Steam plant operators are looking for control solutions that will help them to optimize boiler efficiency by reducing fuel consumption while reducing emissions. GE Intelligent Platforms (NYSE: GE) can meet these needs for plants under 300MW with high performance, productized control solutions based on decades of domain expertise in steam cycle generation management that can reduce fuel usage while allowing boilers to run safely and efficiently.GE’s Steam Cycle control solution is based on a flexible and scalable DCS, Proficy® Process Systems, along with productized pre-packaged advanced combustion control algorithms and strategies for fossil and biomass fuels based on more than 30 years of GE Services experience to achieve significant operational benefits and mitigate risk.
These advanced combustion control algorithms and strategies optimize the combustion process to reduce customers’ fuel usage 3% to 5% which allows them to better meet stringent emissions regulations. In addition, they keep equipment safe and protected by maintaining the water level in the boiler to prevent damage. Because these control algorithms and strategies are pre-engineered, they are capable of reducing system implementation time by 50% to 80%.“Power plants are running longer with shorter maintenance outages,” said Bill Pezalla, Global Energy Industry Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms. “The advantage of GE Intelligent Platforms’ DCS is that it is an open system that works with any type of boiler and can be implemented during a short maintenance outage leading to the realization of rapid fuel and water savings. These efficiencies need to be factored into the total cost of ownership when purchasing control systems.”
“We’ve extended our Steam Cycle Control solution approach beyond the boiler control by adding boiler and turbine auxiliary equipment control strategies providing an even more comprehensive solution for power plants,” said Craig Thorsland, Steam Cycle Solutions Leader for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Optimally, the overall control solution reduces the need for operator intervention. This stabilizes steam production and frees operators to focus on important plant operations. With stable and consistent operations, we reduce thermal stresses on the boiler and turbine extending their life cycles.”Safety is a concern for any power producing facility and the Steam Cycle solution addresses that concern with unique drum level control strategies that allow water levels to be properly maintained to avoid boiler failure. “It is critical to keep the water level in the boiler at the proper level,” explained Thorsland. “If it falls too low, the boiler can be damaged, or worse yet, fail with problematic consequences. GE’s unique controls strategies help compensate for varying loads and the resulting increases or decreases in water level.”
Harry Forbes, Senior Analyst at ARC Advisory Group, comments: “Economic operation of power plants requires automation systems that respond intelligently to plant disturbances and also drive the plant towards steady operation at the most cost-effective operating points. Recognizing this, GE has integrated strategies for handling various disturbances to the process into its Steam Cycle Solution for industrial boilers and power plants.”The control system is able to handle conventional fossil fuels as well as the more difficult to control biomass and waste fuels. For biomass fuel plants, the natural variations in the quality and moisture content of the feedstock can results in steam production fluctuations. The system’s BTU combustion compensation control strategies ensure smooth and consistent steam production regardless of these variations. The system facilitates balancing combustion load when grates need to be offline for cleaning and when they are returned to service.
Steam Cycle solutions also give customers the ongoing benefits of reduced fuel use and emissions, lessening the impact of their energy production on the environment. In fact, to comply with emissions regulations and reduce the environmental footprint, combustion factors and emissions levels can easily be captured and analyzed in real-time. The system’s features meet the stringent guidelines of GE’s ecomagination program and therefore it was named an ecomagination product earlier this year.“Proficy Process Systems with Steam Cycle control is a great solution for fuel savings and operational efficiency,” Thorsland continued. “The combination of decreased installation time with reduced fuel consumption makes this solution a win-win situation for boilers at new facilities and existing plants. The boilers run better, so the turbines run better, so the plants run better.”