Power plant cuts simulated start-up and shutdown time by 44%
Platte River Power Authority, a not-for-profit utility in North Colorado, has enhanced operator proficiency and boosted plant performance with the help of global technology and engineering company Emerson.
Emerson’s embedded high-fidelity simulator in use now for training, control logic testing, patch verification and continuous improvement of plant operating procedures at Colorado Power Station.
Using simulation technology embedded in Emerson’s Ovation control system platform, Platte River Power Authority has simultaneously enhanced operator proficiency and boosted plant performance at Rawhide Energy Station Unit 1 in Wellington, Colorado. In the first four months following its installation, operators used the simulator to complete more than 400 man-hours of simulator training and experienced a 44% reduction in start-up and shutdown time.
This 300 MW baseload unit has relied on Emerson’s Ovation control system to monitor and control critical processes since November 2015. With a 2016 capacity factor of 91.57%, the third-highest for comparably sized US coal plants, plant operators have had little opportunity to gain much-needed experience in efficiently executing start-ups and shutdowns and confidently managing upset conditions.
Rawhide Unit 1 management chose Emerson’s Ovation embedded simulation technology, in which high-fidelity plant models are built with and maintained using the same familiar engineering tools as the Ovation control system. This enables Rawhide to maintain the simulator more easily, keeping it current with control logic and other plant changes.
Since installing the new simulator, Rawhide’s engineering department has been able to use it as a training tool for operations staff, giving them a safe environment in which to become adept at handling complex operating scenarios including: testing control logic changes without risk to the actual plant — watching the outcomes as they play out in real time in the simulated environment; verifying patches prior to install; and continuously improving plant operating procedures.
“Our vision was to use the simulator to drive cultural change, consistency in plant operations and continuous operational improvement,” explained Johel Comas, senior controls engineer, Rawhide Station. “In a short time, we’ve experienced how the ability to make changes in a controlled virtual environment without worrying about taking the unit offline is invaluable as we continue to drive toward a culture of operational excellence at Rawhide Energy Station.”
Ovation simulators with embedded high-fidelity models establish the foundation for the continued evolution of Emerson’s simulation technology, according to Emerson Automation Solutions President, Power & Water Bob Yeager. “We are moving closer to the virtual power plant of the future, where the high-fidelity Ovation simulator will run in parallel with the Ovation control system,” said Yeager, pointing out Emerson is the only company that offers a single automation platform for both control and simulation.
“In this environment, operators will be able to test control logic changes in advance based on real-time plant data. By incorporating other Emerson technologies such as pattern recognition, Pervasive Sensing and analytical tools, we’ll be able to enhance the experience to allow plant operators to virtually experience what may happen in their plants before it actually occurs.”
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