POWER [July, 1 2009]

Cover Stories

Digital Networks Prove Reliable, Reduce Costs

The debate over the benefits of using digital bus networks as the communications backbone of new power plants is all but settled. The technology is maturing, and the reliability of digital hardware is superior to that of hardwired systems. Newmont Gold Mining’s 200-MW TS Power Plant is perhaps the power industry’s best example of how a plantwide digital controls architecture can provide exceptional reliability and be significantly less costly to install.

Features

Biomass Cofiring: Another Way to Clean Your Coal

Demand for renewable power is burgeoning as state governments (and maybe soon the U.S. federal government) impose increasingly rigorous environmental and procurement standards on the energy industry. Surprisingly, biomass cofiring has yet to attract much attention, even though it could help many utilities meet their renewable portfolio requirements, reduce carbon emissions, and solve other regional environmental problems. U.S. developers, investors, and regulators should consider including cofiring as part of the energy mix going forward.

Carbon Control: The Long Road Ahead

The industry is preparing for carbon legislation by exploring options for dealing with CO2. But even if the technical issues are resolved, actually sequestering CO2 poses a number of other daunting challenges.

Designing an Ultrasupercritical Steam Turbine

Carbon emissions produced by the combustion of coal may be collected and stored in the future, but a better approach (in the near term at least) is to reduce the carbon produced through efficient combustion technologies. Increasing the efficiency of new plants using ultrasupercritical technology will net less carbon released per megawatt-hour using the world’s abundant coal reserves while producing electricity at the lowest possible cost.

Improved Filler Metal Enables Higher-Temperature Dissimilar Metal Welds

The welding of dissimilar metal joints in new and retrofit power plant boiler tubing has long proved challenging. New plants designed to operate at higher temperatures and pressures require advanced alloys and a filler metal that produces reliable welds. EPRI recently developed and sponsored the commercialization of a new filler metal. Its first application is the fabrication of boiler tubes for American Electric Power’s ultrasupercritical John J. Turk, Jr. Power Plant.

Power Industry Needs to Do a Better Job of Educating and Messaging

At the opening ELECTRIC POWER 2009 plenary session, both the keynote speaker and the Power Industry Executive Roundtable participants kept circling back to the problems created by a public and lawmakers who seem to be promoting policies without an adequate understanding of energy realities. Most of the speakers acknowledged that the industry itself is partly to blame, but nobody offered a way forward.

Technology Could Deliver 90% Hg Reduction from Coal

Reducing mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants by 90% has been considered the holy grail of mercury control. A new technique promises to get us there — at a price.

The Growing Role of Waste-to-Energy in the U.S.

Using nonhazardous waste for power generation is a trend that’s gaining steam for several reasons. Though there are several environmental reasons, another is the reliability of the fuel supply.

The Odd Couple: Renewables and Transmission

The tension between the growing number of renewable energy projects and limited transmission capacity is reflected in Washington’s legislative agenda of establishing a national renewable portfolio standard and new transmission lines dedicated to moving renewable energy coast-to-coast. Even if those ideas become law, hurdles to the happy marriage of renewables and transmission remain.

Departments

Commentary

Managing Solar’s Revenue Impact on Utilities

Since 1882, when Thomas Edison installed the world’s first central generating plant in New York City, utility business models have varied little from the basic one: cover costs and generate profit by selling more electricity. But today, unprecedented challenges are sweeping through the industry. Soon utilities will face yet another new challenge: the large-scale implementation of distributed solar power, which can result in lower electricity sales. As solar implementation further challenges business-as-usual models, what’s a forward-thinking utility to do?

