POWER [April, 1 2010]

Cover Stories

Wind Destroyed and Now Powers Greensburg, Kansas

Greensburg was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 4, 2007. Instead of abandoning the Kansas town, the community quickly embraced the task of rebuilding it from the ground up, maximizing the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficient building techniques. Rebuilding continues, but the future of Greensburg has never been stronger.

Features

A Primer on Optimizing Fleet Operations

The power industry needs a straightforward definition of "fleet optimization" and a game plan to achieve the promised economic gains of optimizing. This need has become more urgent because integrating nondispatchable renewable resources requires more complex optimization strategies. The bottom-up approach presented here applies well-understood optimization principles and techniques that will help power producers minimize their fleetwide cost of production, independent of the technologies used to generate electricity.

Benchmarking Nuclear Plant Staffing

The EUCG Nuclear Committee has collected benchmarking data of U.S. nuclear plant staffing for many years. A summary of this highly desirable data was gleaned from EUCG databases and is now, for the first time, made public through an exclusive agreement with POWER.

Enhanced Condenser Tube Designs Improve Plant Performance

Enhanced condenser tube designs can significantly improve the heat rate and performance of fossil and nuclear plants. Using the optimum number of tubes and replacement tube sheets will cost more than simply replacing plain tubes. However, the investment’s simple payback is measured in only weeks, which builds a strong case for using an enhanced tube design as part of your next condenser overhaul.

OPG Charts Move from Coal to Biomass

In response to Ontario’s provincial regulatory mandates to phase out the use of coal by the end of 2014, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is exploring its capability to employ biomass feedstocks to displace coal in some units within the OPG thermal fleet. The primary fuels employed during the respective trials at its Nanticoke and Atikokan Generating Stations have been agricultural by-products and commercial grade wood pellets. The Canadian utility has learned valuable lessons about fuel supply and logistics, and the technical challenges of safely handling and firing high levels of biomass.

Smart Grid: On the Money

How much will a smart grid cost? It’s a question that has gained importance in light of massive cost overruns for one highly touted U.S. project.

Sub-Sea Water Treatment System Provides Reliable Supply for the Huarun Power Plant

River deltas experience extreme seasonal changes in water quality that perplex conventional water treatment systems. Industrial development in China, including new power plants, has spurred the development of desalination processes that have tamed these brackish water sources to provide a virtually unlimited supply of boiler-quality water.

Departments

Commentary

Rethinking the Power Industry’s Dash to Gas

During a recent meeting of state utility commissioners, the CEO of a Fortune 500 electric power company said natural gas prices promise reliability but "always break your heart." What breaks my heart is the electric power industry’s ongoing love affair with natural gas. Using natural gas for generating electricity is not the best or highest use for this clean, green, and domestically abundant resource.

New Products

DC Power Sources for High-Production Welding

ESAB Welding & Cutting Products’ LAF series of three-phase, fan-cooled DC welding power sources are designed for high-productivity mechanized submerged arc welding or high-productivity GMAW welding. Made for use in…

Encased High-Speed Imaging Cameras

High-speed imaging systems manufacturer Photron introduced hardware to extend the normal operating temperature range of the Fastcam SA5 and Fastcam SA2 high-speed cameras. The Range Version (RV) is a new…

Microprocessor-Based Vibration Amplifier

Sensing and monitoring systems supplier Meggitt PLC launched the Endevco model 6634C, a microprocessor-based vibration amplifier that has been designed to condition and display rotating machinery data in simultaneous outputs,…

Rugged Servo Inclinometer

UK-based Sherborne Sensors has introduced the LSI series of closed-loop gravity-referenced servo inclinometers to the North American market. The family of inclinometers is specially designed to withstand severe shock and…

Stainless Triplex Plunger Pumps

CAT PUMPS recently introduced two new stainless steel triplex plunger pumps featuring a 316 stainless steel liquid-end for corrosion resistance. The 7CP6111 and 7CP6171 are designed for pumping liquids like…

