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April 2015 Vol. 159 No.

Vol. 159 No. 4 April 2015

New O&M Concerns


and Solutions
MATS Compliance Strategies
Reduce Risks of Electrical Fires
Best Gas Technology Partner for
Renewables
NextEra Energy: From Florida to
Hawaii

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Established 1882 Vol. 159 No. 4

April 2015

ON THE COVER
Wind turbines may be the most visible component of wind power projects, but appropriate maintenance of balance-of-plant systemssuch as transformers, substations, and collection cablesis essential for reliable operation. Courtesy: Shermco Industries

COVER STORY: OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


24 Doing More with Less: New Solutions Help Address Power Plant O&M Staffing Difficulties
The time generating companies have been dreading has arrived: A wave of retirements is challenging them to ensure reliable plant operations with smaller, less-experienced staffs. Contractors, long-term service agreements, monitoring, and other
technologies can help address the problembut only if all are used intelligently.

36 Wind Power Projects Must Be Managed as Electrical Generation Plants


Some engineers involved in the traditional thermal generation sector dismiss renewable generation as simpleinsufficiently complicated or interesting to merit
their attention. That assumption can be one factor in inappropriate approaches to
wind facility O&M. In some respects, the scale of utility-scale variable renewable
generation makes O&M more complicated than for central stations, especially when
it comes to balance-of-plant maintenance.

36

44 Keeping Pollution Control Devices Online with Good Operating Practices


When emissions from coal-fired power plants were first regulated, the number of
pollutants was small and the equipment used for compliance was relatively simple.
As regulated pollutants have been added, levels are ratcheted down, and device
retrofits proliferate, O&M complexity has increased as well.

SPECIAL REPORT: SAFETY


50 Balancing Risk, Reliability, and Safety at Plants Slated for Retirement
The wave of retirement announcements for old U.S. thermal plants is an understandable source of anxiety for those working in those plants. Ensuring that workers concerns about their future do not jeopardize their personal safety while on the
job is just as important as finding ways to keep these plants in optimal shape until
their last day. Two major coal fleet operators share lessons learned.

24

FEATURES
GENERATION TRANSITIONS
56 NextEra Energy: A Tale of Two, and Maybe Three, Companies
Our profiles of generating companies in transition continue with East Coastbased
NextEra, which has set its sights for expansion as far west as Hawaii.

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE

64 The State of U.S. Mercury Control in Response to MATS


This exclusive summary of a report from the Institute of Clean Air Companies shows
you what types of power plants have adopted which approaches to compliance with
the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Youll also learn about the circumstances that
should prompt a reevaluation of a plants technology choices.

68 Proposed Ozone Rule May Be the Most Costly Regulation Ever


Regardless of the promised health benefits to be derived from a proposed lower
limit for ground-level ozone, meeting new limits could pose an insurmountable challenge, especially for new fossil generation. Our editors report on the arguments
from those supporting and challenging the proposed revised standard.

April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

50
1

GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES

72 Are Simple Cycles or Combined Cycles Better for Renewable Power Integration?
Its become almost an article of faith that gas-fired generation is the ideal backstop resource for variable renewables. Whats been less clear is what combination
of technologies provides the best solution. This article makes the case that combined cycles are an important part of the picture.

FUNDAMENTALS

78 Understanding Electrical Fire Hazards at Electric Generating Stations


The loss of generation as the result of an electrical fire often outweighs the actual
fire damage, so everyone who works in a power plant needs to understand the
hazard and how to prevent it.

78

PLANT DESIGN

82 Leveraging Generation Synergies with Hybrid Plants


Beyond simply siting two types of generation on the same site, todays hybrid power
plants seek to use the performance characteristics of multiple technologies to compensate for each others shortcomings. We look at examples from around the world.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

86 Seismic Hazard Resiliency at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants


As new knowledge about geology, earthquake and tsunami risks, and operational
and design best practices emerges, regulatory oversight of nuclear plants changes
as well. We look at the latest seismic information available as well as regulatory
responses to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

DEPARTMENTS
SPEAKING OF POWER

18

6 In a Word, Storage
GLOBAL MONITOR

8
8
9
10
13
14
15

Chinas Hualong One Reactor Design Gets Argentine Boost


One Step Back, One Step Forward for U.S. Offshore Wind
Two Years Later, S. Korea Finally Puts Shin-Wolsong 2 Online
THE BIG PICTURE: The Ozone Rule Costs
Study: Perovskite-Silicon Tandems Provide Big Boost to Solar Efficiency
Palo Verde Nuclear Station Sets U.S. Production Record
POWER Digest
FOCUS ON O&M

18 Innovative Pipe Conveyors: Effective, Efficient, and Environmentally Friendly


LEGAL & REGULATORY

22 The Dark Side of Reliability Regulation


By Caileen Gamache, counsel, Davis Wright Tremaine

COMMENTARY

100 The Export-Import Banks Role in Supporting Renewable Energy


By Uduak Essien, Export-Import Bank of the United States

Connect with POWER


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Exclusive Industry Event Reports at powermag.com


We know you cant attend every industry conference and trade show (and neither can we), so
each year we select a slightly different mix of diverse, high-profile gatherings for our editors
to attend. Youll find timely coverage of those events online. Here are some of the most recent
reports, from the MIT Energy Conference and the Energy, Utility, and Environment Conference:

Exelon: The Utility of the Future Views Change as Enabling, Not Disruptive
10 Industry Leaders Comment on the Future of Energy, Electricity, and the Grid
Ameren Comments on Suggested Revisions to the EPAs Clean Power Plan
EPA and Utilities Are On the Wrong Track, Say Experts
www.powermag.com

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POWER April 2015

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SPEAKING OF POWER

In a Word, Storage
hat turns a trend from trendy to
established? In the energy industry it can be any number of
things, from a technology breakthrough,
to a new market, to forces of nature. The
shale gas boom in the U.S. is the most
well-known example of a technology trend
that has changed the economics for all
power generation. The accelerating development of variable renewables and electric vehicles has developed a market for
advanced battery technologies. In some
places, especially those that have experienced destructive weather events, the
need for greater infrastructure resilience
is advancing the trend toward more local
and microgrid power.
In February, I attended two events
focused on the future of the energy industry to scope out what trends are more
or less likely to change the power sector.
Researchers in academia and industry are
exploring many intriguing technologies,
from new power electronics and sensors
to unusual schemes for ocean power, but
in the near to midterm, the most likely
game-changer is storage.
Looking out to at least 2040, its obvious that central station power plants and
the interconnected grid will continue to
form the backbone of electricity supply
and delivery systems in developed countries. But the look, operational features,
and components of that grid will change
in some cases a lot faster than you might
expect. Two types of storageenergy storage and carbon dioxide (CO2, or carbon)
storageare needed and are slowly being
deployed. But first, a few words about the
people behind storage and other energy
technology breakthroughs.

Change Agents
One of the most positive takeaways from
the ARPA-E Summit and the MIT Energy
Conference was the attendees enthusiasm
and intelligence. Some of the companies
and research projects represented at these
events are being led by mid-century folks
who have the ever-youthful energy of entrepreneurs and scientific explorers. There
were also many undergraduate and graduate
students who understand the importance
6

of all forms of energy to both individual


lives and societies. The interactive power
system of the future that the attendees of
all ages envision includes cleaner sources,
more efficient use, and greater flexibility.
As they bring that future to life (and they
will, because they take disruptive technologies as the norm, and because there
is increasing consumer demand for the capabilities they are developing), traditional
generation sources, operating practices,
and economics will continue to be challenged. That will be scary, but it is inevitable if everyone everywhere is to enjoy
the benefits of both electrification and a
livable environment.
The largest growing market for electricity is in developing nations, and thats
where some of the upstarts are testing out
new technologies and business models. As
those become established, the localization
of emerging technologies will bring more
competitors into the industry, which is also
an inevitable trend. As the theme of this
years MIT Energy Conference signaled, we
live in an era of Global Energy Shifts.

Storing Carbon
Before you store CO2, you have to capture
it. That alone is complicated and costly,
as youll see in our next issue. But capturing carbon is just the first step. In order
to have any effect on climate change, you
have to store that carbon reliably, indefinitely, at scale, and affordably. Thats an
even thornier challenge. Nevertheless,
panelists at both future-focused events
agreed it is necessary.
For example, speaking at the MIT event,
Dirk Smit, chief scientist for Shell Global,
said Shell sees climate change as the single largest driver to change its business
over the next few decades. Shell thinks
carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a
very viable alternative when enabled by
carbon pricing, which the company is in
favor of.
Storing Energy
Panels at both events addressed the growth
of distributed energy resources (note that
they are not all generation), from rooftop solar to energy storage to demand
www.powermag.com

response. Several companies are ramping


up to aggregate these resources from commercial, industrial, and even residential
customers to help grid operators smooth
out demand peaks and manage variable
generation. Though improvements in all
these areas are being pursued, storage
technology poses the greatest challenge
and payoff.
Well be covering storage technologies
in more detail in the May issue, but as
just one brief example of how the ARPA-E
program has assisted the development of
more effective and efficient energy options, consider the first liquid metal battery, developed by Ambri (which has also
received support from nonprofits, Bill
Gates, and French energy company Total).
The advantages of Ambris technology include low cost, long lifespan, earth-abundant materials, modular design, and low
manufacturing costs. This year it plans to
test five prototypes at its Massachusetts
manufacturing plant.

Scale and Signiicance


Today, neither carbon storage nor energy
storage constitutes even 1% of our electricity system. To achieve the desired results,
CCS will need to achieve massive scale, but
energy storage is another matter.
Think about the percentage of storage
space in your home. As people in developed consumer economies get older,
they tend to accumulate more stuff that
requires storage. If youve ever moved from
a house with a basement or attic to a home
with neither, you understand the value of
even small amounts of storage. Similarly,
electricity storage has always been nice to
have, which is why weve used batteries
(invented by Professor Alessandro Volta
in 1800) in so many applications for so
long, but now it is becoming necessary for
a more-complex grid with more stuff
multiple types and sizes of generation, bidirectional power flows, sensors, and what
is being called the Internet of Things. As
with household storage, the role of storage at various points on the electricity
grid may be small, but its significant.
Gail Reitenbach, PhD is editor of
POWER.

POWER April 2015

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Copyright 2015 Exxon Mobil Corporation. All rights reserved.


All trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries unless otherwise noted.

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Chinas Hualong One


Reactor Design Gets
Argentine Boost
Argentinas Ministry of Federal Planning
in early February signed an agreement
with the National Energy Administration
of China and China National Nuclear Co.
(CNNC) to build Argentinas fourth nuclear
reactor, an 800-MW CANDU design, on the
site of the existing Atucha nuclear power
plant. Under the agreement, Nucleoelctrica Argentinaholder of the rights to
Canadian CANDU technologywill design,
build, and operate the new reactor. CNNC
will provide equipment, goods, and services for the project. Construction could take
up to eight years. Argentina has three operational nuclear power plants: Embalse,
Atucha-1, and Atucha-2, which was commissioned and renamed Nestor Kirchner
in 2014.
But the countrys fifth nuclear plant
may be a Chinese-designed light water
reactor that merges CNNCs ACP1000 and
China General Nuclears (CGNs) ACPR1000
designs in one standardized design
Hualong One. Days after the CANDU
agreement, officials from Argentina and
China signed another cooperation agree-

ment that provides for Nucleoelctrica


Argentina to be the architect-engineer
of the Hualong One project and calls for
maximum local content in the new unit.
CNNC will now provide Nucleoelctrica Argentina with a proposal covering technical, commercial aspects, pricing and
financing for the new reactor. The two
governments must approve the proposal
for the deal to advance.
The agreement marks a milestone for
Chinas fledgling efforts to export nuclear
reactors. If it all pans out, it will be the
first international order for the Hualong
One (Figure 1). China already plans to use
the design at its fifth and sixth units at
the Fuqing site in Fujian Province.
According to the World Nuclear Association, the reactor design came into being
after Chinas National Energy Administration ordered CNNC and CGN to merge their
two third-generation reactor designs
both of which are three-loop designs
based on the French M310in 2011. The
Hualong One features a 177fuel assembly
core, diversified and redundant safety systems, a single-reactor layout, and double
containments. Both CNNC and CGN have
their own supply chains for the Hualong

1. First of its kind. Argentina and China in February agreed to cooperate on the construction of a 1,000-MW Hualong One reactor, which merges China National Nuclear Co.s ACP1000
and China General Nuclears ACPR1000 designs in one standardized design. If all works out,
it would be the first overseas order for Chinas third-generation reactor. Courtesy: CGN

www.powermag.com

One, which means their versions will differ slightly. The Fuqing plant will feature
CGNs version.
Sonal Patel, associate editor

One Step Back, One Step


Forward for U.S. Offshore
Wind
Though offshore wind is becoming increasingly important in Europe, with many
hundreds-of-megawatts projects in service, the sector has stagnated in the U.S.,
with no operational facilitiesand some
high-profile failures.
In early January, the 468-MW Cape Wind
project in Massachusetts, which was on
track to become the nations first offshore
wind farm, abruptly lost its power purchase agreements (PPAs) after the developers missed a deadline to close financing
and begin construction. The project faced
extended litigation from opponents, which
observers believe may ultimately have
killed it (see Cape Wind Finally Blows
Out in the March 2015 issue).
That event left another, albeit much
smaller, project the frontrunner for the first
offshore facility to come online in the U.S.
About two weeks after Cape Wind suffered
its setback, Deepwater Wind, the developers of the five-turbine, 30-MW Block Island
Wind Farm off Rhode Island, announced
that improvements in turbine technology
would allow it to generate more power
than originally envisioned under its PPA
with National Grid (Figure 2).
The project was expected to have a capacity factor of 40% when the PPA was
approved. Deepwater Wind said it now expects the farm to operate at a 47% capacity factor because of improvements in the
turbine technology. Because, under the
terms of the PPA, any power it generates
over the PPA has to be sold at half price,
this may mean a reduction in the overall
price of its power.
Deepwater Wind closed financing on
the $255 million project on Mar. 2 and
has begun preliminary construction and
fabrication. The company plans to begin
installing the turbine foundations this
summer, with commercial operation slated
for late 2016.
Meanwhile, the failure of Cape Wind has
led two Massachusetts lawmakers to propose changes in the states renewable energy legislation. If passed, the bill would
require the states utilities to sign PPAs

POWER April 2015

2. On track. The five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, shown in this photo
mock-up, is slated to begin construction this spring. Courtesy: Deepwater Wind

for 1,500 MW of offshore wind capacity by


2018.
Long-term prospects for offshore wind
in the U.S. remain uncertain. A federal
auction for offshore wind leases in Janu-

ary drew lackluster participation, with two


leases going unsold and two more selling
for barely more than the minimum bids.
Thomas W. Overton, JD, associate
editor

Two Years Later, S. Korea


Finally Puts Shin-Wolsong
2 Online
In South Korea, the second unit at Korea
Hydro and Nuclear Powers (KHNPs) ShinWolsong reactor (Figure 3) was finally
connected to the grid in late February.
Though the reactor was completed in
2013, the countrys Nuclear Safety and
Security Commission (NSSC) withheld its
approval to allow it to begin operations
after a documentation scandal rocked the
countrys nuclear sector.
The scandal broke after KHNPthe subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO)
that operates the nations 24 nuclear reactorsadmitted that eight unnamed suppliers had faked 60 certificates covering 7,682
nuclear power components over a period of
nearly 10 years, from 2003 to 2012. That
prompted the Energy Ministry to order the
immediate shutdown of several affected reactors and jeopardized the countrys power
reliability.
Construction on the two-unit Shin-Wolsong plant began in 2007 for Unit 1 and 2008
for Unit 2. Unit 1, a domestically designed
OPR-1000, started up in January 2012 but
was among the reactors shut down to enable

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April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

THE BIG PICTURE: The Ozone Rule Costs


On December 17, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed tightening the National Ambient Air Quality
Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb. According to the
EPA, the stricter 65 ppb smog standard could result in health benefits of up to $40 billion annually (in 2014 dollars).
Industry, however, says costs of complying with the rule from 20172040 could prompt the retirement of 34 GW of
coal-fired capacity and spiral to as high as $1.05 trillion (in 2014 dollars), making it the most expensive regulation ever
issued by the U.S. government, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Sources: EPA Regulatory Impact
Analysis of the Proposed Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ground-Level Ozone, NERA Economic
Consulting
Copy and artwork by Sonal Patel, associate editor

Potential O&M Costs

$27.4B

Potential Capital Costs

(60%)

$18.7B
(40%)

Annual Average U.S. Compliance Spending


Costs for 65 ppb Standard

~$46.1B
(Annual average based on total of
$1.05 trillion calculated for a period
from 2017 to 2040. )

Annual Costs for Nationwide


(Except California*)
65 ppb Standard in 2025

Annual Costs for California


65 ppb Standard Post-2025

$15.79B
(70 ppb: $4.1B; 60 ppb: $41B)

$1.68B
(70 ppb: $0.84B; 60 ppb: $2.32B)

*The EPA presents separate costs and benefits results for California taking into account that states programs and to avoid an overstatement of costs.

10

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

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POWER PROJECT

A WINNER?
Find out by nominating it for a POWER award
All nominated projects must be in commercial operation by the nomination
deadline of April 30, 2015. Youll find award information, lists of former winners,
and nomination forms at www.powermag.com/power-awards

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" Reinvention Award (formerly


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" Water Award
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Boosting Combustion Turbine
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3. Finally connected. Korea Hydro and


Nuclear Powers Shin-Wolsong 2 was gridconnected in late February, nearly two years
after it was completed. Courtesy: KHNP

taic material, he said, but until recently,


we didnt have a good material for the top
cell. Then perovskites came along.
Perovskites are synthetic crystalline
materials with the same crystal structure
as the mineral perovskite. They are inexpensive and easy to produce in the lab. In
2009, scientists showed that perovskites
made of lead, iodide, and methylammonium could convert sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of 3.8%. Since then,
researchers have achieved perovskite effi-

ciencies above 20%, rivaling commercially


available silicon solar cells. The advancements have piqued the interest of silicon
manufacturers worldwide.
The tandem solar cells work by converting
photons of sunlight into an electric current
that moves between two electrodes. Silicon
solar cells generate electricity by absorbing photons of visible and infrared light,
while perovskite cells harvest only the visible part of the solar spectrum, where the
photons have more energy.

replacement of cabling after the documentation scandal in May 2013. The reactor was
cleared to restart in January 2014.
KHNP noted that Unit 2 successfully
achieved grid synchronization and system
connection only 104 days after the NSSC
issued an operating license. Commercial
operation of the reactor is expected in
July 2015.
At least four other reactors are under
construction in South Korea, including the
nations first third-generation APR1400
reactors at Shin-Kori 3 and 4. Both were
scheduled to begin commercial operation
in late 2014, but their start date has been
delayed to early 2015 for recabling.
Meanwhile, per the countrys January
2014 Energy Master Plan, South Korea
wants to get 29% of its electricity from
nuclear by 2035, compared to the current 25%. As some analysts note, that
will require building 7 GW of new capacity beyond the 8.6 GW already planned.
The governments seventh basic long-term
power plan due to be released in April
2015 will offer more insight into its future
energy plans.
Sonal Patel, associate editor

Study: Perovskite-Silicon
Tandems Provide Big
Boost to Solar Efficiency
Stacking perovskites, a crystalline material, onto a conventional silicon solar cell
may dramatically improve the overall efficiency of the cell, scientists from Stanford
University concluded in a new study.
Right now, silicon solar cells dominate
the world market, but the power conversion efficiency of silicon photovoltaics has
been stuck at 25% for 15 years, explained
Professor Michael McGehee, who co-authored the study recently published in the
journal Energy & Environmental Science.
One cost-effective way to improve efficiency is to build a tandem device made of
silicon and another inexpensive photovolCIRCLE 7 ON READER SERVICE CARD

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Absorbing the high-energy part of the


spectrum allows perovskite solar cells to
generate more power per photon of visible light than silicon cells, said Stanford
graduate student Colin Bailie, co-lead author of the study.
One hurdle to building an efficient perovskite-silicon tandem has been a lack of
transparency. Also, perovskites are easily
damaged by heat and readily dissolve in
water. So the team used a sheet of plastic
with silver nanowires on it and built a tool

that uses gentle pressure to transfer the


nanowires onto the perovskite cell (Figure
4). When the team stacked a perovskite
solar cell with an efficiency of 12.7% on
top of a low-quality silicon cell with an
efficiency of just 11.4%, the results were
impressive. We improved the 11.4% silicon cell to 17% as a tandem, a remarkable relative efficiency increase of nearly
50%, McGehee said.
In another experiment, the research
team replaced the silicon solar cell with a

4. Game changer. Stanford scientists


have shown that a perovskite cell mechanically stacked onto a conventional silicon cell can
significantly enhance efficiency. This image
shows a microscopic image of a perovskite
solar cell with a silver nanowire mesh that
enables semi-transparency. Courtesy: Colin
Bailie/Stanford University

cell made of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). The researchers stacked
a 12.7% efficiency perovskite cell onto a
CIGS cell with 17% efficiency. The resulting tandem achieved an overall conversion
efficiency of 18.6%.
The team is now working on resolving
the unanswered question of how perovskites fare in terms of long-term stability. You can heat [silicon] to about
600 degrees Fahrenheit, shine light on
it for 25 years, and nothing will happen.
But if you expose perovskite to water or
light, it likely will degrade. We have a
ways to go to show that perovskite solar
cells are stable enough to last 25 years,
McGehee said.
Sonal Patel, associate editor

Palo Verde Nuclear Station


Sets U.S. Production
Record
The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
led the U.S. in electrical generation in 2014,
as it has done for 23 consecutive years, with
a total output of 32.3 million MWh. That
bested its previous record set in 2012.
The Palo Verde plant is located about
45 miles west of Phoenix, Ariz. (Figure 5).
It has three pressurized water reactors
Units 1 and 2 were completed in 1986,
and Unit 3 was added in 1988. The combined capacity of the three units is over 4
GW, making the station the largest power
generation facility in the U.S.
Palo Verde is operated by Arizona Public
Service (APS) and jointly owned by APS,
Salt River Project, Southern California Edison Co., El Paso Electric Co., Public Service
Co. of New Mexico, Southern California
Public Power Authority, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. About
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POWER April 2015

5. Consistent giant. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station


has had the highest annual output of any U.S. plant for 23 consecutive
years. Courtesy: Business Wire

half of the plants output serves Arizona customers, with the


remaining power spread among California, New Mexico, and far
west Texas.
Because of its desert location, Palo Verde is the only nuclear
plant in the U.S. that does not sit on a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated effluent from the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, and Tolleson to meet its cooling
water needs, recycling approximately 20 billion gallons of wastewater each year. (For more on the Palo Verde Water Reclamation
Facility, see Water and Wastewater Treatment Technology Update in the March 2015 issue of POWER.)
The almost 3,000 employees who work at Palo Verde come
to work every day with the same goal: to safely and efficiently
generate clean energy for the Southwest, and do it for the longterm, APS Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer
Randy Edington said in a press release. We take pride in regularly generating more electricity than any other power plant in the
country, ensuring that people across Arizona and the Southwest
can continue to enjoy reliable, low-cost electricity.
In 2014, all three units individually ranked among the top six
producers in the U.S., with Unit 3 having the second-highest output
of any nuclear unit in the world.
Aaron Larson, associate editor

POWER Digest
$1.9B Pan-African Renewable Energy Platform Launched.
Renewables company Mainstream Renewable Power and private
equity firm Actis on Feb. 17 launched a pan-African renewable
energy platform dubbed Lekela Power, with ambitions to provide
between 700 MW and 900 MW of wind and solar power across
Africa by 2018. Mainstream will take responsibility for the full
end-to-end management of the projects, including site identification, project development, and construction management,
as well as operations and maintenance of plants. The company
in February announced the start of construction for three wind
farms in South Africas Northern Cape with a combined capacity
of 360 MW.
Vattenfall Starts Up German Coal Unit at Moorburg. Swedish company Vattenfall started commercial power production at
the 827-MW Block B of its Moorburg coal-fired power plant near
Hamburg, Germany, in late February. Block A had its first grid
synchronization on Jan. 29 and will begin commercial operation
this summer. The 1,635-MW hard coalburning project has faced
intense opposition since its conception in 2007, before Germany
embarked on its energy transition to phase out nuclear power
and ramp up renewable generation. The project is one of seven
new coal-fired projects in Germany, comprising a total of more

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15

than 7 GW of capacity, expected to come online between late


2013 and early 2015.

Eskom Puts First Unit of 4.8-GW Coal Plant at Medupi


Online. On March 2, the first 794-MW unit (Unit 6) of Eskoms
massive 4.8-GW Medupi power station, under construction in
South Africas Limpopo Province, was synchronized to the national grid. The six-unit coal-fired Medupi plant is the fourth drycooled baseload station built in 20 years by Eskom, after Kendal,
Majuba, and Matimba power stations. Medupi is a Sepedi word
meaning rain that soaks parched lands, giving economic relief. The new units synchronization is much awaited in a nation
whose power system is critically constrained. Eskom, the utility
that generates about 95% of the electricity used in South Africa
and about 45% of the power used in all of Africa, has been forced
to impose planned, controlled, and rotational load shedding to
protect the power system from a total countrywide blackout.

