Five strategies for sustainable, resilient and efficient thermal power generation
The economics of power generation have been upended over the past several years. Whether building a new power plant or operating an existing fleet, utilities and power producers face increasing challenges. Renewable energy continues to take market share from fossil fuels, most notably coal, whose use remains in decline across the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. Countries such as India and China remain reliant on coal for much of their generation, but new coal plants must be designed with advanced emissions reduction technology to meet enhanced pollution standards. Combined cycle natural gas-fired plants also must be more efficient, using new technology to produce reliable power while keeping operations and maintenance costs in check. Electricity producers more than ever must utilize technological advances and cost-saving methods to remain viable in a highly competitive landscape. This paper describes the following five strategies to help power utilities face the new economic challenges as well as to operate more sustainably:
- Strategy 1: Integrated engineering and asset information management
- Strategy 2: Integrated simulation and learning through the asset lifecycle
- Strategy 3: Integrated Electrical Instrumentation and Control (EI&C) project execution
- Strategy 4: Integrated asset performance management
- Strategy 5: Making power generation more sustainable
The benefits of implementing these five (5) strategies are:
- Improve engineering efficiency: Increase efficiency of engineering, design, and construction to remain competitive and profitable, while driving out avoidable waste, risk, and rework. Integrated data-centric applications enable engineers to collaborate more effectively across project disciplines and locations. Eliminate rework with the ability to detect errors during the design stage, leading to 20% improvements in engineering efficiency.
- Maximize capital and project efficiency: The unification of instrumentation, control, and safety systems along with electrical management systems into a digital environment enables innovation and mitigates capital project investment risks, reducing overall project capital costs by up to 15%.
- Increase fleet-wide reliability and performance: The combination of assets with connected devices, and most importantly, the data captured for each of these assets, introduces the need for technology solutions to harmonize disparate data, as well as provide a single view into maintenance needs, downtime predictions, and scheduling of proactive maintenance. The increased reliability translates to one-sixth fewer unplanned shutdowns.
- Edge-to-enterprise visibility: In many facilities today, constantly changing asset data is hard to find because it is saved in non-standard formats on stand-alone applications. It is not instantly available when you need to make a quick decision, making it difficult to measure completeness, consistency, and accuracy. The solution is a network of connected data that allows faster, easier and contextualized visibility by anyone, anywhere, on any device, at any time.
- Empower the operation workforce: Reducing time-to-competency has become a major issue to sustaining productivity. Also, a change in the generation mix from coal fired to natural gas and renewables requires an agile workforce that can be trained to safely operate with transitioning power generation. A continuous improvement process requires more integrated training that is key to workforce empowerment and retention, resulting in 50% reduction in training costs and 7X more knowledge retention. 03 Five strategies for sustainable, resilient and efficient thermal power generation
- Increased sustainability: Power plant optimization from design through operation requires lower resource usage, as well as lower byproduct waste. (ash and GHG gases). Producing more with less can reduce carbon footprint by 7 to 12%.
- Cybersecurity: Power plant owners and operators are rightfully sensitive to cybersecurity vulnerability. As the number of connected devices increases, the risk to maintaining secure operations also increases. The rationale for industrial modernization must include mitigating cybersecurity risks, in addition to adhering to new compliance measures, changes in capabilities and equipping an evolving workforce demography. Software and hardware providers must adhere to strict cybersecurity compliance procedures during the development and installation of a solution. Once installed, the cybersecurity system must be monitored and maintained to keep pace with evolving technologies to safeguard against threats.