Congratulations to Gordon McFarland, senior power plant performance analyst with Emerson’s Power & Water Solutions division for receiving the ISA’s Standards & Practices Award. The award recognizes Gordon for his leadership in the initial development of fossil power plant standards, and for 25 years of continuous support and direction of those standards.
I caught up with Gordon who has 37 plus years in the power industry helping power producers get the most out of their control systems, including the Ovation system and non-Emerson systems. He applies this expertise as a primary technical lead in Premier Services performance improvement assessments. These assessments typically include a unit walk-down, plant personnel interviews, unit performance data collection, observation of unit operation, analysis of data and information collected, presentation of the results, and a final performance improvement assessment report. The team documents the actual unit control performance for deviation from the set points, control overshoots on ramping, ramp rates, unit net heat rate, forced outages and load de-rates directly and indirectly related to controls, and other parameters that may be important to overall performance.
Since 2000, Gordon has performed assessments on over 50 units, including drum type units, Once-Thru units, coal-fired and gas-fired units. On several of these, the performance was benchmarked by conducting “Before” and “After” performance tests to validate performance improvements on drum units, both coal-fired and gas-fired units, and on combined cycle units.
The goal of these assessments is to give power producers a roadmap to follow to achieve the possible unit performance improvements from improved control of the unit. These recommendations typically include field devices, control systems, operator interfaces, information and alarm management, and control room layout.
One thing Gordon and the team see almost every time in their evaluations is the need to have the basic regulatory control functions covered. This include single element and three element feed water control, steam temperature control, combustion control and unit front end control. The ISA SP 77 Fossil Fuel Power Plant Standards series covers the minimum recommended controls for these functions and they are a great starting point for good power plant control.
By applying his 37+ years of experience, Gordon has helped power producers in analyzing and improving their control performance and operating costs.