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Commissioning of Combined Cycle

Power Plants
Commissioning of Combined Cycle Power Plants Part 1
This is the first in a series of four articles on the commissioning of combined cycle
plants. This article covers the preparatory work, normally conducted in the office of
the architect/engineering firm, before the startup team goes to the job site.
Phases of a New Plant The creation of a new power plant moves through the
following phases:
Contract negotiation
The startup phase is a crucial and final quality check of the previous phases. Any
previous mistakes or omissions which have been overlooked will be uncovered.
Problems which are brought to light during commissioning can be very expensive to
correct. The procurement and delivery of new equipment during the startup phase
can be costly. To commission a plant, experienced startup personnel are necessary,
since they have acquired the skills to implement the various programs that are
discussed in this article.
Types of Plants to Discuss
A typical combined cycle power plant has two dual-fuel combustion turbine
generators, two heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), and one steam turbine,
with a hydrogen-cooled generator. Duct burners may be specified to compensate for
megawatt production shortfall during non-isometric conditions. The total output of a
typical combined cycle plant is approximately 500 MW.
In this article, the term combustion turbine will be used, rather than gas turbine,
because many facilities do not use fuel gas, but rather a liquid fuel.
Many simple cycle combustion turbine generators are also being commissioned at
the present time. In addition, various chemical plants, refineries, and process plants
are adding combined cycle power plant additions to their facilities.
Work in the Office
The nucleus of the commissioning crew should be brought onto the project in the
early design stage. The startup manager and the lead discipline engineers should
be drafted to work in the office of the architect/engineering firm. They can assist in
design review, and, while in the office, they can prepare the startup deliverables.

Contract Review
The startup manager will review the project contract to identify the project
deliverables in his scope of responsibility. The schedule dates for the milestone
activities should be ascertained.
The following are examples of typical contract deliverables that may be included in
the commissioning scope:
Commissioning schedule
System turnover packages
Commissioning organization chart
Manpower schedule
Commissioning procedures
Lockout and tag out program
List of chemicals
List of lubricants
Startup consumables list
Operating procedures
Training program for operators and maintenance personnel
Emission guarantee procedures (air permit)
Heat balance guarantee procedures
Plant acceptance testing procedures
(Note: On some projects, the last three items are prepared by the
architect/engineering firm.)
The startup manager will review the budget for the commissioning effort, and will
prepare the estimate that keeps the commissioning effort within the budget and still
meets the contractual obligations. Some of the costs that will be considered are the
manpower, vendor representatives, and equipment. The scope of subcontracts can
be adjusted by self-performing some of the activities, to keep the budget costs
lower. The cost structure for field personnel should be developed, as well as the
various expenses (transportation to and from the jobsite, per diem, R&R breaks, and
living accommodations at the field location).
Project Review
While in the office, the commissioning personnel can utilize their unique perspective
to review the design of the project. They can critique the piping and instrumentation
diagrams (P&IDs), electrical one-line diagrams, vendor manuals, and other related
documents. They can interact with the design personnel, and develop relationships
which will promote problem solving during the difficult startup phase ahead. They
can review project drawings and documents for commissioning feasibility, system
operability, and maintainability.
The architect/engineering firm will also produce lists, such as equipment lists, valve
lists, instrument lists, and line (piping) lists, which should be collected by the
commissioning crew for later use.

Commissioning Manual
The commissioning program is detailed in the Commissioning Manual, which should
be distributed to all project organizations.
Cleaning Procedures
The cleaning of systems should be conducted in accordance with approved
procedures. The equipment and pipes must be cleaned to the level required for their
service. The procedures are included in the Commissioning Manual, and become
part of the respective system turnover package when the procedure is completed.
Commissioning Procedures
Each individual system should have a commissioning procedure which
demonstrates that the system has been placed into operation within design
parameters. The procedures are included in the Commissioning Manual, and
become part of the respective system turnover package when the procedure is
The startup manager reviews the project schedule to identify activities and
milestone dates. The milestone schedule activities that are evaluated by the startup
manager are:
Back feed power, or temporary power for startup testing
HRSG chemical cleaning
Air blow or steam blow of the steam piping
DCS loop checks
First fire of the combustion turbines
Initial roll of the steam turbine
Synchronization of the generators
Full load testing
Commercial operation date
Each system turnover package is integrated into the project schedule. The
commissioning schedule logic is tied to the construction schedule logic through the
turnover packages. When construction completes a system, the turnover package is
issued and the commissioning work begins.
The commissioning portion of the project schedule has the same outline as the
commissioning work: the individual components are inspected and tested, then the
system is tested by itself, then the combustion turbine is started, and finally the
entire plant is operated and tested. Most projects use scheduling software to track
the project schedule. Commissioning personnel can nowadays easily build and
modify their own startup schedules that can be linked to the construction schedule.
The predecessor and successor relationships, total float, constraints, and resources
are some of the schedule parameters that should be analyzed.
Matrix of Responsibilities
The startup manager must identify the specific responsibilities of each party in the
project (the design organization, the construction team, the commissioning team,

the plant owner, the operators, etc.). The project management should approve and
implement the division of responsibilities.
The matrix of responsibilities is included in the commissioning manual. The plant
owner is normally responsible for reviewing and approving the commissioning data
and results. The startup manager must identify the process for the review and
Vendor Representatives
Some equipment may require the assistance of vendor representatives during the
commissioning phase, to bring their expertise and also to protect product
warranties. The startup manager will review the vendor representative requirements
and make arrangements for the vendors to arrive at the job at the correct time. The
representatives for the following equipment may be required:
Heat recovery steam generators
Duct burners
Soot blowers
Stack dampers
Auxiliary boiler
Emergency or black start diesel generator(s)
Fire pumps
Fire detection and suppression systems
Water treatment equipment
Chemical feed systems
Feed water pumps
Gas compressors
Steam and combustion turbine generator sets
Continuous emissions monitoring (CEM)
Distributed controls system (DCS)
Programmable logic controllers
Power transformers
High voltage oil-filled cables
Switchyard equipment
Some projects may have special equipment requirements, which necessitate a
vendor representative, but other projects do not need the vendor. Experienced
startup personnel can commission many pieces of equipment without the vendor
Additional Items to Review
Some additional programs or activities which the startup manager should review
while in the office:

Commissioning water program (based on the source of water, destination of

waste water, recycling water during commissioning, waste water limitations,
and water permits.)

