Category Archives: General

Improving GT Availability

This month’s Power Engineering magazine highlights one of the best papers of the 2010 Power Gen Conference.

See page 54 in Power Engineering, February 2011.

The whole paper can be found at PowerGenWorldwide in PDF form.

The paper gives details around MHI’s experience with increasing the availability of the M501F, but the information could be extrapolated to apply to all industrial gas turbines, and other equipment as well.

The highlights of the paper include planning for gas turbine performance from four difference angles of attack:

  1. Design
  2. Scheduled Maintenance
  3.  OEM Support
  4. Continuous Monitoring

Better designs, which include planning for maintenance, can lead to less downtime.  Especially when the designs lead to increased part longevity.  Time between repairs and/or replacements is on the rise as better coatings and materials are available.

Using experienced crews and well-tested procedures for your scheduled maintenance can lead to shorter outages overall, so your plant can get back on line – or at least available to be on line – faster.

OEM support, especially for newer designs, can improve troubleshooting efforts and may lead to upgrades in parts or services which further reduce down time in the future – especially if the upgrade means a part can operate longer between inspections.

Continuous monitoring – my personal favorite – can lead to finding problems when they’re small, and fixing small problems with a short outage – instead of waiting to find big problems later, requiring extensions on major outages if additional parts need to be ordered.

Monitoring technology is improving every year.  Neural net, or “smart” software can learn how a plant operates, then detect small abnormalities before alarm limits – or even warning limits – are reached.  Expertise is still needed to find the source of the abnormalities and solutions for getting back to ‘normal’ – but overall these new systems are effectively reducing downtime – leading to significant improvements in equipment availability.

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Integrating Renewables

Thinking about solar power and the current concerns regarding the increased costs of integrating wind power into the grid… Germany is learning first hand how grids designed for central power generation may not be adequate for significant distributed generation.

See the following article in the NewScientist:

Solar Power Could Crash Germany’s Grid

Plant and Grid operators are finding that there are minimum generation requirements on the lines.  You can’t turn a large coal fired boiler down below a safe minimum load, and if you take too many plants offline to allow solar and wind to cover loads during the middle of the day, the grid may not be able to recover when the sun sets and the air goes still – all at the same time people are heading home, re-energizing their homes and firing up the oven for dinner.

Once again it comes back to sufficient energy storage capabilities on the grid.  Whether that means pumped storage, hydrogen production, geothermal heat wells, fly-wheels or something altogether new is still a question for debate.  Maybe a mix of all the above technologies, along with a smattering of electric car batteries will be the answer. 

One thing is for certain, most have us have gotten used to having clean, reliable power.  I don’t think we’ll be willing to give it up anytime soon.

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Power Generation to Get Much Cleaner

It looks like the love affair with wind may be waning.  Will the next big push be for solar?


From RenewablesBiz

Power Generation to Get Much Cleaner

EEI and Solar Group Heads Foresee Fleet Transformation

Martin Rosenberg | Feb 10, 2011

The energy generation fleet of America is going to be cleaner in decades to come, one industry leader predicts. And solar will be playing an increasingly important role, according to the head of a solar association.

Thomas Kuhn, president and chief executive of the Edison Electric Institute, said, “We want a cleaner, more modern energy fleet by 2021,” The EEI represents the nation’s investor-owned utilities. Kuhn made his comments at the U.S. Energy Association State of the Energy Industry Forum in Washington earlier this month.

Transforming energy generation in America, Kuhn said, “will be expensive but it won’t have a major effect on ratepayers.” That is because the utility sector is already dealing with a rising tide of expenditures.

Last year, utilities spent more than $80 billion in capital expenditures on generation, transmission and distribution, Kuhn said. That doubled the amount spent in 2004. “We have to raise a lot of capital.”

Kuhn will be speaking about the technological, financial and regulatory trends shaping the future of the industry at the EnergyBiz Leadership Forum in Washington, Feb. 27 – March 1.

“We are going to see a much cleaner, modernized energy fleet,” Kuhn said. “We have a vision for the next decade.” While as much as one-fifth of the coal fleet will be retired in the next decade, clean coal will still have a role to play. “Coal is the backbone of the electric system,” Kuhn said.

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted that solar is about to get much more competitive in price with conventional forms of generation like coal-fired and natural gas fueled generation.

For the rest of the article, visit: Power Generation to Get Much Cleaner | RenewablesBiz.

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State of the Union 2011

Interesting to note that “Efficient Natural Gas” is considered a Clean Energy Source.  How do you know if your facilitiy is “Efficient”? Visit the link below to download the actual fact sheet PDF.



From: State of the Union 2011 Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Standard (CES) | Alliance to Save Energy.