Endesa Chile Shelves Controversial 740-MW CoalFired Project. Endesa Chiles $1.4 billion Punta Alcalde
coal-fired power plant is likely dead after the company on
Jan. 28 decided to halt the 740-MW project, citing uncertainty regarding its profitability. The project proposed for
the countrys energy-hungry copper mining region has faced
legal battles and fierce opposition from local communities.
Endesa has suffered massive losses after its controversial $9
billion HidroAysen project, a joint venture with Colbun, had
its permit canceled in June 2014 by a ministerial committee
after strong opposition from environmentalists.
Indias NTPC to Add 10 GW of New Solar. Indias stateowned power generation company NTPC on Feb. 16 committed
to add 10 GW of new solar projects. The company has already
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floated a notice inviting tenders for four solar projects of 250


MW in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, and Rajasthan, and one 500-MW solar project in Andhra Pradesh. Projects
could be awarded as early as this year. NTPC has already commissioned eight megawatt-scale solar projects in different parts of
the country totaling 110 MW, including the 50-MW Rajgarh solar
project in Madhya Pradesh.
On Feb. 12, Indias largest independent power producer, Adani
Power, signed an agreement with the government of Rajasthan for
the development of a 10-GW solar power park in the state over the
next 10 years. That $6.5 billion project will be developed in phases. The first 5-GW phase is expected to be completed by 2020.

Saudi Arabia to Scrap Renewable Initiative, Forges on


with Nuclear Plans. Following the death of King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia in early February decided to scrap the King Abdullah
Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) as part
of a government shuffle. The entity was created in 2010 to put
up to 54 GW of renewable capacities online by 2032. While the
future of some renewable projects is uncertain, the countrys ambitions to build 17 GW of nuclear power by 2032 are still strong.
In early March, it signed a memorandum of understanding with
South Korea to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy.
The agreement calls on South Korean firms to help build at least
two small- to medium-sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.

Egypt to Take on Privatizing Electricity, Russian Reactors.


Egypt will look to Russia to build its new nuclear plant. Rusatom
Overseas and the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plants Authority signed
a memorandum of understanding on the proposed project and a
desalination facility in early February. The government of Egypt
this February, meanwhile, approved a law to limit the role of the
state in the electricity sector and separate the power generation,
transmission, and distribution businesses to ensure competitiveness in the private sector. The move follows the governments edict
to slash electricity subsidies in July 2014 to ultimately reduce the
countrys budget deficit. Egypt has been suffering a critical power
crisis since the uprising in 2011, owing to high consumption and
natural gas shortages. In 2014, the country saw unprecedented
power shortages, with some regions facing about six cuts a day for
up to two hours at a time. Egypts current capacity stands at about
23 GW. The government is expected to soon finalize a 10-year plan
that will allow the nation to generate an additional 70 GW of electricity, including 8 GW from coal and 8 GW from renewables.

Consortium Wins Bid to Build 1.2-GW Coal Plant in Vietnam.


A consortium of Power Machines and Petrovietnam Technical Services Corp. in February won a construction contract for the 1.2-GW
Long Phu I power plant to be built in Long Duc, Vietnam. The coalfired plant owned by Vietnam national oil company Petrovietnam will
consist of two 600-MW units and may begin operations by 2019.
B&W Wins Contracts for Welsh Biomass Facility. The
Babcock & Wilcox Co.s (B&Ws) Denmark-based subsidiary Babcock & Wilcox Vlund A/S on Jan. 28 won contracts from Margam Green Energy Ltd. for more than $200 million to engineer,
procure, and operate a state-of-the-art biomass power plant in
Margam, Wales. B&W Vlunds consortium partner, Interserve
Construction Ltd., will build the plant. The 40-MW project will
be designed to burn 335,000 tons of wood waste biomass annually, but it will also be capable of using municipal waste as a
fuel source in the future. The plant will feature environmental
controls designed by B&W Vlund and its Gtaverken Milj AB
subsidiary, including a dry flue gas desulfurization system, fabric filter baghouse, continuous emissions monitoring equipment,
and an advanced DynaGrate dynamic fuel combustion system.
Sonal Patel, associate editor

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POWER April 2015

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Innovative Pipe Conveyors: Effective, Efficient,


and Environmentally
Friendly
Transporting household and industrial
waste as well as sewage sludge from a
treatment plant to a power station can be
a messy business. The utility company Linz
AG found that a pipe conveyor system offered an optimal solution. The conveyor is
not only highly energy efficient, but due to
its closed design, it also allows waste products to be conveyed through public spaces
without affecting the environment.
Linz AGs waste incineration power
plant has been in operation since 2011. It
is located in the industrial area of the port
of Linz, Austria, built on the banks of the
Danube next to an existing biomass power
plant and the district heating plant.
The waste incineration plant generates
district heat and electrical energy for the
companys networks. The utility company manages the entire waste removal
processfrom collecting to eco-friendly
recycling. This helps Linz AG guarantee
much higher supply security in its district heating network as well as adequate
waste disposal.
A Coordinated Operation
Generating energy from waste and residual material incineration is a relatively
efficient process. The steam produced
can be used for heat or for turbine operation. Trucks, ships, and trains transport
about 150,000 tons of household, commercial, and industrial waste to the residual material processing plant located
on a neighboring property of the Linz
tanker port.
Additionally, approximately 50,000
metric tons of dehydrated sewage sludge
is processed in the wastewater treatment
plant in the municipality of Asten, located
13 kilometers (km) away. The sludge and
screenings are transported directly from
the Asten plant to the power plant.
The highly efficient residual material processing plant sorts and shreds the
waste, separating ferrous and non-ferrous
metals and impurities. Finally, particles
of 80 mm or less are transported into the
3,000-ton-capacity fuel bunker.

and the heat and power plant are located


several hundred meters away from each
other. To complicate matters further, a
public street is crossing the route. The
safe transportation of materials has to be
absolutely guaranteed. No waste, not even
the smallest amount, can be allowed to
fall on the ground.
The odor of the waste must not be a
nuisance to people living in the area either. The people in charge of the project
at Linz AG evaluated several different
solutions for the bulk material transport. In the end, they opted for a pipe
conveyor.
The pipe conveyor system not only
protects the environment from falling
items during transport, but it is also able
to navigate long distances (Figures 1
and 2) and tight curve radii. Due to this
characteristic, considerably fewer transfer towers are required compared to other
belt conveyors (Figure 3). This allows for
substantial cost savings for the customer,
and the system can be easily customized
to the individual routing.
Similar to a conventional belt, the
feeding area of the pipe conveyor is open
(Figure 4). After a certain distance, which
depends on the pipe diameter or belt

1. A long and winding road. Due to


its ability to negotiate curves, the pipe conveyor system can be optimally designed for
any plant layout. Courtesy: BEUMER Group
GmbH & Co. KG

width, special idlers mold the belt into the


desired closed shape. From this point on,
the closed belt runs along the entire conveying distance, through what are known
as panels and partition plates.

2. Going up? Relatively steep inclines can also be overcome using a pipe conveyor. Courtesy: BEUMER Group GmbH & Co. KG

Material Transport Using a Pipe


Conveyor
The residual material processing plant,
18

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

3. Getting from point A to point B. Lenz AGs pipe conveyor transports material from
the storehouse across a public street to the power plant. The enclosed design prevents spills
and eliminates odor emissions. Courtesy: BEUMER Group GmbH & Co. KG

Six rollers are installed in a staggered


arrangement on each of these panels for
the upper and lower strands. At the end of
the conveyor line, the belt opens naturally
and discharges the material. In the return
strand, the belt is rolled back into its tubular shape.
Durable and Safe
The conveyor belts used are very durable and are specially manufactured
for the pipe conveyor. The belt quality
is selected depending on the application, conveying capacity, and length.
For instance, a differentiation is made
between normal, heat resistant, or nonabrasive rubber qualities. Steel cables
or textile fabric can be used as the
traction element, depending on the required belt strength.
The whole cross section is not used to
transport material. The degree of filling is
typically limited to approximately 75%,
depending on the material to be transported. The percentage offers a safety
margin in case there is a temporary increase in capacity, which needs to be balanced out.
There are safety devices that protect

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4. Just like rolling your tongue. Household and industrial waste is loaded onto the
conveyor belt, which rolls into a closed shape to enter the pipe. Courtesy: BEUMER Group
GmbH & Co. KG

the conveying system against damage.


One of them is the first panel after the
belt forming station. These security panels are designed to be separable.
The pipe conveyor is a volumetric conveyor, that is, a system with a limited volume flow rate. This means that the load
needs to be limited. If too much material,
oversized particles, or foreign material
is fed, the security panels open and release the belt. This prevents belt damage.
The opening of the belt activates safety
switches, and the pipe conveyor is immediately stopped.
Project Design
To plan and establish dimensions for the
pipe conveyor layout, the system parameters as well as the core components have
to be determined and specified. The process- or operation-related requirements
serve as entry data. Functional and operational reliability are the primary objectives
when planning a system.
In order to assess the capital cost,
decision-makers must consider not only
the conveyor itself, but also all of the
other cost factors that are determined,
or at least influenced, by the design

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POWER April 2015

of the system. This includes the steel


structure, the necessary reconstruction
measures on the facilitysuch as on
systems, buildings, or traffic routes
and earth works. The operational costs
not only include the system operation,
maintenance, and wear parts, but also
energy costs and system availability.
Use of standard components can minimize the project expenditure and risks.
Efficient waste disposal is a major
concern today. High quantities of waste
are accrued close to big cities. At the
same time, these cities require power
and heating supply. The combination of
waste combustion for power generation
close to big cities is an ideal solution,
which is why these combined heat and
power plants are often situated close to
their consumers.
Pipe conveyors, however, are not used
only for alternative fuel transport. They
are also being installed for removal of
combustion residues, such as fly ash or
stabilized ashboth being generated in
caloric power plantsas well as flue gas
desulfurization gypsum. So the pipe conveyor application fits into various power
generation processes. Additionally, the
waste-to-energy process is not only used
in the power business but also in other
industries where cheap fuel is required for
the production process, such as the cement industry.
Proven System Availability
Linz AG has been using a pipe conveyor
with a center distance of 475 meters (m)
for the last four years. It conveys up to
40 metric tons of material per hour. The
system is running around the clock, seven
days a week. Due to the system design and
the required capacity, the pipe conveyor
has a diameter of 300 mm. The difference
in height between the feeding and discharging point is 24 m.
A big advantage of the pipe conveyor
is the reduced noise emission that the
system provides. This is achieved by using
special idlers, low-noise bearings, and the
correct conveying speed. This improves
the quality of employees day-to-day work
environment and ensures that people living near the conveyor line are not disturbed by the noise.
While conveying waste can be a messy
business, using a pipe conveyor system
has produced some positive results for
Lenz AGno material loss, no unpleasant
smell, and most importantly, no pollution
to the environment.
Josef Staribacher is managing director
at BEUMER Group Austria GmbH.
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The Dark Side of Reliability


Regulation
Caileen Gamache
eliability of the bulk power system may not be as sexy as news of
got-rich-quick energy traders and alleged insidious market manipulation. But for those on the ground balancing the practicalities of ensuring electricity arrives when and where it is needed with a
carousal of mandatory regulations, it can be every bit as interesting.
Cue one of the North American Electric Reliability Corp.s
(NERCs) newly effective Reliability Standards. CIP-014-1 sets
forth six requirements (and several sub-requirements) designed
to guard against physical attacks to the grid. It is commonly
understood that this nascent standard is the progeny of two significant events that occurred in early 2013.
First, then-Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff directed his staff to conduct a power-flow analysis to assess grid vulnerability to physical attacks.
The analysis suggested that coordinated attacks on as few as
nine critical transmission facilities could cripple the grid, causing
nationwide blackouts that could last months. Shortly thereafter,
on April 16, an actual attack occurred on the Metcalf substation
in San Jose, Calif. The Metcalf incident did not result in outages,
and neither it nor the FERC analysis gained widespread attention
until early 2014, after the former chairman had stepped down
from FERC, entered private practice, and spoke with the media.

Doomsday?
Politicians in the throes of an important election year were confronted with national headlines asserting that the U.S. was at risk
of a national blackout from a small-scale attack. The results of
FERCs power-flow analysis were publicized, and the Metcalf incident was cast as a sophisticated terrorist attack.
The response was decisive. A congressional inquiry was sent
to FERC and NERC by a quartet of senators, including the former
majority leader. Leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources called for the Department of Energys Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct an investigation.
Allegations were made that the power-flow study was classified,
impermissibly leaked, and provided a road-map for saboteurs.
Against this backdrop, FERC directed NERC to develop a Reliability Standard to address the physical security of the grid.
NERC, as the designated Electric Reliability Organization under
the Federal Power Act, is the only entity that can actually create
Reliability Standards; FERC can only approve them or, as here, order NERC to create a standard that fits enumerated requirements.
FERC has wielded that latter authority only one other time in
recent years, when it directed the creation of a standard to address the risk of geomagnetic disturbances. NERC then commenced
the compulsory stakeholder process required to develop a Reliability
Standard per its Standard Processes Manual and presented FERC with
CIP-014-1. FERC approved the standard in Order No. 802 on Nov. 11,
2014, with certain revisions that are due this summer.
CIP-014-1
CIP-014-1 is crafted in the modern, results-oriented NERC style
and attempts to maximize compliance flexibility. It requires that
transmission operators and some transmission owners conduct
22

a risk-based assessment to determine transmission stations and


substations with a critical impact on the grid, consider the potential threats and vulnerabilities of a physical attack on each
asset, and then develop and implement a program to mitigate
the hypothetical threats and vulnerabilities.
Compliance flexibility can be bittersweet. The standard allows
entities to tailor obligations to the reality of their operations. Nevertheless, the standard is a formal requirement mandated by a government entity with $1 million/day/penalty enforcement authority,
and thus it may inadvertently incentivize entities to mitigate compliance risks by designating the fewest possible implicated assets
and adopt the least amount of reasonable protective measures.
Moreover, the standard is based on conceivable threats and
will thus necessarily lag behind the unimaginable threats of tomorrow. Despite the dubious value of the standard, significant
government and stakeholder resources have been consumed to
develop the standard and substantially more will be necessary to
comply with, monitor, and enforce its requirements.
It is unlikely NERC would have proposed CIP-014-1 of its own
volition. In recent years, NERC has opted to provide informal industry guidance following reliability events rather than adopt incident-specific Reliability Standards. For example, NERC has issued
reactive guidance following multiple severe weather incidents.
In fact, NERC has maintained guidelines on physical security
protection since 2002 that include measures for evaluating and
protecting transmission infrastructure. Even more telling is NERC
President Gerry W. Cauleys initial response to the 2014 congressional inquiry, in which he stated he was concerned that a
rule-based approach for physical security would not provide the
flexibility needed to deal with the widely varying risk profiles and
circumstances across the North American grid and would instead
create unnecessary and inefficient regulatory burdens and compliance obligations.

Political vs. Practical Industry Operations


Fast-forward to a Sept. 9, 2014, industry conference. An FBI agent
investigating the Metcalf incident told conference participants
that the attack was not, in fact, terrorismnor was it particularly
sophisticated. The agent explained that many incidents of grid
sabotage reported to the FBI are carried out by disgruntled utility employees seeking to get back at the utility, not to terrorize
the population. Advance further to Jan. 30, 2015, the date the
OIG published the results of its investigation. That report concluded that the loss of the critical substations identified in the
[FERC power-flow] analysis would not result in the consequence
described in the analysis or any other consequence that could be
reasonably expected to result in damage to national security.
Regardless of its pedigree, compliance with a FERC-approved NERC
Reliability Standard is mandatory and extremely important. So is
common sense and an ongoing real-time analysis of the security of all
bulk power system facilities and adoption of measures to enhance the
resiliency of the grid by those who understand the system best.
Caileen Gamache (caileengamache@dwt.com) is counsel in Davis
Wright Tremaines Energy practice group in Washington, D.C.

www.powermag.com

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OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE

Doing More with Less: New


Solutions Help Address Power
Plant O&M Staffing Difficulties

Courtesy: Wrtsil

Studies and surveys have predicted a future shortage of skilled workers in the power industry for many years. Unfortunately, the future is here. When qualified workers are difficult to locate, some companies are finding that technology and service
contracts allow them to do more with less.
Aaron Larson

ts no secret that the traditional power industry workforce is aging, and as individuals retire, some companies are finding
that replacing them is difficult. Consequently,
managers are forced to look for new ways to
pick up the slack left by departing workers.
Companies regularly search for ways to
increase productivity. Improvements often
result from technological innovation, but
changes to work practices and procedures can
also streamline activities, leading to better results. Although it is often true that time can
be managed more efficiently, there are limits
to what can ultimately be achieved through
time management measures.
At some point, workers are forced to focus on high-priority tasks while postponing,
24

and in some cases even canceling, less-important work. Eliminating unnecessary tasks
is a worthwhile exercise, but once all of the
fluff is removed, the work that remains
must be completed. The question many managers are asking is: What is the best way to
utilize technology and external resources to
get the most bang for the buck, thereby allowing in-house personnel to focus on dayto-day priorities while specialists concentrate
on the more intricate details?

Getting Help from the Outside


Turning to contractors for assistance is nothing new, but some of the latest technology
makes the option more attractive than ever.
SKF USA Inc. is probably best known as a
www.powermag.com

bearing manufacturer; however, it offers quite


a bit more than just bearings. The company
also provides such things as sealing solutions, lubrication systems, electromechanical
applications and services, asset efficiency optimization, and integrated condition monitoring, which can generate a lot of data.
For many facilities, obtaining data is not
necessarily the problem; its understanding and making sense of all the information
that is available. Greg Toomey, an expert
in SKFs Traditional Energy business unit,
noted that staffing at power plants is much
different today than it was even 10 years ago.
Facilities used to have a lot of analysts and
people dedicated to looking at all the condition-based maintenance information, but as

POWER April 2015

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OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


personnel have retiredand continue to retirecapabilities have changed. Frequently,
best practices were not formalized and documented, so the knowledge walks out the door
with the retirees.
Toomey believes that plants need to do
three things with their data, which he calls
the three Is:

1. Northern exposure. Matanuska Electric Association in Alaska operates the 171-MW


Eklutna Generation Station, but Wrtsil is providing technical and maintenance support, including conducting overhauls and providing spare parts. Courtesy: Wrtsil

Integrate. Gather all of the data, such as


vibration monitoring, oil analysis, and
operator round data, so that it can be reviewed collectively in a single location.
Interface. Tie the data into other systems,
such as the distributed control system and
the computerized maintenance management system.
Intelligence. Create some level of understanding about the data, so that its not just
a meaningless collection of numbers.

When you start getting all of this data, the


thing you want to do is make sure that youre
making decisions based on all the pertinent
data relative to asset health of the component
youre looking at, whether its a pump, a motor, or whatever, Toomey said. Then you
have to have a process in place for people to
manage based on condition.
Toomey said one of SKFs services includes assessing a companys work management process flow and then conducting a
maintenance strategy review to align maintenance tasks with business goals. He said that
some equipment is obviously critical, but
there are also a lot of components that many
people dont realize are critical to business
goals, particularly in the instrumentation and
electrical areas.

2. A flexible choice. The Eklutna engines operate primarily on natural gas; however, advanced dual-fuel technology enables a smooth switch to diesel if the gas supply is interrupted.
Courtesy: Wrtsil

Maintenance Agreements
Among the most familiar ways of managing
plants with smaller staffs is the use of maintenance agreements. Original equipment
manufacturers (OEMs) frequently offer longterm service agreements (LTSAs) to their
customers. An example of this is provided by
the member-owned cooperative utility Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) headquartered in Palmer, Alaska. In December, MEA
signed a technical maintenance agreement
with Wrtsil North America Inc. to support
its new 171-MW Eklutna Generation Station
(Figure 1), located about 20 miles northeast
of Anchorage.
Under the five-year agreement, Wrtsil
will provide support for the condition-based
monitoring services, remote troubleshooting,
spare parts, technical labor, and computer
maintenance management for the new power
plant. Advanced diagnostics for the 10 Wrtsil 50DF dual-fuel 18-cylinder engines (Figure 2) is also included.
26

One trend we have seen in the last couple of years is that many customers want to
outsource the operations and maintenance,
even if they have been operating for a long
time, said Kaj Nordman, Wrtsils business
development director for power plant agreements. Nordman noted that several plants in
Indonesia are now considering operations
and maintenance (O&M) agreements with
his company.
One of the benefits of signing an agreement is that Wrtsil performs a plant audit
and assessment when it arrives. Based on the
results, various upgrades are proposed for the
customer. Some examples of improvements
www.powermag.com

that are frequently recommended include


upgrades to automation systems, cooling
systems, and to the engines themselves to increase output and efficiency. Nordman said
the service has been very successful.

Advanced Monitoring
According to Jeff Fassett, owner of IEM Energy Consultants Inc., independent power
producers are the ones that tend to rely on
third-party O&M agreements the most. One
of the services IEM offers is the development, bidding, and evaluation of O&M contracts. However, Fassett said a lot of U.S.
companies are in a wait and see mode.

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OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


3. Slip sliding away. High-pressure piping must be properly supported to minimize stress
on all plant components. Courtesy: IEM Energy Consultants Inc.

help to improve the maintenance decisionmaking process.

Lean or Understaffed?

Everyones deathly afraid of being regulated right now, Fassett said. They dont
know what some of these new rules are going
to do to the industrywhere the governments
going, what the Environmental Protection
Agency regulations are going to do.
Fassett is working on a couple of contracts
overseas in the meantime. One thing that he
is a big fan of is monitoring and diagnostics
services. As touched on previously, most
OEMs offer LTSAs with options for offsite
monitoring and diagnostics, but Fassett said
there are now options available for non-LTSA
customers.
Proficy SmartSignal, a product available
through GE Intelligent Platforms, is a favorite
of Fassetts. He said the service is reasonably
priced and that the company does an incredible job of data analytics. The system uses a
type of neural network to train itself on plantspecific equipment, looking beyond first-order
modeling to second-order parameters.
For example, when a lube oil temperature
is out of specification, the monitoring system will evaluate other associated parameters
compared to typical values, just as a skilled
operator might do. But Fassett believes SmartSignal, and systems like it, have a much greater capability to catch incremental changes in
operating parameters than a human operator
can catch with a control system.
Ive been very impressed with the capabilities of SmartSignal and recommend it to
many, many of my clients, Fassett said.
28

Expert Analysis
Vibration monitoring is another technology
that has come a long way. SKF offers a cloudbased service that basically manages customers vibration monitoring programs. The
service can be tailored in various ways using
permanently installed monitoring equipment,
uploading portable readings taken by plant
staff, or having an SKF technician collect
data locally.
Toomey said the data is collected, put up
on the cloud, analyzed, and customers can
access it in detail. Utilizing the information,
customers can act based on SKF direction,
which includes a decision support tool.
I kind of look at it as a vibration-leveltwo guy-in-a-can, if you will, Toomey said.
We built models that will actually look at the
spectrum data, not just overalls, and tell you
whether its misalignment, imbalance, bearing
problems, lubrication, etcetera, etcetera.
For example, imagine that a feed pump is
starting to develop an unusual vibration. The
analysis points to inadequate lubrication, resulting in a bearing problem. Toomey said the
integration step discussed earlier could offer
managers oil analysis data, right there on the
same screen, to corroborate or contradict the
vibration results.
Additional information, such as pump
performance testing data, could be crossreferenced as well, which might show
signs of impeller wear, for example. The
overall picture that the system paints can
www.powermag.com

Fassett sees a disturbing trend in staffing. He


said he understands that all companies are
trying to keep costs down so that they can
be competitive in the marketplace, but he
has seen instances where it has come back
to bite facilities. In many cases, the preventive maintenance (PM) program is what gets
forgotten.
Neglecting PM items doesnt usually result in immediate problems. It takes time for
issues to arise and start causing trouble. Fassett said he finds a lot of the same problems
at many of the facilities he visits.
For example, most managers believe they
have a comprehensive PM program for their
high-pressure piping systems, but when Fassett inspects a site, he often finds spring can
hangers that are beyond their limits and pipe
support sliding shoes that are out of their
guides (Figure 3). Pipe stress is a big concern
in the long run. Not only can it affect some
of the most important equipment in a plant,
such as steam turbines and pumps, but it can
also result in catastrophic failure.
I think it is generally a case of limited resources, Fassett said. To do a high-energy
piping system audit and PM program, it usually takes outside resources.

Fix It Now or Fix It Later


Technological advances are saving costs
and reducing manpower requirements in
other ways as well. There are some relatively
simple inspections that can be done now to
prevent much larger, resource-intensive problems down the road.
Fassett recommends enhanced infrared
thermal imaging to many of his clients. In
most cases, a one-time investment is required
for the installation of infrared viewports on a
plants switchgear and generator lead boxes,
such as those manufactured by FLIR Systems
Inc. (Figure 4) or IRISS Inc., but Fassett believes the cost is well worth it.
Doing an infrared inspection of the
generator lead box while at load will identify problems with lead box connections and
cracking in the insulationproblems that
wont necessarily be identified when the unit
is down and cold, said Fassett.
Problems in these areas often go unnoticed
until there is a serious breakdown, which can
cost huge sums of money and require extensive downtime to repair. Having an installed
viewport allows conducting an inspection in
conjunction with annual infrared testing. If
problems are identified, repairs can be scheduled when its convenient.
Its something that hasnt been available

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OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


4. Get the picture. Infrared windows offer a solution to help reduce risk of arc flash exposure so scans can be completed safely and efficiently, complying with National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA) 70E requirements. Courtesy: FLIR Systems Inc.

all that long, Fassett said. Technology has


evolved a lot over the last 15 to 20 years, and
many facilities are missing the mark by not
utilizing the technology effectively.

