POWER [June, 1 2011]

Cover Stories

Artificial Intelligence Boosts Plant IQ

Neural networks have already found practical application in many plants, and recent advancements in artificial intelligence promise to shape the design of the next generation of power plant supervisory controls. Will future plant operators be fashioned from silicon?


A More Accurate Way to Calculate the Cost of Electricity

Life-cycle cost of ownership is a common metric used to compare power plant system alternatives. However, the familiar formula for calculating the cost of generating electricity omits factors that are becoming increasingly important to business decisions. A new formula addresses those blind spots by estimating the value of the part-load performance of cycling combined-cycle plants.

Fully Automating HRSG Feedwater Pumps

Modern distributed control system platforms can provide many tools to capture best operating practices and automate them. This case study shows the steps taken to automate a hypothetical simplified feedwater pump system for a combined-cycle power plant. It describes a combination of controls automation strategies and human-machine interface techniques designed to increase the overall level of automation while improving ease of use.

K-Power Upgrades Combined- Cycle Automatic Generation Controls

Tightly managed grids require combined-cycle plants equipped with power block controls that can quickly respond to automatic generation control signals with minimal error. K-Power’s successful controls upgrade demonstrates that that goal—and more—is achievable.

Selecting Your Next Combustion Turbine

With natural gas serving as the fuel de jour, many utilities and merchant generators will be considering the purchase of new combustion turbines in the near future. If you are in the market for a gas turbine, here are some key design features you should discuss with turbine vendors prior to your next purchase.

Spain: A Renewable Kingdom

Spain has served as both exemplar and scapegoat when it comes to renewable energy policy. Though power policy must necessarily accommodate specific national resources and goals, Spain’s experience as an early and eager adopter of renewable energy technologies and subsidies is a cautionary tale of how the best intentions can have unintended consequences.

The T-Point Plant: The Ultimate Validation Test

Fourteen years ago, the MHI T-Point demonstration combined-cycle plant in Takasago, Japan, changed the way modern gas turbines are validated under real operating conditions. In February, T-Point marked yet another milestone by starting to validate the world’s largest and highest efficiency gas turbine, which operates at the unprecedented turbine inlet temperature of 1,600C.

The Urge to Merge

Utility mergers and acquisitions are on the upswing again. When faced with flat load growth, pervasive regulatory uncertainty, and the rising cost of doing business, larger companies are better able to afford expensive new plants while maintaining shareholder dividends.



U.S. Nuclear Operations in a Post-Fukushima World

Perhaps more than for any other industry, a nuclear accident in any part of the world affects nuclear operations elsewhere. Such an incident necessarily and inevitably results in industry self-examination, heightened regulatory oversight, and third-party scrutiny.

New Products

Close-Coupled Pumps

The new Moyno 2000 Model WA and WB pumps provide unmatched performance in a compact, close-coupled configuration. The close-coupled pumps are specifically designed for lower-pressure, lower-flow applications that do not…

Digital Pressure Transducer

The new Heise DXD digital pressure transducer delivers the unique benefits of digital communication at what the manufacturer says is a bargain price. This instrument is now available with a…

Filters for Lower-Pressure Liquid and Gas Applications

Mott says its new 7710 Series filters are designed to accommodate lower-pressure liquid and gas filtration applications at a value price point. Porous metal elements for this model are 10-inch…

Hermetically Sealed Piezoelectric Accelerometers

Meggitt Sensing Systems introduced the Endevco model 7251A series, a family of small, lightweight, hermetically sealed piezoelectric accelerometers with integral electronics. The centrally located thru-bolt mounting hole of this series…

Portable Emission Analyzer

Testo’s 350 portable emission analyzer is a complete redesign of the company’s existing emission analyzer for measuring nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and oxygen. Improvements include a…

Security-Enhancing Distributed Control System

ABB has launched its Symphony Plus distributed control system (DCS), a product the Zurich-based company says will improve power plant productivity and energy efficiency as well as enhance operational security…

Legal & Regulatory

Reliability Challenges Cause Texas-Size Headache

Even though Texas is again basking in warm weather, federal regulators are still investigating the rolling blackouts that hit the Lone Star state during a record-breaking cold snap in early February.

Focus on O&M

Air Preheater Uses New Adaptive Brush-Sealing Design

Radial, axial, and circumferential metallic seals installed on rotary, regenerative air preheaters have evolved little from the original metal strip designs that date back to the original Ljungström preheaters developed nearly a century ago. Unfortunately, metallic strip seals degrade soon after installation, allowing excessive air-to-gas leakage, which translates into increased fuel consumption and fan power.


The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) Reliability Standards are under constant revision even while new requirements are under active development. Three important regulatory definitions are currently being contested.

Twin Pac Controls Upgraded

In November 2008, a central Texas utility commissioned HPI, a full-service turbomachinery design and construction firm based in Houston, to perform a major upgrade of its plant’s power distribution and turbine control systems.

Global Monitor

Battery That Extracts Energy from Water Salinity Difference

A rechargeable battery developed by researchers from Stanford University employs the difference in salinity between freshwater and saltwater to generate a current.

Countries Abandon Subsidies for Renewables en Masse

Stricken by the economic crisis and forced to implement austerity measures, several countries around the world have been forced to abandon or slash subsidies for renewable power producers.

Germany Considers Accelerated Nuclear Exit on Fukushima Worries

In the wake of the devastating nuclear crisis afflicting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, Germany has embarked on an abrupt shift away from nuclear power, shutting down eight reactors for safety checks and ditching concerted efforts to keep nuclear power plants open in the long term. In mid-April, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that leaders of Germany’s 16 states all want to “exit nuclear energy as soon as possible and make the switch to supplying via renewable energy.” The policy reversal has incited ardent opposition from the energy sector and industry.

POWER Digest (June 2011)

Italian Firm Wins Contract to Build Massive African Hydropower Plant. Italian construction firm Salini Costruttori said on March 31 it has signed a €3.35 billion contract with Ethiopia state-owned Ethiopia…

Recovery Efforts Continue at Fukushima Daiichi

In April, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency provisionally raised the accident rating for three reactors at the crippled six-unit Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture to Level 7—making it…

Seven Charged in Siberian Hydropower Plant Accident

The Russian Investigative Committee has completed a probe into the August 2009 accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro Power Plant in Siberia that killed 75 people. The committee has charged seven people—including the plant’s former head, Nikolai Nevolko, his deputies, and the plant’s former chief engineer, Andrei Mitrofanov—for violating safety rules. If found guilty, the officials could face five years in jail.

Speaking of Power

Turning Gold into Lead

Despite California’s deep economic wounds, Governor Jerry Brown (D) last month signed a bill (SB 2X) that increased the state’s already ambitious renewables portfolio standard (RPS) goal from 20% to 33% by 2020. Together with the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires caps on greenhouse gas emissions starting next year, the new law will push up the price of electricity and further delay the Golden State’s economic recovery by permanently driving away irreplaceable businesses and manufacturing jobs.

GBR Reports