Digital Solutions & Value Engineering Drive OPEX Down, Revenue Up

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Digital Solutions & Value Engineering Drive OPEX Down, Revenue Up

As the global power sector faces increasing challenges brought on by the energy transition, so it seeks to reap any advantage available from the ever-increasing list of technologies and strategies that are improving plant optimization. With optimization ever present on the mind of plant operators, enabling generation assets to reach peak performance, efficiency, and availability, we jumped at the chance to sit down with one of the largest power generation companies in Germany, STEAG GmbH. We spoke with them about how they are managing their own fleet, with an installed capacity of approximately 7,200 MW plus more than another 11,000 MW being operated for third parties and what experiences they are looking to bring to the ASEAN region as they seek to support customers across every aspect of the power generation process.

STEAG itself has gained considerable experience and know-how, from providing technical support for their own complex plants, for example, with nine coal fired power plant sites of their own, and are keen to share how, by continually optimizing their plants, they have been able to extract energy from coal more efficiently and thereby more economically and flexibly than ever before.

However, it is the shift to digitalisation with more than 2,000 IT-systems for plant design and performance optimization, in their own, and customers’ plants, executed that perhaps provides the greatest opportunity for the ASEAN power sector.

With such considerable experience globally, and now a clear drive to expand into Asian local utilities and IPPs we spoke about what they are able to bring to the table and why ASEAN is such an important market.

Digitalisation Supports STEAG’s ASEAN Focus

So why ASEAN? STEAG outlined two trends that play to their strengths, firstly, the expectation for a continued growth in energy consumption and the potential supply challenges this creates across large parts of the region, and secondly the rise of RE, which has already been significant in some areas, and is expected across the whole of ASEAN to some degree, poses flexibility, and availability problems.

These allow STEAG’s experience as an IPP and software solution supplier in Germany’s energy market come to the fore. Germany is a market that has started its energy transition journey more than 20 years ago and as such they are well placed to lean on this experience and face these challenges head on. “You don’t have to invent the wheel twice,” as Dennis Braun, Head of Digital Sales, said, while taking pains to note also that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

In addition to these trends, culturally, they have noticed that “many customers in ASEAN have established a value driven mind-set, meaning they are used to evaluating techno-economic implications of measures and strategies. That is the perfect match for STEAG’s Asset Intelligence Framework and our hands-on entrepreneurial perspective we bring to the table.” as Joël Wagner, Head of Sales, said.

With a flexible and scalable asset intelligence framework they are able to smoothly integrate their solution into a client’s existing IT-landscape. They have successfully equipped more than 100 GW of power plant capacity with their digital solution and with this, they are able to leverage best‐practices to ensure smooth integration of their solution into a client’s daily routines to ensure decision making at its best.

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A Value Driven Approach Where Collaboration is Key

Being the owner of generation assets themselves, STEAG has an almost unique ability to approach any project with an owner’s mind-set and connect commercial and technical drivers, it’s a value driven approach that aims to enhance asset profitability. A commitment to facilitating an adaptive collaboration where the client’s needs are assessed and solutions offered in a collaborative way. Their end-goal is a fruitful collaboration which helps plants reach peak performance and condition monitoring of thermal power plants.

Not only can they approach from the perspective of the owner, but they take pride in capitalising on their experience in developing their own assets, and delivering a ‘by engineers for engineers’-approach. This translates into a technical and specific way of handling each plant’s unique needs.

Because they tailor their approach to each client and can fall back on significant know-how from past experiences, they are able to propose digital solutions and share actionable information for the operators to utilise.

The most sophisticated digital solution won’t add value if insights are not transformed into actions.

Dennis Braun

To ensure maximum value and optimal results, they speak the responsible party’s technical language and can offer long-term training, which can last as long as five years for example. This is not an insignificant commitment, but it yields the greatest outcomes. “An example of this would be a gym membership. When you work on yourself and have a long-term commitment to yourself, you receive the best benefit”. Braun, likened a pledge to live a healthier life to a fruitful experience with STEAG; they aim to provide actionable information that allows engineers and technicians to make informed decisions on measures that will improve asset profitability, i.e., increase performance, reduce unplanned downtime, maintenance costs, etc. “The most sophisticated digital solution won’t add value if insights are not transformed into actions, and hence we need to focus on the user’s perspective and their specific needs,” Braun adds. 

Of course, STEAG isn’t doing this alone. Benedikt Schulte, Director of Sales Southeast Asia, highlighted how their partnership with EES Consultants provides additional benefits to customers, “It combines two great talents and abilities from both cultures. It is German engineering which meets Asian drive for innovation. I am happy being a part of this development, and the results will be great!”.

No More ‘White Elephants’

Having provided engineering input on more than 100,000 MW of installed capacity in a whole variety of technologies, a current total of over 11,000 MW of operation management for third parties worldwide, and the afore-mentioned 2,000 IT-systems delivered for plant design and performance optimization, STEAG Energy Services GmbH is one of the world’s leading service providers for power assets. The experience STEAG brings to the ASEAN market at a time of significant shifting in market dynamics, is considerable, and highly valuable. With their significant experience, ASEAN IPPs and Utilities can look forward to a partnership that will ensure optimization targets be defined in advance to find the right balance between performance improvement, cost reduction, increase in availability and capacity factors, and a long-term relationship providing training and continuous insights. “We have seen too many projects become white elephants, what creates a white elephant? Rubbish in, rubbish out. Customers need 24/7 actionable, easy to understand information”, said Yi Yi Goh of STEAG’s partner EES Consultants, and with these two, that is all but guaranteed.

This interview was conducted as an accompaniment to our Optimising Plant PerformanceEnlit Asia + series digital event. To hear more from STEAG and join the conversation, be sure to register for the digital event on 25 March 2021. Registration is free, register HERE.

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