Money-Saving Trends
Cost cutting is very common today, Nordman acknowledged. Plants try to get down
to the bare minimum, but even with external
support and remote monitoring, you still need
to have people at the site.
Nordman said that 10 to 15 years ago, a
common estimate was that one person was
needed for each MW at its facilities, but
not anymore. Now it is far fewer. Nordman
pointed to a 360-MW plant in Ghana, Africa, where Wrtsil is proposing a full O&M
agreement with a staff of 85 people, but he
suggested that plants in more developed
countries may be able to get by with even
fewer workers.
Condition-based maintenance and remote
monitoring have helped reduce the number
of people needed to operate and maintain
plants. Data can be analyzed and predictions
can be made based on trends and knowledge
of similar equipment.
Wrtsil has seven contract centers around
the globe to provide support, with three more
in the planning phase. With the knowledge
gained by having more than 500 asset man30

agement and maintenance agreements, the


company has been able to develop tools to
increase availability and reliability, and optimize heat rates.
Remote support specialists target several
improvement opportunities for owners and
operators, including reducing maintenance
costs, reducing fuel consumption and emissions, and avoiding unplanned stops. Wrtsil
does this by using models to calculate ideal
operating parameters for installations.
Engine specification and installation type,
ambient conditions, design criteria, and installation-specific data and configuration are
analyzed and feedback provided to owners
in a detailed report. Wrtsils vast database
of knowledge and experience allows required
maintenance to be predicted two to six months
in advance, and critical cases to be identified
as early as seven to 30 days in advance.
Some risk is involved when remote connection via computer is allowed, but Nordman
noted that Wrtsil takes that threat seriously.
We have a department that specializes in cybersecurity, and they ensure we are meeting
the highest standards and customer demands
in that respect, Nordman said.

Road Warriors
Large facilitiessuch as most nuclear plants
and many large coal-fired stationshave been
www.powermag.com

using outage contractors for a long time. It


just isnt feasible to staff a facility for seasonal
fluctuations, but contractors offer benefits other than just a massive influx of people.
According to Ross McConnell, senior
vice president of nuclear operations for Day
& Zimmermann (D&Z), performing maintenance and modification services on 49 of the
99 operating nuclear units in the U.S. enables
his company to benchmark performance and
capture best practices from many different
sites. The knowledge is shared with its customers for the benefit of all.
Our customers value the breadth and
depth of our experience, our industry footprint, and our ability to bring lessons learned
from other companies, McConnell said.
They value the level of engagement that
they get from our leadership team.
Although contracting for services is not a
new concept, McConnell said that customers lately seem to want a contractor with a
flexible delivery model, the ability to provide
supplemental contingent workers, the capability to manage task work and project work,
or a scalable combination of all three.
Providing engaged and well-trained talent takes work. D&Z uses a process called
blueprinting to help. The company assesses the labor needs for all of its clients in
a given region over an 18-month period and
then creates a blueprint with a continuous
employment opportunity available for workers. This process is vital to D&Zs ability to
recruit and retain skilled workers.
We understand the challenges that our
customers and the power industry are facing,
and we think its increasingly necessary for
us to take a true partnership approach with
our clients to try and solve those challenges.
We want to collaborate with our partners so
that they can have the best results possible,
McConnell said. Theyre looking for us to
do what we do best so that they can do what
they do best.

People Make the Difference


You often hear managers say: Our people are
our most valuable resource, and even though
it sounds clich, the fact is that dedicated and
enthusiastic employees do make a difference.
There may come a time when computers and
robots do some of the jobs that people currently perform, but most likely people will
still be needed to oversee such programs.
As much as the industry would like to rely
on technology, I dont think its ever going to
get to the point where people are completely
eliminated, Fassett concluded. I just cant
emphasize enough the need for having highly
trained, motivated personnel to be onsite.

Aaron Larson is a POWER associate


editor.

POWER April 2015

CIRCLE 19 ON READER SERVICE CARD

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ADVERTISING EXHIBITORS
POWER magazine would like to thank the following advertisers for their continued support as exhibitors at ELECTRIC POWER 2015.

ADA Carbon Solutions, LLC, Booth #134


ADA Carbon Solutions, LLC is a leading manufacturer of powdered
activated carbon (PAC) products that are optimized for mercury
removal. Expertise. Reliability. Compliance.

Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Booth #237


Brand Energy and Infrastructure Services is a premier provider of
work access, coatings, insulation, refractory, fireproofing, formwork &
shoring, specialty mechanical services, cathodic protection and other
related crafts.

Calgon Carbon Corporation, Booth #941


Calgon Carbon (NYSE:CCC) offers advanced FLUEPAC powdered
activated carbon designed to reduce carbon injection into flue gas
streams compared to standard products by 50-70%, while maintaining
mercury removal rates. (800)-422-7266 / info@calgoncarbon-us.com

Diamond Power International Inc, Booth #320


Diamond Power International, Inc. (DPII) is a globally acknowledged
market leader in all aspects of boiler cleaning and material handling.
DPII has proven to solve the most difficult plant challenges.

Fairbanks Morse Engine, Booth #124


Fairbanks Morse is the critical power solutions expert a strategic
partner and a trusted source for application-specific, fuel - flexible
power systems that deliver optimal performance in mission critical
applications.

Frontier Industrial Corp, Booth #447


Frontier Industrial Corp is interested in buying idle power plants. We
offer plant decommissioning and demolition, as well as equipment
dismantling/recovery services. We work throughout North America.

Goodway Technologies Corp, Booth #110


Goodway manufactures a complete line of tube cleaners and safe
descaling chemicals for surface condensers and heat exchangers. Stop
by booth# 110 to see our touch-trigger BSL-50 gun.

Hosch Company, Booth #545


Since 1975, HOSCH has set the standard for belt-cleaning in the bulkmaterial handling industry. We are trusted as the worldwide expert in
all aspects of efficient conveyor belt cleaning systems.

Indeck Power Equipment Company, Booth #336


Indeck designs, manufactures, sells and rents steam/hot water
systems: water tube boilers, high temp hot water generators, rental
boilers, waste heat boilers, solid fuel boilers, HRSGs, and SCRs.

Lightning Eliminators, Booth #1037


Lightning Eliminators has been providing integrated lightning
protection products, solutions and services utilizing charge transfer
technology, grounding systems engineering and surge protection since
1971 throughout the electric power sector globally.

Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Booth #720


Corzan HP: creating piping systems with better corrosion resistance
and high-temperature performance for transmission of chemical fluids
all made with Lubrizol Technology to give you more inside.

Martin Engineering, Booth #117


Reduce carryback, spillage and dust with Martin Engineering belt
cleaners, transfer point technology, and dust management solutions.
Visit booth 117 to learn about how you can increase productivity and
efficiency.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Inc.,


Booth #733
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas your single source
solution in Existing and Evolving Energy Needs. Proven Best Practices,
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NAES Corporation, Booth #324


We optimize the performance of power plants and other industrial
facilities, applying our deep experience in operations, maintenance,
construction and technical support to make them run safely, reliably
and cost-effectively.

National Fire Protection, LLC (NFP LLC), Booth #1021


National Fire Protection is a full service fire protection contractor. We
are able to provide fire suppression, clean agent, foam, CO2, water
mist, and fire alarm worldwide.

Power Lube Industrial, LLC., Booth #909


For over 40 years, Power Lube Industrial, LLC has provided premium
automatic lubrication equipment to all types of industries. Distributor
of MEMOLUB Automatic Lubrication Systems and GREASOMATIC
Single Point Lubricators.

Rentech Boiler Systems, Booth #221


Rentech Boiler Systems designs and manufactures high quality custom
boilers in a variety of categories including fired packaged boilers, waste
heat boilers, heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) and specialty
boilers.

Siemens, Booth #1215


Siemens is a global technology powerhouse that stands for engineering
excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. Siemens
is focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization.

Sohre Turbomachinery Inc, Booth #417


Silver/Gold Shaft Grounding Brushes. Self cleaning, run dry or in
oil. Used for decades to protect critical, expensive equipment. High
performance, little or no maintenance.

TerraSource Global (featuring Pennsylvania Crusher),


Booth #401
TerraSource Global is the ultimate resource for material processing and
handling equipment, uniting three market-leading brands: Gundlach
Crushers, Jeffrey Rader and Pennsylvania Crusher. Featuring the dustfree Posimetric Feeder technology.

TMEIC Corporation, Booth #644


TMEIC offers variable frequency drives (to 120KVA), motors (to
100MW), and control/automation systems. PV inverters (to 1.833MW),
advanced grid integration and PV monitoring systems are designed for
utility scale installations.

TurbinePROs, Booth #143


TurbinePROs Field Services for all turbine/generator brands/models
[steam, gas, hydro, nuclear]. Project managers, TFAs, field supervisors/
millwrights are experts in turnkey services, outage planning/
management, Maintenance, Repair, New Installation, and Retrofits.
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United Rentals, Booth #323


United Rentals is the leading provider of equipment rentals in North
America, with over 850 locations serving construction and industrial
companies, government agencies, utilities and municipalities.

Matrix NAC, Booth #120


Matrix NAC provides procurement, construction, maintenance and
repair services to the North American energy, power and industrial
markets.

www.electricpowerexpo.com

CIRCLE 20 ON READER SERVICE CARD

OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE

Wind Power Projects Must


Be Managed as Electrical
Generation Plants

Courtesy: Shermco Industries

Wind turbine blades, gearboxes, and generators get most of the attention both
within and beyond the power industry. The focus is often on increased capacity
and blade lengths, as well as drive train premature failures. Thats natural, because
those rotating blades are the most visible part of a wind project. However, successful operation of a wind installation also depends on attending to the many balanceof-plant components that are less visible.
Kevin Alewine

ind energy in the U.S. has grown


rapidly over the past decade. From
a 9,000-MW installed base in 2005,
the industry expects nameplate capacity of
nearly 80,000 MW in operation by the end
of 2015. As this energy source is becoming
increasingly prevalent across the grid, the integration and reliability of projects becomes
even more critical.
What is seldom recognized is that these
projects need to be viewed and managed as
power plants, not just as individual turbines.

The Scale Challenge


In Europe, most wind turbines are clustered
in small groupings of 10 or fewer and are
36

positioned near the usersfactory district or


townshipso long-distance transmission is
less critical, and a single project is unlikely
to have a major effect on grid stability. As
wind energy projects become more widely
scattered throughout the U.S., they, too, will
be less likely to vary in output all at once and
will create a much more stable energy source
overall than when the industry was in its infancy. In fact, a recent National Renewable
Energy Laboratory (NREL) study has shown
that modern utility-scale wind turbines
equipped with active power controls will actually add to grid stability by having the capability to adjust output based on demand in
very small time frames.
www.powermag.com

In addition, modern turbines have excellent low-voltage ride-through capabilities as


well as the ability to provide variable power
factor correction to the grid. All in all, wind
is quickly becoming a low-cost, reliable, and
productive part of the energy system.
Theres a big difference in what we are
doing in the U.S. and what has happened in
Europe. Many U.S. wind projects may consist of multiple phases totaling well over 300
turbines, and some are much larger; there are
proposed projects with as many as 800 turbines with peak capacity ratings of over 2,000
MW. Most turbines are connected in groups
(strings) of 10 to 12, which are then collected
into a main substation for distribution to the

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Furnace

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grid. Most project substations are designed
to manage the output of 60 to 120 turbines
and step up the collection system voltage
(typically 34.5 kV) to the local transmission
voltage and to provide the necessary protection and control components required by the
North American Electric Reliability Corp.
and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(NERC and FERC) reliability standards.
In my view, it is critical for these main
substations and the supporting turbines and
collection system be viewed as a single power plant, with all of the complexity of design
and maintenance programs expected at a traditional generation facility.

How a Wind Project Collects


Energy from Turbines
The typical U.S. wind project phase, as mentioned, will have 100 or so turbines. Nearly
all turbine generators/drives have a threephase output voltage of 690 VAC. Some older machines utilize 575 VAC, and there are a
few at 12 kV, but those are rare.
This voltage is then stepped up by either an
internal generator step-up (GSU) transformer
(typically dry-type) or an external pad mount
liquid-insulated transformer. Again, the typical output voltage from these is 34.5 kV, but
other voltages are sometimes utilized for the
collection system.
Because wind projects can cover thousands of acres, the collection system wiring
is very complex, with long runs and many
connections. The reliability of these two
balance-of-plant components, the transformers and the collection system wiring, have the
greatest effect on the reliability of the power
plant as a whole. A transformer or cable failure can often cause the entire string of turbines to go offline, depending on the location
of the fault.
Compare that type of event to the failure
of a gearbox or generator, which will only affect a single turbine and reduce the output of
a large project by less than a single percent.
That is still significant, but it has limited impact. Needless to say, the main GSU transformer at the substation is much more critical,
but normally, they have a high enough profile
that catastrophic failure is rare. Assuming
that the substation is maintained as required
by best practice and regulations, it is still important to focus testing and maintenance on
the balance of the high-voltage system.

implementation of safety devices, as well as


removal and installation for component testing and maintenance.
According to both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70B Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment
Maintenance and the Canadian Standards
Association (CSA) Z463 Guideline on Maintenance of Electrical Systems, it is critical
to safety compliance that the equipment
work properly when energized. This can
only be confirmed by initial acceptance testing as well as periodic maintenance testing.
Of course, establishing a solid baseline for
trending analysis is also useful for preventative maintenance and predictive maintenance
planning. Reliable performance, reduced
maintenance costs, and a safer work environment are all drivers for competent and thorough acceptance and maintenance testing.

A transformer or cable failure can often cause


the entire string of turbines to go offline, depending on the location of the fault.
The manufacturers specifications and recommendations should always be followed,
but the overall system performance is evaluated based on visual and mechanical inspections, electrical testing, and comparison with
expected testing values. To that end, industry
consensus standards have been developed to
ensure proper consideration is given to this
testing.
Since 1975, the InterNational Electrical
Testing Association (NETA) has published
Standards for Maintenance Testing for Electrical Power Equipment and Systems. It has
also been approved as an American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. This
and the manufacturers documentation help
provide both the test methodologies and expected results for testing most types of electrical equipment and serve as the basis for
a good testing plan. Additionally, NERC/
FERC guidelines provide critical information for substation settings and reliability
expectations. Experienced engineering support and well-trained technicians should be
very familiar with these standard procedures
and how to apply them to the unique requirements of a wind generation facility.

Maintenance Planning
Maintenance planning for the electrical
equipment and systems begins at project
inception, with considerations such as logistics, access, equipment configurations,
and priorities based on long-term service
data. Also important is the ease of isolation,
38

pad-mount transformers.
One consideration with internal dry-type
transformers, as they are often mounted in the
nacelle, is that the long cables run to the base
of the turbine are at high voltage. This makes
for smaller conductors, lower amperage, and
possible lower arc flash ratings. However,
great care must be taken in the installation of
the cables, and all of the testing of the transformer must be performed either from down
tower or in a locked-out, de-energized state.
It can also be difficult to ensure proper
cooling and ventilation, especially in hotter
climates. This could lead to early deterioration of the cast coils and premature failure of
the transformer. Unlike the liquid-insulated
variety, it is not possible to perform field services to extend the life of a dry-type transformer, and a medium-sized crane is required
for replacement.

Transformers: Why and Where They


Fail
With transformers, it is important to understand the various types and reliability issues
regarding the two basic configurations: turbine internal dry-type and liquid-insulated
www.powermag.com

The no-load core losses for dry-type transformers are often higher than for their liquidinsulated cousins, which can result in higher
costs even when the turbine is not generating.
Some studies done in Austria have shown that
reducing these losses by utilizing optimized
transformers can save the equivalent of 17
MWh for a typical 1.5-MW turbine. This
energy is often purchased from the grid at a
higher rate than the selling price for generated energy. Thats not really a maintenance
issue, but it should be a consideration when
choosing new or replacement equipment, as
transformer design and material choices can
improve these losses.
Wind energy applications for almost all
project components are more rigorous than
what might have been first thought. Transformer applications are a good example.
Most wind projects utilize pad mount
liquid-insulated transformers, and the most
common models that have been installed do
have their shortcomings. Many are actually
designed and rated as distribution transformers rather than generator step-up units, and
that has created a high level of early failures.
Some reports show that some of these transformers may only average three to five years
under these strenuous conditions. Distribution
applications, which commonly step down the
voltage for end use, assume a relatively constant load on both the high- and low-voltage
sides and a clean, sinusoidal waveform.
The energy generated by the wind turbine

POWER April 2015

OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


1 Even wind power requires oil. These typical dissolved gas analysis syringes are

2. Safety first. Tight transformer en-

used to collect insulating oil from pad-mount transformers. The oil should be tested periodically
for predictive maintenance. Courtesy: Shermco Industries

closures can make it difficult to take good


samples, even when they are de-energized.
External valves and gauges can improve safety and ease of sampling. Courtesy: Shermco
Industries

is almost always disruptive in several ways.


Wind turbines often cut in and out several
times a day, except in ideal wind conditions,
based on both minimum and, unintuitively,
maximum wind speed. This erratic load level can create multiple in-rush currents and,
more importantly, thermal cycling beyond
the design of the transformer. The resulting
expansion and contraction of components
has been shown to have a direct effect on the
life of fuses, winding wires, and other metallic parts, including insulated bushings. This
thermal cycling can also lead to the loosening
of connections, both internal and external,
which can result in arcing, insulation deterioration, and lead failures.
Ground faults in the collection system
cables can also be very detrimental to the
transformers; therefore, surge arresters and
special grounding transformers should be
utilized in the system to help alleviate some
of these destructive conditions.
Many wind turbines now utilize a fully
converted AC/DCDC/AC output, allowing
for variable speed generation with constant
voltage and frequency supplied to the transformer. These electronic components normally deliver less-than-ideal waveforms that can
be very destructive to the transformer if it is
not designed to manage those waveforms. In
some turbine designs, there are filtering circuits to smooth out the waveform, but these
are often not monitored, and a failure mode
defaults to bypassing the filter.
Both the generator and the convertor can
create harmonics and other distortions at
every cycle, which lead to overheating and
40

eddy currents in the windings, again shortening the life of the insulation. Low-voltage
ride-through events also contribute to thermal
stress on all of the components. Switching
events from circuit breakers on both the lowand high-voltage side of the transformers can
also create surges and transient overvoltages.
Lightning strikes anywhere on the system
can, of course, create overvoltage conditions
as well.
Another consideration is the sizing of the
transformers. Often, during the development
phase of a wind project, the cost/value of
transformers can be under-calculated, leading
to a smaller transformer than what is ideal. It
has been suggested that the transformer be
sized at least 15% above the nameplate rating of the turbine to account for overspeed
production as well as voltage variations. This
would mean that a typical 1.5-MW turbine
would probably need at least a 1.65 kVA
rating, but that would be an unusual size. In
most standard product lines, the size jumps to
2 kVA, so it has only been since all of these
issues have come to light that the specific designs and sizes needed for wind turbines have
become readily available. That being said,
lead times are still often long, and remanufacturing companies probably have difficulty
sourcing the properly sized cores to rebuild.
Most wind projects do have programs to
sample and analyze oil from their transformers (Figure 1). Generally speaking, most of
the failures that have been discussed are not
due to moisture or other general degradation
of the insulation but to arcing and other events
that can create explosive gasses (typically hywww.powermag.com

drogen and acetylene) that are both dangerous


and destructive. Most failures are contained
within the transformer housing, but there have
been cases of fires and explosions.
Employee safety should be the most critical factor in making decisions regarding the
safe condition of a transformer. At-risk transformers can be especially dangerous when
the low-voltage side of the cabinet is opened
while energized for switching (Figure 2).
Many new transformer designs, as well as
after-market upgrades, are available with the
various gauges and sample ports located outside of the enclosure. This allows sampling
and monitoring to be done more safely and
without de-energizing the transformer.
Speaking of switching, it is very common
for these strings of transformers to be daisy-chained to allow for ease of construction.
Normally, no switchgear is utilized in making the connections. A transformer internal
load break switch is used to de-energize the
turbine for service while leaving the daisy
chain intact for the balance of the string.
This is not the primary purpose of the switch,
of course, and the repeated use can result in
both destructive surge electrical conditions
and premature mechanical wear. It is also not
always a safe way to disconnect a turbine, but
it is probably considered cost-efficient.
There have been many improvements
and suggested upgrades to help with these
transformer issues. Electrostatic shielding
between the primary and secondary windings

POWER April 2015

MD&A's Turbine-Generator Repair Facility

Performing Dished Diaphragm Repair

Mechanical Dynamics and Analysis recently repaired a dished diaphragm. The stage 15 diaphragm
was found to be dished downstream by approximately 0.215. MD&As Turbine-Generator
Repair Facility performed a dishing repair to the stage 15 diaphragm by cutting out the old weld,
re-positioning, re-welding, stress relief, and final machining.
Scan QR Code or see our Resource Center on our website for more information on this case.

MD&A's Turbine-Generator Repair Facility


3804 Weber Road | St. Louis, MO 63125
ph. 314-880-3000 | www.MDAturbines.com
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CIRCLE 23 ON READER SERVICE CARD

OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


3. Failed splice. Splice and termination faults are very common in buried cables. These are
commonly identified and located using one of several methods, including very low frequency,
high-potential and partial discharge testing. Courtesy: Shermco Industries

work inside the substation fence, so some


general maintenance could be overlooked.
Dont let that happen. Losing the substation
transformer or supporting systems will take
down the entire project.

Commitment to Proper
Maintenance Matters

has been strongly recommended by several


manufacturers, as has an increase in the level
of insulation within the coil structure. Alternative insulation system designs have been
proposed utilizing more robust and thermally
upgraded materials such as aramid papers
instead of the typical cellulose-based materials. Also, the use of silicone or synthetic ester
oils seems to be becoming more popular for
some applications. These designs, in theory,
could be safely installed inside the turbine, as
they offer a greatly reduced fire hazard.
External switchgear for control of the collector system could also isolate or alleviate
some of the damaging operations. There are
also newer transformer designs with automated monitoring of moisture content, dissolved
hydrogen gas levels, and thermal data from
the actual windings utilizing fiber optics. Expensive? Probably, but the options are there.

Collection System Cables and


Connections: Hidden Assets
Most wind projects have miles of directly
buried high-voltage cables. These are often
terminated and spliced underground, where
faults are difficult to locate and repair.
Again, due to multiple factorsincluding
load cycling, environmental conditions, poor
installation, and ineffectual acceptance testingthese cables are often bad actors at many
projects. The good news is that the cables
themselves are rarely the problem; most of the
failures (as shown in the opening photo and
Figure 3) occur at terminations and splices,
and several testing procedures are well known
that can facilitate the repair of these cables.
42

Online partial discharge testing as well as


very low frequency potential tests are common. In many difficult cases, or at sites with
chronic problems, off-line partial discharge
testing is probably the best idea. Regardless
of the methodology, these technologies have
been developed and proven for many years in
industrial and utility applications.
Because many wind projects are located
in rough terrain and harsh conditions, there
can be damage due to thermal cycling, soil
expansion/contraction, and difficult installation sites. It has been suggested that installing splices and other connections in
above-ground enclosures would be very conducive to reducing the cost of cable inspection, maintenance, and fault location. The
installation would be easier and cleaner for
the original construction team and, with most
faults occurring due to improper installation,
it makes sense.

Substations: Special
Circumstances
Main substations are mostly trouble-free,
with only the typical problems experienced
by any other step-up substation installation. Of course, they must be tested during scheduled outages to maintain NERC/
FERC reliability requirements, but strange
things do happen.
For example, there have been cases where
the large GSU transformer foundation was
inadequate and the transformer partially sank
into the sand.
And snakes. Dont forget about snakes.
Most wind technicians are not trained to
www.powermag.com

Wind projects are large, complicated, and


often understaffed, but the proper operation and reliability of electrical equipment
and associated protective devices is directly
related to the quality of equipment maintenance. Following a systematic inspection, a
good maintenance and testing program will
protect the investment in equipment and enhance the production capability of the project. Executing maintenance tasks flawlessly
is good, but that alone is not enough. It is
critical that good maintenance priorities are
implemented for both reliability and worker
safety.
Planned outages are crucial for regulatory
compliance, but they are also very important
in maintaining the reliability of a project.
They should be carefully coordinated between
production, maintenance, and any third-party
contractors to minimize disruption of the assets availability and to make sure that all
aspects of reliability and safety are considered before the event. Infrared inspections,
oil samples, and visual inspections should all
be done in advance so that all replacement
components and parts are available before
the outage. Transformers are much easier to
change or upgrade during an outage when the
project is offline and the cost of the replacement component can be managed without
rush deliveries and overtime services.
As the wind energy industry matures,
more traditional reliability programs are
being implemented. The resultant efficiencies in production and maintenance, as well
as enhanced worker safety, will continue
to improve the overall profitability of wind
projects and reduce the effective cost of wind
energy production. Wind offers a stable cost
hedge against the vagaries of fossil fuel pricing and is proving that it can be as dependable and available as other sources of energy.
This will only improve as new technologies
and methods are introduced.

