Emerson technologies instrumental in slashing time required for commercialization and training new operations staff at John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant
PITTSBURGH (July 11, 2013) — The John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant in Fulton, Arkansas, went into commercial operation Dec. 20, 2012, just four months after its first fire – several months faster than is typical for a new coal plant. Advanced control and simulation technologies from Emerson Process Management were key factors contributing to this significant achievement.
The technologies also enabled Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), an operating unit of American Electric Power (AEP), to reduce the cost of control system validation and testing by more than $100,000 and to significantly streamline operator training on controls for the new ultra-supercritical plant.
The 600-MW plant is the first ultra-supercritical power plant built in the United States. By operating at elevated steam temperatures and pressures and utilizing state-of-the-art emissions control technology, ultra-supercritical power plants can boost the efficiency of coal-based electricity generation by more than 50 percent while maintaining superior environmental performance. Emerson has significant experience automating large ultra-supercritical and supercritical power generating facilities, having been selected to automate more than 60 percent of such units in China.
Emerson worked closely with the SWEPCO team to develop the sophisticated logic needed to integrate controls for the ultra-supercritical boiler into the overall plant automation architecture. Emerson’s Ovation™ system controls and monitors the B&W ultra-supercritical boiler; burner management system; air quality control system, including flue gas desulphurization and selective catalytic reduction systems; and balance-of-plant processes. The Ovation system also interfaces to various third-party subsystems, including the Alstom steam turbine generator controls.
SWEPCO engineers used an Ovation high-fidelity simulator to extensively test, validate and finely tune the new system’s coordinated control strategies before actual plant startup. By providing a simulator in a secure, virtual environment, Emerson enabled numerous AEP engineers from across the U.S. to participate remotely in the comprehensive logic and integration testing, slashing testing time from 8-10 weeks to only three weeks, and saving more than $100,000 in travel and living costs. Extensive remote testing also enabled SWEPCO to minimize the need for control changes after startup.
Operator training also presented a particular challenge for SWEPCO. While some of the new plant’s staff came from other AEP/SWEPCO sites, more than half the 33-person operations department were new hires with no previous power-industry experience. The Ovation simulator was instrumental in training the entire operations staff on the use of the controls, as well as plant procedures used during normal operations and abnormal conditions. Operators were able to become familiar with the controls prior to startup, learning the interactions between plant systems through a highly realistic simulated environment, thereby reducing the likelihood of human error once the plant was fully operational.
“By taking advantage of simulation, SWEPCO was able to efficiently train its new staff and bring the plant online in an abbreviated timeframe,” said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson Process Management’s Power & Water Solutions. “Their experience is a testament to the logistical, operational and financial benefits that are possible for utilities that fully leverage this powerful technology.”