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The magazine for the international power industry June 2016

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POWER ENGINEERING INTERNATIONAL
JUNE 2016/// VOLUME 24/// ISSUE 6

Contents

34 Project & Technology Update

40 Diary

40 Ad Index

A new concept for managing power plant water use, P12


Credit: IMASA

Features
22 Smart monitoring for boiler water levels
2 The future of fast-track power Boiler level indication systems with conductivity probe
How manufacturers of fast-track, flexible diesel and gas technology offer accurate and reliable information.
gensets are responding to power market changes.

26 New business models for utilities


8 Mobile power plants gain ground A changing power sector means utilities have to tear up
Why demand for mobile power plants has surged in their centuries-old business models.
recent years.

29 Gas and the energy gap


12 Managing water use in power production Why the UK must look to gas as the backbone of its
How hygroscopic cycle technology can reduce a plants energy mix.
production costs and environmental impact.

32 Fast power to the rescue


16 Financing power in sub-Saharan Africa How emergency power is helping to mitigate the effects
Independent power projects are growing rapidly in of one of Zimbabwes worst droughts.
sub-Saharan Africa, but financing challenges remain.

On the cover
Cover design: Samantha Heasmer

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An 8 MW fast-track power installation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
On-site power Credit: Aggreko

The future of fast-track


An urgent need for power around the world is seeing more and more power
facilities running on fast-track, flexible diesel and gas gensets. Tildy Bayar spoke
with several companies working in this sector to find out how they are responding
to the changes in the market, and how they imagine the future of the genset

A
n urgent need for power sometimes assumed that power shortages Arid desert conditions including heat, fine
around the world is seeing only affect developing countries, this is not dust and floodwater mean the gensets must
more and more power actually correct. The cost of maintaining and be fitted with special air filters and protective
facilities running on fast- upgrading existing power infrastructure in enclosures, which insulate them from the
track, flexible diesel- and developed countries is a growing concern, he weather conditions as well as minimizing
gas-fired gensets. In says, with the US and other developed nations noise output.
developing countries, these installations can experiencing more instances of power failure In Germany in late 2015, MTU Onsite
provide a boost to grid power or bring off-grid due to aging plants coming under increasing Energys diesel gensets in the 600 kWe to
power to people who have none. In developed demand. 3200 kWe power range were certified by the
nations they can enhance energy security There is a range of operating conditions, BDEW energy and water trade association as
and support the transition to a renewables- available fuels and compliance needs for meeting the requirements for operation with
based power mix. gensets in different global markets. Thus the nations grid code.
Dan Ibbetson, Aggrekos Managing in addition to the bottom-line attribute of According to Jrgen Winterholler, head of
Director for Northern Europe, notes that some reliability flexibility, the need to use alternative systems development in Power Generation
countries need support for their national fuels, fuel efficiency, performance in harsh at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, wide-ranging
grid infrastructure, which can be for planned environments, increased emissions control adjustments had to be made to our
maintenance or upgrade, where the grid and an expanded power range all feature in genset configuration, our protection and
is struggling to meet increased capacity the list of important technology developments control systems, and our measurements
or where it is compromised due to fault or for diesel and gas gensets. However, different and simulations in order to achieve this
disaster.These tend to be large power projects, issues will come to the fore in different regions. accreditation.
such as those we currently have in a number One of the first BDEW-certified gensets,
of African countries, but they could also be Different strokes, different projects based on an 18-cylinder Series 2000 diesel
utilities, and anywhere in the world. Even a short list of current projects reflects the engine, delivers 1000 kW for an industrial
We also support particular industry sectors diverse uses and conditions for diesel- and bakery in Germany. It is used as backup to
around the world, where their remote location gas-fired gensets around the world today. safeguard the production of frozen baked
makes connection to the grid unavailable, too In Western Australias Great Sandy Desert, goods, switching to grid-parallel operation
complicated or too costly, such as mines and where temperatures can climb to 38oC, a when power demand peaks at midday. The
the oil and gas industry, but it could also be for camp for rail and mine workers is powered by genset provides power for lighting, conveyors,
construction projects and again, these could three 275 kVA 6T1600 DS300 diesel generator refrigerators, the frost plant, and regulation
be anywhere. sets from MTU Onsite Energy, commissioned in and control of the baking lines.
Ibbetson notes that power reliability and 2013. The gensets supply constant power for In Mozambique, Aggrekos Gigawatt Park
sustainability are crucial in all areas of the air conditioning, lighting systems, cooking and at Ressano Garcia features gas-fired gensets
world. However, he also notes that while it is cooling at the facility. providing 232 MW, with the latest expansion

2 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

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On-site power

continue to play a significant role in the


energy mix in the future. We have our own
manufacturing base in Scotland working on
technologies for a sustainable energy mix that
meets the needs of customers across industry
sectors.
Continuing to enhance our remote
monitoring technologies and capabilities is
another big focus for us, he continues. Remote
monitoring enables us to analyze real-time
data on our engines, often to proactively
anticipate and fix problems remotely before
they happen, or respond quickly with a well-
prepared service technician.
Simon also believes enhancing remote
monitoring is key, and will become more so
The 100 MW Ressano Garcia gas-fired plant in Mozambique as more devices are connected. The Internet
Credit: Rolls-Royce Power Systems
of Things is becoming more important in the
power space, he says, and it is going to
of 122 MW commissioned in 2013. The plant available fuels that might otherwise be continue to evolve and grow. So the ability
is an interim cross-border independent power wasted, such as flare, shale and stranded gas, for us to monitor, track and check discrete
producer (IPP) project supplying power to the he says, noting that in addition to biofuels, components from afar, or even for the
Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), with off- Aggrekos gensets can run on associated customer to monitor and check his plant
takers such as Electricidade de Moambique petroleum gas (APG) and natural gas. and think about predictive service and
(EDM) and South African utility Eskom. Flexibility has always been a watchword maintenance, is another important factor
In Los Angeles, US, Aggreko developed for us, he notes. We can configure a tailored thats going to be coming more and more to
a distribution system to transfer power from solution that can be brought on- and offline the front in the next few years.
a solar array to the red carpet area for the as demand dictates, thus reducing fuel costs,
Emmy Awards, while in Stockholm, Sweden, wastage and carbon footprint. Industries are Function determines form
10 of Aggrekos gensets running on biofuel constantly pushing their boundaries and we For Simon, product development includes all
made from vegetable oil delivered 4.6 MVA aim to innovate to ensure we can provide the of these concerns under the umbrella of his
of continuous power for the Eurovision song solutions that are needed when, where and customers use cases.
contest at the Globe Arena. how they are needed. Flexibility and a broad Its all very well and good looking at how
Meanwhile, Cummins Power Generation fleet of gensets, both in terms of size and fuel, to develop a product from a manufacturing
is working with the Kenya Power & Lighting enable us to offer a range of options to meet point of view, he says. We can meet the
Company on a pilot on-site power test these challenges. statutory requirements, the codes and
project at Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya. Flexibility is one of the key issues for compliance, the country-specific legislations
The project produces up to 12 MWe and is Cummins Generator Technologies, says the but the most important thing is understanding
fuelled on biomass waste. A follow-up project firms Chief Technical Officer Kevan Simon. how and where our customer is going to use
elsewhere in Kenya will also use a combination We have to make sure our product is infinitely our product, and all the conditions theyll find
of agricultural residues to generate power, and flexible based on the changes our customers themselves in.
a 1.2 MW plant project has already begun in are seeing in their own use conditions. For Cummins Generator Technologies has
Zambia. example, if a customer selects a product responded to this need by building what
based on a certain use case, what happens if Simon calls a market- and attribute-based
Technology focus the fuel price changes suddenly and greater book of knowledge, which assembles specific
Given the range of operating conditions and efficiency is required? We have to keep customer use cases for different world regions.
an ever-expanding project scope, which are evolving the way we support and deliver these These then become key requirements for
the most important issues for companies flexible solutions, Simon says, but we have to region-specific product development.
developing, installing and operating gensets? help the customer evolve as well, so they can Each case will be subtly different, he notes,
Ibbetson says his companys work in R&D change with the market as it moves. with variations in everything from operating
centres on fuel usage, further efficiency gains, Ibbetson also places efficiency high on the conditions to environmental factors to grid
cost savings and reducing carbon footprints list. The efficiency of our engines, fuel usage stability. Some cases can be cross-referenced,
or address[ing] whatever priority individual and environmental issues are key for our R&D but Simon says that if you take one use case
customers or industry sectors demand. department and we dont see that changing and move it around the world, every condition,
For example, for our customers in the in the foreseeable future, he says. every location, every end customer use has
oil and gas sector, this could mean using Renewables, APG and biofuels will all different factors and elements that you need