Kevin Alewine (kalewine@shermco


.com), corporate director of marketing for
Shermco Industries, previously served as
director of the companys renewable energy services and for 35 years has focused
on the manufacture and repair of rotating
machinery up to 15 kV. He is active on
several IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society testing standards working
groups and is chair of the American Wind
Energy Association O&M Working Group.

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Keeping Pollution Control


Devices Online with Good
Operating Practices

Courtesy: Dairyland Power Cooperative

In order to comply with the Clean Air Act and subsequent regulations covering
emissions, coal-fired utilities have installed multiple pollution control devices. Understanding key operating aspects of this equipment can help you avoid costly
maintenance activities and forced shutdowns.
Brandon Bell PE

ince the passage of the Clean Air Act


in 1970, the regulatory environment
for control of pollution from coal-fired
power plants has been continually evolving.
Initially, the control of regulated emissions
was accomplished with the use of relatively
simple and reliable equipment that required
little maintenance. Few pollutants were regulated, and the level of control required was
minimal. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) were controlled, but something as simple as overfired
air ports and a rudimentary low-NOx burner
sufficed to meet emissions requirements.
Particulate matter (PM) was regulated, but
a relatively small electrostatic precipitator
(ESP) could achieve the reductions imposed
on a coal-fired power generator.
Fast forward to the present day, and there
are a plethora of regulated pollutants, along
with stringent guidelines and emission rates
for each. The Environmental Protection
Agency has defined six criteria pollutants
ozone, PM, NOx, carbon monoxide (CO),
sulfur dioxide (SO2), and leadwhich are
44

regulated based on human health or environmentally based criteria. The 1990 revision
of the Clean Air Act outlined 187 pollutants,
which are classified as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These pollutants are known or
suspected to cause serious health effects and/
or adverse environmental effects.
In order to maintain compliance with environmental law, coal-fired power generators
have been required to retrofit their power
plants with a variety of pollution control
equipment, including baghouses, like the one
at the Dairyland Power Cooperatives John P.
Madgett plant shown in the opening photo.
A significant number of coal-fired generators
adopted the use of selective catalytic reducers (SCRs) for the control of NOx emissions
and wet flue gas desulfurization (wet FGD)
for the control of SO2 emissions. Most recently, many have added the injection of dry
sorbents or activated carbon for compliance
with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
(MATS). The rest of this article looks at the
most common operation and maintenance
www.powermag.com

(O&M) challenges posed by each of these


pollution control systems.

SO2 Control
Fundamentally, wet FGD systems make use
of an alkaline liquid or slurry (typically, lime
or limestone slurry) to come in direct contact
with combustion flue gas that is free from
PM. Generally, the slurry solution resides
at the bottom of an absorption tower and is
circulated to a set of spray headers that disperse the slurry into fine droplets, contacting
the flue gas in a counter-current manner. A
variety of technologies exist to increase the
gas-to-liquid contact area and enhance overall SO2 absorption. Spray towers, packed bed
scrubbers, and venturi-rod scrubbers all have
unique design features to optimize the gas-toliquid surface area.
Due to the inherent nature of the scrubbing
process, several operations problems exist
among the various scrubbing technologies
that cause additional maintenance activities
or undesirable operating conditions. When

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CIRCLE 25 ON READER SERVICE CARD

OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


flue gas passes through the absorber tower
in the counter-current manner, liquid will become entrained in the gas stream and must be
removed prior to discharge at the stack. To
accomplish this on most wet FGD systems, a
set of mist eliminators are installed to dry
the flue gas of the entrained liquid.
Contained in the liquid droplets are various
solids and dissolved species. When removed
from the flue gas stream by the mist eliminators, the solids and dissolved species may leave
deposits on the mist eliminators. These deposits may cause damage to the mist eliminators
or result in material buildup and reduced mist
removal efficiency. To overcome this operational headache of removing material buildup
or replacing damaged mist eliminators, a wash
system is typically installed to continuously
clean the mist eliminators. The wash system
also needs to be periodically inspected to verify valve functionality and proper spray distribution for adequate washing.
Reheater corrosion is another common
maintenance problem experienced in wet
FGD systems. Flue gas entering a wet FGD
system is cooled by evaporation of water in
the absorber tower. This cooling effect lowers the temperature of the flue gas close to
the dew point of water. Left untreated, this
cooled flue gas (downstream from the wet
FGD process) increases the likelihood of
moisture condensing on downstream equipment, resulting in corrosion problems. An
additional concern is that the cooled flue
gas may lead to poor gas dispersion from the
stack and may result in higher-level concentrations of stack emissions.
For these reasons, a flue gas reheater is
typically installed downstream from the mist
eliminators. Wet FGDs using an inline heater
(hot water or steam) are particularly susceptible to corrosion problems. Acid gases with
dew points above the water dew point can
condense on the finned surfaces of an inline
heater. This acidic condensation will corrode
the fins and tubes of a reheater system, resulting in replacement of tube sections or a whole
reheater. Plants operating with high-chloride
content in the flue gas are also susceptible to
the development of chloride stress corrosion
cracking of inline heaters (resulting in the
same replacement requirements).
Replacing the existing materials with
higher-grade materials (with better resistance
to acid gas corrosion), such as nickel alloys,
will significantly decrease this problem. Ensuring mist elimination systems are operating efficiently will also reduce inline reheater
corrosion problems. Use of upgraded pH
controls systems to more effectively monitor
and correct chemistry imbalances within the
wet FGD systems can also lead to better acid
gas capture and less reheater corrosion.
46

Scale and sludge formation is an inherent maintenance problem with wet FGD
systems. With the use of calcium-based reagents in a liquid solution, calcium deposits
inevitably form on spray nozzles. Excessive
scale formation typically occurs when the ratio between lime or limestone and water is
increased. Proper operation of the wet FGD
will minimize the amount of scale formation on the spray nozzles. However, periodic
maintenance will still be required to remove
scale buildup. Inspection and mapping of any
plugged or highly scaled nozzles is recommended during scheduled maintenance.
Sludge handling is another inherent maintenance problem with wet FGD systems.
The sludge that forms in a wet FGD system
is a result of SO2 reacting with the lime or
limestone to form either calcium sulfite or
calcium sulfate. Typically, these reaction
byproducts are allowed to settle out in the
wet FGD and are collected in a liquid slurry
or sludge form. If proper sludge removal
procedures are not followed, the sludge can
settle in discharge headers or at the bottom
of the wet FGD and will harden over time.
Eventually, this hardened sludge formation
affects the operation of the wet FGD and
will require time-consuming and expensive
manual removal techniques.

NOx Control
Although the maintenance aspects common to
most wet FGD systems are somewhat unique,
there are maintenance aspects for other systems and multipollutant control equipment
that also must be considered. A common form
of control for NOx to meet environmental
regulations is the SCR (Figure 1). Heated flue
gas is injected with ammonia and passes over
a catalyst bed to reduce NOx to nitrogen and
water. The SCR is typically located between
the economizer outlet and air preheater inlet. Typical flue gas temperatures of between
600F and 700F yield maximum catalyst effectiveness while minimizing the potential for
formation of ammonium bisulfate.
One of the more common maintenance
headaches associated with SCR operation is
ash pluggage within either the catalyst bed or
downstream air preheater. The reason for the
greater degree of concern of ash pluggage within an SCR, but not a wet FGD, is that the SCR
is typically located upstream of particulate control devices while the wet FGD is downstream
of these devices. Various types of ash plugging
may occur, and proper ash control strategies
can avoid the need for a forced outage.
Fly ash is a fine particulate that results
from the combustion of coal and is light
enough to become entrained in the flue gas
stream. At various points in the boiler there
are collection hoppers for fly ash; however, a
www.powermag.com

1. Retrofit consequences. Many SCR


installations are designed and installed after
the plant has started operations. This leads
to longer duct runs with multiple direction
changes and a greater potential for ash accumulation problems. Courtesy: Brandon Bell

large portion of fly ash will remain entrained


in the flue gas until removed by a particulate
control device (such as a fabric filter or ESP).
An SCR is not designed to handle storage or
removal of ash, which is why it is problematic when ash buildup occurs. Horizontal surfaces in the SCR can initiate the buildup of
ash, which then propagates to other parts of
the reactor, causing the catalyst to plug. Sonic horns and sootblowing help remove this
buildup, but changing the geometry of these
horizontal surfaces (to an inclined surface)
will promote improved shedding capabilities
and lessen ash buildup.
Popcorn ash has become another significant maintenance headache that plugs SCRs
and may require manual removal techniques.
Popcorn ash is a light and porous material and
can reach upwards of 1 inch in size. Because
popcorn ash is larger in size, does not break
apart easily, and has a tendency to interlock
with other particles, conventional fly ash
removal techniques have been ineffective at
removing buildups of it. Eventually, the popcorn ash builds up on the top layer of SCR
catalyst, reducing gas flow paths, and contributes to an increasing pressure drop that
forces the operator to prematurely bypass or
shut down the SCR to clear the popcorn ash.
Due to the low sulfur content typical of
most Powder River Basin (PRB) coals, many
plants are switching to this fuel source to
help lower their SO2 emissions. However,

POWER April 2015

CIRCLE 26 ON READER SERVICE CARD

OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE


2. Latest addition. Dry sorbent injection piping is being installed at the outlet of an SCR.
Courtesy: Brandon Bell

PRB fuels also tend to have a higher propensity for popcorn ash formation. In order to
avoid costly shutdowns, de-rating of units, or
noncompliance with environmental regulations, alternative strategies to avoid popcorn
ash buildups need to be implemented. There
are two relatively simple ways to mitigate
this problem: one uses aerodynamics and the
other is a simple screen.
Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling can be used to model ash flow from the
economizer outlet to the SCR and the capture
rate of the economizer ash hopper. Typically,
the geometry of an economizer hopper allows for popcorn ash to accumulate and then
become re-entrained in the flue gas stream.
In some instances, CFD modeling will reveal
that the addition of a baffle plate at the exit of
the economizer outlet can change the trajectory of the fluidized popcorn ash and direct it
back into the economizer hoppers.
In some cases however, modifying the
aerodynamics of the flue gas steam is ineffective, and a screen is needed to prevent
popcorn ash from migrating to the SCR. The
screen should be designed with openings that
are smaller than the openings for the catalyst.
This design will capture larger popcorn ash
that would otherwise plug the catalyst. The
screen should also be installed with a forward
incline over the economizer hopper. With the
forward incline, popcorn ash captured by the
screen has a greater chance of falling into the
economizer hoppers.
Plugging of catalysts beds by ash is not the
only concern when operating an SCR. With
baseload coal plants cycling more frequently and operating at lower loads, ammonia
bisulfite formation becomes a larger concern.
Ammonia bisulfite formations occur when
ammonia reacts with sulfur trioxide (SO3)
48

and water to form ammonia bisulfite. This


formation is problematic, as it will condense
on equipment at temperatures much higher
than acid dew point temperatures. When ammonia bisulfite condenses, it forms a sticky
liquid that binds with fly ash and plugs small
passages. The air preheater (typically located
downstream of the SCR) will experience the
greatest impact, as flue gas temperatures are
reduced in this equipment and many small
passages exist in the air preheater baskets.
With ammonia bisulfite present in the flue
gas stream, air preheater plugging and unit
de-rating or forced outages are probable.
Higher amounts of unreacted ammonia
occur when there are lower temperatures entering the SCR reactor, leaving the catalyst
less effective at reacting ammonia with NOx.
Unfortunately, operating in a low-load scenario increases the probability of low flue gas
temperatures entering the SCR reactor.
Consistent cycling of a plant increases
the probability of ammonia injection operating during the startup or shutdown cycles,
when reduced flue gas temperatures are also
observed in the SCR reactor. Both of these
scenarios increase the likelihood of ammonia bisulfite forming and plugging the air
preheater. To avoid this costly maintenance
issue, better controls to limit the amount of
ammonia being injected into the SCR reactor can prevent ammonia bisulfite formation.
Heating of the flue gas to proper reaction
temperatures using steam will increase the
effectiveness of NOx reduction and reduce
the formation of ammonia bisulfite.

Mercury and Air Toxics Control


More recently, additional pollution control
equipment has been installed at many power
plants to meet the Mercury and Air Toxics
www.powermag.com

Standards. A common approach to complying with MATS is the addition of a dry sorbent injection system (Figure 2). (See The
State of U.S. Mercury Control in Response to
MATS in this issue.) These systems will use
either a calcium- or sodium-based sorbent to
neutralize acid gas emissions. For maximum
effectiveness, the sodium-based sorbents are
typically injected upstream of the air preheater, while calcium based sorbents, such as
hydrated lime, will be injected downstream
of the air preheater.
The injection of these sorbents (primarily
around the air preheater) will affect the performance of downstream particulate control
devices. For plants operating with an ESP,
the injection of sorbents will change the ash
resistivity characteristics and thus affect the
removal efficiency of the particulate. For
plants that use either an ESP or a baghouse
for particulate removal, increased particulate
loading will be an adverse side effect of sorbent injection systems.
For an ESP, even if the change in ash resistivity is favorable, increased particulate loading from sorbent injection systems will affect
ESP outlet emissions. For both baghouses
and ESPs, fly ash removal systems will be affected. The existing fly ashhandling system
will need to be evaluated to determine if adequate removal rates are achievable.
Mercury control is also typically achieved
by use of an activated carbon injection system.
Similar to sorbent, powdered activated carbon
(PAC) is injected either upstream or downstream of the air preheater. The use of PAC may
slightly reduce the resistivity of the fly ash, thus
affecting the performance of an ESP. A more
substantial impact to consider when using PAC
is the salability of fly ash for secondary use.
Depending on the quantity of PAC injected to
comply with environmental regulations, the
PAC may increase the carbon content of the fly
ash to a point where it may no longer have a
secondary use and must be sent to a landfill.

Counter Complexity with Careful


Attention
Proper operation of pollution control equipment can be challenging due to deficiencies in equipment design, changes in fuel
composition, or operating in load scenarios
not originally anticipated. However, proper
maintenance practices and diligent oversight
of plant operations will reduce forced outages and decrease equipment damage. Utilities will continue to push the boundaries of
pollution control, and further impacts can be
expected in the future.

Brandon Bell, PE (bbell@valdeseng.


com) is senior project manager for Valdes
Engineering Co. and a POWER
contributing editor.

POWER April 2015

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CIRCLE 27 ON READER SERVICE CARD

SAFETY

Balancing Risk, Reliability,


and Safety at Plants Slated for
Retirement
When the decision is made to retire a power plant, the work of getting there is
just beginning. Maintaining safe and reliable generation requires strong
leadership, clear communications, and heightened attention to operations
and maintenance, staff morale, and post-shutdown plans.
Thomas W. Overton

or utilities and other generators facing


the challenge of winding down operations at an aging power plant without
compromising safety or reliability, Kenny
Mullinax, senior manager of coal transition
for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA),
has some succinct advice: Its not saying the
right things, but doing the right things.
The reason for this advice is that successfully navigating the last few years of a plants
service life begins and ends with its staff.
The U.S. generation fleet is undergoing a
profound transition. The Energy Information
Administration (EIA) estimated in its 2014
Annual Energy Outlook that 61 GW of coalfired capacity would retire by 2020, 90% of
that by 2016. That represents at least 400
units across the country.
And coal is not alone. The EIA projects
that substantial amounts of nuclear generation will retire after 2030 unless the licenses
for those plants are extended beyond the current 60 years. And more than a few older gasfired thermal units will be retired as pressures
mount to raise efficiencies and reduce carbon
dioxide emissions.
Not all of these plants are operated by large
organizations like TVA. Many are owned and
operated by smaller utilities that may have no
institutional experience with retiring a power
plantand may not appreciate that doing
so is not simply a matter of shutting down
the boilers on the last day of operations. Far
from representing a reduction in work and
management, selecting a plant for retirement
creates a whole new set of challenges on top
of existing day-to-day concerns.

will immediately be worrying about the future of their jobsworries that can distract
from safe operation if not firmly addressed.
Meeting that challenge requires active, upfront engagement from senior management,
Mullinax said in an interview with POWER.
We are really spending a lot of our efforts
on face-to-face conversations with our people,
being very transparent with them around closure dates, what our intentions are, what our
plans are, and trying to place as many of them
in our company as possible, Mullinax said.
TVA has announced nearly 6 GW of coal
retirements, which means Mullinax and his
team have been very busy (Figure 1). He
stressed repeatedly that TVAs focus is on
personnel concerns.
The bulk of our energy is put around our
people to keep them in the right state of mind

and keep the morale in good shape. We know


theyre capable of keeping our assets running, he added.
American Electric Power (AEP) is undergoing a similar transition (see American
Electric Power: A Coal Powerhouse Repositions Itself in the February 2015 issue), with
even more coal capacity slated for retirement
than TVA (Figure 2). Dan Lee, AEPs senior
vice president of fossil and hydro generation,
echoed Mullinaxs sentiments.
Keeping morale up with an impending
retirement is an everyday challenge for
the management of the facility, Lee said.
Making that happen requires a lot of visibility from senior management. Good lines
of communicationalways importantare
even more critical in these situations.
A sizeable number of folks have worked

1. Winding down. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has committed to closing the fiveunit, 1,184-MW Colbert plant in Alabama by 2016. Units 14 may be repowered with biomass
and returned to service. Courtesy: TVA

People First
When the decision is made to retire a plant, a
great many things change, though day-to-day
operation may superficially appear to continue as it always has.
The biggest impact is on plant staff, who
50

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

SAFETY
2. End of an era. American Electric Powers 400-MW coal-fired Kanawha River Plant in
Glasgow, W.Va., was retired at the end of 2014. Courtesy: AEP

at the plant for some time, their families have


lived in the community, they feel real pride
in the plant and want to see it do well up to
retirement, he noted.
Plant staff are stressed and concerned about
their future, Lee said, and will naturally have
a lot of questions. Its a big thing to get those
questions answered. That helps a lot.
Mullinax agreed. There is nothing more
important than face time, he said.
Mullinax said that his team does every-

thing it can to augment communication with


plant staff. Questions his team answers are
available not just to the staff who asked them
but to everyonethese Q&A sessions are
posted on the company network for all TVA
employees to access.
Though not an option for every plant, both
TVA and AEP make active efforts to place
staff from a retiring plant into new positions
with active assets.
A sizeable number of these folks are go-

ing to be able to transfer, Lee said.


Mullinaxs team takes the lead in finding
these new jobs and makes it clear to plant
staff that the company will take care of them
as best it can. Thats not only a source of
reassurance; it also allows the staff to keep
focused. They let us deal with the day-today struggles of finding them a job, he said,
and that keeps their minds seriously focused
on returning home safely every day.
For key staff, management must be alert
to the importance of keeping their expertise
around. AEP often offers economic incentives for staff to stay with the plant up to retirement, Lee said.
When vacant positions must be filled, TVA
uses contractors rather than permanent replacements, often bringing back retired staff
to wind up operations. That allows it to leverage that experience while easing the transition when its time to transfer the remaining
staff to an active plant, Mullinax said. This
is working out really well for us.

Keeping Morale Up
Few things threaten reliability and safe operation more than deteriorating morale among
plant staff. Even when their jobs are secure,
staff will naturally be upset to learn that a

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CIRCLE 28 ON READER SERVICE CARD

April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

51

Safety
plant they may have put 10, 20, or even 30 or
more years of their lives into is retiring.
That means the retirement process has to
be handled with dignity, both toward staff
and toward the plant itself.
We really try to do it on a solid level of
pride and dignity, as well as a legacy, Mullinax said. We call it gracefully walking our
plants into retirement.
Upper management needs to make it clear
that a retiring plant is still valued until the
day it retires, even if it may be pushed down

the dispatch order.


Its important that they still feel like an
important part of the family, Lee noted. Being able to contribute on the days when system demand is high is a big point for these
folks, so we make sure when that happens
that some kind of appreciation is shared.
Little things like plant cleanliness and appearance are not little things in these situations.
The housekeeping standards in our retiring plants are really good, Mullinax said.
We are continuing to keep our floors waxed

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extremely high. Our staff want to walk out of
the plant with the same pride that people did
60 years ago when they walked into it.
Even when the economic reasons for retirement are clear, some long-time plant staff
and plant management may be inclined to
blame themselves, wondering if there might
have been things they could have done differently over the years to keep the plant
operating. That risk has to be met head-on,
Mullinax said.
We make sure our people understand
that our plants are not being closed because
of them. It is not their fault, it is not because they have not maintained them, not
because they have not managed them. The
plants are being closed down because of
economic reasons.

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Scheduling a plant for retirement involves


other significant changes, including a major shift in its operations and maintenance
(O&M) posture. With the operations horizon
contracting to a few more years at most, the
goal shifts to getting the plant safely to its retirement date without major capital expenses.
That places an extra burden on maintenance
staff to harness their creativity.
Clearly youre not making capital investments, Lee noted. We have made prudent
maintenance spending decisions, and our plant
managers have done a wonderful job keeping
costs under control. Weve done a lot of patchit-up O&M work to avoid any big capital
spending and big component replacement.
This means added demands on plant staff
to be more flexible and innovative. AEP has
seen availability of its retiring units degrade
over time, but on the whole, its plant staff
have been amazingly good at being there
when we needed them, Lee said.
Mullinax echoed those thoughts: We
are not spending large capital dollars for the
long-term view on those plants. The dollars
were spending are to keep them reliable.
That means maintenance staff are sometimes called upon to stretch component
lives further than what might once have
been envisioned.
We have some of the most talented
people in the industry, he said, and they
have really stepped up with some ways to
keep our assets very reliable in a very low
budget environment.
The results have been impressive for TVA.
Mullinax explained, One of our units right
now that is working toward a world-record
run, that has been online 941 days [Paradise
Unit 2; see article in the April 2013 issue], is
one that we are also walking into retirement
three years from now.

CIRCLE 29 ON READER SERVICE CARD


52

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

SAFETY
Making this happen, however, isnt easy.
For plants that are retiring, TVA schedules shorter outages. We dont do the 25- to
45-day outages we have done previously,
he said. We are doing more five- to 10-day
outages now during the off-season. During
these outages, staff perform comprehensive
inspections of known problem areas. We
know the areas that have been a historical
challenge, so we will go in and do a little
work in there. We have a lot of data on our
components, so we know whats coming
ahead of time.
With no capital budget, the goal shifts to
keeping things running. We will go in and
find the components, cut small sections out,
and just do partial replacements and bring
those areas back up to compliance.
When components are reaching or approaching end of life before retirement, plant
staff need to make judgment calls on what
to do. Mullinax said TVAs staff will look
at what the most cost-effective approach is,
whether to replace the failing component
with one from a plant that has already been
shut down or to operate the plant on a lower
level of redundancy. Its all very dependent
on what the system it is.
For safety-related systems, the staff will
obviously do whatever it takes to bring the
system back up, but where its reliability related, they have to get creative.
We get our subject matter experts together with our day-to-day O&M people and say,
here is our problem, and give them a chance
to bring some solutions to the table, Mullinax said. They are very innovative people,
and they have come up with very unique
ways to extend lives.
We are running on a lot of innovation today, and it is the result of our people and giving them flexibility to maybe try something,
even if it didnt work. They are coming up
with a lot of solutions that historically we
would not even have thought about.
They continue to come to us with solutions that sometimes just completely blow
your mind, you think, Wow, why did we not
come up with that before?
Lee has seen the same thing with AEPs
fleet. It really makes you proud to see how
innovative folks can be when it comes to
keeping things running safely, he said.
Jeff Pope, manager of facility decommissioning and demolition services for Burns &
McDonnell, who spoke during a session on
plant decommissioning at the Energy, Utility
& Environment Conference in San Diego this
February, explained that another challenge is
that plant staff need to be mindful of the need
to deplete stores of chemicals and spare parts
during the final days. The more thats left
over, the more work that is necessary after

final shutdown. Managing coal inventories is


also keycoal stockpiles should be burned
down to the extent possible, something that
requires substantial advance planning.

Safety Is Still First


Management at a retiring plant must take extra care to make sure safety standards do not
degrade in the waning days of a plants life.
That sometimes means making difficult decisions on reliability, Lee said.
We have had a number of facilities where

weve chosen not to operate the unit because


we have a safety concern that AEP was not
willing to risk, he said. Making those decisions, though, enhances safety overall because it underscores how seriously upper
management takes it. Where that actually
happens, if people see it, they embrace it,
Lee noted.
That pays dividends when retiring a plant.
Our safety performance at these retiring
plants matches up well with the rest of the
fleet, Lee said.

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CIRCLE 30 ON READER SERVICE CARD

April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

53

SAFETY
3. End of the line. AEPs 106-MW Picway Power Plant in Lockbourne, Ohio, was shut
down last year. Courtesy: AEP

Mullinax agreed. We dont compromise


any of our compliance standards, period, he
said. Everything from a safety and regulatory standpoint we are continuing to walk
through and do those things the right way.
Both oversight and incentives need to remain in place. Even where other budgets are
constrained, plant managers still need to be
allowed to recognize successes.
Plant staff should also be clear that regula-

tory and record-keeping obligations are not


relaxed because the plant will be shutting
down. Indeed, these are as important as ever
given the added work and oversight that will
be present once the plant enters the decommissioning phase (Figure 3).

