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An electric power plant is an industrial facility that produces or generates electric power. The heart of any electric power plant is a generator. Many electric power plants have one or more generators. A generator is a rotating machine which converts kinetic fluid energy over mechanical energy and to electric power. The energy source can vary, where most power plants worldwide burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to generate electricity. Clean energy sources include nuclear power, and increasing use of renewables such as solar, wind, wave, geothermal, and hydroelectric. All electric power plants can be separated by three effects: by a heat source, by a prime mover, and by duty. Electric power plants separated by heat source can be:

  • Fossil-fuel electric power plants use either a steam turbine generator or a combustion turbine. These plants use coal-fired power station produces heat by burning coal in a steam boiler.
  • Nuclear electric power plants use the heat generated in a nuclear fission reactor’s core to create steam which then operates a steam turbine and generator.
  • Geothermal electric power plants use steam extracted from hot underground rocks.
  • Biomass-fueled electric power plants burn waste from sugar cane, municipal solid waste, landfill methane, or other forms of biomass to produce electric energy.
  • Solar thermal electric power plants use sunlight to boil water and produce steam which is further applied for electric power generation.

Electric power plants separated by prime mover can be:

  • Steam turbine electric power plants use expanded steam in the turbine to generate electricity by moving a generator governor.
  • Gas turbine electric power plants use gas pressure from combustion to directly operate the turbine.
  • Combined cycle electric power plants use both, a gas turbine and steam turbine. In this case steam turbine uses the hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine to produce electricity.
  • Small co-generation electric power plant units (like manufacturing plants, hospitals and others) use internal combustion reciprocating engines to produce power, mostly used as backup power in case of a power outage.

Electric power plants separated by duty can be:

  • Base load electric power plants (such as large modern coal-fired and nuclear generating stations, or hydro plants) run nearly continually to provide that component of system load that doesn’t vary during a day or week.
  • Peaking electric power plants (such as cycle gas turbines and reciprocating internal combustion engines) meet the daily peak load, which may only be for one or two hours each day.
  • Load following electric power plants follow the variations in the daily and weekly load.

Primary Process Control Improvements for Electric Power Plants

Prior to any advanced process control (APC) project, even in electric power plants, base-level PID tuning and optimization is a critical pre-requisite step. Unless base-level PID control loops are well tuned, advanced process control (APC) cannot work well, since advanced process control (APC) will be manipulating the set points of the base-level PID control loops. Therefore, the first necessary step in the overall process control improvement procedure for electric power plants is PID tuning and optimization of primary or base-level PID controllers. The benefits of PID tuning and optimization in electric power plants is the reduction of the oscillation amplitude or increase of the controller action by a factor of 2 or 3. This allows to enable smoother running of the electric power plants with increased stability in all control loops avoiding unnecessary electric power plants problems such as: damage and/or to fast wear and tear of the equipment, plant irregular shutdowns or off spec product properties and/or grades.

Many engineers are worried about causing shut-downs and operating problems when tuning PID controllers on equipment in the electric power plants. Trial-and-error PID tuning methods can be ineffective and even catastrophic since these processes are super-fast and very unforgiving. PiControl Solutions LLC has extensive experience in PID tuning and optimization for PID controllers in the electric power plants.We understand and know how to tackle with typical PID control loop problems and have customized PID tuning and optimization software tools to help optimize all electric power plant controllers.

Our unique and novel closed-loop system identification technology makes it possible to tune and optimize base-level PID control loops quickly, efficiently and precisely. With our closed-loop technology we can perform system identification and PID tuning optimization of the following critical base-level PID controllers easily. Moreover, all process and data analysis and PID tuning and optimization work can be easily performed remotely by PiControl Solutions LLC process control engineers.

Advanced Process Control (APC) Improvements for Electric Power Plants

PiControl Solutions LLC has extensive experience in advanced process control optimization for electric power plants.  We understand the economics factors that drive the profit margin and have customized multivariable closed-loop system identification and advanced process control (APC) design and optimization tools to help optimize and improve the electric power plants.

Because of the relatively small size of many electric power plants, it is more cost-effective to implement DCS-based APC (advanced process control) rather than model predictive control (MPC) techniques. DCS-based APC (advanced process control) approach is fast, cost effective, all inside the existing DCS/PLC, avoiding the complications of OPC/other data communication links from computer to DCS.

We focus to analyze the process and provide the right economic advanced control solution for each electric power plant. Our DCS-based APC (advanced process control) methodology has proven particularly successful in the electric power plants. Our DCS-based APC (advanced process control) design will result in the following electric power plant benefits:

  • Improved, stable and more efficient performance of Furnace combustion process using one or more fuels
  • Adaptive control performance using various feeders for coal flow control
  • Improved process control of Furnace pressure system
  • Automated start-up and shutdown of a Furnace combustion process
  • Designed one and three-element control system for Boiler operation unit
  • Mathematically calculated three-element feedforward control logic for steam production process
  • Designed or improved Single or multiple Boiler Master pressure control performance
  • Improved stability and increased performance of a single or a multiple serially connected Superheater units
  • Improved single or multiple Desuperheater unit control performance
  • Improved process control of Steam or Gas single or multiple stage Turbine
  • Improved performance and improved design of a Turbine Load or Speed control logic
  • Mathematically calculated feedforward control logic for improved Speed Turbine controller
  • Optimal design of a Turbine Follow (TF) Mode control logic
  • Optimal design of a Boiler Follow (BF) Mode control logic
  • Optimal design of a Coordinated Control (CC) Mode control logic
  • Improved stability and increased performance of a Reheater unit
  • Designed one and three-element control system for Deaerator operation unit
  • Improved stability and increased performance of a High- and Low-pressure vessel units

After DCS work on advanced process control (APC) schemes is complete and all advanced process control (APC) parameters are calculated and optimized, PiControl Solutions LLC will over factory acceptance test (FAT) make sure that the advanced process control (APC) design is complete, correct and operable.  After completion of process control (APC) control project, PiControl Solutions LLC will conduct dedicated process control training for electric power plant company.  PiControl Solutions has designed, optimized and started more than several well-proven electric power plant control.

PiControl Solutions expects to see a minimum 2-4 % improvement in the electric power plants operation by increasing the efficiency of an electric power production using minimum possible energy, and a 30 % or more reduction in oscillation amplitudes due to optimized and advanced control. The oscillation reduction will enable smoother but faster running of the electric power plant with increased stability in all control loops.

PiControl Solutions is the only process control and automation company in the world which can perform any advanced process control (APC) project completely remotely. Nowadays, every country uses high speed and reliable internet connection and with a help of medium to high resolution cheap web-cameras or even over widely used remote meeting and screen sharing applications it is possible to do complete design, tuning and optimization, FAT test and start-up of any advanced process control project. Over this low cost online/remote approach huge travel and accommodation costs can be saved and human health and safety can be kept on the high level.

For more information and details, please send us an email: [email protected] or call the Tel: (832) 495 6436.