James Nyenhuis, Solutions Consultant at Emerson, noted the unprecedented changes happening in the power sector.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects nearly a 50% increase in global energy demand growth by 2050, while the industry still needs to address carbon reduction goals.
Nyenhuis, speaking to attendees at the Emerson Exchange Immerse event in Anaheim, California, said generating units, like combined-cycle plants, are having to ramp and cycle more frequently in response to increasing renewable energy penetration.
“It’s really shifting what some of these traditional operational patterns and profiles were,” he said.
Emerson’s goal is to help the owners and operators increase plant flexibility and deal with these new operational realities by leveraging the company’s advanced process control systems.
As Emerson explains, advanced control is a wide range of technologies designed to augment or replace PID-based control, which executes natively in a redundant controller. Controllers now can better than ever process additional levels of information and computational power.
For example, Nyenhuis explained that advanced control can help optimize steam temperature, drum level, coordinated ramp rates and sequence control.
Model predictive control (MPC) is one advanced control technique which uses a mathematical model of a system to predict its future behavior and anticipate potential disturbances. Emerson says MPC can provide more responsive control actions and better setpoint following than simple PID-based control.
Nyenhuis said model predictive control is ideal for helping customers optimize their steam temperature for improved plant efficiency. He said Emerson often sees customers running below their ideal operating setpoint, because they’re worried about exceeding temperatures and stressing equipment.
He showed examples where model-based steam temperature control returned a faster ramp rate, improved heat rate and increased startup reliability.
Nyenhuis explained that the company’s advanced control applications can also help customers eliminate operator and process variability.
He said this “procedural integration” can enable faster and more consistent startups as well as reduce fuel usage. Customers are also using this as a tool to embed and capture manual operational procedures as their expertise transitions out of this industry at a rapid pace.
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