Walking Down the Final Days


One big challenge of the decommissioning
process is that it has to begin while the plant

is still operating. Its a challenge for both the


decommissioning team and the plant staff.
There is a lot to be done during this period, Lee noted. We certainly have put a lot
of effort into preparing for the tasks that will
come after the units are no longer available,
he said. Its not that the tasks are that complex, but there are so many of them, and they
may sound small, but they all add up to a very
important activity to make sure that we decommission the site properly. So theres a lot
of activity going on around that.
That means a lot of careful planning is
necessary.
Its important to analyze out the things
that need to be done to do that right without
being a distraction to plant staff, Lee said.
TVA approaches decommissioning with
a handpicked team of subject matter experts
who focus on what needs to be done so that
plant staff are not burdened with these tasks,
Mullinax said.
Still, some involvement of plant staff is
unavoidable, Pope noted, especially for those
staff members who have worked at the facility the longest. The decommissioning team
will need to work with them to identify areas where toxic substances such as asbestos,
PCBs, mercury, nuclear sources (such as
flow meters and exit signs), and so forth are
locatedboth areas of past spills and areas
where such materials may have been stored
in the past. Plant staff will also need to be
available to help identify components that
can be recovered for further use, whether
they are to be sold or repurposed.
These activities need to be carefully coordinated with plant operations. To the extent
possible, the decommissioning team should
take advantage of outages to conduct inspections and interviews.

Happy Endings
In the end, Mullinax stressed, it comes down
to strong leadership and good communications. Senior executives need to be visible at
the plant and ready to answer all questions,
not just once but throughout the process.
Regular all-hands meetings are important to
keep staff engaged in their daily jobs and not
worried about the future.
On a lot of these things there are no answers until you get closer to the retirement
date, he noted. So we continue to walk
through this with them. It is not one of those
once-a-month things; it is a daily journey.
And impending retirement or not, everyone has to stay as focused on quality work, as
they always have been.
Our goal is still to get better every day,
Mullinax insisted.

Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER


associate editor.
CIRCLE 31 ON READER SERVICE CARD
54

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

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CIRCLE 32 ON READER SERVICE CARD

POWER
GENERATION

STORAGE
SOLUTIONS

GENERATION TRANSITIONS

NextEra Energy: A Tale of Two, and


Maybe Three, Companies
NextEra Energy consists of a traditional, vertically integrated electric utility with
a heavy reliance on nuclear and natural gasFlorida Power & Lightand
an aggressive foray into renewable energy outside of FloridaNextEra
Energy Resources. Given its recent bid for Hawaiis electric utility, which
has a legacy of oil-fired generation and a state commission pushing renewables, NextEra is clearly a company facing a generation transition.
By Kennedy Maize

and 150-MW Carousel projects in Colorado,


a 99-MW project in Oklahoma, and another
482 MW in projects the company says it
will announce later this year. The company
brought over 1 GW of U.S. wind into service
in 2014, and 340 MW in Canada.
Energy Resources is the largest U.S. generator of wind and solar power and growing
rapidly.

he story of NextEra Energy is a tale of


two companies, housed under the same
corporate roof in Juno Beach, Fla., and
about to add a third. One is a large, conventional, vertically integrated electric utility
monopoly, Florida Power & Light (FPL),
existing in the comfort of state regulation
and reliant on nuclear and fossil generation.
The other is NextEra Energy Resources, a
nationwide competitive generation company
focused on wind, solar, and nuclear generationfor many, an exemplar of the future
of generation. On the far opposite side of the
country lies Hawaiis investor-owned electric
system, which is poised to become the third
company under the NextEra umbrella.
Though the first two companies have a
solid track record, the third may prove to be
a risky deal.

Talking to investment analysts late last year,


NextEra Chief Financial Officer Moray Dewhurst said the company continues to invest
in its regulated utility as Floridas economy
improves and the labor force grows, bringing
steady load growth. Similarly, at Energy Resources, Dewhurst said, Our development
and construction programs remains on track
and our backlog of contracted renewables
projects continues to develop, with a [power
purchase agreement] for another roughly 100
MW of U.S. wind signed since the last [earnings report]. Earnings growth was driven by
new contracted renewables projects, as well
as strong results in our customer supply and
trading business.
Energy Resources has inked about 980
MW in U.S. wind deals expected to enter
service this year: the 249-MW Golden West

A Foundation of Traditional
Generation

1. Old fossil. Kauai Electric Cooperatives Port Allen Station is still mostly dependent on

FPLs regulated fleet consists of two nuclear


units at St. Lucie, with 1,821 MW net capacity, two nuclear units and two gas units
at Turkey Point with 3,186 MW net capacity, and 20,513 MW of mostly gas generation in operation elsewhere in the state. FPL
has 3,800 MW of gas-fired capacity under
construction. In 2014, according to the companys earnings statement, FPL had $1.5 billion in net income, on $11.4 billion in sales,
earning the company $3.45 per share.
FPL is the foundation and cash cow for
NextEra Energy Resources, the companys
play in wholesale, unregulated markets. Energy Resources brought in $5.2 billion in revenue in 2014, with net income of $985 million
($1.89 per share) flowing to the parents bottom line. The resources company has about
19 GW of nameplate capacity in natural gas,
wind, solar, and merchant nuclear in competitive wholesale markets. During 2014, it added
1,364 MW of wind and 265 MW of solar.
56

Stretching to Embrace Hawaiian


Utility
Last December, NextEra Energy announced
a new direction, one that could turn out to
be chancy. Joining the growing utility mergers and acquisitions trend (see The Urge to
Merge, or Vice Versa? in the January 2015
issue or online at powermag.com), NextEra
cut a $6 billion deal (including assumption

diesel. About 15% of the utilitys power comes from hydro and solar today, but it has plans to
reach 50% renewables by 2023, mostly with additional hydro and solar generation. Courtesy:
Gail Reitenbach

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

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CIRCLE 33 ON READER SERVICE CARD

GENERATION TRANSITIONS

Has HECO Stifled Geothermal Energy?

of $1.7 billion in debt) to buy Hawaiian


Electric Industries, which owns Hawaiian
Electric Co. (HECO), which in turn owns
Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light.
The Hawaiian system is dominated by oilfired generation (along with a 180-MW AES
non-utility coal-fired plant) while seeing a
boom in rooftop solar in its service territory.
The company is under increasing pressure
from state regulators to move more aggressively to renewables while reducing the cost
of power to its customers.
In making the announcement that NextEra
will buy Hawaiian Electric Industries, NextEra
CEO Jim Robo said, We are proud that Hawaiian Electric has agreed to join our company in
large part because of our shared vision to bring
cleaner, renewable energy to Hawaii, while at
the same time helping to reduce energy costs
to Hawaii Electric customers. Today, Hawaiian
Electric is addressing a vast array of complex
and interrelated issues associated with the companys clean energy transformation.
Connie Lau, Hawaiian Electric Industries
CEO, said, In NextEra Energy, Hawaiian Electric is gaining a trusted partner that
can help the company accelerate its plans to
achieve the clean energy future we all want
for Hawaii. NextEra Energy and Hawaiian
Electric share a common vision [of] a more
affordable clean energy future for Hawaii.
The announcement of the Hawaiian deal
led Adam Browning, executive director of the
grassroots advocacy group Vote Solar, to express skepticism about NextEras shining green
58

tric rates in the nation. More recently, the


company has abandoned the RFP process
for a Best and Final Offer and promises a
decision by mid-February 2015. Lucy was
kinder to Charlie Brown than HECO has
been to its bidders.
Hawaiis only geothermal generating
station is Ormats Puna Geothermal Venture on the Big Island, with 38 MW of firm
capacity. HECOs Hawaii Electric Light Co.
has picked Ormat for an additional 25 MW
of geothermal for the Big Island (Hawaii).
The next step, according to a utility press
release, is contract negotiations with Ormat, with an agreement to be submitted
to the Public Utilities Commission for approval.
Trask says that Hawaii should end HECOs
monopoly status, subject the NextEra
merger to detailed scrutiny, and develop
a timeline for terminating HECOs fossilfueled generation.
image. Writing for Greentech Media, Browning noted the contrast between NextEra Energy
Resourcesa renewable energy powerhouse
and a credit to the nationand FPL, which he
termed a renewable desert.
FPL, Browning said, is a utility with 4.7
million customersand only about 1,500 of
them with solar on their roofs. While the utilitys TV ads prominently feature shiny solar
energy projects, just 0.6 percent of FP&Ls
energy mix comes from solar (leading U.S.
utilities are on track to meet 10 percent of
their power needs with solar). Most of FPLs
renewable generation comes from landfill
gas and wood waste.
Browning adds that Florida has no renewable portfolio generation standard. FPL, he
says, has crushed every effort to establish
one. Third-party power purchase agreements,
the most popular way of financing rooftop
solar in the country, are not allowed in Floridaand every effort to change that has been
fought tooth and nail by FP&L.

Fuel Fights in Hawaii


HECOs own record of developing renewable energy in a state with a warm climate,
lots of sun, and solid hydro and geothermal
potential has also come under fire, both from
state regulators and from renewable energy
interest groups (see sidebar). The Hawaiian utilities have seen substantial growth in
solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, but that
remains a small component in the states generation mix.
Hawaii is unique. Its utilities constitute a
form of distributed generation, although one
that HECO hopes to change. HECO serves
Oahu (the biggest load, with about 150,000
customers) and owns Hawaii Electric Light
Co. (with 80,000 customers on Hawaii Island) and Maui Electric Co. (with 70,000
customers on Maui, Molokai, and Lanai).
These grids on separate islands are not interconnected, meaning they cant call on each
otheror on utilities elsewhereto realize
efficiencies and balance load.
Hawaiis only other electric utility is the
Kauai Electric Cooperative, with 32,000 customers, which also is dependent on oil-fired
generation (Figure 1). The cooperative has
been aggressively installing hydro and solar
generation and plans to reduce its fossil fuel
dependency to 40% this year.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that Hawaii imports almost
all of its energy fuels, and a disproportionate
share of Hawaiis electricity comes from oilfired generators, which is a large part of why
Hawaiis electricity prices are the highest in
the United States.
The high electricity prices, notes the EIA,
make solar and wind attractive, particularly
as the cost of renewables declines (Figure 2).
These factors have led to growing wind and
solar generation on both the utility scale and

2. Sun rise. Residential and commercial net-metered solar photovoltaic power capacity has
increased most rapidly on Oahu, rising from a combined total of 12.52 MW in 2010 to 179.67 MW
in 2014 (year-to-date, as available Jan. 27). Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Residential Commercial
200
MW

Hawaiian energy consultant and political activist Mililani Trask, who has advised bidders into Hawaiian Electric Co.s
(HECOs) request for proposals (RFP) for
geothermal projects, takes a dim view of
the companys professed commitment to
renewable energy. I have witnessed firsthand how, for the last two years, HECO
has sent geothermal bidders on a very expensive ride in one direction while it was
quietly pursuing a journey in a different
direction, she says.
HECO laid out a plan in 2011 to get bids
for up to 50 MW in geothermal projects,
with bids due in mid-2013. Six bidders applied, according to the Associated Press.
But the utility, Trask said, adopted a slow
drip schedule that slipped from 2013 to
2014. We ended 2014 with no award
made for the development of additional
geothermal energy to relieve Hawaii residents of the burden of the highest elec-

On the basis of that record, said Browning,


it is fair to conclude that NextEra is a renewable leaderbut only when it is developing
projects in other utility service territories. . . .
When it comes to FP&L, the company hasnt
delivered significant renewables itself and
has worked to quash customers ability to do
so on their own.

100

0
2010

2011

www.powermag.com

2012

2013

2014 YTD

POWER April 2015

CIRCLE 34 ON READER SERVICE CARD

GENERATION TRANSITIONS
3. Nessie. This chart shows the blue Nessie curve of net system load, as bent by mid-day
solar generation on the island of Oahu. Source: Hawaiian Electric/EIA

in smaller distributed applicationsparticularly customer-sited rooftop solar PV, says


the Department of Energys statistical arm.
EIA data show that 9,200 net-metered PV
systems were added in 2014 through October, bringing the total number of customers
with net-metered PV to around 48,000. On

Oahu, where most of the states population


resides, roughly 12% of customers have rooftop solar, compared to an estimated U.S. average of 0.5%, according to the Solar Electric
Power Association.
Theres the problem. HECO has slowed
approvals of new net-metering intercon-

nections, as rooftop PV capacity is reaching 120% of the circuits daytime minimum


load. Says EIA, once that threshold is
passed, an interconnection study may be
required before the new PV system can be
approved, which has resulted in a backlog
of PV applications.
Green technology reporter Jeff St. John
observes that Oahu is experiencing the same
duck-shaped supply and demand curve seen
in California. In Hawaii, HECO calls it the
Nessie curvecaused when midday solar
exceeds demand, then drops off to leave the
utility with steep ramps in demand to match
with limited resources (Figure 3).
HECOs delay in approving new PV interconnections prompted the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which has
a long and contentious relationship with
HECO, to demand changes in how the company deals with distributed energy generation. In response, HECO in late January filed
a plan with the regulators to increase the allowable PV penetration threshold to 250%
of the circuits daytime minimum load. EIA
notes that this change would also be accompanied by a decrease in the amount received
by new net-metered customers for the excess
electricity they send back to the grid. Instead

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POWER April 2015

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The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

GENERATION TRANSITIONS
of receiving the full retail rate (about $.30/
kWh for Oahu residential customers in January 2015), customers would receive something closer to Hawaiian Electrics cost of
avoided generation, which largely reflects
the cost of purchased fuel.

Distributed Renewables or
Transmission?
Winning that change HECO has proposed
for its solar PV program may be the key to
the economics of the NextEra deal, accord-

ing to Forbes magazine contributor William


Pentland. The return (or lack thereof) on
this $6 billion investment will likely depend
on future development trends of distributed
generation in Hawaii, he says.
Pentland explains that HECO wants to
invest heavily in transmission to interconnect the three island systems, starting with a
$600 million undersea cable between Oahu
and Maui, capable of 200 MW of bidirectional transmission. He points out that a key
to the transmission project is that it is not

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subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, because it is


entirely within the isolated state of Hawaii,
greatly simplifying the regulatory path for
the project.
Pentland says, The only way to pay for
that undersea cable is to use it. The project becomes far more cost effective as the amount of
energy it transmits increases. In other words,
the interconnection only pencils for investors (and customers) if it moves a whole lot
of electricity for years and years. He adds,
Every dollar customers spend on rooftop
solar panels is a dollar they dont spend buying power from the centralized grid. In the
merger agreement with NextEra, Pentland
notes, NextEra has significant influence on
HECOs regulatory agenda. Indeed, the agreement states that HECO must receive written
consent from NextEra prior to settling any
rate case or other material proceeding that
would impact the ratemaking mechanisms
currently in effect.
HECOs proposal is likely to upset consumers and renewable energy advocates. That
could translate into opposition from state
politicians and regulators. In his state-of-thestate address in late January, new Democratic
Gov. David Ige noted the NextEra deal and
said he has charged Randy Iwase, his nominee
to chair the state utilities commission, to be
actively involved in the merger negotiations.
Iwase has said public input will play a big role
in the review of the buyout. Even before the
NextEra bid, Iwase said that the commission
has been skeptical of HECOs commitment to
renewables. Ige also said he will be restructuring and staffing the PUC to give it the expertise and resources needed to deal with its
due diligence. I will also be assigning a special
counsel to protect the publics interest for the
short and long term.
Hawaiian Rep. Chris Lee, chairman of
Hawaiis House Energy and Environmental
Protection Committee, wants conditions and
benchmarks for cost reduction and renewable goals in exchange for the merger. He
also wants the state to study a takeover of the
investor-owned utility, turning it into a public
power agency, with the Kauai cooperative as
a model.
In many respects, Hawaii is a microcosm
of the tensions between traditional fossilfueled generation and transmission systems and more distributed renewable types
of generation. For its part, NextEra Energy
has heretofore largely dealt with distributed
renewables and utility-scale generation on
different terms. Whether it can resolve the
tension between the two models in Hawaii
remains to be seen.

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REGULATORY COMPLIANCE

The State of U.S. Mercury Control


in Response to MATS
As this month marks the compliance date for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), its a good time to take a step back from the many months of
concern and consideration of options to see how coal-fired power plants
are actually responding to the new rule. Its also a good time to acknowledge that the most effective MATS compliance strategy is not a set-it-andforget-it one.
Sheila Glesmann and Richard Mimna

xcept for units with a years extension,


April 16 is the deadline for compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys (EPAs) Mercury and Air
Toxics Standards (MATS) for hundreds of
coal-based power plants in the U.S., many of
which, for the first time, have an applicable
mercury standard. By now, most plant owners have made a MATS compliance decision
that involves shutting down a plant or choosing a mercury control strategy. But April 16
isnt the end of the story.

Units Affected by MATS


First, a brief review of the numbers. The
MATS rule for mercury control applies to
about 1,000 coal-based electric generating
units in the U.S. The primary fuel for electric generating units over 25 MW included in
the 2012 Energy Information Administration
(EIA) Form 860 database shows about 55%
bituminous-fired, 38% subbituminous-fired,
3% lignite, and 4% other coal or coke. The
capacity totals approximately 310 GW. The
reference case projection for retirements by
2020 in the EIAs 2014 Annual Energy Outlook is 50 GW by 2020, from this base of 310
GW, leaving 260 GW of coal operating past
2020.
The EPAs original regulatory impact
analysis showed a total of 460 coal-based
plants that MATS applied to, representing
just over 1,000 units (from 2009 EIA data).
Many units blend coal, and their strategies
on coal are evolving, adding a significant
variable that must be managed in light of ongoing compliance planning. Various reports
and projections of unit retirements have been
made, suggesting that the number of units to
which MATS will ultimately be applied may
be reduced even further.
Coal plants have several retirement drivers, fundamentally driven by higher operat64

ing costs and reduced revenues. Increased


operating costs are driven by the age of the
fleet (about 41 years average as of the 2012
EIA database), compliance with EPA regulations, higher fuel costs, and other capital
upgrades. Revenues are dampened by competition with natural gas and renewables as
well as increased end-use efficiency and flat
demand growth.
Where capacity factors are low and units
are adjusting operation to be load-followers
rather than base-loaded units, the value of
keeping the generation and making upgrades
to meet environmental regulations can shift
significantly. Smaller, older units have a
harder time absorbing new costs or downturns in generation and will be the ones most
likely to retire.
According to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), approximately 70 GW of coal
fleet retirements are projected to take place
from 2010 to 2022. When compared to the
2009 EIA database, that would imply about
265 GW of generation that will be operating under MATS in 2022. In another study,
the Brattle Group reported 15 GW of retirements confirmed in 20122013, with another
25 GW announced by 2016 and a further 8.4
GW projected by 2021.
The net estimates from various sources
seem to be that about 250 to 260 GW of coal
generation still will be operating in 2021,
but some projections have higher retirement
rates, depending on assumptions regarding
natural gas pricing, the Clean Power Plan,
and other pending regulations.

Compliance Extensions and Legal


Challenges
Compliance extensions to 2016 have been
obtained by many facilities, estimated by the
National Association of Clean Air Agencies
in October 2014 to be 145 plants or 32% of
www.powermag.com

applicable units. This additional time enables


plants to compare technologies, source equipment and reagents or sorbents, test and prove
out equipment reliability, get measurements
systems ready, and have a margin for meeting compliance. In some cases, retirements
are planned in this timeframe.
The final startup/shutdown reconsideration rule was issued in November, spurring
additional power plant requests for extensions as owners grapple with the decision between two startup alternatives and define the
requirements as they apply to each unit.
The Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG)
filed a lawsuit in January objecting to the new
procedures as unworkable as written, citing
safety concerns with operation of equipment
not designed to start at such a low load. In
its comments on the startup/shutdown rule,
the Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC)
recommended a work practice standard tied
to achieving key emission control system
temperatures for good operation on a unitby-unit basis. The four-hour timeframe may
be too restrictive for many units.
Additionally, a Supreme Court decision
reviewing the D.C. Circuits decision in
White Stallion Energy Center, LLC v. EPA is
expected in June and may result in different
limits or compliance requirements. However,
in the meantime, April 16 remains the compliance deadline.

Mercury Control Choices


In order to get a picture of how affected units
are planning to comply with MATS, ICAC
surveyed its more than 80 member companies that represent suppliers of air pollution
monitoring and control systems, equipment,
chemicals, and services for stationary sources in the U.S. and Canada. The group developed a database of mercury control reagent
and sorbent feed systems based on results

POWER April 2015

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
Table 1. Mercury control technology choices. Data are for 181 GW of an estimated 250 GW to 260 GW of coal-fired generation affected by the Mercury and Air Toxics
Standards. Source: Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC)
Technology

Number of units

Sum of unit size (MW)

Activated carbon injection

310

With boiler oxidant

12

4,398

49

25,880

31

15,057

Boiler oxidant
With wet flue gas desulfurization additive
Non-carbon-based sorbent
Wet flue gas desulfurization additive only
Total

from a survey of its members in which the


members identified specific installations
along with each power plants likely mercury
control strategy. The database has certain
limitations in that not every technology supplier is an ICAC member and not all member
companies contributed to the database. However, a picture emerges of technologies that
are being widely applied to coal-based units,
398 (181 GW) of which are captured in the
database.
Table 1 shows that the dominant technology is activated carbon injection (ACI), with
310 confirmed installations on 137 GW of
coal-based capacity. This includes all coal
types (broadly grouped as bituminous, lignite, subbituminous, and blend). Boiler
oxidants are installed on 4 GW of the ACI
units and 26 GW of additional units without
ACI for a total of 30 GW (61 units). On 15
GW the boiler oxidants are combined with
a wet flue gas desulfurization (WFGD) additive only. WFGD additives are used alone
on 16.5 GW (36 units) for a total of 31.5 GW

137,307

1,558

36

16,496

398

181,241

of WFGD additives. Non-carbon-based sorbents (alternatives to activated carbon) were


reported as the technology of choice on 1.5
GW (3 units).
Many of the current ACI systems being
installed include design accommodations for
alternative sorbents that provide flexibility in
sorbent selection for future operation of these
systems.
The data by coal type (Table 2) are somewhat less complete because of unspecified
coal types for 85 units (42 GW). All of the
WFGD additives (31.5 GW) and the majority
of boiler additives (26 GW) show no specific
coal type. Of the reported coal types, subbituminous coal plants (87 GW, 197 units) utilize
ACI, with 10 of those units also employing
a boiler oxidant. Bituminous coal plants (23
GW, 60 units) utilize ACI or alternative sorbents, with two of the ACI units also using a
boiler oxidant. Blended coal plants (19 GW,
34 units) and lignite coal plants (10.5 GW, 22
units) have ACI.
As companies start up and operate their

Table 2. Different control choices for different coal types. Source: ICAC
Coal type and mercury control

Number of units

Sum of unit size (MW)

Bituminous

60

22,886

ACI

57

21,328

Boiler oxidant

385

1,558

Blend

34

18,801

ACI

34

18,801

Lignite

22

10,500

ACI

22

10,500

Subbituminous

197

86,678

ACI

197

86,678

Non-carbon-based sorbent

10

4,013

Unspecified

Boiler oxidant

85

42,376

WFGD additive

36

16,496

Boiler oxidant

49

25,880

WFGD additive
Total

31

15,057

398

181,241

Notes: ACI = activated carbon injection, WFGD = wet flue gas desulfurization.

April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

emissions control systems, many issues arise


for the first time, including integrating feedback control with their unit operation, managing balance-of-plant impacts, handling the
new materials, using continuous emissions
monitoring systems or sorbent traps full
time, managing data, and handling reporting
complexities. Units may have different issues
based on size, as smaller units may be more
likely to dispatch as load-following or seasonal operation, requiring more attention to
turn-down issues.
As power plants move into the compliance
phase of the MATS regulation, ICAC member companies have resources and expertise
to help plants achieve and maintain continuous compliance. For example, issues that
may arise once emissions control technologies are operational include ACI/dry sorbent
injection (DSI) equipment inefficiencies or
availability. The continuous, reliable utilization of ACI and DSI systems may fall short
of performance targets after prolonged operation due to maintenance and other issues,
causing unplanned downtime and inefficiencies. Reliable operational and maintenance
procedures can be put into place by working
with suppliers of the equipment or sorbents.
Performance testing of ACI systems is
typically conducted with sorbents manufactured under very tight quality controls. These
manufacturing quality controls must be maintained for long-term operations to ensure that
sorbents are consistent and target-quality. It
is important for plants to ensure that suppliers have adequate quality control measures.

When to Reconsider a Mercury


Control Strategy
By the time this April issue is published,
most U.S. generators will have decided upon
their mercury compliance path, and many
will have already entered into contracts for
control equipment and/or sorbent supply.
However, the mercury compliance landscape
is not static; technology providers continue to
innovate and improve, while generating units
can undergo significant changes to the way
they operate. Thus, it is sometimes prudent
for generators to reevaluate their mercury
compliance options.
The types of situations that might
prompt such a reevaluation are discussed
next. Note that these circumstances also
apply to generators in other countries that
may now or in the future be concerned
with mercury control.
Force MajeureNoncompliance. If
a supplier of a mercury control technology
or product is unable to keep a utility within
compliance, whether it be a performance/
quality issue or an inability to supply product, there is usually a means for the buyer to
65

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
exit an existing contract and look for solutions elsewhere.
Balance-of-Plant Issues. If a mercury
control strategy is found to cause unforeseen
balance-of-plant impacts that make it impossible for the supplied unit(s) to operate, then
force majeure rules may apply.
New Technologies. There is always the
possibility that a novel mercury control technology might be introduced to the marketplace. Furthermore, existing mercury control
technologies are continuously being refined

and improved upon by the various companies that develop and market them. New
developments that offer advantages in costperformance and/or ease of use may warrant
a comparison against any control strategies
that are already in place.
Fuel Switch. The type of fuel that is
combusted can have very strong impacts on
mercury control. A change in fuel supply
may mean that a unit that was or would be
compliant with a particular control strategy
will no longer be so.

