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Using Data to Improve Power Plant Operations [PODCAST]

Power plants have an abundance of data. Temperatures, pressures, flows, and various other parameters are all monitored constantly to ensure plants are operating properly. However, a lot of data is not used to its fullest extent. With the right tools, data can be more-thoroughly analyzed and findings can be acted upon to improve efficiency and catch asset deterioration before equipment fails.

David Thomason, industry principal of Global Power Generation with OSIsoft, was a guest on The POWER Podcast. OSIsoft offers several solutions for the power industry that help utilities ensure reliable and stable system operation.

“What we’ve seen is kind of an evolution of what we’re calling layered analytics,” Thomason said. “You really want to be able to monitor the health of your assets in real time. So, it’s kind of a movement from periodic conditioned assessments around equipment and assets, and move to a more online condition monitoring.”

Thomason mentioned an innovative solution that has been implemented at the Itaipu dam in Brazil. The facility is using a real-time data system to scrutinize the structural integrity of the dam. He said there are “key blocks within the hydroelectric facility” that were instrumented with sensors that can detect movement. The system allows operators to monitor the health of the entire structure. “It’s such a cool use case that I really wish I could see this expanded across multiple places, of course, multiple hydro dams, but also even things like tunnels and bridges,” he said.

In another example, Thomason said several power companies around the world are incorporating parameters such as depth and density of snowfall into water inventory calculations to allow better day-to-day decisions and optimize hydro resources. “This is that whole concept around using data and information in ways people really weren’t planning to use in the past, but being able to have it available to help them to make those types of decisions,” said Thomason.

Listen to the entire interview on The POWER Podcast.

For more power podcasts, visit The POWER Podcast archives.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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