4 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

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On-site power

to consider in your machine and system outages and not much disruption. You wont analysis leading to micro-configuration of
design. get large voltage or frequency excursions and products constitutes the future of technology
He offers the example of a customer the customer will typically run a 70 per cent development across the power sector.
running a prime ISO8528 application in India load profile, and the amount of time they run
vrs Europe vrs Saudi Arabia. Between each generally follows ISO conditions, not generally
market there are subtle differences in the way high hours. Whats driving the
the end customer understands the concept In Saudi Arabia, he says, again the
technology is how
of prime power. applications are different. You will see variable
In India their definition of prime is load, and the hours are a lot more similar to
youre integrating your
something that looks like almost continuous the hours run in India, so higher than normal.
system
running, so theyre expecting the machine The environmental conditions are a lot higher,
to run quite a lot of hours, and there is some the temperature effects on the machine will Think about emissions, which has been a
variable load, but also lot of constant load, be an extreme consideration, then voltage/ favourite subject of everybody in the industry
he explains.Temperatures and environmental frequency excursions from the utility are not as up to a few years ago, he says.Now these are
factors in India can run from quite cold to bad as in India but not as good as a stable, normalizing around the world, but even here
really quite hot conditions. Then you have to fixed European grid system. there are subtle differences. Once emissions
deal with dust ingress and water ingress, and The company began its use case analysis flatten out and all products are delivering a
then you need to also consider, if its a grid- process around three years ago, Simon says, certain emissions level, then whats driving the
connected machine, the network contribution, and it is now gathering momentum as the technology is how youre efficiently integrating
how many disruptions on the network, how changes in the power sector accelerate. your system, how youre making the system
many outages in that particular location. The company has focused its study across work to its utmost performance in the end
If you then took that case to Europe, the power generation spectrum from prime customers use case conditions.
he continues, in exactly same the same to continuous to standby. All of those vary Those are the things that then start driving
conditions a prime-based scenario with around the world, and depend on how the how you differentiate and develop your
a variable load the utility would be less of customer uses the product, product, how you think about the options you
an issue. It would be fairly constant with no According to Simon, this kind of case-based make available so you can create a baseline

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On-site power

Environmental concerns
As end users worldwide become more aware
of environmental issues, there is growing
concern about the long-term viability of
diesel-fired gensets, especially as renewables
become a cheaper option for more remote
regions. Will diesel gensets be pushed out of
some markets?
There has been a shift in the past 10
years towards more environmentally friendly
solutions and businesses across all sectors
are more conscious than ever of their
carbon footprint, says Ibbetson. This will
be a continuing trend, which is why we are
constantly striving to increase the efficiency of
our engines and looking for ways to innovate.
Environmental issues will always be a
An AVK DSG 86 generator
consideration, he adds. At the moment it
Credit: Cummins Generator Technologies
is not possible to rely entirely on renewable
energy sources, and diesel gensets provide a
product and add different options or modules does it become connected at some point to viable backup.
based on which market or customer use case a utility? asks Simon.Do we need to then start We see diesel playing a continued role in
its going to. So its driving different thoughts thinking about utility connections, grid code the energy mix in the future. We do not rely
around how we create a modular approach compliance, all those other things for which exclusively on diesel, or any other fuel, and
across all of our alternators such that we we can change out discrete components to understand that each fuel source has its
can up-fit or de-fit based on customer use meet those changes? advantages and disadvantages.
case and then make sure weve got the right That fast-track installation can evolve
product for the right market. based on the way the customer or need
makes it evolve. It can either stay static if the One thing thats
Temporary to semi-permanent load is static, it can get smaller or larger, it can
becoming apparent
In another growing trend, some fast-track be connected to a utility, it can be operated in
power installations are effectively becoming island mode, change ability in meeting further
around the world is
semi-permanent or open-ended power emissions levels, it can be more efficient, the
that you cant just rely
sources in some regions. Given this, will fuel source may change on one power source
technology development now need to focus Even the customer, at the time, may not
on longevity? be aware of how long its going to go on for, Simon picks up on this point: One thing
Ibbetson says that at Aggreko, we see he notes. It could go on for a few months or thats becoming more apparent around the
ourselves as working very much in partnership few years, or infinitely longer than that. Well be world is that you cant just rely on one power
with utilities and independent power constantly working with them to say, ok, we put source, he says. If you think about hybrid
producers, and we advocate early integration in this fast-track power, but is it going to meet systems, and about the way that different
and forward planning wherever possible. your needs in future? forms of power are becoming available
It can take years to build and commission Offerings such as maintenance and wind, battery power, solar, diesel and gas
a permanent power plant and so a fast-track, service support keep companies aware of reciprocating engines, gas turbines some
interim solution is often needed to bridge the changing conditions on the ground, and a are connected at the highest level in the
gap. Reliable power is crucial to maintain flexible approach and forward-thinking design network and provide the backbone of our
and grow GDP, and in some countries, allow for modifications to an initial installation distribution system, and then as you get
particularly those reliant on a high proportion based on new needs. down to lower levels in the distributed power
of renewable energy sources, there is often If it has a certain emissions level and stays sectors theres going to be different power
a need to have a power-bridging solution there long enough that the customer wants sources working, sometimes in isolation and
in place, and this might seem to be a semi- to up-fit it, we can work with him to change sometimes together.
permanent installation in periods of prolonged out the components or up-fit/de-fit products The art is to think about how you can most
energy deficit. This would be the case in areas based on a modular approach, says Simon. efficiently combine those systems into a single
experiencing adverse weather conditions, There are ways and means of evolving how form of power control that allows you to best
such as prolonged drought. the customer uses the product, from fast and use the power thats available to you against
For an installation running in island mode efficient installation to something more long- the demand that you have.
with only a small load connected, if it grows, term, sustainable and reliable. He adds: We are very conscious about