Fuel specifications
Fuel consumption (at some plants, the client needs to know the anticipated
consumption during commissioning, to make bids for fuel)
Craft support requirements
Maintenance program, in accordance with the vendors literature
Interface-points between the new plant, outside utilities, or an existing plant
Government or insurance company inspectors required for testing safety
valves, fire detection/protection systems, etc.
Equipment to Purchase or Rent
Before going to the job site, the startup manager should make the following
requisitions or rentals (per the contract requirements):

Test equipment
Chemical analysis equipment
Tools (mechanics tool set, electricians tool set, packing removal tools,
rigging gear, air conditioning tool set, valve wrenches of all sizes)
Storage container for tools
Storage container for equipment which has been temporarily removed from
the plant
Temporary pumps, hoses, plastic tubing, and fittings
Spare parts (mechanical seals for pumps, DCS cards)
Consumables (gaskets, packing, light bulbs, fuses, panel lenses, etc.)
Solvents to dissolve grease or remove rust
Truck(s) for hauling equipment and personnel on jobsite
Office space, office equipment, furniture, supplies, telephones, fax machine
Computers, printers, and software for the commissioning office
Radios (and frequencies), antennas, base stations, and repeaters for onsite
Transportation requirements for personnel (automobiles, vans, and drivers for
international locations)
The startup manager needs to determine who is responsible for supplying the
various chemicals and lubricants. On some projects, the commissioning team is
responsible for supplying the first load of chemicals and/or lubricants, and the plant
owner is responsible after that.
If the architect/engineering firm does not produce their own lubrication list, the
startup manager may be able to have one of the well-known oil companies produce
a lubrication list for the project, as part of their scope of supply.
It is more cost effective to rent the more unusual test equipment for a limited time,
and to purchase the normal, everyday type of test equipment. The schedule for the
full-blown commissioning effort occurs at a time when the construction team is
winding down their manpower and equipment, so you cannot always rely on them
for support in areas like tools and consumables. The startup manager should
therefore plan on purchasing or renting a full repertoire of tools. Some tools, like

welding machines, rigging equipment, and scaffolding, may be supplied by the

construction team, at least for the beginning of the commissioning effort.
On some projects, there has been considerable time lost because the right gasket
was not available, or maybe the pipefitters needed a 2 1/8 slugging wrench, or no
more fuses were left for the DCS input circuits. The commissioning team that
prepares all the necessary consumables and tools will not have those costly delays.
Some seemingly insignificant tools can be very important during a startup. A fin
comb, for example, can straighten out the fins on an air conditioning condenser
before a walk down, and therefore avoid unnecessary punch list records.
Safety equipment, such as eye wash stations, safety showers, breathing apparatus,
respirators, etc. should be ready for use during the system commissioning, as
conditions warrant. If the permanent safety equipment is not yet available,
temporary equipment can be purchased or rented. Safety signs and warning
beacons must be in place, and the workers in the area should be trained in the
identification of safety hazards and the remedial actions in case of an incident or
accident. Permits should be used for confined space entry, in order to have the
proper equipment for monitoring the safety of the atmosphere in the vessel, and to
have the required standby personnel to monitor those in the vessel.
Material Safety and Data Sheets must be available onsite for all the hazardous
chemicals used during the startup.
Work permits are used to allow construction personnel to work within the
boundaries of a system that has been turned over to startup. Special attention
should be placed on hot work permits, where any welding, cutting, or grinding will
The safety tagging program (lock out and tag out) is the principle means of
preventing injury to personnel or equipment when the systems have been
Figure 1

Commissioning of Combined Cycle Power

Plants Part 2
Dan Parker | Mar 11, 2003
This is the second in a series of four articles on the commissioning of combined
cycle plants. This article covers the beginning of the field work for the startup team,
from the point of the system turnovers from construction to the component testing.
System Turnover (from Construction to Commissioning)
Turnover Packages
The construction team builds the power plant by area (for example, the Fuel Storage

Figure 1
The construction equipment, such as a welding machine, is most efficiently used by
completing one area at a time and concentrating on the bulk work. As work

progresses, the construction team should change their focus to the completion of
systems (for example, the Fuel Oil Heating System, the Fuel Oil Unloading System,
and the Fuel Oil Forwarding System). When system construction is complete, the
construction team prepares a turnover package for each system.
Early in the project, the startup manager provides marked-up engineering drawings,
P&IDs, and electrical one-line diagrams, which depict the boundaries of each
system and the equipment included. These drawings are the system scoping
drawings. The drawings identify all the equipment, pipes, cables, and instruments
that are in each system.
On some projects, where computerized databases of equipment are available, the
lists can be coded for the respective systems and may be included in the turnover
The system scoping drawings and completed test documents are assembled into a
turnover package. The startup manager also provides a schedule that specifies the
target date for each system turnover. When the construction team is satisfied that a
system is ready for turnover, the system turnover package is submitted to the
startup manager for review. Any incomplete construction items are noted in the
package documentation. Those work items are completed later, under the
commissioning work permit program.
System Walkdown
After the startup manager reviews the turnover package, a joint construction and
commissioning walkdown of the system is scheduled. The walkdown verifies that all
work within the boundaries is complete. Any incomplete work is noted in the punch
Punch List
The punch list contains individual records for each deficiency noted. It lists the
respective system, the component tag number and description, a definition of the
discrepancy, the work group responsible for fixing the deficiency, the dates that the
item was generated and closed, etc. The punch list is sorted by the system
designator, using the same designators as the turnover packages.
On some projects, there is a tendency for each organization to keep their own punch
list, but those projects that combine the punch lists into one integrated list seem to
complete the work faster. A single project punchlist allows for better scheduling of
equipment and manpower, which allows for the work to be completed faster or in a
way that better supports the overall schedule.
The punchlist should be kept in a database program. On many projects, the
punchlist is kept in a word processor file or a spreadsheet file. But those
applications do not have the sorting and report capability of a database program. It
definitely takes more effort to establish a database format, but it allows much more
flexibility. With the database, you can quickly present to a work group a customized
list of only those items that they are responsible for fixing. You can also print
customized lists of items belonging to one system, for inclusion in system turnover
packages. Although it seems tedious, it is not a good idea to put multiple items

within one record, because it is difficult sometimes to determine which ones are
Component Testing
On some projects, the construction team performs some or all of the component
testing, and on other projects, the commissioning team performs some or all of
Nameplate Data
Before testing any component, the nameplate data on the equipment should be
verified against the design documentation.
Test Specifications
Equipment should be tested to the applicable specifications of the project. The
architect/engineering firm usually lists the technical specifications for equipment
and systems. In some cases, the project contract requires that equipment be tested
to various standards, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI),
American Petroleum Institute (API), National Electrical Manufacturers Association
(NEMA), or other programs. In other cases, the vendors specifications are the
testing criteria.
Equipment must be properly lubricated before it can be commissioned. The field
personnel follow the manufacturer's instructions in the vendor manual. Equipment is
sometimes received with a factory-installed lubricant, which protects the equipment
during shipping and storage. The field personnel must replace this lubricant with a
charge of the normal lubricant.
While the rotating equipment is in the warehouse, it is a good idea to follow the
recommendation of the various vendors, and rotate the equipment by hand
periodically. This ensures the shafts dont become bowed, and keeps lubricants in
the bearings. All lubrication documents are inserted into the turnover package.
Flushing is conducted on the following systems:

Lubricating oil (using oil as the flushing medium)

Fuel oil (using fuel oil as the flushing medium)
Hydraulic oil (using hydraulic oil as the flushing medium)
Cooling water (using water as the flushing medium, or at some projects the
system is chemically cleaned)
Raw water and service water (using water as the flushing medium)
Fire protection (using water as the flushing medium)
Feed water and condensate (sometimes chemically cleaned)
When flushing a piping system, the startup engineer must be vigilant to spot
potential flushing problems early. If possible, the pipes should be inspected prior to
fit up, to guarantee there are no foreign objects in the pipe.

