How to make an O&M agreement the star of your plant operation ” and your enterprise

Both new and established power generation companies today face many common challenges, from integrating intermittent renewable energy into the grid to adjusting their businesses to meet changing energy demands. To stay competitive in evolving energy markets around the world, there is a heightened need to cross new performance barriers while reducing operating costs, and risk, as much as possible.

Power producers are responding to these dynamics by thoroughly reviewing all aspects of their business. For an increasing number of companies, the answer lies in enlisting the support of third-party operations and maintenance (O&M) providers. These partners in power generation come equipped with the first-hand knowledge and advanced technologies needed to reliably deliver better performance outcomes from their facilities.

While the ultimate motivation to pursue O&M agreements varies from company to company and plant to plant, there are three main factors driving the transition to this business model:

  1. Owners looking to run their plants on their own may have limited operational experience. Even for those with experience in the industry, the integration of renewables and distributed energy sources in many countries is creating additional operational challenges. Plant owners may rely on O&M service providers to deliver strong performance today while preparing their facilities and their teams for the future.
  2. Enlisting the support of O&M service providers can help plant owners better manage their variable and fixed costs. In regions with slow electricity demand growth, plants may run less than in the past, lowering variable fuel costs. O&M, on the other hand, represents a relatively fixed cost that can often be more effectively managed by working with an O&M service provider who can provide more flexible staffing and digital solutions commensurate with the plant’s capacity factor.
  3. Investors taking ownership of power generation assets typically lack the in-house capabilities to operate their plants. Through an O&M agreement, investors can concentrate on their core business while the service provider ensures the assets are operated at the highest standards with predictable costs.

One team, one focus

Reputable O&M service providers are more than contracted support. They are onsite experts with the visibility and vision to help set and achieve key performance indicators (KPIs) important to the customer’s business. They serve as trusted advisors with the tools and resources to enhance the plant’s capabilities while increasing reliability, efficiency, flexibility ” or virtually any combination of the owner’s desired outcomes. And they are committed to help achieve performance improvements through tailor-made agreements covering the specified life of the plant.

For example, a gas plant O&M service provider in a region with growing energy demand may recommend a turbine upgrade specifically designed to increase the existing facility’s output. While hardware modifications can often unleash new potential on their own, today’s O&M providers should also look beyond physical upgrades to further improve performance. As part of its initial and ongoing O&M support, GE will identify opportunities to integrate the latest digital solutions to drive plant performance to new levels.

The GE advantage

In our view, the key to providing exceptional value is delivering customized solutions in a way that supports customers’ business models and changing needs.

With Fleet360* total plant solutions portfolio spanning 90+ OEM brands, GE currently manages nearly 50 O&M sites around the world with performance guarantees and built-in flexibility to adapt to changing needs over time.

A proactive approach to asset management, coupled with the ability to lower customers’ business risk through a model of shared responsibility translates to more certainty for power producers operating in a volatile industry and markets.à‚  A global team of specialized O&M experts helps ensure quick-response support from local resources, and the company’s commitment to delivering the flexibility customers need is bolstered through ongoing access to new, advanced technologies.

In Brazil, GE has partnered with Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe S.A. (CELSE) to build and maintain the largest gas power plant in Latin America ” Porto de Sergipe. Under a 25-year MYA, GE will provide comprehensive O&M services that include maintaining the plant’s gas and steam turbines, auxiliary components and control systems and installing a suite of GE software solutions specially designed to optimize the plant’s operations and protect against cyber threats.

Through a separate agreement, GE will collaborate with Sonelgaz SPE to operate and maintain 10 power plants throughout Algeria to improve efficiencies and deliver 420 megawatts of additional power while saving up to $2 billion in fuel costs. GE will provide a tailored set of integrated hardware and software solutions, as well as O&M training for Sonelgaz staff.

One distinct advantage of choosing GE is the visibility provided by its digital solutions. Drawing on more than 150 million hours of operating data, our team customizes software solutions that help customers sidestep potential issues that could result in downtime, optimize plant-level performance and even align plant operations with other business activities such as trading strategies. The power of combining hardware and software is the key to eliminating potential system-level “bottlenecks” and “downstream impacts” that need to be accounted for and solved when maintaining and enhancing plant operations.

Whether planning for the next two years or two decades, GE has the global ” and local ” know-how, capabilities and resources to help power producers improve their plants’ performance, deliver on their desired outcomes and become increasingly competitive in today’s evolving energy markets.

To learn more about enhancing your plant’s O&M by partnering with GE, click here or email GE Power’s general manager of O&M sales, Olaf Preuss, at olaf.preuss@ge.com.

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