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On-site power

used in other industries. The company is


looking at whats out there thats currently
being used that we could take and apply and
change as needed to make it fit our products,
Simon says.
And, as the book-of-knowledge cases
grow, the company has begun to spot gaps
in products for various markets, based on
observing customers use cases. Simon says
Cummins is then thinking about what those
gaps are going to be two to three years from
now, or five years from now, or even 10 years:
is it a trend, is it something we need to start
exploring?
Aggreko gensets at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 And keeping up with the trends is crucial.
Credit: Aggreko
The drive constantly is to think about
innovating, differentiating and delivering. Its
the environmental impact of everything we and say I will do it but only as a backup, but all very well and good thinking about new
do, and we know that in different parts of there has to be another solution. So in working technologies, but unless you can actually get
the world there are different environmental with customers wherever they are around the them to customers as quickly as you possibly
considerations that affect the selection of world, its back to the use case again. can, you lose that opportunity. Its then about
equipment. In some cases there has to be speed of execution and not missing the
immediate use, and at some points you have Looking to the future market need.
to burn fossil fuels right now, today, because Cummins vision of the future includes
there is nothing else available. In other parts adjacent technologies which are not Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
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Demand for mobile power plants has surged in the past few years
Temporary power Credti: Atlas Copco

Strength in numbers:
Mobile power plants
gain ground
Demand for mobile power plants has surged in recent
years. Ben Van Hove explains why

I
n a growing number of industrial, only one or two may be operational during alone generator solutions is Belgium-based
construction and mining applications periods of low load, thereby boosting fuel Power Solutions. This year, Power Solutions
with temporary power needs, large stand- efficiency. Equally, all units can become active is celebrating its tenth anniversary. In the
alone generators are being replaced in periods of high demand. past decade, the company has grown to
with groups of smaller generators that are Additionally, reliability is enhanced when accommodate a fleet of over 600 machines.
programmed to work in parallel with each the failure of a single unit is mitigated by Having invested over 8 million ($9 million) in
other. other units increasing their output to maintain 2015 alone, Power Solutions is geared up for
Known as mobile IPPs (independent power the same power. By contrast, the failure of a further growth and demand for mobile power
plants) or simply mobile power plants, these large single generator could cause critical plants is a significant factor.
solutions are flexible enough to be used in downtime. The logic of mobile power plants is difficult
a wide range of configurations. Typically, Another significant benefit to customers to deny, but why has demand surged so starkly
applications vary between 3 MW and using a mobile power plant is that in the past few years? There are a number of
14 MW, but larger mobile power plants can maintenance and servicing are completely factors to consider.
be comprised of up to 40 side-by-side outsourced to a third-party supplier. Rental Firstly, the expansion of industrial,
generators working together. of a mobile power plant does not only mean construction and mining activity across many
Co-ordinated by a network of controllers, rental of the machine itself but the support as parts of the word, particularly in Africa, has
these plug-and-play generators can power well. created new requirements. In many areas, the
up and down according to the on-site power One company that specializes in the permanent power network has not developed
requirements at a given time. For example, rental of mobile power plants and stand- to a point where it can support commercial

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1606pei_8 8 6/14/16 1:57 PM


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Temporary power

activity.This is difficult to accept in areas where


a power failure could have such serious
consequences for production or standard of
living.
Secondly, the need for flexibility is rising. A
mobile power plant provides a company with
a much more flexible and cost-effective option
than if it was to build its own solution. All over
the world, and even where highly established
power grids exist, there are facilities that
need larger levels of power for a temporary
period.
Furthermore, even though the requirement
for mobile power plants tends to be temporary,
they often stay in place for years, giving peace
of mind and flexibility.
A third undeniable influence upon
recent growth has been the evolution of the
In many areas the power network has not developed enough to support commercial activity
technology associated with generators. Credit: Atlas Copco
Lets start with fuel efficiency. Its a simple
fact of life that mobile generators, like most compelling case, not to mention 85 tonnes of damage and shorten the life expectancy of
machines, are consuming less fuel than they CO2 saved over the course of a year. the equipment.
did five years ago, thanks to a number of Developments in power management The growing sophistication of controllers
design factors and efficiency improvements. systems have also been influential in enabling has also enhanced the effectiveness of
The fact that newer machines can run for efficiency gains. The power management mobile power plants.
longer and more economically is a big driver system enables the optimization of fuel The controllers available in Atlas Copcos
behind the growth. consumption and expands the lifetime of generators are equipped with power
For example, the deployment of a 1 MVA generators at the same time. management systems and their plug-
generator as a prime power source, taking It manages the quantity of generators and-play design enables simple and fast
the demand patterns of a typical industrial running in parallel with load demand, starting configuration for rental jobs.
application as a guide, could mean up to and stopping units in line with increases or They also offer a variety of other features,
1677 litres of fuel being consumed each day. decreases in load. In this way, the load level on such as the ability to remotely start and
That compares with approximately 1558 each generator remains as close as possible program the machine. Additionally, controllers
litres of fuel if three 325 kVA generators were to a level that optimizes fuel consumption. It provide analysis data that not only helps users
doing the same job. In this case, an estimated also eliminates the need for generators to run to optimize the efficiency of the power plant,
annual fuel saving of 30,000 makes for a with low load levels, which can cause engine but can also give them fantastic insights into
their production process too.
Additionally, Digital AVR has boosted the
credentials of mobile power plants. This is a
new type of voltage controller that allows
customers to downsize the required generator
in specific applications, because you can
manage the transient behaviour of the power.
As a result, it is no longer necessary to
buy larger generators than necessary just
to cope with the initial electrical surge upon
starting. With smart control of the generators
voltage, its possible to achieve lower fuel
consumption, reduced maintenance cost
and longer lifetimes.

Ben Van Hove is Vice-President of Portable Air


& Power at Atlas Copco.
It is no longer necessary to buy larger generators than needed
Credit: Atlas Copco Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
for more information

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Water management
IMASA Engineering & Projects test plant in Gijn, Spain
IMASA

Saving water in
power plants
With water conservation

T
he steam or Rankine cycles are concluded, addressing water scarcity is one
becoming a major intrinsically connected to our vital of the greatest challenges of the century.