Water and oil piping systems are usually flushed using the installed pumps. In some
cases, temporary pumps of high volume are used during the flushing.
Over the past few years, high-pressure water has been used, with special lances
and nozzles, to blast debris and rust from pipe interiors. This technique has been
successfully employed as a prelude to steam blows or air blows on steam piping.
Depending on the nature of the debris, flush water may be considered a hazardous
waste. At some facilities, where there is a shortage of water, the flushing water has
been recycled by temporary filtration and ion exchange.
Some modifications may be required to prepare the system for flushing. Temporary
piping jumpers are installed to avoid pumping debris into heat exchangers or control
valves, and to avoid putting flushing oil into bearings. Before flushing, all orifice
plates, control valves, or other restrictions must be removed. Sometimes, a check
valve needs to have its disc or plug removed to allow flow in the opposite direction.
All modifications should be recorded, so that the corresponding restoration can be
The restorations following the flushing should be recorded. A bag and tag
procedure can also be implemented so that all equipment, which has been
removed, gets installed again. When installing orifice plates, verify the correct tag
number, dimensions, type, and orientation. Make sure control valves are re-installed
in the proper orientation. As the system is restored following the flushing, verify the
proper type and size of gaskets are installed at each location.
Valves should be inspected prior to system flushing, and should be monitored
during the period of initial operation. The manual valves must be inspected, in
addition to the air, motor, or hydraulically operated valves. Packing glands should
be adjusted, but tightened only as necessary to preclude leakage. Every check
valve must be inspected to insure the flow is in the correct direction. Some globe or
plug valves also have a flow orientation, which must be observed. Look for the
arrow or marking that indicates the direction of flow.
The correct direction of rotation of the pump and the driver should be verified.
Usually there is an arrow on the equipment, but sometimes you need to check the
vendor drawing.
Review the vendor manual for any special operating characteristics or additional
hardware requirements. Make sure that the associated support equipment is
installed properly before starting the pump (cooling water, seal water, seal leak-off,
vents, coupling area drain pipes, etc.).
Run the pump on the minimum flow recirculation line, if there is one, with the
minimum flow valve open, or spool through the minimum flow valve with a
temporary spool piece, if the minimum flow valve is an automatic control valve.
After the minimum flow recirculation line is flushed, the line can be placed in

Run the pump as necessary to flush the system. During the flushing, after some
time of regular operation is achieved, the pump performance and vibration data can
be collected.
Pumps should be tested in accordance with a standard test program (such as ASME
Performance Test Code 7.1 or 8.2, or the Hydraulic Institute Standards). For
centrifugal pumps, the capacity versus the head is compared to the pump curve,
which was developed during the factory shop test. Verify the pump meets or
exceeds the design point. Positive displacement pumps should be tested for the
capacity measurement by volume rate of flow.
Lubricating Oil Flushing
The site personnel may flush the combustion turbine and steam turbine lubricating
oil systems. The area around the turbine should be free of dirt and construction
debris (especially the reservoir and bearing areas). Temporary power and lighting
must be available. Several strategically located emergency lubricating oil pump
shutoff switches should be installed. Fire protection equipment must be available.
Although it seems like it would be very unusual to have a fire during a lubricating oil
flush, it has indeed happened in the past. Also, make provisions for dealing with oil
spills and leaks (have sufficient adsorbent compound, rags, plastic bags, squeegees,
and barrels on hand). Personnel should be trained to handle oil spills.
At some plants, a subcontractor, using temporary flush skids with pumps, filters,
and heat exchangers, performs the lubricating oil flushing. Some bigger pumps, like
feed water pumps, have an integral lubricating oil system. These systems are
generally cleaned in a manner similar to that used on the turbines.
Heat Exchangers
When flushing the system, it is preferable to bypass any heat exchanger, to prevent
debris from entering the exchanger. Because the flow rate drops in the heat
exchanger, the debris might not ever come out, and it can affect the heat transfer
of the heat exchanger.
One end of the heat exchanger is bolted down, and the other end is free to travel,
for thermal expansion. Check the hold-down bolts during the initial inspection. This
check must be performed even for huge heat exchangers, like air-cooled
Chemical Cleaning
Chemical cleaning of the HRSGs takes place after hydrostatic testing. The boiler
waterside surfaces, condensate, and feed water piping will normally be chemically
degreased. At some plants, the additional step of acid cleaning is also employed. A
chemical cleaning subcontractor, who will supply the necessary chemicals,
equipment, and manpower, customarily performs the chemical cleaning of the
boiler and related piping. Equipment typically supplied are the circulating pumps,
portable boiler, heat exchangers, duplex filters, chemical mixing tanks, water and
chemical storage tanks (sized to store several hundred thousand gallons), and
temporary piping for fabricating flush path jumpers.

Water and chemicals are introduced into the boiler and related piping, heated in the
temporary heat exchanger, and then circulated by means of temporary jumper
piping and the temporary pump. The chemistry of the cleaning solution is closely
monitored to ensure the proper chemical reactivity. The safe and economical
disposal of chemical cleaning effluent is an important consideration in planning this
activity. The waste water amounts to several hundred thousand gallons, including
the rinse water.
Air Blow vs. Steam Blow
Steam and gas piping systems are cleaned using the normal medium (steam or gas)
or by using a substitute medium (for example, compressed air). In order to properly
clean such piping, it is essential to develop a momentum that exceeds the
momentum encountered during normal operation. The measurement of this
cleaning is referred to as the Cleaning Force Ratio (CFR), or the Disturbance Factor
Wb = Mass flow rate during the blow,
Wn = Normal mass flow rate,
Vb = Specific volume during the blow,
Vn = Normal specific volume.
Calculations determine the start and stop pressure for each blow. Pressure
readings taken during the blows ensure that the momentum will meet or exceed the
CFR goals. Cleanness may be confirmed by placing a target in the outlet of the
piping, and evaluating any impacts, or hits. The target is made from polished mild
steel or copper. The steam turbine vendor specifies the number and size of
allowable impacts.
Air blow and steam blow are generally considered equally effective in removing
pipeline debris and mill scale (although there still seems to be some debate over
the issue). The pros and cons of the two processes are:
Air blows (pro):
Air blows can take place immediately after the HRSG and steam piping is
hydrostatically tested. This takes the air blow off the critical path of the schedule.
Air blows (pro):
Air blows do not use any water.
Air blows (con):
Air blows require expensive compressor rentals and extra manpower.
Steam blows (pro):
Steam blows do not require extra equipment rental. (Both air blows and steam
blows require temporary piping, silencers, and valves.)
Steam blows (con):
Steam blows can be done only after first fire, and only after the steam and
condensate cycle is operational. This puts the steam blow squarely on the critical
path of the schedule. The steam blows also require piping insulation to be installed.
Steam blows (con):