New Products

25-Ton Hydraulic Internal/External Puller

Posi Lock’s hydraulic line featuring the patented "Safety Cage" has been expanded to include the PH-113IE, a three-jaw, 25-ton internal/external puller that is designed to solve problems associated with the…

CO2 Sensor/Transmitter

The recently released EX-5165 Sensor/Transmitter from ENMET Corp. is a three-wire 4-20 mA sensor for the detection of carbon dioxide in ranges from 0 to 500 ppm and 0% to…

High-Torque Electric Rotary Actuator

Rotork Process Controls introduced the SM-6000 S2, an electric rotary actuator for a wide range of heavy-duty damper drive applications found in power plants. The actuator provides high speeds and…

Pressure Blowers for High-Volume Applications

Chicago Blower has developed a series of 16 higher-pressure blowers that are suited to combustion air, aeration, cooling and drying systems, and other high-volume processes. The blowers support pressures of…

Remanufactured Generator Ends

Caterpillar Inc. introduced a new family of remanufactured generator ends for standby, prime, and continuous power applications. The C32 and 3500 series Caterpillar engines have been used for applications ranging…

Tool and Equipment Management Software

Washington-based software developer Dynamic Systems Inc. launched the Basic Tool Manager, a software based on barcode technology, which has been developed for companies that want to reduce the loss of…

Legal & Regulatory

Too Many Fingers in the Smart Grid Pie?

There has been much excitement about the advent of the "smart grid" recently, especially because of the strong push by the Obama administration. Despite the simple-sounding term, the smart grid is not a simple concept.

Focus on O&M

Extreme Oil Changes

Performing regular oil changes on remote generators is far from simple or cost-effective. Here’s how one firm harnessed technology to extend oil change intervals from one week to two months.

How Company Size Affects NERC Compliance

In the world of North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) Reliability Standards, each company (entity) that must comply with the standards determines for itself the scope and size of its compliance program, based on the scope and size of its operations.

Optimize Gas Turbine Performance Using Acoustic Simulation Software

Increasingly fierce competition driven by deregulation and privatization is putting downward pressure on power plant operations and maintenance (O&M) budgets. Recently, lower natural gas prices have pushed natural gas – fired combined-cycle plants higher up in many utilities’ dispatch order in some regions, a welcome change from the twice-a-day cycling experienced by some plants during the past few years. However, with more operating hours comes more interest in plant operating availability, and that means increased emphasis on reliable gas turbine operation.

Global Monitor

"Smart Turbine Blades" to Improve Wind Power

Engineers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades. Their achievement could one day improve the efficiency of wind turbines by providing the blades’ "smart" structure with necessary data to adjust to rapidly changing wind conditions.

Energy Storage Efforts Making Progress

The intensifying spotlight on renewable energy seems to be casting a brighter light on the energy storage problem, with lawmakers, researchers, and investors scrambling to seek out the most feasible solution to bridge the intermittent nature of renewable power sources.

Ethiopia Completes Construction of Africa's Tallest Dam

Ethiopia, the landlocked nation in East Africa from which key tributaries to the Nile River originate, completed construction of the continent’s highest dam, the 188-meter Tekezé Arch Dam (Figure 3) in February.

Mitsubishi Wraps Up Development of J-Class Mega Turbine

This March, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) quietly completed development of the "J-series" gas turbine — a machine that has been extolled in the turbo-machinery world for its ability to produce one of the world’s largest power generation capacities and highest thermal efficiencies.

PG&E Makes a Deal for Space-Based Power

Just as reports emerged earlier this year that NASA had abandoned, for lack of financial resources, its research into space-based solar power that would be harnessed via orbiting solar arrays beaming microwaves to earthly receivers, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) wrote the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requesting its approval of a power purchase agreement from a similar technology.

POWER Digest (July 2009)

News items of interest to power industry professionals.

Qatar Starts Construction on Middle East's Largest Power and Water Plant

The gas-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar in May commenced construction of the region’s largest power and water plant, a massive project comprising eight gas turbine generators, eight heat-recovery steam generators, four steam turbine generators, and 10 desalination units.

Sweden Selects Site of First Permanent Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository

In early June, as U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed to a House Subcommittee that Yucca Mountain repository was, without doubt, "off the table" and that a blue ribbon panel would further advise the government on what it should do with its high-level nuclear waste, Sweden announced the site of what could be the world’s first permanent spent fuel repository.

Speaking of Power

Our Integrity Is Not for Sale

I was putting the finishing touches on this month’s editorial when I received an email from a reader who owns a company that serves the power industry. He was very complimentary of an article I recently wrote. "Goes without saying," I was thinking to myself. However, actually saying it goes a long way in my book, and I enjoy hearing from readers — at least most of the time.

GBR Reports