environmental issue resource, water. This resource is The popular Rankine cycles are large
unevenly distributed through the consumers of water, used for the feeding of
for power plants, different areas of the planet, and its the cycle itself, for cleaning and for the cooling
Francisco Javier Rubio administration and procurement system.The latter is the largest consumer of the
Serrano offers a new can be very expensive depending on the three, and this consumption depends on the
technological solution geographical point where it is found. type of technology used, the cooling system
As the population is fast growing (nearly selected, climate and weather conditions
8000 million people in 2020), our use of around the plant and cycle performance.
water, linked to the dynamic and industrial Cooling is an essential part of the cycle,
expansion, will increase, strengthening the and a major optimization to increase the
already hard strains on this resource. Our performance of the Rankine cycle is to reduce
regular sources of fresh water will worsen its the temperature of the cold focus.This requires
quality due to higher levels of pollution, and having a suitable cooling system allowing
exhaustion of wells. condensation of the turbine exhaust steam to
According to calculations by economists, the lowest possible thermal level.
industrial water consumption will double by Three systems are currently used for
2050, and in rapidly industrializing countries refrigeration: once-through (or open circuit),
such as China this will be multiplied by five, evaporative cooling (cooling towers), and air
and therefore so will its price. condensers.
Over 40 per cent of the global population Once-through cooling is the cheapest of
will live in river basins with severe water the three, although given its extensive water
shortages, mainly in northern and southern withdrawal and environmental impact, it is
Africa and in Central and South Asia. While the least used. As the water flow required
seawater desalination is being used to lighten is so high, pumping costs are high as is the
this problem, the process is intensive in terms size of the necessary pipes. For this reason,
of energy demand and a large amount of power plants should be near the water
unwanted brine by-product is obtained. source. The environmental impact is greater
Therefore, efforts to optimize and reduce than with other systems due to the thermal
water consumption by power generation and chemical pollution (mainly biocides) of
facilities is of utmost importance in the face of discharges.
society, the environment and the profitability of The evaporative cooling (semi-open)
a project of this type. As the United Nations has circuit with cooling towers is the traditional

12 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_12 12 6/14/16 1:57 PM


Water management

technology used to remove the heat of


condensation in a Rankine cycle. Several
types of cooling towers are available (induced
draw, forced draw, natural draw), and in all of
them the hot water comes in contact with
air producing air saturation (evaporative
cooling), thus stealing heat from the water
flow and cooling it by this process, with a small
amount of evaporation taking place.
In addition, a small part of the water
escapes into the environment due to drag by
the air stream. Depending on the humidity of
the area, the cold temperature attained is well
below ambient temperature.
Among its advantages are the small
The UN states that water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges of the century
space required per kW of cooling obtained
IMASA
and the low temperature reached, especially
in the warmer months, compared to other
technologies, thus allowing it to work with another part is evacuated to prevent salt Agency, approximately 45 per cent of
very low pressures in the condenser (below concentration. They also need proper water resource in Europe is used for cooling
0.07 bar (a)). management and treatment of feed water thermoelectric plants. Other sources indicate
Currently its disadvantages are becoming to this circuit (cleaning, disinfection and that 33 per cent of the water demand in
more prevalent than its advantages. They storage). Cleaning operations are tedious and Europe is used in the production of electricity,
require significant water consumption subject to strict health regulations in many and for the US it is 41 per cent, since the weight
and need to control their discharge, since countries. of electricity in this country lies more with
an amount of water is evaporated and According to the European Environment thermal power plants.

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1606pei_13 13 6/14/16 1:57 PM


Water management

1 per cent less of net electrical output), since in water which, in addition to treating the
the condensing temperatures of the steam feedwater of the cycle, allow for an efficient
that can be achieved are higher than with the and economic condensation at the outlet of
previous systems (up to 20C higher in warmer the steam turbine.
months), and the increase in the investment Based on the concentration of hygroscopic
cost of the plant (the air condensers often compounds chosen, the condensation
have a cost of three to five times the surface temperature of the steam turbine output is
condensers used in previous systems). superior to existing Rankine cycles for the
Sometimes, due to a lack of water in the same condensing pressure, and can work
area, power is generated using both cooling with dry cooling technologies instead of wet
systems previously mentioned.These are called without reducing the electrical performance
hybrid systems, where part of the cooling is of the plant or increasing investment costs.
done using cooling towers, and elsewhere In the hygroscopic cycle, the air-cooler
through air condensers. These systems can condenser, or surface condenser, is replaced
reduce up to 50 per cent water consumption by a steam absorber or mixing condenser in
compared to wet cooling with little influence which the steam turbine outlet is put in contact
on the performance of the installation. The with the hygroscopic compounds. The heat of
main drawbacks are a significant increase in condensation can be released in a cooling
Francisco Javier Rubio Serrano
IMASA
the investment cost, as well as increased costs tower, in a once-through (or open circuit), or
of operation and maintenance. with a dry cooler, the latter being one of the
Therefore, the use of one or another leading innovations of the technology.
On the other hand, the average cost of technology depends on the location of the Dry coolers cool the hygroscopic flow
industrial water is highly variable from one power generation facility, which will mark the leaving the absorber by passing throughout
country to another, and within their own availability and cost of water for cooling. finned tubes which are in contact with an
regions. In Spain the average price of industrial In the effort to find a technology that can air stream. This hygroscopic flow works as a
water in 2013 was 2/m3, ranging from solve the above disadvantages, a group reflux of the condenser and is responsible for
1.20/m3 in Castilla y Len to 3.95/m3 in the of engineers has developed a practical, dissipating the energy of condensation.
Balearic Islands. These figures are still far away economical and efficient solution called Unlike the air condensers, the size of these
from the European average of 4/m3. With hygroscopic cycle. devices is lower since the specific volume of
these results, and based on future prospects, This innovative thermodynamic cycle is a the stream to be cooled is much lower (in this
both consumption and the average cost Rankine cycle where most of the equipment case cooling is done over a liquid stream and
of water will increase significantly in the is exactly the same. The hygroscopic cycle not over a vapour at vacuum) and energy
coming years, somehow penalizing the works with hygroscopic compounds dissolved costs as well as the investment price are lower.
implementation of Rankine cycles using wet
cooling.
The third technology of refrigeration, with
air condensers, began to be implemented
in areas where the availability, accessibility
or cost of water negatively affected the
profitability of power generation plants.
This technology is especially gaining
importance in solar thermal power plants,
which are generally located in high-insolation
desert areas where water resources are very
limited or just not available.
This requires, in some cases, to drill wells
with very poor water qualities, which require
intensive treatment, or to carry water from
great distances. In the air condensers, the
turbine exhaust steam is passed through the
finned tubes which are in contact with the air
stream driven by large fans.
The environmental impact of this
technology is much lower than the mentioned.
The solution from IMASA developed to improve the steam cycle
The main disadvantages are decreasing IMASA
electric performance of the system (more than