Steam blows use very large quantities of water. Where permanent demineralizer
water production is not sufficient to sustain the steam blow, expensive portable
demineralizer rentals are required.
Temperature Cycling
This is the core of the debate on air blow vs. steam blow. The steam blow
proponents argue that it is only by flexing the pipe, through repeated heating and
cooling, that the mill scale is removed. Air blow proponents argue that a proper
disturbance factor ensures the mill scale will be scoured.
As indicated previously, high-pressure water has been used, with special lances and
nozzles, to blast mill scale, debris, and rust from pipe interiors. This technique has
been successfully employed as a prelude to steam line cleaning.
On one project that had two identical units side-by-side, one plant was cleaned by
air blow and the other by steam blow. The cleanness results were identical. On both
air blow and steam blow, the respective techniques must be performed accurately
for good results.
Depending on the plant configuration, it may be beneficial when conducting air
blows to connect unrelated systems together to form a larger reservoir of air. This
produces longer air blows. For example, at one very large chemical plant, the
product line was combined with the main steam header to produce a reservoir of
much larger size.
The internal heaters on large motors, generators, and motor-operated-valves should
be energized with temporary power. On projects which have a long duration, the
heaters may be energized in the warehouse or laydown area.
Large motors and generators are megger-tested during the construction period to
verify insulation integrity. A megger test instrument introduces a moderately high
voltage into the motor windings. Any winding insulation breakdown that permits
winding-to-winding shorts, or winding-to-ground shorts is detected by the megger
Electric motors should be tested uncoupled from the driven component to verify
proper motor rotation and operation.
Cables, Switchgear, and Motor Control Centers
All cables and switchgear/MCC buses are tested prior to energization. Cables are
tested for continuity and insulation resistance. The megger test instrument
introduces a moderately high voltage (500 or 1,000 Volts) to detect any shorts to
ground that may be caused by an insulation breakdown.
For switchgear and MCCs, hi-pot testing (using very high voltage) to test high
voltage feeders and switchgear/buses requires special test equipment. The design
engineer typically provides hi-pot test acceptance criteria. Breakers and switches
should be tested in accordance with the vendor instructions.

Transformers and Switchyards

Transformer and switchyard tests are performed according to the manufacturers
instructions. Transformers, bushings, circuit breakers, and disconnect switches are
commonly inspected and tested by a subcontractor.
Oil-filled transformers, HV bushings, and circuit breakers may require conditioning of
the insulating oil to remove vapors and water. Special equipment is required for this
conditioning and testing process, and normally a subcontractor is hired to process
the oil.
Electrical Meters and Relays
Power transformers, switchyard equipment, generators, switchgear, and load
centers are protected by sophisticated relay systems. If the protective relays detect
faults, they will re-route or trip the circuits in order to protect personnel and
Meter and relay testing must be coordinated with the local utility, for those circuits
that interact with the utility grid. Plant power output and utility-supplied power input
are metered for performance and billing data. Special equipment and expertise is
required for setting the meters and relays. The design engineer specifies the relay
settings, testing requirements, and acceptance criteria by means of a relay
coordination study. A subcontractor often tests the circuits.
The field instrumentation devices must be calibrated and installed prior to
commissioning. Instrumentation devices are initially inspected and calibrated in the
shop, but final calibration often takes place in the field, in the installed
configuration. Calibration set points are provided by the design engineer, or by the
vendor. Calibration stickers are affixed to the instrument after the field calibration is
successfully completed.
Loop Checks
A sensing instrument is tested by simulating a specific parameter, which is then
converted to an electrical signal and displayed on the control system graphics.

Figure 2
The displayed parameter, scaling, and engineering units are confirmed at the panel
display. The transmitter is then tested through a range of settings and certified as
accurately tuned. Many input signals to the plant control system are used to control
various system processes. For example, the input signal above may be used as an
output signal to control a valve. The architecture of this input and output (I/O) signal
configuration is known as a loop. There may be thousands of loops in a combined
cycle plant, with the total number dependent upon the design philosophy and
degree of automation. Alarm, runback, and trip signals are all functionally tested
during commissioning.

Commissioning of Combined Cycle Power

Plants Part 3
Dan Parker | Mar 25, 2003
This is the third in a series of four articles on the commissioning of combined cycle
plants. This article covers the continuation of the field work for the startup team,
with the system commissioning, which energizes each system in the plant.
System Commissioning
DC Power and UPS System
The first electrical system to be energized during commissioning is the direct
current (DC) power system. Sometimes the project contract or specifications require
the DC system to be load tested. The commissioning team rents load banks for this
The DC power system provides power to the switchgear circuit breakers, equipment
protective relays, and emergency pumps (such as the steam turbine emergency
lubricating oil and seal oil pumps). DC voltage also powers an uninterruptible power
supply (UPS), which supports the plant control system. During commissioning, the
DC system battery chargers are temporarily powered using construction power.
The battery room must be ventilated to exhaust hydrogen gas developed during the
charging process. An eyewash station must be available for personnel safety. The
battery room floors are coated with an acid-resistant sealer.
When the DC system distribution system is energized, testing of the AC switchgear
and associated relays may begin.
Initial Plant Energization
The initial energization of switchgear is an important commissioning milestone.
Energization of large, high voltage equipment such as the switchyard or the
generator step-up transformer requires coordinated planning between the plant and
the public utility. A detailed procedure should be prepared, reviewed, and approved.

At some plants, due to the project schedule, back feed power cannot be achieved in
time to support the commissioning effort. Large diesel generators and transformers
can be rented to provide temporary power.
Distributed Control System

Figure 1
Typical steps in the checkout of the distributed control system (DCS):

Inspect and inventory the hardware

Check the ground connection
Clear any grounds
Energize, but with no terminations made
Energize each processor and check status
Load software
Setup the human machine interface (HMI)
Perform component and functional checks
Verify data historian hardware and software
Establish communications between the DCS and the other control systems,
such as the combustion turbine controls, the steam turbine controls, the
CEMS, etc.
As entire systems are placed in service, and the plant becomes operational,
the DCS personnel will perform loop tuning, where the control parameters
(proportional, integral, and derivative gains, or PID) are adjusted to achieve
optimum control. Schedule time should be allotted for this loop tuning.