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Changes in fuel supply are often a deliberate choice by a plant owner, and in such
cases, fuel changes and any necessary changes in mercury control strategy can often be
timed accordingly. In those cases where fuel
changes are forced or unforeseen, it may be
necessary to work with the technology provider to test and qualify alternative strategies
or products that can keep the unit(s) in compliance cost effectively.
New Equipment Installations. The installation of new equipment for the control of
NOx, SOx, or particulate matter can not only
have a big impact on mercury emissions,
but it also can sometimes eliminate the need
for any additional mercury controls. If new
equipment is planned for a unit, consult with
both the equipment supplier and any current
suppliers of mercury control products to assess the expected impacts and any product
changes that may be in order.
Dry Sorbent Injection. Many plant
owners may be considering implementing
DSI, especially following the reinstatement
of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in
2014. DSI can have a wide range of both
positive and adverse impacts on mercury
control, especially with respect to mercury
sorbents.
Positive effects are sometimes observed
due to the removal of SO3, while adverse effects may stem from the removal of halogen
species from the flue gas and from the generation of absorbable species in ppm levels,
such as NO2, by certain DSI sorbents.
With a variety of both DSI and mercury
sorbents available, and the possibility to inject them on either side of the air preheater,
the number of possible permutations can
quickly get quite large. Whether one is treating for HCl or for SO2 will also make a huge
difference, because treating for the latter
typically requires much more DSI sorbent.
Therefore, the addition of DSI to a unit will
almost always require an assessment of any
positive or adverse impacts on any mercury
controls in place.
Testing of an Alternative Product
Shows Significant Savings/Advantage.

Many plants choose to include language in


their supply agreements that permits them
to test specified quantities of alternative
products, both from the current supplier and
from others. That language may include a
provision for the plant owner to exit the contract and switch suppliers if a specified level
of cost savings can be demonstrated during
testing.

Sheila Glesmann (sheila.glesmann@


ada-cs.com) of ADA Carbon Solutions and
Richard Mimna (RMimna@calgoncarbon
.com) of Calgon Carbon Corp. are Mercury
Control Division co-chairs for ICAC.

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POWER April 2015

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REGULATORY COMPLIANCE

Proposed Ozone Rule May Be the


Most Costly Regulation Ever
Estimates vary widely, but even the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that lowering the ozone standard will cost billions. How will it affect
power companies? It could make approval of new projects much more
difficult.
Aaron Larson and Thomas W. Overton

ven in the annals of expensive environmental regulations and the hyperbole


that often accompanies them, the numbers are eye-popping: $140 billion per year
in lost gross domestic product, $1.05 trillion
in compliance costs through 2040, 34 GW in
accelerated coal plant retirements, and 1.4
million jobs lost across all affected sectors.
That, at least, is the impact of the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPAs) proposed new standard for ground-level ozone
if a study from National Economic Research
Associates (NERA) Economic Consulting,
commissioned by the National Association
of Manufacturers, is to be believed.

Small Step for RegulatorsGiant


Leap for Regulatees
On the face of it, the EPAs proposal does not
come across as an especially large change.
The current standard of 75 ppb would be
lowered to a 70 ppb to 65 ppb range, though
the EPA is also soliciting comments on a 60
ppb standard.
NERAs numbers (those above assume a
65 ppb standard) differ notably from those
of the EPA. In contrast, the agency estimated
that annual compliance costs would be a mere
$3.9 billion for a 70 ppb standard and $15 billion for a 65 ppb standard. The costs would be
more than offset by the health benefits, which
the EPA projects would be up to $17 billion
annually at 70 ppb and $38 billion at 65 ppb.
Like it or not, though, a new standard is
coming.
Ozone forms through chemical reactions
involving sunlight and a variety of volatile
organic compounds, nitrogen oxides (NOx),
and other substances emitted from power
plants, motor vehicles, and industrial processes. High concentrations of ozone are
known to have a number of impacts on human health, including respiratory and cardiovascular issues such as asthma.
In response to current National Ambient
Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone,
68

most power plants already have installed


equipment to reduce NOx emissions. That
could make meeting lower limits difficult.
The NERA report estimated that 101 GW of
additional coal-fired capacity could be forced
into retirement as a result of the lowest possible, 60 ppb limit34% of the baseline capacity total. (For more on the dueling estimates,
see this months BIG PICTURE in Global
Monitor.) NERA cites EPA data showing that
the power sector overall reduced NOx emissions 73% between 1990 and 2013.

Periodic Checkup
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA
must review NAAQS every five years and
make revisions as may be appropriate based
on the relevant scientific and public health
data. The current 75 ppb standard was set in
2008 by the George W. Bush administration,

even though the EPAs Clean Air Scientific


Advisory Committee had recommended a 60
ppb to 70 ppb standard.
The EPA again wanted to revise the standard
lower in 2011, but the Obama administration directed the agency to withdraw the proposal. That
action was challenged in court, and the EPA was
ordered to come up with a new rule.
One of the challenges is that, under the CAA,
the EPA is not allowed to consider the economic
impact of setting NAAQS, a stricture that was
reinforced by a 2001 Supreme Court case arising out of challenges to the 1997 revisions.
(Costs are taken into account in implementing
the standards, just not in setting them.)
Critics of the lower standard have pointed
out that around 100 million people live in
areas that are in nonattainment for the current 75 ppb standard. At the state level, 27
are in nonattainment (including the District

1. Open house. The California Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Building


was the venue for the public hearing in Sacramento. Source: POWER

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POWER April 2015

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
2. All ears. In Sacramento, the hearing panel (from left to right) consisted of EPA directors Steve Page and Deborah Jordan, and scientists Susan Stone and Pat Dolwick. Source:
POWER

of Columbia). The new standards could put


the majority of the U.S. population in nonattainment areas: 358 counties nationwide
would currently be in nonattainment under a

70 ppb standard, and 558 would fall short of


a 65 ppb standard.
This is a significant issue for the power
sector because a new source of pollution,

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such as a power plant, that is proposed for


an area in nonattainment must obtain a
nonattainment new source review permit
based on its lowest achievable emission
rate. In addition, a new source must arrange for or purchase offsetting emissions
reductions. This is a substantially more
difficult process than what is required for
new projects applying within attainment
areas, which is essentially showing that
the plant will not cause the area to exceed
the standard.
Critics have also pointed out that certain
areas, especially California and other parts
of the western U.S., have naturally occurring levels of ozone above the proposed standards, making compliance in these regions
potentially impossible.
The EPA, while acknowledging these
criticisms, asserts that the vast majority of
nonattainment counties would come into compliance by 2025 without any additional action.
Also, it is proposing to grandfather into the old
standards sources that complete their Prevention of Significant Deterioration application
before the new standard goes into effect.

Getting Public Input


The EPA held three public hearingson Jan.

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69

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE

Students Lead Idle-Free Campaign


Kimberly Garcia and Oscar Garcia, seniors at Innovations High School in
Reno, Nev., have shown that students
can provide leadership in the fight for
clean air. The two gave passionate presentations, during the Environmental
Protection Agencys public hearing in
Sacramento on proposed updates to the
National Ambient Air Quality Standards
for ground-level ozone, about their experiences helping implement idle-free
policies at several schools in the Washoe
County School District.
Many people think my generation is
not capable of doing anything to make a
difference. I am here today to challenge
that way of thinking, Kimberly told the
hearing panel (Figure 3).
The Alliance for Climate Education
helped spawn the idle-free campaign,
but the students took the idea and ran
with it. Kimberly explained that she gave
an assembly presentation at Palmer Elementary School. She talked about the
health and environmental effects of engine idling, and passed out stickers that
read, Turn your key and be idle free.
To drive the point home, students were
asked to submit drawings as part of an
art contest.
Oscar said that he has seen the effects of air pollution firsthand, because
his nephew, Gabriel, suffers with asthma.
While living in Los Angelesthe city considered by many to have the worst smog
in the U.S.Gabriel had frequent asthma
attacks.
He was in the hospital a few times a
month, and this kept him from attending
school, Oscar said.
Kimberly noted that asthma results in

29 in Arlington, Texas, and Washington, D.C.,


and on Feb. 2 in Sacramento, Calif. (Figure
1)offering the opportunity to comment on
the proposed standards. The EPA also accepted written comments through Mar. 17.
Each state, as needed, will determine
how to best meet the standard in a way that
makes the most sense for that area, Steve
Page, director of the EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, said during his
opening statement to begin the hearing in
Sacramento.
Attendees at the public hearings were
70

3. #CleanAir. Sidewalk chalk art helped


spread the message activists wanted to
send during a demonstration in Sacramento. Source: POWER

14 million missed school days every year,


according to the American Lung Association. She suggested that children are the
most affected by idling cars because their
lungs are still developing and they are
closer to automobile tailpipes. Oscar said
his family relocated to Reno, at least in
part to escape the air pollution, and Gabriel hasnt had an asthma attack since.
Prior to implementing the idle-free
program, Oscar said students at six high
schools in Washoe County monitored the
amount of engine idling that was occurring outside of the schools. After compiling the results, students were educated,
through the distribution of flyers and
stickers, about the health, environmental,
and financial benefits of shutting off engines while sitting idle. Signs were also
installed to remind people about the idlefree zones. To gauge effectiveness of the
campaign, idling was monitored following
the awareness drive to see if there had
been any improvement.
Overall, across the six schools, we reduced the average idling time by 38%,
Oscar reported. Pretty cool, huh?

afforded five minutes to give comments.


Many industry groupsincluding the
American Coal Council, the American
Petroleum Institute (API), the American
Forest & Paper Association, the American
Chemistry Council, the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association, and Industrial Energy Consumers of America
sent representatives to offer feedback to the
EPA panel (Figure 2).
Ted Steichen, policy advisor for API, suggested that new ozone standards are simply
not needed. Steichen said that the current 75
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4. Taking a stand. Demonstrators gathered to plead for a new, lower ozone limit
while the public hearing took place in an auditorium across the street. Source: POWER

ppb limit is working to protect air quality and


public health. He also stressed the negative
effects a lower standard would have on the
economy and jobs, as did most of the industry representatives who testified. Allen Biaggi, speaking on behalf of the Nevada Mining
Association, questioned the science behind
the rule.
Research has strongly suggested elevated, naturally occurring ozone levels occur throughout the arid West due to native
vegetation. Other naturally occurring phenomenon, such as wild fire, also make contributions, Biaggi argued. It is poor public
policy to impose restrictions on man-made
sources to compensate for naturally occurring conditions.
However, the vast majority of comments came from students (see sidebar),
parents, and representatives of environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club,
the Environmental Defense Fund, and
Earthjustice, some of whom had loaded
onto buses in Southern California as early
as 1 a.m. to make the trip north for the 9
a.m. start time.
Asthma and other health-related issues associated with smog were the main reasons
proponents cited for supporting a lower limit.
To raise awareness of the issue, many of those
who testified before the panel in Sacramento,
and some members of the California Nurses
Association, demonstrated publicly in Cesar
Chavez Plaza Parkacross the street from the
hearingafter lunch on Feb. 2 (Figure 4).
The EPA says its proposal will expand
the ozone-monitoring season for many
states and update the Air Quality Index to
ensure people are notified when air quality
is unhealthy.
Since 1980, national average ozone
levels have decreased 33%. The agency
says that it will issue a final rule by Oct.
1, 2015.

Aaron Larson and Thomas W. Overton,


JD are POWER associate editors.

POWER April 2015

GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES

Are Simple Cycles or Combined


Cycles Better for Renewable
Power Integration?
Its been called filling the duck pond, and its the increasingly common challenge worldwide of balancing supply and demand when variable renewables are not feeding power to the grid. Gas-fired generation is often filling
the pond, but the technology mix matters.
Bonnie Marini, PhD

Dispatching with Renewables in


the Mix
Understanding what will happen when more
renewables are on a grid is not simple. The
72

reaction of an individual solar or wind plant


is a localized, time- and weather-dependent
event. One attempt to explain what might
happen was presented by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in 2013.
Figure 1 shows a curve called the California duck. The lines plotted are net load
the amount of generation that needs to be
provided by nonrenewables sourcesover
the course of a 24-hour day with each line
representing a different year. The top line, or
the back of the duck, is 2013 and the bottom,
or belly of the duck, is 2020, when California is set to produce 33% of its power from
renewable resources. It is worth noting that
California is currently considering a 50% renewable portfolio, which would result in an
even lower belly.
What can be seen from the duck is that the
solar power generated during the day will result in a need for nonrenewable resources to

ramp down in the morning and ramp up in


the evening. A glance at this curve can result
in an impression that most of the other generation on the grid will need to ramp on and
off in order to support the renewables; however, the y-axis is cut off at 11 GW. Figure 2
shows the same information with the graph
expanded down to zero. The blue area below
the duck, the nonrenewable generation, is the
largest share of generation. If environmental
protection is a goal of the renewable initiatives, then it is clear that making the right
choice for this blue duck pond is even more
important than the renewable duck itself.
The driving concern for filling the duck
pond is the large ramp at the belly of the duck
going down and at the neck of the duck going
up. Figure 3 shows an example of total and
nonrenewable load over the course of a day.
The blue line depicts total demand and the
lower red line is the net load, which in this

1. The California duck. The lines represent net load (the difference between forecasted
load and expected electricity produced by variable renewables) over the course of a 24-hour day
with each line representing a different year. The top line, or the back of the duck, is 2013 and the
bottom, or belly of the duck, is 2020, when California is set to produce 33% of its power from
renewable resources. Source: California Independent System Operator (CAISO)
27
25
23

Net load (GW)

he growing portfolio of renewable


power generation around the world has
made the selection of the appropriate
partnering technology a topic of great interest. With solar and wind power dependent
on the whims of Mother Nature, reliable,
dispatchable, and flexible power generation
needs to be available to ensure a robust and
reliable supply of electricity. Making the right
technology selection requires balancing concerns about grid stability, the environment,
and economics to ensure demand is met.
Providing reliable electricity means succeeding in instantaneously meeting demand
with supply. Though electricity storage continues to show promise, the amount of practical, economic storage is limited, so the vast
majority of electricity has to be produced as
it is consumed.
Because electricity demand is constantly
changing, the system has always needed to
be able to increase and decrease the amount
of power generated throughout the day. The
weather dependency of renewables has introduced a new variable to power dispatchersa
fluctuating supply of energy from renewable
resources. A concern has been raised by some
power producers that these two drivers could
combine in a way that might require many
facilities to start and stop multiple times a
day to fill the gap. Some have concluded that
the solution is to add more simple cycles, but
recent research with advanced dispatch modeling suggests that a balanced portfolio of
flexible gas-fired combined cycles and simple cyclesvery similar to a mix one might
have chosen before renewablesis a better
option for the future.

21
19

Increased
ramp

17
Significant change
starting in 2015

15

Potential
over-generation

13
11
0 1

4 5 6 7

www.powermag.com

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Hour

POWER April 2015

GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES
2. The duck pond of nonrenewable
generation in CAISO. The blue area

3. Daily demand. This chart of load and net load on Feb. 24, 2013, shows that even without
renewables, power has to ramp up and down in order to meet demand. Source: CAISO

27
25
23
21
19
17
15
13
12
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Load Net load

Load & net load (GW)

Net load (GW)

represents nonrenewable generation. Source:


CAISO/Siemens

The duck pond


nonrenewable generation

28
27
26
25
24
23
22
21
20
19
18
0

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Hour

istence of the ramp but simply the amount


of energy that needs to ramp. Changes in
weather, demand, and plant availability will
cause this curve to shift every day to meet the
power demand.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1112 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2021 22 23

Hour

case is defined as the nonrenewable load.


This figure shows that even without renewables, power had to ramp up and down
in order to meet demand. The difference between the past and the future is not the ex-

Economics Drive Dispatch


To gain a broader understanding of how
future dispatchable resources will need to
behave in order to accommodate increased
renewable generation, data developed in two
recent studies of future dispatch behavior

were evaluated with a specific focus on what


types of plants will be needed to accommodate increased renewables. One study was
conducted by CAISO and the other was conducted by the Ventyx Corp.
The results of both studies indicate that the
majority of demand fluctuations will be supported by combined cycles. Even in a future
grid, with an increase in highly fluctuating
renewables, simple cycles will still play a roll
but will be used primarily for low-dispatch,
peaking demands.

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73

GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES
4. Best fits. This modification of the duck
pond chart shows where simple cycle plants
(red) and combined cycle generation (blue) are
best fits. In the area between, the best technology depends upon plant-specific circumstances. Source: Siemens

Reliable plant startup

2013

10%20%
capacity
factor

Fast, controlled
ramp up & down

On grid control

250

Less than
10%

200

2015

150

MW

Net load (GW)

27
25
23
21
19
17
15
13
12
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
4

5. Typical daily operation at SCC5-8000H in Irsching, Germany. This plant


starts quickly in the morning, follows demand during the day, shuts down in the evening, and
repeats the pattern the next day. Source: Siemens

More than 20%


capacity factor

100

50

April 8, 2013

April 9, 2013

0
0:00 2:24 4:48 7:12 9:36 12:00 14:24 16:48 19:12 21:36 0:00 2:24 4:48 7:12 9:36 12:00 14:24 16:48 19:1221:36 0:00 2:24

Time

Flexible Combined Cycles for Load


Following
Combined cycles, especially modern flexible
combined cycles like Siemens Flex-Plant are
capable of meeting large, fast load changes.
Modern combined cycles are getting so fast
that they can exceed simple cycles in flexibility and benefit to the grid.
Siemens Flex-Plants, for example, can
start fast and ramp up quickly, offering full
gas turbine power in less than 15 minutes and
full combined cycle power in about 30 minutes. They also offer high-efficiency operation over a wide range of available output and
can quickly load follow over this available
range. The higher efficiency of combined
cycles also means they are dispatched and
operating more often, and are therefore able
to provide frequency support for the grid.
A good example of a flexible combined
cycle is the Siemens H-Class power plant
74

6. Winter renewables scenario. This chart simulates a winter day on the Huntington
Beach grid. Source: Ventyx Inc.
35
Wind
Demand

Generation (GW)

30

Net demand
Solar

25

Simple cycle

20

Combined cycle

15

Hydro
Gas-fired steam turbine

10

Cogen
5
Biomass/geothermal
0
1

24

Hour

Coal-fired steam turbine


Nuclear

7. Combined cycle contribution. This chart is a simulation of the ramping support


from combined cycle power plants on the Huntington Beach grid. Source: Ventyx Inc.
Combined cycles:
Ramp rate of >2,500 MW/hr
12
10

Generation (GW)

The driver is economics. Driven by the


levelized cost of electricity, simple cycles
are typically dispatched <10% and combined
cycles are typically more advantageous over
20% dispatch. The grey area in between depends on the actual plant configuration and
conditions.
Transferring these criteria to the duck
pond, you can see in Figure 4 the area showing where simple cycles make the best economic choice. Combined cycles are a better
choice for the rest of the pond if they can
meet the fluctuating demandand analysis
and history shows that they can. (Ed.: For
studies suggesting other potential solutions
that may be part of the picture, see California Plans for Even More Renewable Power in
Its Future at powermag.com.)

8
6
4
2
0
1

that has been operating since 2012 in Irsching, Germany. Figure 5 shows an example
of the plant operation as it starts quickly in
the morning, follows demand during the day,
shuts down in the evening, and repeats this
pattern the next day.
www.powermag.com

24

Hour

With Siemens Flex-Plants there is no need


to trade efficiency for flexibility. This plant
exceeds 60% net combined cycle efficiency
and can add 500 MW of generation to the
grid in 30 minutes. Operating Flex-Plants
in the U.S. include Lodi Energy Center in

POWER April 2015

GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES

45

Wind

Demand

Solar

40

Generation (GW)

Simple cycle

Net demand

35
30

Cogen

25

Combined cycle

20

Hydro

15

Biomass/geothermal

10

Gas-fired steam turbine

Coal-fired steam turbine

Nuclear

24
Hour

Lodi, Calif. (see Are Flexible Generation


Plants Performing as Expected? in the
March issue of POWER) and the Temple
and Sherman plants in Texas. Unlike most
simple cycles, combined cycles often have
a very large load range, enabling them to
ramp up and down without having to shut
down and restart.

Conventional Combined Cycles


It isnt only the new flexible combined cycles

that can meet changes in load demand. Even


conventional combined cycle technology has
been used to meet changing loads.
An example of dispatch on a grid with
renewables is shown in Figure 6. This is
a simulation of a winter day on the Huntington Beach grid in California. Many
of the plants modeled are not advanced
Flex-Plant combined cycles but are conventional cycles.
Figure 7 focuses on the energy provided by

Gas: Simple cycle


Generation (GW)

50

9. Summer cycles. In summer as well,


combined cycles can respond to the majority
of the demand change in this Aug. 1, 2023,
simulation. Source: Ventyx Inc.
20
15
10
5
0

Generation (GW)

8. Summer scenario. This simulation projects generation for Aug 1, 2023, on the same
grid shown in Figure 6. Source: Ventyx Inc.

20
15
10
5
0

11

13
Hour

15

17 19

21

23

17 19

21

23

Gas: Combined cycle

11

13
Hour

15

combined cycles and shows that they are providing the majority of the ramping support.
The power from combined cycles ramps up
and down to cover two peaks during the day.
The magnitude of the energy supplied makes
it practical to use large combined cycle plants
to support this need. The red line toward the
top of Figure 6 represents the simple cycles.
In this case they are dispatched; however,
they are not used to cover the changes in demand. Their dispatch is rather flat, and the
amount of energy dispatched is minimal. It is
less costly and more environmentally friend-

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GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES
10. Texas two cycles. As in Californias solar scenario, combined cycles are an important
technology for responding to variable wind generation in Texas. Source: Ventyx Inc.
40,000

Solar

25,000

Simple cycle

20,000

Combined cycle

15,000

Hydro

10,000

Gas-fired steam turbine


Coal-fired steam turbine

5,000

Nuclear

0
1

Hour

24

ly to use the combined cycles to cover large


demand changes.
Figures 8 and 9 show a projected summer
day in Huntington Beach. Again, the dispatch
of the simple and combined cycles show that
the larger share of demand change is supported by combined cycles. In this case, the
overall demand is high, and the simple cycles
are dispatched to meet the peak in demand.
This dispatch order on a high-renewable grid
is similar to the dispatch order on a conventional grid. Combined cycles dispatch first
because they offer a lower cost of generation
and are followed by simple cycles to meet
peaks in demand. There is no indication of a
need for more simple cycles to support load
changes.
Similar data was extracted for a node in
Texas, which has the largest supply of wind
power in the U.S. Figure 10 illustrates that
the same phenomenon can be observed there
as well. The vast majority of load changes
are supported by combined cycles first.
Simple cycles are used primarily for peak
demand and are not critical for supporting
the large ramps in load that were seen in the
past, or the even larger ramps in load that
are expected in the future. Combined cycles
are able to change load quickly and ultimately dispatch first due to the lower cost
of generation.
While conventional combined cycles offer
advantages over simple cycles for renewable
integration, modern Flex-Plant combined
cycles offer significantly more capability.
Instead of only leveraging the benefits in
ramping capability, these newer, more flexible plants can start as fast as a simple cycle,
making multiple restarts viable.

Combined Cycles Win, Win, and


Win
It seems rare when a choice is better in functionality, cost, and environmental footprint,
but for high-dispatch plants, combined cycles
win in all three areas. Flexible combined cycle power plants support renewables by being
more efficient, cleaner for the environment,
and flexible to meet the change in demand.
76

15,000
10,000

Generation (MW)

Generation (MW)

Wind

30,000

Generation (MW)

Combined cycle

35,000

5,000
0

Hour

24

Simple cycle
1,000
800
600
400
200
0

Hour

24

Higher efficiency results in a lower cost


of generation. Electricity from a combined
cycle can be on the order of one-third the
cost for electricity from a simple cycle.
Higher efficiency, offered in combined cycles, also means less greenhouse gas generation. Simple cycle efficiencies are in the
range of 35% to 40%, while combined cycle
efficiencies are in the range of 55% to 61%.
For every MW generated, a combined cycles burns about 35% less fuel than a simple
cycle and, consequently, produces 35% less
carbon dioxide.
Fewer starts means less CO generation.
Gas turbines typically produce more CO in a
start than they do in 10 hours of operation, so
leaving the plant running at low load is actually better for the environment than turning it
off for a few hours.
A running engine also supports grid frequency. Most renewable generation does not
provide rotating inertia, which is needed to
maintain the grid at 60 Hz; however, gas turbines, help enforce speed stability. Grids without enough units producing rotating inertia
need to add equipment, like synchronous condensers, to help stabilize the grid frequency.

