The power generation industry is currently facing the need to reduce operating costs while maintaining the safety and availability of power plants. Considering the high performance of non-manageable renewable power plants (solar and wind) that have been in operation over the last two decades, most fossil fuel plants, especially combined cycle plants (CCGT), operate through a high number of start and stop cycles. In this scenario, the cost associated with plant start-up has an ever-increasing impact on plant operating results.
To improve their operating results, combined cycle power plants need modern technology to focus on two main areas of work:
- Reducing the power value corresponding to the plant’s technical minimum, in order to increase availability and the chance of participation in electricity markets.
- Optimizing the system’s start-up so that it is carried out at the lowest possible cost and without causing irregularities in relation to the target load program.
What are the benefits of a start-up monitoring system?
The large fossil fuel power plants typically operate without interruption and therefore the start-up cost of the installation has a minor impact on the plant’s economic profitability. The consequence of this operation is that in the performance of start-ups other factors prevail without giving priority to time and consumption.
Start-up monitoring systems are based on the need to minimize the cost of start-up through the use of digital operating systems that allow, for the many combinations of initial plant conditions, to identify the optimum start-up and monitor whether the start-up of the plant is carried out with the minimum possible deviations from the desired value.
Some studies have estimated that the savings margin per start-up could be around 5,000 euros.
Tecnatom and start-up monitoring systems
With more than twenty years of experience in the operation of combined cycles power plants, as well as in the development of operation support systems, Tecnatom has developed the TecOS START solution which is included in the TecOS Suite (Tecnatom Operations Suite) in order to optimize the combined cycle start-up process.
TecOS START provides information relevant to the start-up process: in planning, in monitoring and in the later analysis phase of the start-up.
The TecOS START machine learning algorithms provide estimations in the planning phase according to the:
- Fuel consumption and auxiliaries during start-up
- Planned time for coupling
- Energy delivered to the grid by time slot
Once start-up has been initiated, TecOS START allows real time monitoring of the various start-up phases, of compliance with intermediate stages, of estimated waiting times and possible deviations. All this information provides the operator with normal start-up actions and corrective actions if necessary.
At start-up, the tool generates reports in which the irregularities in each phase can be analyzed so that measures can be taken to optimize future start-ups.
All this information is provided to operators via high performance displays, which are designed according to the highest Human Factors Engineering standards, from a screen located in the control room. In addition, the tool allows access from multiple locations, thus improving the monitoring of the start-up process.
This tool has been developed for combined cycle technology, but it can be used in other types of power plants such as coal, solar thermal or biomass.