Instrument Air
The first mechanical system to be started during commissioning is the instrument
air system. For complex air compressor configurations, the vendor should be
present to assist in the startup. The controls for the compressor should be verified
against the design.

Moisture traps on the discharge of the air compressor should be inspected very
closely to make sure they are installed correctly. Review the vendor literature.
The air dryers, if they are self-regenerating, may take some time to produce dry air.
The system humidity indicator should be closely monitored for proper indication
during the initial operation. During the blowing of the systems distribution piping,
the air dryers should be monitored to prevent excessive flow rates.
The piping system must be blown out with dry air, and the drops to each instrument
should be cleaned vigorously.
At add-on units where the existing unit will provide the instrument air, the new plant
undergoing commissioning may draw more air than normal, because of the
commissioning activities. This can jeopardize the operation of the existing facility. In
these cases, rented compressors and driers may be necessary.
Water Treatment
Normally, the second mechanical system to start is the water treatment system.
Modern water treatment systems can be very large, with complicated control
systems. The vendor representative should be expected to work with the
commissioning team until the system is running reliably in the automatic mode.
The chemical analysis equipment needed to monitor the systems should be made
available, and a suitable laboratory should be fabricated. At some projects, a
rented cargo container suffices for a temporary chemistry laboratory, with the
various utilities connected. The following items should be completed prior to adding
the resin to a demineralizer vessel:

The interior portions of demineralizers should be inspected.

The regeneration control sequence (valve stroking, pumps starts and stops)
should be thoroughly tested.
The rinse water flow rates and chemical dilution flow rates should be
An eductor should be purchased, since most vendors require that an eductor
be used to sluice the resin into the vessels.
Waste Water Treatment
When the water treatment system is started, there is a corresponding need to get
rid of waste water. Demineralizers and reverse osmosis units generate predictable
quantities of waste water. So the waste water treatment system is very important,
and should receive a high priority in the commissioning planning. At some projects,
waste water and solid waste export must be subcontracted.
At some facilities, the waste water treatment system can be quite complex, such as
at a zero discharge plant. This consists of multiple trains of reverse osmosis units,
filtration systems, evaporators, concentrators, and filter presses. Sometimes the
influent water to the plant is a gray water effluent from a nearby sewage
treatment facility. Then there are additional backwash filters, clarifiers, and filter
presses. It is vital that the manpower required to commission and maintain big
systems like these not be underestimated.

Most plants incorporate some type of oily water separation. The separating device
should be tested early in the startup sequence, since invariably there will be some
oil to process.
Fire Detection and Protection
The installation subcontractor normally tests the fire detection system, but the
commissioning personnel must monitor the testing closely, in order to become
familiar with the system.
Fire protection systems, such as sprinklers, deluge valves, and gas discharge
systems may be tested by a subcontractor, or by the commissioning team.
Depending on the job location, a government inspector or an insurance company
inspector may need to witness the testing.
Fire pumps should be one of the first pumps to be placed in service, after the water
supply system makes water available. (At some plants, the fire protection water
supply comes from well water or raw water, while at other plants, the source may
be a water treatment system.) Monitor the jockey pump for frequent cycling, which
may be an indication that there is a leak in the fire main, perhaps underground. The
motor-driven or diesel-driven fire pump should be placed in the automatic mode as
soon as possible.
If the cooling tower is fabricated from wood, the associated fire protection deluge
valves should be placed in service as soon as possible.
Make sure that post indicator valves have their indicators calibrated to show the
correct position.
Cooling Water
Circulating water systems that use seawater need special care during the
commissioning phase, due to the corrosive nature of seawater and the marine life
and debris associated with seawater. The rakes, traveling screens, tube cleaning
systems, and pump intake screens require meticulous care during the
commissioning phase, to prevent the introduction of debris into the condenser.
Large circulating water pumps must be aligned carefully and accurately. Depending
on the system design, the pumps may have a special valve that vents the air from
the discharge column. Seal water for lubrication of the pump packing may have to
be provided by a backup system. The pump discharge valve is normally motoroperated, and its operation should be verified prior to starting the pump.
The condenser water boxes may have vent valves which must be opened and
closed manually when starting the system. If there is a water box priming system, it
should be commissioned and placed in service at the beginning of the program. If
not, air pockets will build up in the water boxes, and some tubes may not be filled
with seawater. Some plants require throttling of the outlet valves on the water
boxes, to setup the proper flow or pressure parameters. The water boxes may have
sacrificial zinc anodes. These anodes must be checked after the initial operation of

the system. The commissioning personnel must research these features prior to
starting the system.
During the walkdown of the condenser, all the fittings should be inspected closely,
to make sure there are no materials installed that are non-compatible with
Cooling towers require special monitoring prior to use. The spray nozzles,
distribution headers, and fill should be inspected before starting the system, and
also sometime after the first use, to make sure there are no problems created by
the force of the water. Cooling tower fans should be checked for vibration, and their
gearboxes should be monitored for proper lubrication. If the cooling tower has a
place to mount corrosion coupons, the coupons should be installed prior to
introducing water. A wooden cooling tower should have its fire protection system in
service as soon as possible. Once a wooden cooling tower is put in service, it should
remain wet as much as practicable, so that it does not dry out and become a fire
Steam, Feed Water, and Condensate
After these systems are cleaned, as discussed above, they are prepared for service.
The condensate pumps are tested, along with their various control valves. Special
care is taken with the pump seal or packing. Some pumps require an external
source of seal water; the pump technical manual should be reviewed for this
feature. If possible, some spare seals or packing should be on the list of spare parts.
The condenser air removal system may consist of steam jet air ejectors, vacuum
pumps, or a combination of the two. The startup engineer must monitor the various
steam traps very closely, making sure they have free drainage to their destination.
Some traps on air ejector packages require a vent line back to the after condenser.
Some plants have a vacuum breaker valve, which requires seal water to prevent air
in-leakage. Make sure the seal water is installed.
The condenser (or steam turbine) rupture disc should be inspected closely prior to
vacuum operations. Some discs have to be installed in one particular direction. The
area around the disc should not be accessible for personnel.
The deaerator should be inspected before use, to make sure the trays are installed
in the proper orientation, and that they are secure. The spray nozzles should be left
out, if not yet installed, or removed, if they have been installed. The deaerator
should be inspected after the initial round of flushing, to remove any debris that
settled in the storage vessel, and to install the spray nozzles. The deaerator should
receive a final inspection after the period of initial operation, to check the spray
nozzles and trays.
The various types of feed water pumps need customized care to ensure smooth
operation. The pump suction strainer is very likely to plug when first running the
pump. The minimum flow valve and any minimum flow orifice should be inspected
to make sure they dont cause too much flow restriction for the pump. If the pump
has an automatic recirculation valve in the discharge, the valve should either be