14 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_14 14 6/14/16 1:57 PM


Water management

In some locations this technology uses an to work with dry coolers, which guarantee the Rankine cycle, which reduces production
adiabatic dry coole, the main feature of which saving in cooling water consumption of costs and decreases the environmental
is the use of water at times when temperatures 100 per cent a year. In addition, it is possible to impact. This technology helps to achieve the
are high.The saturation of air with water lowers save 50 per cent of the demineralized water challenges set in the COP21 Paris Climate
the temperature of the air to avoid affecting supply. Conference.
the electrical performance of the installation. The third advantage of this technology This technology is applicable to any plant
In such cases there are savings in annual is an estimated 25 per cent reduction in using a Rankine cycle for power generation
cooling water of at least 85 per cent. operation and maintenance costs. Most thermoelectric, biomass, concentrating
There are several advantages of using the Rankine cycles use surface condensers with solar power, combined cycles, nuclear,
hygroscopic cycle rather than the Rankine wet cooling or cooling towers. The cleaning, cogeneration, waste-to-energy etc), new and
cycle. fillings change, waste treatment, chemical existing and it is compatible with any of the
The first is an increase in electric power additives and other operations related to improvements in the Rankine cycle.
generation of around 1 per cent (net cooling towers could be eliminated using It is an innovation that we can utilize to
electrical efficiency increases from 0.25 per the hygroscopic cycle technology. Steam preserve our water blue gold, a natural,
cent to 1 per cent) due to the optimization absorbers and dry coolers are characteristic essential, valuable and limited resource for the
of the condensation temperature and heat of the aforementioned technology, and have development and survival of humanity.
and chemical recovery through the boiler a minimum need for maintenance.
blowdown, which is used in the absorber. Finally, the fourth advantage is a reduction Francisco Javier Rubio Serrano is head of
Therefore, emissions of CO2 and other gases of around 5 per cent in investment costs, given engineering of the energy division at IMASA
(NOx, SOx) per kWh are reduced, as is the equipment involved in the Hygroscopic Project Engineering Corp. He led the group
fuel consumption. Another feature is that Cycle with respect to a conventional Rankine of engineers that developed the Hygroscopic
the hygroscopic cycles internal power cycle. Cycle. IMASA has inaugurated its first test plant
consumption is similar to, or even lower than, In short, these advantages allow lower costs in Gijn, Spain. www.hygroscopiccycle.com
that of a traditional Rankine cycle. of electricity production in power generation
The second advantage is that this plants that use a steam or Rankine cycle. Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
technology allows power generation facilities The hygroscopic cycle is a development of for more information

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Renewables make up 18 per cent of sub-Saharan Africas independent power projects
Sub-Sahaha Focus Credit: Globaleq

Power project financing:


The way forward for IPPs
While public and utility

T
he The track record of sub-Saharan equivalent to 6.35 per cent of Africas gross
financing has traditionally Africas power sector is dismal. domestic product. The existing funding is far
Two out of three households in below what is needed. This large funding gap
been the largest source
sub-Saharan Africa, close to 600 cannot be bridged by the public sector alone.
of investment in power million people, have no electricity Private participation is critical.
generation in sub-Saharan connection. Historically, most private sector financing
Africa, independent Most countries in the region have pitifully has been channelled through independent
power projects are now low access rates, including rural areas that power projects (IPPs). IPPs are defined as power
are the worlds most underserved. In some projects that mainly are privately developed,
growing rapidly. In this
countries, less than 5 per cent of the rural constructed, operated, and owned; have a
article, the World Bank population has access to electricity. significant proportion of private finance; and
highlights the challenges Chronic power shortages are a primary have long-term power purchase agreements
that policymakers are reason. The region simply does not generate (PPAs) with a utility or another off-taker.
facing and also the enough electricity. The Republic of Korea Like any other private investment, IPPs will
alone generates as much electricity as all not materialize in the absence of a suitable
underlying factors that
of sub-Saharan Africa. Across the region, per enabling environment.
contribute to healthy capita installed generation capacity is barely Between 1990 and 2013, investments in
investment climates one-tenth that of Latin America. new power generation capacity totalled
The need for large investments in power approximately $45.6 billion ($31.3 billion,
generation capacity is obvious, especially in excluding South Africa), or far below what
the face of robust economic growth on the is required to meet Africas growth and
continent, which has been the key driver of development aspirations
electricity demand over the last decade. The Although public utilities have historically
International Energy Agency predicts that the been the major sources of funding for new
demand for electricity in sub-Saharan Africa power generation capacity, that trend is
will increase at a compound average annual changing. Most African governments are
growth rate of 4.6 per cent, and by 2030 it will unable to fund their power needs, and
be more than double the current electricity most utilities do not have investment-grade
production. ratings and so cannot raise sufficient debt at
The World Bank estimated in 2011 that sub- affordable rates.
Saharan Africa needed to add approximately Official development assistance (ODA)
8 GW of new generation capacity each year and development finance institutions (DFIs)
through 2015. But, in fact, over the last decade have only partially filled the funding gap. ODA
an average of only 12 GW has been added and concessional funding has fluctuated
annually. considerably over the past two decades and
The cost of addressing the needs of sub- has recently been overshadowed by IPP and
Saharan Africas power sector has been Chinese-supported investment.
estimated at $40.8 billion a year, which is Indeed, private investments in IPPs and

16 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_16 16 6/14/16 1:58 PM


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Sub-Sahaha Focus

projects received funding from the China ExIm


Bank (responsible for soft loans and export
credit) on behalf of the Chinese government.
Additional finance has been provided by
other banks owned in whole or part by the
Chinese government.

Independent regulation
By definition, IPPs are investment transactions
regulated by the underlying contracts.
Regulations at the sector level, although
they do not directly influence the details of
these contracts, are important in defining the
Eskoms 749 MW Medupi coal-fired power plant in South Africa
rules of the game and ultimately shaping the
Credit: Ovivo
enabling environment for IPPs.
The establishment of independent
Chinese funding are now the fastest-growing Previously, IPP investments in South Africa had regulators has been the most widespread
sources of finance for Africas power sector. lagged those in other sub-Saharan countries, power sector reform element in sub-Saharan
IPPs in sub-Saharan Africa date to 1994. but between 2012 and 2014 that country Africa. As of 2014, more than half of all sub-
Representing a minority of total generation closed $14 billion in renewable energy IPPs. Saharan African countries had established
capacity, IPPs have mainly complemented Although the conditions were varied in such agencies, and the countries with the
incumbent state-owned utilities. the countries where IPPs and other private most IPPs all have electricity regulators. The
Nevertheless, IPPs are an important source participation took root, certain themes were mere presence of such an agency, however,
of new investment in the power sector in a common. With the exception of South Africa is not sufficient. The quality of regulation is
number of African countries. and Mauritius, none of the sub-Saharan critical.
IPPs are now present in 18 sub-Saharan African countries with IPPs had an investment- Transparent, fair and accountable
countries all with varying degrees of sector grade rating. The possibility of a traditional regulators that produce credible and
reform and private participation. Currently, 59 project-financed IPP deal in this climate was predictable regulatory decisions are
projects (greater than 5 MW) are in countries limited. DFIs that invest in the private sector necessary for creating the certainty
other than South Africa, totalling $11.1 million have made a significant contribution to around market access, tariffs, and revenues
in investments and 6.8 GW of installed funding. that encourages investment. Ideally, an
generation capacity. Including South Africa independent regulator should enforce best
adds 67 more IPPs, bringing the total to 126, Chinese funding practices in investment transactions and
with an overall installed capacity of 11 GW In addition to IPPs, significant increases in notably competitive procurement. In sub-
and investments of $25.6 billion. generation capacity have stemmed from Saharan Africa, the presence of a regulator
IPPs in sub-Saharan Africa range in size Chinese-funded projects. Chinese-funded is not necessarily associated with more
from a few megawatts to around 600 MW. generation projects can be found in 19 competitive procurement practices, and
The overwhelming majority of IPP capacity countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Eight of these regulators have not always ensured that
(82 per cent) is thermal; only 18 per cent countries have IPPs as well as Chinese-funded captive electricity consumers benefit from
is fuelled by renewables. However, there is projects. the pass-through of competitive generation
important growth in renewables. For example, Between 1990 and 2014, there were 34 prices.
three wind projects reached financial close such projects in sub-Saharan Africa, totalling The independence of regulators may
between 2010 and 2014, and seven small 7.5 GW. Chinese-funded projects far exceed be compromised by overreaching and
hydropower projects are on the horizon. IPPs in terms of total megawatts, especially competing government agencies. In
South Africa procured 3.9 GW in private for the years 201014, with an average size of many countries, the independence and
power between 2012 and 2014, all of which 226 MW, in contrast to the IPP average of professional capacity of regulators need to
is renewable. 98 MW. be strengthened so that they can discourage
There have been three major IPP investment As of 2014, Chinese-funded projects directly negotiated generation contracts and
spikes: 19992002, 2008, and 20112014. The exceeded IPPs in total megawatts and in instead enforce the rules for the competitive
first two spikes were due to the financial close total dollars invested. The majority of Chinese- procurement of IPPs.
of a small number of comparatively large funded projects are large hydropower
projects. In 2011, IPP investments began taking projects, for which Chinese engineering, IPPs: Types and outcomes
off. Excluding South Africa, total IPP investment procurement, and construction contractors IPPs differ in their ownership and financing
for projects in sub-Saharan Africa between have become renowned worldwide. The structures, in technology choices and risk
1990 and 2013 was $8.7 billion, whereas in typical project structure involves a contractor profiles, in how they are procured and
2014 alone another $2.3 billion was added. plus a financing contract.The majority of these contracted, and in risk mitigation mechanisms.

