conditions, while also improving the environmental footprint and reducing operating costs.”

A2A first adopted GE’s Operations Performance Management (OPM) software at the 1179 MW Chivasso plant in 2015 and the digital solutions helped to make Chivasso competitive in the ancillary service segment.

Meanwhile, GE also increased the flexibility of the plant by achieving a 65 MW-per-gas-turbine minimum load level – currently the best in GE’s 9FA fleet – and enabled load ramping at up to 50 MW per minute, or two-and-a-half times the normal rate.

Now Chivasso has installed GE’s Predix Asset Performance Management (APM) solution and also upgraded its steam turbine, which was manufactured by Ansaldo. GE said that following the heat retention upgrade, the steam turbine “reduced drastically its startup time to 90 minutes from warm start”.

The APM software has also been installed at the Cassano and planta, while the OPM software has been deloyed at the Sermide plant.

“We are pleased to collaborate with A2A and continue to deploy GE’s technologies at its power plants across Italy,” said Michael Rechsteiner, chief executive of GE’s Power Services business in Europe.  “We are helping A2A increase the flexibility of its plants, and ultimately increase their competitiveness in Italy.”

Digitalization in power generation will be a key focus of POWERGEN Europe in paris later this year. Click here for details about the event, which is co-located with European Utility Week.