Universal Input/Output Transmitters

Honeywell has added universal input/output (I/O) transmitters to its family of XYR 6000 wireless products. The transmitters allow manufacturers to wirelessly monitor more plant points with fewer devices. The company…

Legal & Regulatory

Gridlock Continues for Grid Policy

Early last year, there were promising signs that electric transmission line construction would be facilitated by the convergence of the new administration’s emphasis on developing remote renewable generation resources, proposed legislative provisions expanding federal siting authority, and the granting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of generous cost-of-service returns on such investments. However, the stars did not align for transmission policy in 2009 as had been hoped, and the forecast is cloudy.

Focus on O&M

Competitive Maintenance Strategies, Part II

Nearly every combined-cycle operator recognizes that cycling reduces the life expectancy of hot-gas-path components in combustion turbines. Often overlooked, however, is that the same phenomenon affects the heat-recovery steam generator (HRSG).

Deciphering Desuperheater Failures

The "combined" portion of a combined-cycle plant is the heat-recovery steam generator (HRSG) that generates high-pressure and high-temperature steam and the steam turbine generator that expands the steam to produce electricity. Integrating the HRSG and steam turbine with the combustion turbine is a key challenge for plant designers, as each system has differing operating profiles, operational constraints, and design requirements.

Global Monitor

Permeable UK Granite Is Good News for Geothermal Energy

In mid-February, the Geological Society of London raised the hopes of those promoting geothermal energy when results of exploratory drilling in Weardale, County Durham, revealed record levels of permeability in granite. Although the results are promising for the development of geothermal energy, they may have less welcome implications for the safe disposal of radioactive waste in deep repositories.

Dish Stirling Solar Plant Debuts

In late January, a 1.5-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant began providing power to Salt River Project customers in Greater Phoenix, Ariz. Though small, the plant, developed by Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems (SES), is seen as a prelude to 1,500-MW projects that are due to break ground in California and Texas later this year.

From GHG to Useful Materials

Could the transformation of carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbonates and oxides solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from fossil-fired power plants? Some companies are betting that such processes could make everyone happy and even create new profits. Buzz has been growing about this approach, though the concept has been around for many years.

Initial Experiments Meet Requirements for Fusion Ignition

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California speculate that a prototype nuclear fusion power plant could be operational within a decade, thanks to a test of the world’s largest laser array that confirmed a technique called inertial fusion ignition is feasible. Their first experiments have demonstrated a unique physics effect that bodes well for NIF’s success in generating a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction. Fusion energy is what powers the sun and stars.

Marines Get Power from Waves

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) announced on Feb. 1 that it had successfully deployed one of its PowerBuoy wave energy devices about a mile offshore from a U.S. Marine Corps Base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The device generates up to 40 kW of power from the rise and fall of waves, and since its deployment in December 2009, it has been generating power within specifications.

POWER Digest (April 2010)

Siemens Hands Over 870-MW Dutch Gas Plant. Siemens Energy on Feb. 12 handed over the 870-MW Sloecentrale combined-cycle power plant to the joint venture of Dutch company Delta Energy and…

U.S. Spins Nuclear Wheels as Other Nations Roll Out New Plants

President Barack Obama’s January State of the Union speech called for incentives to make clean energy profitable — mainly through the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants. That comment, an apparent effort to reach out to Republican members of Congress, drew furious applause. Within three weeks, the president’s backing of nuclear power had already made a significant impact on the U.S. nuclear sector.

Speaking of Power

What’s Bugging Me

I’m often asked about my source of ideas for this space each month. I have two primary sources of subject material. First, I read the industry news every day and save those items that either annoy or agitate me. At the end of the month, I go over the list, often a long one, and pick the one item that immediately motivates me to take virtual pen to paper. This month, no single item emerged as the topic for my bully pulpit, so I present a potpourri of loosely connected topics for your consideration. (It should be noted that other things bug other members of the editorial staff; we’re a diverse group and do not always agree about industry issues.)

GBR Reports