18 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_18 18 6/14/16 1:58 PM


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1606pei_19 19 6/14/16 1:58 PM


Sub-Sahaha Focus

South Africa has embarked on the most


ambitious renewable energy IPP programme,
which will soon be followed by thermal IPPs.
Nigeria is undergoing the most extensive
power sector reforms on the continent.
Although other countries may not be able to
replicate the experiences of these two major
economies, many lessons from them can be
adapted and applied. Tanzania and Kenya
provide a fascinating opportunity to contrast Grid-connected wind and solar in South Africa is now among the cheapest in the world
Credit: Mott MacDonald
the experiences and outcomes of solicited
versus unsolicited bids.
Tanzania is also about to start more Independent Power Project Procurement Independent power projects make a
ambitious reforms and will expand its Programme (REIPPPP). significant contribution to meeting Africas
gas-to-power investments, while Kenya is Grid-connected wind and solar renewable power needs. There is no doubt that IPPs are
encouraging a diversified set of power energy in South Africa is now among the worth the effort. But it is not only the quantum
investments, including in renewable energy. cheapest in the world. Outside South Africa, of private investment in IPPs that is relevant;
Uganda has overhauled its electricity supply the wind story has been centred around a few equally important are investment outcomes
industry and has numerous small IPPs and the projects in Kenya, which are marginally more and, especially, the price and reliability of the
largest hydropower IPP in sub-Saharan Africa. expensive than Kenyas private geothermal electricity produced. The challenge ahead is
There has been a wide variety of African capacity but beat any of the countrys existing for African countries to create the conditions
IPP sponsors and debt providers. State thermal plants on price. to attract more and better IPPs and thus help
institutions have invested in some IPPs, but Because both solar- and wind-based overcome the continents power deficit.
private sponsors are prominent, including generation entail higher up-front costs and
private African partners, European entities different risk profiles than those of traditional About the authors:
such as Globeleq, Aldwych and Wrtsil, and technologies, countries interested in Anton Eberhard is a professor at the University
numerous European bilateral DFIs. A smaller renewables have experimented with methods of Cape Towns Graduate School of Business
number of sponsors are from North America, to incentivize private investment. in South Africa. In his research and teaching,
Asia, and the Middle East. A few multilateral Until recently, the most widely adopted he focuses on the restructuring and regulation
agencies also hold some equity. procurement strategy for attracting renewable of the electricity sector, investment challenges,
In addition to equity investments, DFIs are energy IPPs involved feed-in tariffs (FiTs), which and links to sustainable development.
prominent in the debt financing of IPPs. The have primarily been promoted by European Katharine Gratwick is an independent
African reality is one in which most IPPs carry bilateral aid programs. FiTs are beginning to energy consultant based in Houston, Texas.
substantial risks. face criticism, however, because prices have Her area of research is largely independent
Without DFI financing, key projects not come down as fast as those associated power projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
would not have reached financial close with competitive tenders. In Africa, the Elvira Morella is a senior energy specialist in
and commercial operation. DFIs have also experience with this instrument has been the Global Energy and Extractives Practice at
reduced the chances of investments and disappointing, and relatively few projects have the World Bank, where she leads energy sector
contracts unravelling in part because of materialized. investment operations and major analytical
rigourous due diligence practices, but also However, two solar projects have been work in the sub-Saharan region.
because of the pressure governments or developed in Uganda under the global energy Pedro Antmann is a lead energy specialist
multilateral institutions might bring to bear transfer feed-in tariff (GETFiT) programme. This at the World Bank, working in the areas of
around honouring investment contracts. programme was designed as a temporary institutional restructuring, regulation, tariffs,
facility to stimulate the small-scale renewable and management of utilities, including
Technology options energy market, initially through a premium incorporation of information technology
The last decade has witnessed a revolution payment but also through firming up the applications.
in renewable energy technologies such as contractual framework, providing investors
wind and solar energy, especially in the past with confidence, and extending institutional Eberhard, Anton, Katharine Gratwick, Elvira Morella,

five years as costs have fallen and efficiencies assistance to the host government. By early and Pedro Antmann. 2016. Independent Power Projects

improved. The same has generally not 2015, GETFiT had confirmed support for 15 in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from Five Key Countries.

occurred in fuel-to-power plants. projects with a total of 128 MW capacity. Directions in Development. Washington, DC: World

Accordingly, for IPPs in the sub-Saharan Although the results achieved to date in Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-0800-5. License: Creative

African power sector, grid-connected Uganda are less impressive than those in Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

renewable energy is gaining traction. South Africa, these projects are still cheaper
The most dramatic example has been than the imported fuel-to-power alternative in Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
South Africas recent large Renewable Energy Uganda. for more information

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1606pei_20 20 6/14/16 1:58 PM


WE
MAKE
POWER
Steinmller Africa (Pty) Ltd. is one of the enterprises in Bilnger Power Africa (Pty) Ltd., the South
African subsidiary of German based Bilnger Power Systems. Our presence in the local market,
spanning 53 years, is testimony to our unrivalled expertise in the steam generation industry. Services
offered range from the design and manufacturing to the construction and maintenance of boiler
pressure parts. At our South African based manufacturing facilities, we also specialise in fabrication
of high-pressure feedwater heaters, pressure vessels, pipe supports and compensators. On-site
maintenance crews provide support to the power generation and petrochemical sectors.
www.steinmuller.bilnger.com

WORK

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Maintaining accurate and reliable boiler water level indications is crucial
Boiler monitoring Credit: Clark-Reliance