Starting and Stopping


Considerations
With all of these advantages, one may wonder why simple cycles are getting any attention at all. The reason often brought up is the
economics of starting.
Historically, heavy duty gas turbines were
designed to run for very long periods of time
without stopping and to require service after a certain number of starts. Aeroderivative gas turbines, based on aircraft engines,
are designed to start and stop frequently and
dont require service after a set number of
starts. If an engine is started frequently, the
service-related costs can change the economics of the plant, resulting in an advantage
for an aeroderivative engine. This is why at
first glance, plants expecting to start and stop
multiple times may look at an aeroderivative
simple cycle as a good solution. However,
even in the case of plants expecting multiple
www.powermag.com

starts on a given day, this costly simple cycle


approach is not optimum.
The worst day doesnt happen every day.
A plant may actually start three times in a
given day, but dispatch modeling shows that
even at very high cycling plants, this happens
infrequently. When looking at service costs,
the number of starts a year is the critical factor. Even high-starting plants dont start an
average of more than once a day.
Different plants will dispatch differently.
If a simple cycle peaker is compared with a
combined cycle, the duty cycles will not be
the same. The lower levelized cost of electricity typically drives simple cycles to dispatch <10% of the time. A combined cycle
will have an overall higher dispatch, have
much longer runs, and will therefore stop
and start less often than the simple cycle.
The same duty cycle shouldnt be used for
both plants.
For those simple cycle plants that are
needed, the plants that fill that 10% dispatch window, economic evaluation shows
that typically, frame units in simple cycle are a better economic choice over an
aeroderivative. The benefit of the higher
efficiency of a simple cycle aeroderivative
rarely outweighs the lower capital cost of
a frame unit for low-dispatch applications.
With todays proven dilution selective catalytic reduction options, frame units can
now meet low NOx and CO requirements
and often use much less water than some
aeroderivative options.

The Cure Needs to Be Better Than


the Disease
The primary driver for supporting wind
and solar power generation is protecting
the environment. Solar and wind plants
dont create the pollutants that fossilfired generation creates. Yet, while rules
and legislation are popping up around the
globe supporting or demanding renewable
generation, there is little or no discussion
about the partnering technology that may
be needed to support renewable resources
to firm the power supply.
As this article shows, the duck pond
of nonrenewable generation is much bigger than the renewable duck itself. Given
the information and experience available
today, it may be the right time to revisit the
requirements for fossil generation. With
the right approach, we can ensure that the
clean renewable portfolio is supported by
an environmentally conscious mix of generation that can ensure reliable power for
the future.

Bonnie Marini, PhD (bonnie.marini@


siemens.com) is director, 60 Hz Solutions
Product Line for Siemens Power and Gas.

POWER April 2015

APRIL 2023, 2015


Rosemonts Convention Center
Chicago, IL
Co-located with ELECTRIC POWER

PRB Coal Users Group 15th Anniversary Celebration


Monday, April 20 5:00 9:00 PM
Race to the nish line with Milka Duno as we round out 15 years! Talent, beauty
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car driver Milka Duno one of the most successful female race car drivers
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relax and enjoy the ride with hot hors doeuvres, open bar, music, prizes, awards
recognition and networking while viewing photos from years past. Round the night out
by visiting with Milka and getting her autograph during this celebration blowout!

After an evening of awards and celebration, conference sessions kick off with a panel
of experts discussing where the coal industry is headed, providing timely updates and
discussing new standards in the works.
State of the Industry Where is coal going in this country?
Beyond the Plant of the Year How the Best Plants Keep Improving
OSHA 1910.269 Standard What Does it Mean to Me?
Update on EPA Regulations Impact on Coal and Importance of Fuel Diversity
Emergency Preparedness & Response Standard and What Else is Going On in D.C.
And more!

Join hundreds of coal power professionals in Chicago April 20-23


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FUNDAMENTALS

Understanding Electrical Fire


Hazards at Electric Generating
Stations
Minimizing the impact of electrical fires in power plants requires a combination
of prevention, compartmentalization, detection, and suppression strategies. But first, everyone in a plant needs to understand the hazard.
Dominique Dieken, PE, CFPS

ires at electric generating stations are


rarebut not as rare as one might think.
Loss history at hydroelectric facilities,
for example, shows that fires involving electrical equipment other than generators and
transformers account for the highest likelihood of experiencing a fire.
Although the majority of electrical fires
are small and extinguished quickly, some
have had severe consequences. Occurrences
at Thermalito Power Plant (California) in
2012, Detroit Dam (Oregon) in 2007, and
Watts Bar Hydroelectric Plant (Tennessee)
in 2002 resulted in major electrical fires. In
almost all cases, the fires caused forced shutdowns, some for a year or more. The loss of
generation as the result of an electrical fire
often outweighs the actual fire damage.
If damaged cables cannot be spliced, large
sections of cables must be replaced. If the
fire is severe, concrete buildings can be damaged through spalling. Even after a relatively
small fire, smoke and soot removal can cost
several millions of dollars in facilities with
large open spaces. For example, cleanup
costs at Thermalito were reported at approximately $90 million, with a total cost of the
fire around $200 million.

The Hazard
Electrical equipment carries energy and comprises combustible materials in the form of
insulation. Electrical fires typically follow a
fault and result in a smoldering slow-growth
fire that can eventually become self-sustaining while growing exponentially. Products of
combustion usually involve thick dark smoke
(Figure 1).
Electrical fires are Class C fires; however,
the term electrical fire is something of a
misnomer, as it is the combustible insulation that burns, rather than the conductor or
the electrons. Once the energy source is removed, electrical fires become Class B fires.
Unlike flammable/combustible liquid
78

fires, electrical equipment fires are typically


slow-spreading. Breakers usually fail suddenly and catastrophically. In many cases,
there is no ensuing fire, and the damage is
contained to the breaker and its housing.
However, when there are nearby combustibles (such as cable trays), the extreme heat
can cause a major fire.
Electrical hazards are different than special hazards (such as turbines, conveyors,
hydro generators, and the like) because electrical wiring, motors, and breakers proliferate
throughout the plant. It is feasible and common industry practice to provide fixed fire
protection equipment for the special hazards,
but not necessarily for common hazards. In
other words, it is usually impractical to provide fire suppression systems throughout the
entire powerhouse.

Establish Risk Tolerance


It may seem obvious that it is every owners
goal to prevent and protect against electrical fires, but it is not quite that simple. The
reduction of fire risks has a priceboth in
monetary cost and in equipment accessibility. Owners must therefore establish their risk
tolerance before fire protection solutions can
be applied. In other words, the lower the risk
tolerance, the more elaborate the fire prevention and protection solutions will be.
The nuclear power industry, being at the
vanguard of risk assessment, has driven
methodologies for determining an owners
risk tolerance. This tolerance defines fire
protection objectives. The four common categories are summarized below:

Category III: Both cable damage and faulting are acceptable, but fire propagation is
not. Cables can be repaired with a minimal
plant outage.
Category IV: The total loss of all electrical
equipment within the fire compartment is
acceptable; however, the fire should not
spread beyond the compartment.

There is no right or wrong category;


the important thing is that owners realistically determine their risk tolerance. In the
authors experience, most generating stations
fall into Category II or III.

Flame-Retardant Cable
The bottom line is that almost all cable in-

1. Where theres smoke This photo


shows a full-scale fire test of a cable tray arrangement typically found in power plants.
Courtesy: Mike Mowrer, HSB Professional
Loss Control

Category I: No electrical faults or cable


damage are acceptable.
Category II: Limited cable damage such
as charring is acceptable, but faulting is
not. A fire event would not result in a plant
shutdown, and damaged cable will be replaced at the next scheduled outage.
www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

FUNDAMENTALS
sulation burns because it is made of a combustible thermoplastic. There are numerous
standards for assessing and limiting the
flame spread of cable insulation, and many
publications have been written on this subject
alone. Although some of the test standards attempt to duplicate what is likely to happen
under large-scale conditions, most tests only
evaluate the flammability and fire propagation of a single cable. It is important to understand that these tests are conducted in a
laboratory under a specific set of conditions,
usually with the goal of comparing different
cables with each other. The biggest problem
with these tests is that they cannot predict the
actual configurations in which the cables will
be installed.
Recognizing this limitation, the flame
spread index can be used as an indicator of
fire risk. Generally, FM GlobalApproved
Group 1 cables, cables with a flame spread
index less than 10, or a flame spread distance
of 5 feet or less when tested in accordance
with National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) 262, are recognized as non-propagating, whereas others are considered
propagating.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to perform an accurate assessment of the cable
types and their flammability ratings in existing facilities, especially at older plants, where
documentation may be lacking and the cable
layout has been modified over the years. In
addition, age can affect the physical properties of the insulation.
The advancement of fire-retardant cables,
although positive, is not the alpha and omega
of fire protection, and flame-retardant cables are not a substitute for proper fire protection methods. The conservative approach
is to treat all cables as propagating unless
there is satisfactory evidence to the contrary.

2. High risk. Numerous vertical levels of wide, stacked trays present a challenging fire protection situation. Courtesy: Dominique Dieken

3. Reduced risk. Lightly loaded narrow cable trays have a lower fuel load and, thus, a lower
fire risk. Courtesy: Dominique Dieken

Fire Protection Solutions


The most effective strategy to minimize the
impact of electrical fires is a combination of
prevention, compartmentalization, detection,
and suppression.
Obviously, prevention is most desirable,
but it has limitations simply because it is
not practical to remove all ignition and fuel
sources. The idea of compartmentalization
is to limit fire spread by using fire barriers.
Detection alone alerts personnel to a developing fire, but it does not play an active role
in suppressing and extinguishing the fire.
Suppression acts by stopping fire growth and
reducing fire size. Detection and suppression
together not only alert personnel but also
involve taking automatic mitigating action,
usually without human intervention.
The remainder of this article presents
some common fire prevention and protec-

April 2015 POWER

tion techniques used against electrical fires.


These can be used individually or together,
in a systematic approach to fire protection.
Some can be performed easily and inexpensively while others are quite costly.
Electrical Equipment Layout. The best
opportunity for prevention presents itself
during the design stage. Unfortunately, the
drive for low installation costs and ignorance
are responsible for aggravating electrical fire
hazards, which can be difficult and expensive
www.powermag.com

to mitigate once a facility is constructed.


Locating electrical equipment in such a
way that it is not unnecessarily exposed by
other potential fire hazards should be a key
design goal. Also, the geometry of grouped
cables should be such that the fire hazard is
minimized. Fire likes to travel in a vertical
direction, and fire intensity is exponentially
proportional to the stacked height of the fuel.
For example, flame spread in vertical trays
can be three to 10 times faster than in hori79

FUNDAMENTALS
4. No! This cable tray penetration through a
wall lacks firestopping. Courtesy: Dominique
Dieken

5. Yes! This cable tray penetration through


a wall has proper firestopping. Courtesy: Dominique Dieken

zontal trays. For this reason, vertical cable


shafts and vertical stacking of cable trays
present the highest fire risks with grouped
electrical cables (Figure 2).
Good electrical layout includes keeping
control cables and power cables well-separated, avoiding running cable trays directly
over other fire hazards (such as hydraulic
equipment) or where they are exposed to
potential ignition sources, and minimizing
vertical stacking. Also, cable trays should
not be overloaded. Two lightly loaded cable
trays are preferable over one stuffed tray
(Figure 3).
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has
developed free calculation tools, including a
spreadsheet that calculates the full-scale heat
release rate of a cable tray fire of a given area
using various types of insulation. Although
this does not apply to stacked trays, it could
be useful to designers in configuring layout.
80

A better alternative to cable trays consists


of routing cables in metallic conduit, where
feasible.
Firestopping. Cables passing through
openings in substantial walls, ceilings, or
floors should always be sealed against the
spread of fire and smoke (Figure 4). This
requires a special method using noncombustible materials.
Fire codes and the National Electrical
Code require that any penetrations through
a rated fire barrier be properly sealed in accordance with a listed method that matches
the hourly fire resistance rating of the fire
barrier/division being penetrated (Figure
5). The idea is to restore the integrity of the
fire barrier after making the openings for the
penetrations. Even if the barrier being penetrated is not a code-required fire barrier, it
is still a good idea to provide firestopping to
prevent fire spread from one compartment to
another.
For large and complex penetrations
such as cable trays, firestopping is usually
performed by a dedicated trade due to the
necessity for special knowledge and training. The proper design and installation of
firestopping is beyond the scope of this article; thus, if in doubt, an engineer and/or
firestopping contractor should be consulted.
Relatively easy applications within reach
of most plant staff include ceramic wool,
firestop foam plugs, and modular firestop
pillows. Care should be taken to install the
sealing system in strict accordance with the
manufacturers instructions.
Fire Detection. The purpose of detection
is to either provide early warning of a developing fire or as a trigger for an automatic
extinguishing system. In the early warning
mode, the goal is to have notification of a fire
while it is in its incipient stages so that facility personnel can notify the fire department,
shut down equipment, and take first-aid suppression actions. It is therefore critical to not
only locate detectors in accordance with minimum code requirements but also in a manner
that their technological abilities are used to
the best possible advantage.
Many methods of fire detection are available, but for most areas, spot-type smoke detectors offer an adequate level of protection.
Such detectors should be installed throughout all areas where electrical equipment and
cables are present. NFPA 72, National Fire
Alarm and Signaling Code, and the detector
listing must be adhered to for an adequate
and reliable installation. The standard 30foot maximum detector spacing is reduced
significantly if the ceilings comprise beams.
There is no minimum detector spacing, and
the closer the spacing, the faster the response
will be.
www.powermag.com

Photoelectric smoke detectors are preferred to ionization smoke detectors for


electrical fires, as they respond faster to slowgrowth smoldering fires. The fastest response
smoke detection is an aspirating air-sampling
system, which approaches the sensitivity level of the human nose, but such systems also
carry a higher price tag and require frequent
maintenance. A very effective and relatively
inexpensive method of fire detection for
cable trays is to install linear fire detection
cable (such as Protectowire) in a zigzag arrangement on top of the cables in a tray. In
this arrangement, a controller monitors a
continuous nominal current flow through the
wire. If the controller senses a change in current flow due to increasing temperature, an
alarm is initiated.
It should be noted that the presence of
smoke detectors in air-handling equipment
is not a substitute for area fire detection, because the sole purpose of duct detectors is to
shut down air-handling equipment to avoid
spreading smoke and fire within the equipment or from the outside.
Fire Protection for Cable Trays. The
decision of when to provide fire suppression is less clear-cut than when to provide
detection. Although complex methodologies for calculating propagation rates, timeto-ignition, and tray heat release rates have
been developed, these offer little practical
use to those performing field-based fire
hazard analyses.
In very broad terms, if the cable loading is light and/or the cable arrangement
is such that a fire is unlikely to propagate
along the trays, then suppression is usually
not warranted. Unfortunately, the definitions
for light and heavy are subjective. FM
Global has developed a more user-friendly
method of analyzing horizontal and vertical
cable tray spacing necessary to prevent fire
spread for propagating cables. The criteria
involve physical separation between the trays
ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 times the width
of the tray in a vertical direction and 1 to 1.5
times in a horizontal direction. For example,
to prevent propagation, 24-inch wide trays
should be vertically separated from each other by 6 feet and horizontally by 2 feet. Such
separation distances are seldom found in actual installations.
The provision of fire suppression should
be considered for large concentrations of
grouped cable similar to those found in cable
spreading rooms, under the floor of computer
and/or control rooms, and multiple stacked
vertical trays in cable tunnels, as the consequence of the fire damage in these areas is
typically too great to accept.
If it is determined that all cables are
nonpropagating or have propagation flame

POWER April 2015

FUNDAMENTALS
6. Standing guard. This cable gallery is
protected by sprinklers (red pipe at ceiling).
Courtesy: Dominique Dieken

spread distance of 5 feet or less when tested


in accordance with NFPA 262, water spray
protection may not be necessary, as stipulated in FM Global Data Sheet 5-31. If the
need for suppression has been determined,
automatic sprinkler protection should be
considered first. Wet sprinklers are the
most reliable and least costly method of
fire suppression and have been shown to
be well-suited for cable exposures (Figure
6). For complex cable tray arrangements,
deluge water spray or gaseous suppression
agents (carbon dioxide or clean agents)
should be considered.
Manual Fire Suppression. Because
electrical fires are slow-growth fires, many
have been successfully extinguished in their
early stages by plant employees or fire departments using portable extinguishers subsequent to de-energization of the applicable
electrical circuit.
As previously noted, the key to successful manual extinguishment is early detection.
The preferred extinguishing agent is carbon
dioxide, as it is nonconductive, leaves no residue, and is inexpensive. Dry, multipurpose
powders also yield adequate extinguishment,
but they are corrosive and leave a residue,
which can mean additional damage and
downtime.
Consideration should also be given to the
judicious placement of wheeled fire extinguisher carts in areas with higher concentrations of electrical equipment. Wheeled
units are capable of delivering much higher
agent flow and stream ranges than standard
handheld fire extinguishers and thus furnish
increased fire-extinguishing effectiveness.
Wheeled units are movable, can safely be
used by one person, and fall under the training requirements of portable extinguishers
per NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire
Extinguishers. They are a very effective tool
for both facility personnel and the fire department, which should not be overlooked.
Good Housekeeping. Last but not least,
electrical equipment areas often tend to be

used as storage areas, workshops, and break


rooms. Technicians like to keep their tools
and supplies close to their work spaces, and
others think of these areas as ideal out-ofthe-way locations for anything that doesnt
fit in closets. Of course, the problem with this
practice is that the ignition and combustibility limitations intended by the designers and
codes are defeated.
For example, countertop appliances introduce ignition sources, while paper towels,
packaging materials, and furniture increase

the fuel load. The likely fire consequence


will be drastically different in a space with
good housekeeping than in a space with poor
housekeeping practices. The bottom line is
that electrical rooms should not be used for
any other purposes than what they are intended for.

Dominique Dieken, PE, CFPS is a


consulting engineer with 26 years of fire
protection experience. He specializes in
performing risk assessments in the power
generation field and other heavy industries.

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81

PLANT DESIGN

Leveraging Generation Synergies


with Hybrid Plants
Everyone loves efficiencies. Combining generation technologies can create a
plant thats more than the sum of its parts, but engineering challenges
mean these projects are not for the faint of heart.
Thomas W. Overton, JD

hen you think of hybrids these


days, your first thought is probably
of automobiles. But hybrids
hybrid power plants, that isare starting to
emerge in the power sector as well.
Co-locating different types of generation
on the same site is far from a new idea. Where
an existing plant has the space, its typically
far simpler and less expensive to build on
the unused land rather than a greenfield site.
Many large coal- and gas-fired thermal plants
have a few combustion turbines intended for
peaking duty parked in a corner of their lot.
What is a new trend is combining generation resources with the intent of using their
respective performance characteristics to
compensate for each others shortcomings
to essentially create a plant thats more than
the sum of its parts and that can do more than
the two resources acting independently.
The impetus for this new trend is the enormous increase in wind and solar generation
over the past decade and the degree to which
the intermittency of wind and sunlight has
become an area of concern for generators
and grid operators. With other generators being called upon to compensate for fluctuating output from wind farms and solar plants,
plant developers have begun looking at ways
of combining resources to reduce this intermittent output. (Note: This article will not
address examples where small amounts of renewable generation have been added to large
fossil plants, as these are not true hybrids.)

Solar + Gas: Bringing the Heat


The combination that is probably furthest along
in terms of installed capacity is integrated solar
combined cycle (ISCC). All of the half-dozen or
so existing ISCC plants combine concentrating
solar power (CSP) with a conventional combined
cycle plant, using steam generated by the CSP
system to reduce fuel consumption from the gas
turbines during the day. The main benefit of this
combination is that the two systems employ the
same steam cycle, making for substantial cost
savings over a conventional CSP plant. It also
increases efficiency of the combined cycle plant
and reduces total emissions per megawatt.
82

The combination works best where there is


both ample solar irradiation and an economical source of fuel for the gas turbines. Not
surprisingly, most of the completed ISCC
plants so far are in North Africa.
Spanish firm Abengoa Solar has led most
of the development in this field. Its first utilityscale plant to commence operations was the
150-MW plant in Hassi RMel, Algeria, which
began construction in 2008 and came online
in mid-2011. The plant uses about 180,000
square meters (m2) of solar collectors to add
around 25 MW of output to the gas plant.
Abengoa has also built a similar facility in
Morocco, Ain Beni Mathar, which combines
a 470-MW combined cycle plant (supplied
by Alstom) with 20 MW of CSP (Figure 1).
Ain Beni Mathar also came online in 2011.
A third plant, in Kuraymat, Egypt, developed
by the New & Renewable Energy Authority,
has a capacity of 140 MW, 20 MW of that
from CSP.
Not all ISCC plants were built as greenfield projects. Some have involved adding
CSP to an existing combined cycle facility.
Of these, Florida Power & Lights (FPLs)
Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center (a 2011 POWER Top Plant) is the largest,
with 75 MW of CSP generation. Retrofitted
to the existing 3,700-MW Martin County
Power Plant and coming online in 2010, the
464,000 m2 CSP field sends its steam to the
adjacent 4 x 1 combined cycle Unit 8.
The Martin plant has experienced some
growing pains, with multiple leaks of heattransfer fluid from the CSP system. The plant
has fallen short of its projected generation as a
result of these hiccups as well as from the challenges of synchronizing operations with Unit 8
so that the CSP fields output is used efficiently.
FPL has been frank that the facility was meant
as a test-bed for the technology, but it believes
Martins performance will improve over time.
Other large ISCC projects are in development. GE announced in January that it had
been awarded the contract to supply the turbines and steam cycle for the 600-MW Green
Duba ISCC in Saudi Arabia. The facility in
the northwest region of the country will comwww.powermag.com

bine a two-unit, 550-MW GE combined cycle


plant with 50 MW of CSP capacity. (Vendors
for other elements of the plant have not yet
been selected.)
Its worth pointing out that most ostensibly
CSP-only plants actually include a certain
amount of gas-fired capacity to augment the
CSP system. This added capacity is typically
used to reheat the system in the morning and
smooth output during cloudy periods, but is
not run continuously.
The 100-MW Shams 1 CSP plant in the
United Arab Emirates (a 2013 POWER Top
Plant), also built by Abengoa Solar, deserves
special mention. Shams uses a gas burner during normal operations to further heat the heattransfer fluid in between the solar collectors and
the boiler. This increases the systems overall efficiency, but it also means that about 45% of the
plants net electricity output comes from gas.

Solar + Biomass: Double Duty


Combining CSP with biomass generation
enables synergies similar to the CSP-gas hybrids discussed above. The first such plant
came online in 2012 in Les Borges Blanques,
Spain (Figure 2). The 22.5-MW Termosolar Borges plant, developed by Abantia and
Comsa Emte using components from MAN
and Siemens, integrates the CSP oil loop into
the biomass burners. Steam generated by the
CSP loop is superheated in the burners, and

1. Solar synergy. The Ain Beni Mathar integrated solar combined cycle plant in eastern
Morocco can generate 470 MW of electricity,
with up to 20 MW of that contributed by a
concentrating solar power system. Courtesy:
Dana Smiley/World Bank

POWER April 2015

PLANT DESIGN
2. Mixed greens. The Termosolar Borges
plant near Barcelona, Spain, combines biomass and concentrating solar power. Courtesy: Abantia

cycle generators. This combination increases


the efficiency and stability of the geothermal
cycle, and boosts total power output by about
2 MW. Using a common control system and
other equipment resulted in substantial savings compared to a standalone CSP system:
Adding the CSP generation to Stillwater cost
only around $15 million.

brid plant in the worlda 320-MW solar plant


having been added to the existing 1.28-GW
Longyangxia hydroelectric station in Qinghai
Province in central China. Though very little
information is available about the project, the
solar farm apparently came online in 2013,
though the dam has been operating since 1992.

Solar + Wind: All Clear


Solar + Hydro: Rare
At least one solar-hydro hybrid system is in
operationone that is arguably the largest hy-

The response from renewable energy advocates to criticisms of intermittent output has
often been that the intermittencies of wind

at night, power is provided solely by biomass.


Natural gas is used for backup, as necessary.
Another CSP-biomass hybrid plant came
online in Italy in 2014 as the result of a CSP
retrofit to an existing biomass plant. The 14MW Rende project in Calabria, Italy, operated by Falck Renewables, was originally built
in 2000. A 1-MW Fresnel-type CSP system
was added last year.
A number of other such plants have been
proposed in the U.S., India, and North Africa,
but so far none are online.

