Increasing Power Plant Reliability via Smart Monitoring and Diagnostic Centers

Author: Douglas Morris

Today’s fossil power plants are faced with the challenge of stabilizing the fluctuating grid power supply due to renewable generation and, as a result, plants originally designed for base load are subject to load cycling. A principal consequence that cycling imposes is increased amounts of thermal stress (creep fatigue) on boilers and heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) which contributes to premature failures and forced outages. Along with this, overall reliability programs are increasingly important as utilities look to improve both unit and fleet availability.

The basis of most reliability programs is to identify potential problems, before they influence or cause an outage, by providing detailed insight into asset health. But reliability does not just help with maintenance, it has a significant impact on operations. In fact, Emerson’s Reliability Consulting group estimates that, with a top reliability program, operational savings are 5 to 10 times that of any maintenance savings.

One of the latest trends in the industry is to continuously monitor the health of more assets, including unit operations like boilers, through Smart Monitoring and Diagnostics (M&D) centers. This discipline focuses on both mechanical and electrical condition monitoring. A complete reliability program must include these monitoring functions, plus a renewed focus on control schemes that may be contributing to outages. For example, since cycling manifests itself in waterwall, tube and other boiler/HRSG pressure part damage, you must directly address the root cause of this thermal fatigue by mitigating the thermal effects of steam temperature excursions.

During the upcoming POWER-GEN conference in Orlando (December 13-15), Emerson will have experts in our booth #4206 to discuss reliability and control strategies to help improve unit and fleet availability. Technology will be exhibited that shows modern approaches to both electrical and mechanical condition monitoring, along with advanced control strategies to mitigate the root causes of temperature excursions that occur during unit cycling. Sign up here to get your free day pass to join us.

From Jim: You can also connect and interact with other power generation experts in the Power group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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