The Optimisation Realisation

The Optimisation Realisation

Has plant optimisation been on your mind? We deep-dived into the topic recently with the Vice President of Global Strategy & Marketing at PSM, Jeff Benoit in preparation for the +Series upcoming next month. You are welcome in advance, Enlit fam!

When considering the recent developments in Operation and Maintenance (O&M), what would you say if you were asked what can O&M accomplish today, which may not have been possible years ago? Benoit noted, for one thing, plant O&M today is far more advanced in evaluating individual systems as one entity today than five years ago. “Digital technologies maximize the flexibility of plant operation specifically finding optimizations that provide improvements… often plant equipment was commissioned as individual systems, such as GT, HRSG, ST, etc. and never combined into one operation,” Benoit said. The change of digital technology now merging several data streams has allowed O&M to optimize a plant in totality. To highlight this point, Benoit said, “for example: allowing HRSG drums to be better tuned to transient ST cycling requirements rather than baseload operation or planning maintenance based on grid operation not just plant equipment requirements.”

Now with a greater grasp of Benoit’s viewpoint on O&M advancements, we turned our attention to retrofits. With realism at the forefront, there are some plants where retrofitting is not advantageous. “Not all assets make sense to retrofit; this could be the result of a change in the power company’s mission, an acquisition, societal pressure regarding the environment, and regulatory changes that impact the profitability of a plant.” Benoit’s estimation is, however, there will be an uptick of ‘repurposing’ of many current power assets, mostly gas turbine and power plant assets. “Gas Turbine power plants, which a generation ago were considered baseload assets to run for 25 years, are now viewed in a new light; with retrofit technology, 25 years becomes now a half live decision point, not a new asset procurement,” Benoit said. With the appropriate combustion technology upgrades, such as PSM’s HyFlex combustion retrofits, Beloit said green hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel source can positively affect such an upgrade. “I am confident the transition to green gas turbine power plants will happen much more quickly than anticipated and even quicker than the adoptions of wind and solar!”

Leveraging data and analytics for efficiency and dependability

With Benoit’s excitement intact, we asked his opinion on how organisations will best leverage data and analytics to ensure greater efficiency and dependability. Benoit believes the central virtues of plant optimisation practices are the scalability and tailored requirements. Often, he said, optimisations are installed and commissioned without any equipment interruption. “The options can be selected and combined as needed, and advances in reliable industrial computing power, together with low-cost cloud data storage and processing provide both performance and also reliability improvements and can be installed one at a time or up to a full package” Benoit said.

In terms of Asia’s energy grid progression, we inquired what Benoit thought might be the best place to start. He said green hydrogen has potential but, “and more importantly, especially in Asia, as more renewable forms of power generation are adopted, the gas turbine power plant can transform itself to provide the grid resiliency and solidity that is required to ensure reliable power generation for customers.” So as we increase RE penetration, flexibility is the key to ensuring reliability, and reliability is all-important when we consider customer expectations because it’s either deliver the expected product or else suddenly your customer base is enraged – hello complaint city! So perhaps choose the reliability route instead, as I’m sure we can all agree the world could do with fewer delivery fails.

This interview was conducted as an accompaniment to our Optimising Plant Performance, Enlit Asia + series digital event. To join the conversation, be sure to register for the digital event on 25 March 2021. Registration is free, register here.

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