removed for the initial operation, or (in some cases) a special startup trim
installed for initial operation.
Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG)
A few plants, which burn crude oil or some other heavy oil, have soot blowers. The
alignment of the soot blower is critical to their smooth operation. Also important is
proper lubrication.
Some plants can run the combustion turbine solo, by means of a stack damper and
a simple cycle stack, then later put the exhaust through the HRSG and out the main
stack. The stack damper must be tested to ensure it operates in simple cycle mode
without allowing any leakage into the HRSG.
HRSGs with horizontal tube bundles have recirculation pumps. Because they must
operate at all times, it is important to the commissioning team that the pump
suction strainers be easy to clean. The designers should avoid any in-line spool
piece strainers, since they require a longer time to clean.
Sample Panels
Modern plants have sample panels, where sample lines are routed to centrally
located panels for analysis. The sample panels may measure conductivity, cation
conductivity, degassed cation conductivity, pH, sodium, hydrazine, dissolved
oxygen, silica, and other parameters.
Too often, there is a push to put the sample panels in service as soon as possible.
But the steam and condensate systems can be heavy with rust or debris during the
initial startup, and the sample panel equipment, with its tight tolerances, will get
plugged with debris. At some plants, temporary sample coolers have been installed,
by running sample tubing through 55-gallon drums and using cooling water from a
service water hose station, in order to delay the use of the sample panels.
Another helpful feature is a sediment pot installed on the inlet of each sample
connection. The pots large diameter in relation to the sample tubing allows debris
to settle to the bottom, where it can be blown down. Sediment pots can be added to
the sample panel design with minimal cost.
The maintenance of sample panels can be easily underestimated. They require
constant monitoring, chemicals, and calibrations.
Fuel Gas
The introduction of fuel gas necessitates safety precautions, such as testing the gas
fuel piping flanges for leaks. This is done by wrapping each piping flange or joint
with masking tape, punching a small hole in the tape, and then positioning a handheld gas detector near the hole. (This leak testing is often preceded by leak testing
with air pressure, before the fuel gas comes into the battery limits.)
The installed gas monitor should be functionally tested using a calibrated gas.
Gas fuel temperature should be verified to be above the dew point temperature. If
there is a pressure letdown station, and there are liquid constituents in the gas, the

expansion of the gas causes the temperature to plummet precipitously, and freezing
can occur.
Liquid Fuel
At some plants, a liquid fuel, such as distillate, is used as a backup fuel for the
combustion turbine, the auxiliary boiler, and the duct burners. The liquid fuel
system must be cleaned well, to prevent plugging of equipment with close
Some liquid fuel tanks have floating suction devices. This hardware should be
inspected prior to filling the tank. Any special coatings in the tank interior should
also be checked. Siphon breakers on the tank should be disassembled, to make sure
there are no shipping stops in the valves.
The liquid fuel unloading station should be checked for proper spill containment and
fire safety.
Air Conditioning and Ventilation
At many plants, the air conditioning and ventilation systems are seemingly
abandoned after their initial start, because they are someone elses responsibility.
Therefore, a good commissioning team will monitor these systems, even if they are
in fact some other organizations responsibility, because degradation of these
systems can have an adverse impact on plant performance.
Replace air filters regularly during startup. Use good quality pleated air filters,
rather than the cheap fiberglass types. The pleated air filters can take more abuse,
and they keep your system cleaner. Due to the dust and dirt at construction sites,
air conditioning condenser coils may need frequent cleaning.
Condensate drains need to be directed to a suitable location. Most units have a p
trap on the condensate, to allow the water to drain, but not allow un-filtered air to
be drawn into the unit. If there are troubles with the trap, it may cause water to
back up in the unit.
System Checkout
The remaining systems needed for running the combustion turbine and HRSG are
tested on a system basis. The equipment is energized, and the process fluid is put
into the system. The various control circuits are checked, to verify controls and
interlocks work as designed. Where possible, the system parameters are adjusted to
produce the various set points which cause the controls and interlocks to function.
For example, tank levels are raised and lowered to trigger alarms or trips, or system
valves are throttled to cause low flow or low pressure conditions.
If a system has heat tracing installed on its pipes or instrument lines, and the
weather predictions are for freezing temperatures, make sure the heating supply is
ready and the insulation is installed. The heat may be applied from steam or an
electrical supply.

Combustion Turbine
In most plants, the commissioning of the combustion turbine itself is the
responsibility of the turbine vendor. They provide specialists in the various systems
of the turbine: the controls, the electrical systems, and the mechanical systems.
The lubricating oil flush is customarily one of the first activities, and has traditionally
been a milestone benchmark. Temporary power is used to power the lubricating oil
pumps for the flush. The oil should be purified before filling the reservoir, since
brand new oil shipments have been received with debris in the oil.
The turbine control systems also receive a temporary power supply, in order to
checkout the circuits early in the commissioning program. The aim of the system
commissioning period is to get the combustion turbine shaft rotating and ready for
Steam Turbine
The steam turbine is also commissioned by the vendors personnel, who are
specialists in their area of responsibility. The steam turbine commissioning occurs
later in the schedule, so permanent power is usually available for the steam turbine
equipment. The lubricating oil flush of the steam turbine is conducted in a manner
similar to that of the combustion turbine.
The goal of the system commissioning period is to have the turbine shaft on turning
gear, with gland sealing steam applied and vacuum on the condenser. The steam
turbine is then ready to admit steam.
Thermal Expansion
Before the initial heat up of the plant, the steam headers and other hot pipes will be
inspected. The spring hangers, supports, guides, will be adjusted according to their
During the initial heat up, the pipes and support devices must be inspected very
closely, to verify the proper direction and amount of thermal growth. (Example: 100
feet of schedule 80 carbon steel pipe, when heated up 300F, will grow 2.5 inches!)

Commissioning of Combined Cycle Power

Plants Part 4
Dan Parker | Apr 08, 2003
Operational Testing
First Fire
The combustion turbine is ready for first fire after successfully completing control
sequence checks, cranking checks, emergency shutdown checks, false-fire checks,
and has been on turning gear for twenty four hours.
Once the combustion turbine is fired, the hot exhaust gas will generate steam in the
HRSG. The steam can be vented from the HRSG drums and superheater vents

during the initial first fire operation. But after reaching a sustained full speed/no
load condition (FSNL), these vents will not be adequate for removing the steam and
the HRSG pressure will rise. If the air blow process was used to clean the steam
pipes, the steam can be routed to an atmospheric dump valve or to the steam
turbine bypass. If the steam piping will undergo steam blows, a temporary valve
and silencer arrangement will take the steam out of the system, until the necessary
cleanness is achieved.
When the combustion turbine is fired and the HRSG heated up for the first time,
blow down the HRSG to remove any magnetite that has loosened from the tube
Steam Turbine Bypass
The steam turbine bypass system dumps steam to the condenser through pressurereducing control valves that also have an associated attemperating water spray.
The initial operation of the steam turbine bypass must be monitored closely. The
steam temperature should not be too high in the superheated region, as this may
overheat the condenser structure. Also, the steam should not enter the saturated
range, as this heavier steam may cause condenser tube aerodynamic problems
(rattling and eventual cracking of the tubes, or damage to the bypass valve itself).
Steam is dumped to the condenser until steam purity is achieved (clean enough to
be admitted to the steam turbine). This can often take several days, or a week, of
continuous dumping.