Smart technology
for boiler water level
monitoring
A new technology

M
aintaining accurate The many years of acceptance and
is having success in and reliable indication success were due to the reliable concept of
of the water level on conductivity probes being in contact with
monitoring power plant
power boilers is critical boiler water or steam.
boilers. Jim Kolbus to plant operators and The system consists of three major
outlines the systems owners. components:
journey, from concept One of the vital functions for a control 1. A vertically oriented chamber that is
and design to testing and room operator in power boiler environments attached to a boiler drum with piping and
is to continuously maintain a safe operating contains level sensors (called conductivity
bringing it to market
water level. probes). These probes (sensors) are
The ASME Boiler Code requires an operator located at specified elevations to detect
to have at least two independent level the operating range, from the low level
indicators per boiler that are continuously shutdown up to the highest operating
displayed and monitored. water level;
Boiler level indication systems with 2. The control unit which sends a pulsed signal
conductivity probe technology have played to the probes in order to detect the level
a major role in the boiler industry ever since and respond with a corresponding output
ClarkReliance introduced the first Electro Eye signal to the remote indicator.
Hye level indication system in 1960. 3. An LED Indicator which receives a signal

22 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_22 22 6/14/16 1:58 PM


Boiler monitoring

and prominently located for the operator Clark-Reliances new SmartLevel system making for several years. Before designing
to observe in the control room or operating has unique integrated technology that informs the EyeHye SmartLevel system, we consulted
area. The indicator illuminates green LEDs the operator with a blue warning condition with a number of system users and specifiers.
up to the water level and red LEDs for the before an actual fault occurs. The use of a Our staff interviewed end users, specifying
steam area above the water. An additional blue warning light is an original concept in contractors and boiler manufacturers to verify
indicator is also often located in the plant this application. the features they appreciated and desired for
near the boiler drum or at the platform area The blue light is prominent and not this type of water level indication system.
for operator convenience. confused with many other red lighting Our research validated the preference
Until recently, users of these systems relied that is commonly found in control room for individual circuits for each sensor. This is a
on scheduled operating and maintenance environments. This system has been in the significant factor that increases reliability by
procedures that required frequent blowdowns
to identify a fault condition or cause. In the
past, marginal conditions were not detectable

FOR SALE
until they manifested into a false indication on
the remote indicator.

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Credit: Clark-Reliance

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www.PowerEngineeringInt.com Power Engineering International June 2016 23

1606pei_23 23 6/14/16 1:58 PM


Boiler monitoring

eliminating the risk of a single component


failure from affecting the level that is displayed.
In addition, the ability to predict
maintenance and reduce the frequency of
operator interface with isolation and drain
valves in this harsh environment became a
target for us.
Our goal was to provide a system with
distinct advantages that would be realized
by boiler operators and improve a previously
successful system.
Our design team developed this system
that actually senses the condition of the
sensors, while maintaining the independent
circuitry, which has made the EyeHye system Conductivity probes are in touch with boiler water and steam
Credit: Clark-Reliance

POWER PLANT
PTIMIZATION
commonly specified and installed around the
world for so many years.
We created new level detection modules Thus, identifying the specific probe that We also offer a precommissioning

PLANT
with additional integrated features for testing, needs to be serviced is easy. With traditional inspection and training service named
time delay, and adjustable sensitivity to systems, our maintenance instructions SureStart. This field service provides a factory-
accommodate for variations in the conductive recommended weekly blowdowns, which trained technician on the site for inspection EMISSIO
COAL ASH MANAGEMENT A

properties with the users water quality. resulted in frequent activity with the isolation of the system installation and to provide AS AND STEAM GAS TU

COAL
In the end, we created a microprocessor- and drain valves. The SmartLevel system operation and maintenance training to site
TURBINE UPGRADES

MATS COMPLIANCE
driven brain for each probe that monitors advises the operator when the blowdown personnel.
the health of the probe itself. We established procedure is necessary. While the SmartLevel system is plug and MANAG
a separate dedicated blue indicating light However, if no signal occurs over an play from the factory, this precommissioning AND ST

GAS AND STEAM


on the module and remote indicator that extended period of time, we recommend an service provides the user with a working
illuminates only when a probe has become occasional blowdown, in order to ensure the understanding of the field-selectable features
OAL ASH
contaminated. connecting piping between the drum and and eliminates field errors that may affect MANAGEMENT
This level of contamination is established the level sensing column is permitting steam system operation or go undetected, such AND STORAGE

ON-SITE
when the probe signal crosses a boundary and water to flow freely to the probe chamber. as concerns with field wiring terminations or
for a specified period of time, but ahead of We also added another helpful feature piping.
reaching the state that would cause a false with white LEDs on the remote indicator to We also identify any issues that may
indication. highlight the normal operating level. This aids increase safety, such as chain operators for CES

ENERATION
We chose a blue light because it is more the operator, especially if they temporarily isolation valves and proper drain piping. We
PROJE
RESO
prominent in a control room environment, as step away from their work station and find also aid users by identifying any issues that
opposed to using another red warning light, themselves too far from the indicator to read may affect their Code compliance with the

ENT
which may not attract the attention of the the specific levels. Any deviation from the level instrumentation on their boilers.
operator as effectively. normal level is easy for the operator to identify The installed applications for the SmartLevel
When the blue light activates it alerts and rapidly respond to. system range from power to chemical,industrial
the operator to take action. The first course After completing our lab testing and and steam heating. The system was designed
of action is to conduct a blowdown on the securing the appropriate agency approvals for worldwide use and operates on a wide
column in an effort to clean the probe in for the SmartLevel, we selected three different range of power source voltages from 90 VAC to
question. sites for field testing. 264 VAC and operates reliably on a low
After conducting the blowdown process Our plans included field testing on boilers frequency of 50 Hz.
which can be done in a matter of minutes with a range of operating pressures for a The system may interface with the
the probe will be cleaned and the blue light full year, prior to offering the product on the users distributive control system (DCS) or
will go out. This is especially true if the cause market. programmable logic control (PLC) system with
was minor debris on the probe. We selected a small package boiler at a outputs from field-selectable switch contacts
The blowdown is effectively a steam water treatment plant (operating at 350 PSI), or the 4 mA20 mA output signal.
cleaning process of the probes. If the blue a major university located in the midwestern
light remains on after the blowdown, the US (operating at 900 PSI), and a high pressure Jim Kolbus is Product Manager at Clark
operator inspects the control unit and application located outdoors at a major Reliance Corp. www.clark-reliance.com
observes a prominent blue light on the level power utility in south Louisiana (operating in
detection module that is associated with the excess of 2000 PSI). Our field testing at all three Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com
contaminated probe. sites was a success. for more information

24 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_24 24 6/14/16 1:58 PM


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E
ON

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1606pei_25 25 6/14/16 1:58 PM


Utilities

The future of
utilities is now
New technologies and changing consumer habits mean utilities have to tear
up their century-old business models and also the systems that enable them,
writes Ken Vormwald

