High-Fidelity Simulator for EDF Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plants

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems, Event | 0 comments

During the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 in Düsseldorf, Nicolas Evrard, instrumentation and control engineer at Electricité de France (EDF), described a project to implement a simulator designed primarily for training operators of its combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants, but also helping them to make operational improvements.

EDF operates three CCGT power plants in France, located in Blenod, Martigues and Bouchain, each with different plant configurations and managed using different control systems. An existing operator training system was available to support the three plants, and there was considerable demand to use it because the plants are no longer being run for base load and operators need to be trained more regularly. However, there were several issues. Not all the configurations and control systems were covered, the hardware had become obsolete, and the system became outdated very quickly but was difficult to update. Another issue was that training staff were unfamiliar with the third-party modelling software. Also, the EDF cybersecurity rules were not considered within the existing simulator.

EDF recognized the plant simulator as an essential solution, supporting a range of tasks including plant commissioning, testing operator manuals, ensuring operators are trained under realistic conditions, and supporting engineering by testing major modifications before on-site integration.

Nicolas explained that a digital twin can have a significant impact on operations, helping to increase production and safety, and reduce emissions, by improving automation systems, and process control tuning and optimisation. It can also be used in relation to Hazard and Operability Analysis (HAZOP), Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA) and risk analysis, leading to improved safety and compliance with environmental regulations. By developing better start and stop procedures, handover and knowledge transfer, this helps to achieve safety and production improvements and lower emissions.

A new plant simulator was needed and EDF had a number of requirements. Firstly, it had to be easy to make changes, and offer high availability and secure remote access from all three power plants. It also needed to be HMI-compliant with the installed distributed control systems.

The Ovation™ Distributed Control System (DCS) from Emerson is used to operate two of the CCGT power plants, so EDF selected Ovation Embedded Simulation as the platform for the new simulator. Using the same platform as the DCS was a key benefit, but other reasons for its selection included the availability of virtual technology that enabled a reduction in required hardware. Models can be modified using standard engineering tools, and the solution easily tracks plant and technology changes. The ability to work with just one vendor for service, training and maintenance was another obvious benefit.

Ovation Embedded Simulation from Emerson was selected as the platform for the new simulator, supporting commissioning, testing, training and engineering.

Because of the different configurations and control systems at the three plants, Ovation Embedded Simulator utilizes two different models. The first is a mixed-fidelity model of the Blenod power plant, which has a multi-shaft configuration, but also includes the Martigues post-combustion set-up. The second is a high-fidelity model based on the Bouchain power plant, which has a single-shaft configuration together with a GE Mark Vie user interface.

The Ovation system offers the ability to mix simulation fidelities, which allows a high-fidelity focus on the complex portions of the plant combined with enhanced tie-back simulation for general equipment. The simulator is very scalable and can be tailored to meet operational challenges, with additional subsystems and functions incorporated in a phased approach.

The operator training environment consists of three operator workstations with simulations of the gas turbine, HRSG/steam turbine and the balance of plant. A wall screen displays the alarm management system, plus there is a station for virtual local operations. An instructor workstation provides a comprehensive environment for operator training, measuring and tracking operator actions, processing of KPIs and session scores, and creating records of each completed exercise.

The Ovation Embedded Simulator helps to simplify maintenance, with the training staff able to make simple edits and modifications. Annual maintenance of the model is performed to align its configuration and tuning to the behaviour of the real plant. Secure remote access is provided to Emerson service engineers. The simulator is based on a high-availability architecture with Emerson’s Cybersecurity Suite allowing secure remote access for both EDF and the Emerson services team.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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