Figure 1
Generator Synchronization
After a combustion turbine or steam turbine starts, its generator is connected to the
utility grid to export power. The generator breaker is closed to the grid after
synchronizing the voltage and frequency of the generator to the system's voltage
and frequency. The generator's field excitation and speed are adjusted until the
voltage and frequencies of both systems are closely matched. The generator
breaker is then closed, and the power output of the generator is increased by

raising the combustion turbine firing (or by raising the steam turbine steam
admission rate).
Failure to accurately synchronize the generator to the grid before closing the circuit
breaker may damage the generator. Protective relays detect any out-of-phase
conditions and will not permit breaker closure.
Water Use
During chemical cleaning and first fire operation, demineralized water demands can
exceed the water production rate and storage capacity. Chemical cleaning requires
large quantities of demineralized water for preparing the cleaning solutions and the
subsequent filling, flushing, and rinsing of the piping and HRSG's.
At the time of combustion turbine first fire, frequent blowing down of the HRSG is
required to remove loose magnetite and achieve the steam purity necessary for
steam admission to the steam turbine.
During commissioning, the water treatment system will become increasingly reliable
and will attain the throughput guarantees and chemical purity specifications. It may
be necessary on a temporary basis to augment the water production by mobile
Normal BOP Systems Operation
After a balance of plant (BOP) system checkout is complete, the system is placed in
normal operation in a step-by-step fashion. This activity may take several days, and
may require frequent stops in order to perform inspections, make equipment
adjustments, or review data. The following example of the condensate and feed
water initial startup demonstrates this process.

Step #1: The condensate storage tank is filled with demineralized water. Tank
level indicator signals are verified at the DCS.
Step #2: The condensate make-up pump is started and placed in recirculation
operation from the DCS. Pump suction pressure, discharge pressure, and
suction strainer differential pressure are monitored.
Step #3: The condenser hotwell is filled using the condensate make-up
pump. Hotwell level indicator signals are verified at the DCS. The control
valve operation is checked, and then the controls can be placed in the
automatic mode.

Figure 2

Step #4: The condensate piping and the HRSG drums, economizers, and
evaporators are filled via the condensate make-up pump cold fill line.
Step #5: The condensate pump is started and placed in recirculation
operation from the DCS. Pump motor amperage, thermal rise, and vibration
are monitored. Pump suction pressure, discharge pressure, and suction
strainer differential pressure are also monitored.
Step #6: The condenser hotwell level controls are verified in both manual and
automatic operation.
Step #7: Condensate flows to the HRSG LP economizer and is recirculated to
the condenser via the economizer recirculation line (if such a recirculation
line is included).
Step #8: Condensate flows through the LP economizer 3-way valve bypass
and into the LP drum. The condensate is then redirected via the 3-way valve
into the economizer and into the LP drum. 3-way bypass control is verified at
the DCS. Thermocouple indications in the LP economizer are verified at the
Step #9: A feed water pump is started and placed in recirculation operation.
LP drum level indicator signals are monitored at the DCS. Level control valve
operation is verified. Feed water pump lubricating oil distribution,
temperature and pressure is verified locally and at the DCS. Cooling water
flow and temperature is monitored locally and at the DCS. Pump motor
amperage, thermal rise, and vibration are checked. Pump suction pressure,
discharge pressure, and suction strainer differential pressures are monitored.
If the condenser has excessive leakage while under vacuum, and all the normal
leakage sites have been checked by site personnel, it is beneficial to subcontract a
specialist in condenser air in-leakage testing. These companies use helium
detectors, installed at the air discharge of the condense air removal system, and
they spray helium around the joints, man ways, and flanges of the condenser and
steam turbine. The helium detector can even be "calibrated" to estimate the
amount of leakage. The subcontractor can spot the source of the leakage in a
matter of hours.

Shift Work
When the combustion turbines are fired for the first time, the commissioning team
moves into shift work, with two or three shifts assigned for round-the-clock
On some projects, the most experienced personnel are assigned to the night shift.
Since there are fewer workers on night shift to coordinate, and fewer distractions,
the night shift can initiate new tests much easier than can be done on day shift.
Test Data
In preparing for testing, the startup manager prepares test log sheets and may also
use DCS software logs that capture operational data. Software logs can be
formatted to depict operating data graphically, displaying the dynamics of the
system operation.
Steam Traps
Steam traps are deceptively simple components, which can cause big problems if
they are not specified properly, or if they are installed incorrectly.
The commissioning team should check the design features of the traps, to make
sure they are installed with the correct range of pressures, temperatures, and backpressures. They should also check the various piping runs, and verify that traps are
installed at all the necessary points in the systems.
During the system walkdown, the commissioning team should make sure the traps
are installed in the proper orientation, and that the associated piping is routed
After some period of operation, the traps which have internal strainers should be
disassembled and cleaned.
Plant Outages
During the operation of the plant, there will be a collection of punch list items which
require the plant to be shutdown in order to perform the work. Also, the startup
schedule will include some known outage activities, like removing the strainers from
the steam turbine inlet valves, or pulling the strainers from the combustion turbine
fuel lines. The work should be scheduled just like a regular plant outage, with work
permits arranged in advance, materials staged in the warehouse, and personnel
assigned to the tasks. When the predetermined time arrives for the outage, the
work can then proceed smoothly.
There should also be an ongoing list of punch list items that can be done during a
short outage, so that if the plant is shutdown or trips without notice, some of those
short work items can be accomplished.
Special Situations
Emergency leak repair is sometimes warranted if there is a bad leak but you don't
want to shutdown the plant to fix the leak. A leak repair subcontractor can be called
to the site. They will make a temporary fitting which can be applied around the leak,

and then they will pump a system-friendly compound into the fitting to stop the
leak. These leak repairs have been successfully employed on high pressure steam
systems, circulating water systems, glycol cooling systems, and elsewhere.
Another technique for making repairs on the run is to use a "freeze seal" to isolate
an otherwise un-isolable section of a system and allow a repair to be made. Kits are
available for "do it yourself" freeze seals, or subcontractors can be employed for the
more difficult cases. Repairs on flanges or valves can often be performed by an "in
place machining" subcontractor.
It is a well-known fact that plants that have good housekeeping are easier to start.
When the commissioning team is not encumbered by construction dirt and debris,
the equipment stays clean and more trouble-free. The startup manager should insist
on good housekeeping from all the organizations on the project.
Performance Testing
The heat rate test is based on the engineered heat balances supplied by the plant
designer. The net plant heat rate typically supercedes any individual combustion
turbine and steam turbine guarantees and is calculated as BTU/kWh.