W
ith apologies to William decisions utility companies make about their live without power or burn wood and even
Gibson, the North supply chains. Because if changing market animal waste for cooking and heating.
American science dynamics werent enough risk to manage, And yet, demand for fuel to produce
fiction writer, the future you now have to add the constant worry of that power is only projected to rise by 50 per
has already arrived for extreme weather. The last few years have cent. For that, blame more customer-owned
utility companies. The shown it to be a near constant that lands generation and improved energy efficiency in
challenge, however, is how to make it spread. without precedent or warning, crashing generation and transmission. Flat or negative
The cost of solar power continues to drop generation capacity when a polar vortex or growth to utility revenues has been the result.
while consumer demand for renewables heat wave descends, or dampening demand If utility companies are going to squeeze
continues to rise. Highly responsive urban during an extended El Nio winter. profits out of a marketplace thats evolving
microgrids that optimize usage are gaining So, how can utilities better understand fast and shifting shape, it is crucial that they
adoption. Teslas PowerWall product, a the future impact of weather on both power find new ways to optimize their resources and
rechargeable lithium-ion battery for home use, demand and supply, manage a multiplicity reduce costs. One way to do that is to invest
promises to make in-home energy storage a of distributed generation sources, take the more in systems that provide intelligence for
reality within this decade. All these changes steps toward a distributed generation model short-term planning issues like, for instance,
are forcing utilities to adopt a more distributed with minimum pain and disruption, plan the unit commitment and bidding.
model of generation that all but guarantees availability of fuel, and deal with associated This is easy to say but harder to do. As an
even more disruption along with reduced price swings? Its a big ask, but the answer asset-intensive industry with major capital
income from electricity sales given that more may well lie in yes more technology. But this commitments, utility companies have always
and more people generate their own. time in systems that can deal with torrents of given emphasis to long-term planning --
With all the embedded systems being data to manage unpredictability and risk. often conducted separately from short-term
installed in homes and businesses, you planning, and where both tend to be done
would think that technology would also Demand up, consumption down in isolation from the trading desk. It is a siloed
make predicting and pricing consumption According to Exxons long-term energy approach that blurs awareness of the market
in this new environment easier. But that is forecast to 2040, global demand for power is risks that arise when planning for future
unfortunately not the case. set to grow by about 85 per cent between now portfolio enhancements or resource needs.
The truth is that all that data being sent and then as living standards rise, economies Significant cultural change may be needed
back to the IT mothership is too much for grow and the electrification of society (see alongside technological changes.
many legacy IT systems to analyze quickly. The mobile devices, the internet of things and Regulatory changes are another area of
business insights and improved visibility of risks the rise of wearables) continue, but also as extreme risk for utilities. The complexity of rules
that big data promises are needed now more electricity and other energy sources reach from reporting to markets, to transactions, to
than ever, particularly to inform the trading people in developing countries who currently contracts and accounting generates special

26 Power Engineering International June 2016 www.PowerEngineeringInt.com

1606pei_26 26 6/14/16 1:58 PM


Utilities

challenges in complying with the ambiguities solar, fuel oil, hydro and geothermal. UTILITIES IT SURVEY
of regimes such as Dodd-Frank, REMIT, EMIR, And it should provide control and efficiency
MiFID II and many more. in the trading, tracking and risk management At the end of 2015, Allegro conducted
Without accurate internal audits and of physical and financial positions spanning a survey of power and utility company
proper governance, utility companies power, fuel, transmission, ancillary services, professionals to better understand their
involved in energy trading can be exposed to swaps, options and structured transactions. technology needs and the business
significant risk. Likewise, it should make it possible for P&Ls, concerns driving their IT strategies.
Forward-looking traders, meanwhile, volumes, risk metrics, exposures and other key The survey gathered responses from
are seeing that better visibility into the non- indicators to be viewed on a real-time basis. more than 80 participants including
standard, structured deals in their portfolios This way, decision-makers can gain a executives, managerial and technical
could create new opportunities. holistic and transparent view of their portfolios, staff, and a small number of customers
Further complicating matters for utilities capturing every detail of operation for a involved in providing electric, gas,
are the ever-increasing pressures from global clearer gauge of present and projected value water and emissions and renewable
environmental agencies to curb and manage with integration for regulatory reporting and services. Job functions included
their carbon emissions. Proposals, such as ISO connectivity. finance, accounting, operations, risk
the US Environmental Protection Agencys In summary, a utility commodity management, trading, legal and load
comprehensive Clean Power Plan, are management system should, at minimum, forecasting.
expected to affect carbon-fuelled generating offer the following: Companies ranged in size from fewer
l
plants around the world. Likewise, in Europe, Robust analytics, such as forecasting, than 10,000 metered customers to more
the 7th Environment Action Programme simulation and optimization; than 1 million.
l
outlines sustainability and biodiversity Standardized models and forecasts to When asked to rank the areas of
objectives based on low-carbon growth. Not ensure consistency in analysis, with the greatest importance, more 53 per cent
only will utility companies need to manage ability to trace back model results and said improving operational efficiency and
the physical aspects of these new regulations, assess risk across power and gas portfolios; reducing costs was their main concern.
l
they will need to facilitate the complex process Forecasting, simulation and optimization Managing assets around supply and
of dealing with emissions credits and potential analytics integrated with energy trading demand accounted for 21 per cent, and
new cap-and-trade markets. and risk management applications; commodity price volatility accounted
l
Quick assurance that trades and related for 17 per cent. Leveraging smart grid/
Commodity management activities are compliant with regulatory smart meter investments, and integration
With so many factors disrupting their business regimes; of distributed resources, including EVs,
l
models, utility companies need to invest now Simulation of market, outage and weather distributed generation and renewables
in technology that can mitigate the risks they scenarios fast enough to handle trading each registered less than 10 per cent.
face. Management needs better and faster requirements. Asked about the issues that kept them
access to information and tools for decision- up at night, price volatility topped the list,
making. Without a commodity management Before you begin with regulatory compliance running a
platform, they may not be able to accurately Before you begin evaluating solution providers, close second. Other responses included
dispatch generation, manage contract terms you should understand your companys changing technology/aging assets, the
or pass regulatory scrutiny over feedstock strategy for hedging risk and complying with economy, weather and associated risk
purchases. regulations in detail. Take an inventory of management.
The assumption has always been that IT will your most-used resource analytics, but also When asked to rank their main
provide access to the right insight. However, consult traders, risk managers and planners to reasons for considering a CTRM solution
the industry has grown up with home-grown understand what they need to be successful. on which to run their businesses, 51 per
and off-the-shelf energy trading and risk Investing in a set of applications cent of respondents ranked increased
management (ETRM) applications that may that integrate energy trading and risk margins: improving operational efficiency
not be ready to meet the needs of todays management with analytics is an opportunity and reducing cost at a score of 8 or
power and utility markets. to reduce the total cost of supporting legacy better, with 25 per cent ranking it a
Spreadsheet-based applications, in systems or spreadsheets. It will also ensure 10, or extremely important. Satisfying
particular, typically need a high level of that information is consistent across the whole regulatory needs and pressures scored
expensive customization each time a new organization, which is essential for utilities to be 47 per cent at an 8 or greater, with the
type of generation or fuel is added. profitable and grow. marriage of electric utilities and natural
A robust and reliable utility commodity gas, integration of distributed resources,
management solution can be applied Ken Vormwald is Product Manager at Allegro including EVs, distributed generation and
across the entire lifecycle of power, from the Development. renewables, and leveraging smart grid/
acquisition of fuels to marketing and trading. It smart meter investments all scoring 8 or
should address the full spectrum of generation Visit www.PowerEngineeringInt.com more 20 per cent of the time.
profiles including natural gas, coal, nuclear, for more information

www.PowerEngineeringInt.com Power Engineering International June 2016 27

1606pei_27 27 6/14/16 1:58 PM


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