State of the Union 2011 Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Standard (CES)

white house
Author(s): Miriam Berg
The White House Office of Public Engagement released this clean energy sources (CES) fact sheet, “President Obama’s Plan to Win the Future by Producing More Electricity Through Clean Energy,” the night of Obama’s Jan. 25, 2011, State of the Union address.

According to the fact sheet, a global race is underway to develop and manufacture clean energy technologies, and the United States is competing with other countries that are playing to win. The United States has the most dynamic economy in the world, but Americans can’t expect to win the future by standing still. That’s why, in his State of the Union address, Obama proposed an ambitious but achievable goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

Meeting that target will position the United States as a global leader in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge, clean energy technologies. It will ensure continued growth in the renewable energy sector, building on the progress made in recent years. And it will spur innovation and investment in U.S. energy infrastructure, catalyzing economic growth and creating American jobs.


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Power Plant Forum

I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a forum for discussing power plant performance issues… so I ‘Googled’ “Power Plant Forum”… and whaddya know – there IS one!

I just signed up – looks like there are more than 16,000 members.
I haven’t browsed around too much yet, but I’m hoping I can add some value there and connect with some new power plant professionals.

Any one here a member?

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ASME Power 2010 – Keynote

Greetings from the ASME Power 2010 Conference in Chicago.

A quick overview of the keynote speech:

Ed Tirello once again lit up the audience with great commentary on the status of the industry. He talked about a number of things, including what all the keynote speakers seemed to agree with: the lack of a US Energy Policy is hampering the ability of the industry to move forward. And while he did state outright that he’s “not an engineer” and tended to “make things up” (which garnered many smiles from the audience), his views bring some insights into the issues which our industry will be facing in the near future.

Richard Knoebel spoke next, providing some numbers to the CO2 sequestration issue – including some potential costs of adding carbon capture & sequestration (CCS) to new coal and gas power plants (noting in some cases it will double the capital costs of installing new generation assets).

Stephen Kuczynski stepped up next to speak of his company’s experiences with operating nuclear facilities – and some of the steps they’re taking to keep their fleet operating safely and reliably. One item I noted – was their program of promoting “assertive engineering”. In other words, if an engineer sees something that needs fixing – he/she should not let politics or the companies quarterly stock price get in the way of seeing that it gets fixed, and fixed correctly.

In light of the BP disaster, I can only imagine how many engineers were told to be quiet in light of the costs and schedule delays which would have occurred in order to do things right. In the case of nuclear power, where there have been accidents in the past, engineers – and others – are encouraged to take personal responsibility for the equipment around them, to make sure avoidable accidents don’t happen in the future. I encourage us all to apply that same confidence and assertiveness to all our projects.

The final speaker was Gregory Snyder, who covered some of the future-thinking options of integrating renewable energy and electric cars into the grid.

All the speakers provided great information that is of great interest to the industry. Thank you to ASME for bringing this group together and providing a venue for their presentations.

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The value of a good LTSA

This isn’t exactly about power plants, but it does go to show what good warranties and thoughtful maintenance practices can accomplish.

See the video: Rachael’s Comet, “Chariot”

From the GlobalSpec Newsletter:

Amid all the hand-wringing over Toyota’s recalls, one 90-year-old woman proves that a car can last almost indefinitely if you take care of it, reports Growing Bolder. Rachel bought her 1964 Mercury Comet new and has put every one of the 540,000 miles on the vehicle. She wisely purchased lifetime warranties on many of the parts, which has yielded no-cost replacement of three sets of shocks, seven mufflers, and 16 batteries.

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Conservation or Green Generation

There’s a heated debate occuring in a LinkedIn discussion – about where our investment dollars should go – Should they go to Conservation programs or new Clean Generation?

The whole discussion can be found here.

One very interesting item which was shared today – was a press release about a pilot test program by PG&E which installed SmartAC thermostats at 2,000 residences. Results showed that the utility could shave approximately 0.65 kW of load for each residence. Not much you say? When you consider they have 135,000 potential participants in the plan… that can add up to nearly 88 MW of peak load shaved – allowing the utility to avoid construction of new peaking power plants – which sit idle most of the year in anticipation of the next heat wave.

The article shared can be found here.

More about the SmartAC program from PG&E can be found here.

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PowerGen International 2009

Two Weeks to PowerGen 2009 in Las Vegas, NV USA.

I’ll be there!

If you’re also going to be there, and would like to meet for lunch or around the exhibit hall or sessions, drop me a note or voicemail (see the T2E3 website for contact info). I haven’t lined up which sessions I’ll be attending yet – pending getting the full conference agenda – but you can bet if there are papers dealing with finding efficiency improvements, I’ll be there.

If you have any recommendations on vendors to visit in the exhibit hall – I’d be interested in hearing what those might be as well. The exhibit hall is HUGE, so I try and map out a plan for my “must see” vendors in advance.

I hope to see you there!
Until then – I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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