Heat rate testing should be performed when the plant is in a new and clean
condition with less than 300 hours of operation. When this is not possible, the plant
designer will supply heat rate degradation correction curves for calculating the
adjusted heat rate. Additional correction curves are supplied to adjust the heat rate
calculation to the guaranteed combustion turbine compressor inlet temperature,
humidity, and barometric pressure (commonly cited as 59o F, 60% relative
humidity, 14.66 psia barometric pressure). The specified fuel gas heating value
(BTU/lb) and chemical composition (per cent methane, ethane, propane, etc.) is
verified by drawing samples during the test for subsequent analysis. Stable
operating conditions within the emission limit guarantees are required during the
test period (usually four hours at base load). Other operating conditions and
limitations may include:

HRSG blowdown = 0%
Generator power factor = 0.85 lagging
Generator frequency = 60 Hz
Electrical output = as measured on the high-voltage side of the step-up
Combined cycle heat rates of approximately 6,000 BTU/kWh, LHV are now common.
The heat rate test procedure will typically identify the temporary test instruments
and permanent plant instruments that will be used to collect data. These
instruments require calibration certificates to validate their accuracy and
tolerances. Of special importance are the electrical power output meter, the
auxiliary electrical load meter, and the fuel gas flow meter. Whenever possible, the
data should be read on the actual plant revenue or billing meters, since these

meters will be used to pay fuel costs and to calculate the plant's electrical sales
Emissions Testing
HRSG stack emissions testing validates the emission limit guarantees. In many
plants, the combustion turbine exhaust gas nitrous oxide (NOx) reduction
equipment will not satisfy the local environmental permit requirements, and it is
therefore necessary to supplement the combustion turbine NOx reduction
equipment with an HRSG selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit. The combustion
turbine exhaust enters the HRSG and passes through SCR modules located behind
the high pressure evaporator modules. Ammonia is injected into the flue gas, and it
reduces the NOx while on the catalyst surface. The ammonia decomposes NOx into
harmless N2 and H2O, according to the reactions:

The stack NOx is tested as NO2 and measured in parts per million (PPM) by volume
on a dry gas basis, corrected to 15% oxygen. HRSG stack emissions testing may
also include tests for:
Ammonia (excess ammonia admitted to the SCR)
Carbon monoxide
Particulate (sized in microns)
Volatile organic compounds (e.g. methane)
HRSG stack emissions testing is typically performed after the installed CEM has
been certified. However, if the permanent plant CEM is not certified at the time of
emissions testing, a rented, portable CEM is used. The HRSG stack emission testing
may be performed in conjunction with the heat rate testing. However, the emissions
test may be conducted at several different load points (50%, 75%, 100% for
example, with and without duct burners) on a one-hour average basis, while the
heat rate testing may be performed at only one load point. Combustion turbine
exhaust gas NOX emission guarantees of 9.0 ppmvd (@15% O2) are now common.
Combined cycle plant HRSG stack emission guarantees (with an SCR) can be as low
as 3.5 ppmvd (@ 15% O2).
Contract Testing
The following tests may be required by the contract:
Steam Turbine and Combustion Turbine Overspeed Tests Modern overspeed controls
are now redundant electronic circuits (replacing the spring-loaded mechanical bolttype overspeed device). At least two overspeed tests are performed (one on each
circuit), and then repeated if necessary.
CO2 Concentration Tests
After the combustion turbine CO2 piping is cleaned and pressure tested with air,
and the fire control and alarm system is fully tested, the CO2 storage tank may be
filled. The system is dynamically tested by initiating a fire alarm (via any of the heat

detection sensors). The CO2 concentration is measured. The concentration test

requires special equipment and is typically performed by the fire system vendor.
Electrical Full-Load Rejection Test
A full-load rejection test demonstrates the ability of each combustion turbine and
the steam turbine to instantly shed their full-load, without tripping on overspeed,
and then run down to full-speed-no-load. Combustion turbine full-load rejection tests
are conducted individually, one combustion turbine at a time. In order to achieve
full-load on the steam turbine both combustion turbines must be in base load
operation. When the steam turbine generator breaker is opened, the combustion
turbines must runback to a preset lower load and begin dumping steam to the
condenser via the steam turbine bypass. Control of this runback and bypass
operation is a function of the DCS control logic.
A station trip test simulates a switchyard failure, wherein the combustion turbine
generators and steam turbine generator are separated from the grid. In this case,
the steam turbine is tripped and the combustion turbines run back to full-speed-noload. In stations where there is no backup power, one of the combustion turbine
generators may be configured to runback and later implement a safe shutdown.
Duct Burner Testing
Duct burners may be functionally tested to full-fire capability only after the
combustion turbine is at base load. For this reason, the duct burners are frequently
the last system to be fully commissioned, and are on the critical path to
performance testing and emissions testing.
Partial Load Stability Test
A partial load stability test seeks to determine the plant's lowest megawatt output
operating point. At this point the megawatt output remains stable, and the stack
emissions remain in compliance with the air permit.
Reliability Test
A reliability test may take the form of a continuous operations test, where the plant
operates continuously, with no emergency trips, for a period of perhaps 7 to 30
days. Other variations of this test include performing repeated startup and
shutdown operations, performing hot and cold re-starts with fast loading, unit
maneuvering (for example, steam turbine extraction steam tests), and peaking
operation tests.
System Turnover (from Commissioning to the Owner)
The turnover from commissioning to the plant owner follows the same principles as
the turnover from construction to commissioning.
Turnover Packages
The commissioning team maintains the system turnover packages during the
commissioning phase, and the various records collected for each system are added
to the packages during the commissioning. Sometimes an entire train of one
combustion turbine generator and associated HRSG are turned over to the owner as
one package. This type of turnover includes multiple system turnover packages
being turned over simultaneously.

System Walkdown
The system walkdown is conducted in the same manner as the construction
turnover walkdown. The walkdown verifies the work within the boundaries is
complete. Any incomplete work is noted on the punchlist. Those work items are
completed later, under the owner's work permit program.
"Wish List"
The owner's personnel are not always conversant with the contract for designing
and building the plant, and sometimes they write into the punch list items which are
beyond the scope of the contract (therefore known as "wish list" items). The startup
manager will differentiate between in-scope deficiencies and out-of-scope requests.
The plant owner may need to establish a separate contract to add these
enhancements at a later time, after the plant startup is completed.
Due to the popularity of the combined cycle power plant, many startups have
occurred in the past few years, and a system of commissioning has evolved. That
system is based on the historical groundwork of the electrical utility fossil and
nuclear plant startups, and has been modified to match the needs of the modern
combined cycle power plant.
Experienced startup personnel have been trained and are ready to meet the
technical demands and challenges of their industry.