Solar + Geothermal: Clean Steam


Geothermal generation offers much the
same synergy for solar as does natural gas,
except that it requires no fuel and produces
no emissions. The drawback is that such hybrid systems are limited to areas where both
geothermal resources are available and there
is sufficient solar irradiation. Fortunately,
a number of such locations exist across the
western U.S. and other areas.
The first, and so far largest geothermal-solar
hybrid facility is the Stillwater plant in Fallon,
Nev., (a 2012 POWER Top Plant) which came
online in May 2012. Owned and operated by
Enel Green Power North America, Stillwater
combines a 33-MW geothermal plant with 26
MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The combination achieves several synergies. The geothermal system is at its lowest
efficiency during the middle of the day (when
its air-cooled condensers struggle with the
ambient heat), the same period that the PV
panels are at their highest output. Conversely,
the system is at its highest efficiency during
cool nighttime hours when the solar panels
are offline. The combination allows the plant
to stabilize its production and achieve a more
load-following profile.
In 2014, Stillwater boosted its capacity by
adding an adjacent CSP field, supplied by
SkyFuel, which is integrated with the geothermal system. Heat from the CSP system
about 17 MWtis added to the geothermal
brine before it enters the organic Rankine
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83

PLANT DESIGN
3. Complementary power. A German study simulating output from a 21.6-MW
solar/9.4-MW wind hybrid plant would have a considerably smoother output than either plant
standing alone. Courtesy: Solarpraxis/Reiner Lemoine Institute
Wind Photovoltaics
4,000
3,500
3,000

MWh

2,500
2,000
1,500
1,000
500
0
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

and solar generation tend to cancel each other out, at least in theory. Solar output is highest during the middle of the day, while wind
generation tends to peak during the night.
This synergy, however, can be reduced if the
two resources are widely separated such that
grid operators must still work to balance the
competing outputs across the grid.
Co-locating wind and solar generation could
allow plant operators to control intermittency
at the source, greatly reducing the burdens on
the grid. A 2013 study conducted by the Reiner

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

All this being said, however, most such facilities remain on the drawing board because
of the need for favorable locations. One operating example is EDF Renewables 143-MW
Catalina Solar Project and 140-MW Pacific
Wind Project outside Lancaster, Calif., which
leverages the regions nexus of ample wind
resources, extensive insolation, and policy
support. The wind farm was completed in
2012; the solar plant reached full operation in
2013. Though built as separate projects, the
two plants are about a mile apart and share
electrical and transmission infrastructure.
According to EDF, the combined operation
results in power output around 50% to 60%
of the time compared to 35% to 40% from
either plant operating alone.

Dec

Lemoine Institute in Berlin and Solarpraxis


found that combining wind and solar generation on the same site can result in up to twice
the amount of electricity being generated across
the same surface area, with the shading effects
of the turbines found to be minimal (Figure 3).
The fact that wind and photovoltaic power
supply the grid with much more stable levels
of energy when working together has a positive effect on grid stability, Christian Breyer,
managing director of the Reiner Lemoine Institute said when the study was released.

Wind + Hydropower: Full Coverage


Pumped storage hydroelectric generation is
a resource that is tailor-made for pairing with
renewable generation. One such example currently exists on the Spanish island of El Hierro
in the Canaries (see A Spanish Islands 100%
Wind-and-Water Power Solution in the August
2014 issue). There, an 11.5-MW wind farm and
an 11-MW pumped storage hydropower plant
provide the island with 100% renewable energy. When there is excess generation from the
wind turbines, the electricity is used to pump
water from a lower reservoir 700 m uphill to
an upper reservoir. When demand exceeds what
the wind turbines can provide, water is released
and run back through the pump turbines.
The system, which came online in 2014,
frees the island from dependence on expensive imported fuel oil, the bane of many an
island grid. The project has been successful enough that feasibility studies are being
conducted for other islands in the European
Union such as Crete and Madeira.
Morocco is reportedly developing a 1-GW
wind-hydro hybrid plant, but it is unclear
how far along this project is.

Future Outlook
Though some of these projects and combinations show considerable promise, the hybrid
plant sector is still in its infancy and still experiencing growing pains. The synergies and
complementary technologies of gas and CSP,
not to mention the substantial expense of standalone CSP plants, is likely to mean that ISCC
will continue its lead for the foreseeable future.
Geographical challenges of other types of hybrids, such as those including geothermal and
hydro, may limit their adoption. Still, the potential that hybrid plants offer in managing renewable intermittency means that they are likely to
draw increasing attention as the proportion of
renewable generation continues to grow.

Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER


associate editor.
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POWER April 2015

W E S T I N G H O U S E E L E C T R I C C O M PA N Y L LC

NO COMPANY IS

MORE
COMMITTED
TO SUPPORTING
OPERATING
NUCLEAR PLANTS

Westinghouse
Electric Company

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NUCLEAR SAFETY

Seismic Hazard Resiliency at U.S.


Nuclear Power Plants
Since the beginning of the U.S. commercial reactor industry, regulatory agencies have required that nuclear power plant designs take into account
the potential threats posed by natural hazards such as earthquakes and
floods. The tsunami-caused disaster in Japan in 2011 prompted renewed
attention worldwide on these hazards.
Gail Reitenbach, PhD

iven the devastation caused at Japans


Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power
Station by the tsunami that was triggered by the Mar. 11, 2011, magnitude 9.0
Great East Japan Earthquake, its no wonder
that many people both inside and outside
of the power industry have raised questions
about the vulnerability of the U.S. nuclear
fleet to similar natural disasters. The questions about plants sited on oceans have been
particularly acute.
No power plant can guarantee that it will
never incur any damage from major natural
disasters. However, there is a long history of
regulatory review and requirements in the
U.S. nuclear sector concerned with such
risks. As new knowledge about geology, seismic and tsunami risks, and operational and
design best practices emerges, regulatory
oversight also has changed.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC), its predecessor agencies, and nuclear
industry groups have all pursued initiatives to
consider risks from natural phenomena, such
as earthquakes and floods. Even though the
NRC is recognized as the preeminent nuclear
regulatory body internationally, concerns
about the safety of nuclear plants were understandably heightened by the Japanese disaster. This article looks at the current level
of seismic risk assessment as it concerns
both earthquakes and seismically triggered
tsunamis and recent responses to the latest
understanding of that risk. Details of specific
plant changes to equipment and procedures
are beyond the scope of this article.

Tsunami Risk
It is important to remember that the massive
destruction at the Fukushima Daiichi units was
directly and indirectly caused by the tsunami,
not the triggering earthquake. For U.S. coastal
nuclear plants, thats mostly good news.
According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the original design basis tsunami
86

height for the Fukushima Daiichi plant was


3.1 meters. That was based on assessment of
the 1960 Chile tsunami. The plant was actually built about 10 meters above sea level
with the seawater pumps 4 meters above sea
level. In 2002 the design basis was revised
to 5.7 metres above, and the seawater pumps
were sealed. Tsunami heights coming ashore
were about 15 metres, and the Daiichi turbine
halls were under some 5 metres of seawater
until levels subsided. . . . The maximum amplitude of this tsunami was 23 metres at point
of origin, about 180 km from Fukushima.
The WNA adds: In the last century there
have been eight tsunamis in the region with
maximum amplitudes at origin above 10 metres (some much more), these having arisen
from earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 to 8.4, on
average one every 12 years.
In the continental U.S., tsunamis are not
unheard of; however, the threat posed by
tsunamis hitting U.S. coasts cannot easily be
extrapolated from tsunamis elsewhere, as seismic behavior is very region- and site-specific.
As one example, Pacific Gas & Electric
(PG&E), owner and operator of the Diablo
Canyon Power Plant (DCPP), has evaluated
the possible effect of three tsunami sources: those from large distant earthquakes,
from local offshore earthquakes, and from
landslides. The company says that, For
the distant tsunami, a wave height of 6.1
m was used based on the largest observed
wave heights along the California coast
(Crescent City) from distant earthquakes.
This wave height is larger than anything
observed in the vicinity of Diablo Canyon,
and it is combined with storm waves and
tides to give a total wave height of 8.4 m
above mean sea level. For the local tsunamis, a tsunami wave height of 2.6 m was
estimated based on modeling of tsunamis
generated from local offshore earthquakes.
It is combined with storm waves and tides
to give a total wave height of 9.8 m above
www.powermag.com

mean sea level. The 9.8 m height is the design basis.


PG&E has also looked at the possibility of
a wave larger than design basis and found that
beyond design basis wave heights could be
generated from large offshore landslides, but
they are very rare (2 in a million chances per
year). Tsunami [waves] reaching the height
of the power block (25.9 m) have about a 1 in
7 million chance per year.
In 2010, as part of its Long Term Seismic Program update, PG&E conducted an
exploratory trial application on its own of a
draft Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Analysis (PTHA) for the DCPP site. As PG&E
told POWER in early March, this was a pilot study only for how to potentially conduct
a PTHA and did not represent a definitive
analysis. The NRC later issued guidance to
the industry on how to reevaluate flooding
hazards, and the utility is submitting that report on Mar. 12 (as this issue goes to press).
In brief, that report, which looked at tsunami
sources, including underwater earthquakes
and landslides, shows the new tsunami height
that could potentially impact the plant is approximately 30 feet.
Although most people think of California as the most seismically active, the
East Coast also has had earthquake and
tsunami activity.
In a 2013 presentation to the Seismological Society of America, John Ebel, a Boston
College seismologist, suggested that New
England could be most vulnerable to future
tsunamis. Several earthquakes on the edge of
the Atlantic continental shelf in 2012 (magnitudes between 2 and 3.5) have prompted
more attention to the potential for East Coast
tsunamis. Though these recent quakes were
relatively small, a 1929 magnitude 7.2 earthquake, also at the edge of the continental
shelf, triggered a tsunami that hit southern
Newfoundland, Canada, with water as high as
13 m. That tsunami killed 28, displaced tens

POWER April 2015

NUCLEAR SAFETY
1. Minor repair required. The minor earthquake-caused damage experienced at the two
North Anna units in August 2011 cracked mortar and concrete. Necessary repairs were completed prior to restart. Courtesy: Dominion Generation

of thousands, and caused massive damage.


Natural Resources Canada says the tsunami
was recorded along the eastern seaboard as
far south as South Carolina and across the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. Though Ebel notes
that more research is necessary to better characterize any future risk, the basic conditions,
and precedent, are there.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says
the Pacific Coast states are most vulnerable to
tsunami and lists seven recorded earthquakegenerated tsunami events that have affected

the U.S. According to the USGS, tsunamis can


be triggered by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and by onshore
landslides in which large volumes of debris
fall into the water. All of these triggers can occur in the United States.
A 2005 report, The Tsunami Threat to
California, prepared by the state after the
devastating Sumatra tsunami of Dec. 26,
2004, says that Over 80 tsunamis have
been observed or recorded along the coast
of California in the past 150 years, 9 caus-

ing minor damage in ports and harbors and


2 with major impacts. Four events caused
deaths; the worst occurred in 1964 when 12
people died in California from the tsunami
generated by the Great Alaska earthquake.
Though the report did not mention nuclear
plants specifically, it did note that withdrawing waves can damage power plants that use
seawater for cooling.
Although the original licenses for U.S.
coastal nuclear plants were issued before we
knew much about tsunami hazards, regulators
did consider flooding from hurricane storm
surges, which the NRC says are expected to be
greater than flooding from potential tsunamis.

Earthquakes Affecting U.S.


Nuclear Plants
The only time an earthquake has forced a
U.S. nuclear plant offline was in August
2011 (five months after the Fukushima accident), when a magnitude 5.8 quake with an
epicenter 11 miles from Dominions 1,865MW North Anna Power Station in Mineral,
Va., knocked both units offline. North Anna
was also the first U.S. plant to experience an
event that exceeded its design basis.
Both units shut down immediately, automatically, and safely. Though the plant lost

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87

NUCLEAR SAFETY
off-site power from the switchyard, back-up
power from diesel generators picked up the
load within 8 seconds, as designed, and the
station returned to off-site power later that
evening. Details of the stations immediate
actions and recovery plan were published in
POWERs November 2012 issue: Dominions North Anna Station Sets New Standard
for Earthquake Response. Because such
events are rare and Dominion successfully
handled the response to this quake, we recommend reading this account.

As that earlier article noted, the plant


fared quite well: While the ground force
accelerations from the earthquake did exceed North Annas licensed design basis
for about 3 seconds, the stationbuilt with
multiple layers of safetysustained no
functional damage to safety systems, structures, or components. In fact, the extensive
engineering analysis completed by the company demonstrated that it could have safely
withstood a quake well above that experienced (Figure 1).

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GC 140681

Future Seismic Risks


As seismic hazard assessment improves, in
part from knowledge gained from new earthquakes as well as new monitoring, modeling,
and analysis techniques, some plants that
were designed for one level of seismic risk
will be found to be sited in an area with a
different level of risk. Thats the case with
the most currently contentious plant, Diablo
Canyon Power Plant.
DCPP, near San Luis Obispo, Calif., has
two 1,100-MW Westinghouse pressurized
water reactors and was designed to withstand
the strongest potential earthquakes from four
known faults (magnitude 6.75), as understood at the time construction began in 1965.
During construction, the plant was upgraded
to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake after the Hosgri Fault was discovered by geologists surveying the continental shelf for
oil and it was postulated that this fault might
produce a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Safetyrelated modifications were made (Figure 2),
and the units went online in 1985 and 1986.
More recently, the Shoreline Fault was
found in 2008, less than half a mile from the
plant. That has led to public concern that the
plant may not be able to withstand a quake
originating along that fault. Knowledge about
this newly discovered fault has led to, among
other actions, environmental group Friends
of the Earth filing a petition with the NRC
in August last year to shut down the plant,
whose operating licenses expire in 2024 and
2025. Friends of the Earth claims the NRC illegally allowed the utility to operate the plant
outside of the conditions of its license as regards seismic hazards. In February the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
agreed to hear the case. (For more details on
the controversy see POWERs Dec, 4, 2014,
coverage in Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant:
Solid as a Rock or Ready to Crumble? at
powermag.com.)
PG&E spokesperson Blair Jones told
POWER, Diablo Canyon was built with
earthquake safety at the forefront, is a seismically safe facility, and is in compliance with
NRC licensing requirements. Friends of the
Earth is mischaracterizing the facts regarding
the seismic design of the facility, and we look
forward to providing the court with factual
information, including why the Friends of the
Earths petition is meritless.
PG&Es website says the Long Term Seismic Program continually assesses seismic
safety at the facility. The LTSP is a unique
program in the U.S. commercial nuclear power
plant industry. It is comprised of a geosciences
team of professionals who partner with independent seismic experts on an ongoing basis to
evaluate regional geology and global seismic
events to ensure the facility remains safe.

CIRCLE 48 ON READER SERVICE CARD


88

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

NUCLEAR SAFETY
2. Seismic bracing. When a new, potentially more hazardous fault was discovered off-

3. Seismic survey. PG&Es seismic

shore during construction of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the turbine building was strengthened by the addition of external concrete buttresses, the addition and/or thickening of concrete
shear walls, reinforcement of the main columns, strengthening of floor diaphragms, and the
addition of new bracing in the exterior walls and roof. Equipment upgrades included the addition of back-up air accumulators for various air-operated valves; strengthening of the supports
for heat exchangers, filters, pumps, tanks, and pipes; and strengthening of electrical equipment,
switchgear, relays, motor controllers, and battery racks. Courtesy: PG&E

research has included the use of stateof-the-art 3D PCable equipment to survey


offshore fault systems, which provides
detailed imaging that is difficult to capture
with traditional 2D multichannel data. Courtesy: PG&E

That work included low- and high-energy


seismic research in 2012 that used equipment onboard a research vessel that generated low-energy sound waves that were
directed toward the ocean bottom. An array
of sensors, or hydrophones, towed behind
the vessel captured the sound waves as they
reflected back to the surface. The data were
recorded and used to create a detailed threedimensional map of offshore seismic faults,
according to PG&Es website.
Seismometers were also deployed on the
sea floor as passive listening devices that
are used to detect and record seismic activity near the plant, which is then analyzed
by experts.
In September 2014, PG&E sent to the
NRC and the California Public Utilities
Commission a report based on this research.
In the news release about the report, Senior
Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Ed
Halpin was quoted as saying, This research
effort, utilizing the latest technologies, demonstrates Diablo Canyon continues to be
seismically safe. . . . These studies provide
scientists and regulators an unprecedented
scientific analysis of the seismic characteristics near Diablo Canyon.
As a result of both extensive oil and gas exploration and PG&Es unique seismic research
program (Figure 3), there is general agreement
that the seismic region around Diablo Canyon

April 2015 POWER

is among the most studied and understood in


the nation. PG&Es Jones told POWER that the
new seismic reevaluation, filed with the NRC
on Mar. 12, reconfirms the plants earthquake
design basis. In the event of a beyond-designbasis earthquake, the company will use FLEX
equipment to provide cooling.

Regulating Safety in Response to


Seismic Risk
Nobody can guarantee that Diablo Canyon
or any other nuclear power plant will never
experience a beyond-design-basis earthquake
or tsunami, but what regulators can do is ensure that operators adhere to all the applicable orders and regulations.
U.S. nuclear plants were originally designed using a deterministic approach accounting for maximum earthquake potential
and local geology. The NRC defines safe
shutdown earthquake (SSE) as the maximum earthquake potential for which certain structures, systems, and components,
important to safety, are designed to sustain
and remain functional. In 1997, the NRC
published new geologic and seismic criteria
through which the SSE and uncertainties are
addressed through a probabilistic seismic
hazard analysis.
The NRC explains probabilistic risk assessment as A systematic method for assessing three questions that the NRC uses
www.powermag.com

to define risk. These questions consider (1)


what can go wrong, (2) how likely it is, and
(3) what its consequences might be. These
questions allow the NRC to understand likely
outcomes, sensitivities, areas of importance,
system interactions, and areas of uncertainty,
which the staff can use to identify risk-significant scenarios.
The NRC website has voluminous information about seismic risks, the regulatory and
guidance history as it relates to these risks, as
well as the most recent technical documents
created in response to the Japanese disaster.
This article must necessarily provide only
an overview; those interested in the details
should consult the NRC website.
Assessing Seismic Risk. Since the first
U.S. commercial reactors were built, the
NRC and its predecessors have required that
nuclear power plant design take into account
known hazards. Regarding seismic risks,
even plants that are not located in areas of
extensive seismic activity are designed for
safety in the event of such activity.
For operating plants, the NRC used a deterministic process that requires that safety-significant structures, systems, and components
be designed to take into account:

The most severe natural phenomena historically reported for the site and surrounding area. The NRC then adds a margin for
error to account for the limited historical
data accuracy.
Appropriate combinations of the effects of
normal and accident conditions with the
effects of the natural phenomena.
The importance of the safety functions to
be performed.

In the 1980s, the Electric Power Research


Institute (EPRI) and the NRC (through Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, LLNL)
each issued seismic hazard estimates. In Janu89

NUCLEAR SAFETY
4. 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Map. This map displays the intensity of
potential ground shaking from an earthquake within 50 years (the typical lifetime of a building).
Courtesy: USGS

ary 2012, the NRC, EPRI, and the Department


of Energy issued a joint study with updated
seismic source characterization of the central
and eastern U.S. (www.ceus-ssc.com), which
is being used for new assessments.

The USGS provides more general information about earthquakes and updates the
national seismic hazard models and maps,
typically every six years. In its 2014 update of its national seismic hazards maps

(Figure 4), the USGS found that While all


states have some potential for earthquakes,
42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance
of experiencing damaging ground shaking
from an earthquake in 50 years and that
the areas most likely to experience a magnitude 6 or greater quake are along the
west coast, intermountain west, and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S., such as near New Madrid, MO,
and near Charleston, SC.
Re-assessments dont necessarily result
in finding increased risk. In California, for
example, the 2014 update found that earthquake hazard extends over a wider area than
previously thought. Most notably, faults were
recently discovered, raising earthquake hazard estimates for San Jose, Vallejo and San
Diego. On the other hand, new insights on
faults and rupture processes reduced earthquake hazard estimates for Irvine, Santa Barbara and Oakland.
Design Basis. NRC licensing of U.S.
nuclear plants has involved using historical earthquake data for each site to determine the design basis loads from the areas
maximum credible earthquake, with an additional margin included. Existing plants
were required to assess their potential vul-

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POWER April 2015

NUCLEAR SAFETY

Recent Seismic Hazard and Evaluation Resources


Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the regulatory body for U.S. nuclear plant operation, various industry groups
provide information and training that relates to awareness, assessment, and response to seismic hazards. In addition, the Electric
Power Research Institute (EPRI) has an active research program
covering many aspects of nuclear operations, including seismic risk
assessment and response. Some EPRI reports are available only to
members, but others are publicly available from epri.com. Brief
descriptions of a selected list of recent EPRI resources follow.

5. EPRI shake table testing of large components.


Shake tables can generate different vibrational frequencies to assess
the functional response of various components, such as these circuit
breakers. These tables can fully simulate earthquake motion in all directions: side-to-side, front-to-back, and up-and-down. Courtesy: EPRI

Central and Eastern United States Seismic


Source Characterization for Nuclear Facilities (NRC
NUREG-2117, EPRI 1021097, DOE/NE-0140, Jan.
2012). This report describes a new seismic source characterization
(SSC) model for the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS). The
objective of this project is to develop a new seismic source model
for the CEUS using a Senior Seismic Hazard Analysis Committee
(SSHAC) Level 3 assessment process. The goal of the SSHAC process
is to represent the center, body, and range of technically defensible
interpretations of the available data, models, and methods. Input
to a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis consists of both SSC and
ground motion characterization. These two components are used
to calculate probabilistic hazard results (or seismic hazard curves)
at a particular site.

Seismic Walkdown Guidance: For Resolution of


Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendation
2.3: Seismic (1025286, June 2012). This report provides
guidance and procedures to perform the Recommendation 2.3: Seismic walkdowns, including selection of personnel, selection of a sample of SSCs that represent diversity of component types and ensures
inclusion of components from critical systems/functions discussed
in the NRC letter, conduct of the walkdowns, evaluation against the
plant seismic licensing basis, and reporting requirements.

Seismic Evaluation Guidance: Screening, Prioritization and Implementation Details (SPID) for the
Resolution of Fukushima Near-Term Task Force
Recommendation 2.1: Seismic (1025287, Feb. 2013).
This report outlines a process and provides guidance for investigating the significance of new estimates of seismic hazard and, where
necessary, performing further seismic evaluations. This guidance
is primarily designed for use in responding to the NRCs Near Term
Task Force Recommendation 2.1: Seismic evaluations. It includes a
screening process for evaluating updated site-specific seismic hazard
and ground motion response spectrum estimates against the plant
safe shutdown earthquake and high confidence of low probability of
failure capacities. It also provides a selected seismic risk evaluation
criteria as well as spent fuel pool evaluation criteria.

Seismic Evaluation Guidance: Augmented Approach for the Resolution of Fukushima NearTerm Task Force Recommendation 2.1: Seismic
(3002000704, May 2013). This report outlines a process
for responding to the seismic evaluations requested in the NRCs
50.54(f) letter under Recommendation 2.1: Seismic. It includes a
near-term expedited seismic evaluation process followed by plant
risk evaluations in accordance with EPRI report 1025287.

EPRI (2004, 2006) Ground-Motion Model (GMM)

April 2015 POWER

Review Project (EPRI 3002000717, June 2013). This


report describes the EPRI Ground-Motion Model Review Project,
which developed an updated GMM for the CEUS for use by licensees
of nuclear generating plants to respond to the NRCs Request for
Information dated Mar. 12, 2012.
Seismic Probabilistic Risk Assessment Implementation Guide (3002000709, Dec. 2013). This report
provides updates to the guidelines and approaches for seismic probabilistic risk assessments (SPRAs) that were published in the initial
2003 EPRI report on this issue. It addresses important concepts,
some of which are approached in different ways by different parties.
These include the definition and use of SPRA screening criteria; the
incorporation and treatment of seismically induced fire or flooding
events; the potential for an earthquake to cause very small loss-ofcoolant accidents; relay chatter; and the modeling of correlation of
failures for multiple pieces of equipment of similar design and in
similar locations. The report provides references to supplement technical descriptions and examples of the methods and results.

High Frequency Program: High Frequency Testing Summary (3002002997, Sept. 2014). This report describes phase 2 of EPRIs High Frequency Program, which documents
high frequency seismic testing of a diverse set of 153 common
plant control components (Figure 5). Summaries of the achieved
capacities for each component are provided in the form of tables
of averaged spectral accelerations over the 20 to 40 Hz range. The
majority of components passed the high frequency testing at levels as high as the test tables could achieve, which is considered
well above levels earthquakes could be expected to produce. In
cases where the components did not successfully achieve those
high seismic levels, comparisons are made with previous seismic
testing results in the 4.5 to 16 Hz range performed on the same
components. In each case, the component high frequency capacity
is equal to or greater than the previous 4.5 to 16 Hz range capacity.
The testing performed in this program did not identify any unique
high frequency component sensitivity.

www.powermag.com

91

NUCLEAR SAFETY
nerability to quakes, including those that
might exceed the design basis, as part of the
Individual Plant Examination of External
Events Program, a one-time assessment performed in the 1990s that took into account
EPRI and LLNL hazard estimates at the
time. The NRC explains that any new nuclear plants licensed will use a probabilistic,
performance-based approach to establish
the plants seismic hazard and the seismic
loads for the plants design basis.
9/11 Response. Although the Sept. 11,

2001, terrorist attacks didnt involve earthquakes, the steps required by the NRC in
response to the attacks include those that
could also add a level of safety in response to
natural disasters such as earthquake, tornado,
flood, and tsunami. In general, they require
plans, procedures, and pre-staged equipment whose intent is to minimize the effects
of adverse events.
NRC regulations require all nuclear plants
to maintain or restore cooling for the reactor core, containment building, and spent fuel

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pool under the circumstances associated with


a large fire or explosion. These requirements
include using existing or readily available
equipment and personnel, having strategies
for firefighting, operations to minimize fuel
damage, and actions to minimize radiological release to the environment.
Fukushima Response. After the midMarch 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the NRC established the Near Term
Task Force (NTTF), which issued a report
making a series of recommendations, some
of which were to be acted upon without unnecessary delay. The task force submitted
its report in July 2011, and its recommendations (detailed online) have guided NRC
actions, which have been broken into three
tiers of activities: Tier 1without delay, Tier
2as resources become available, and Tier
3long-term study.
On Mar. 23, 2011, just days after the Japanese tsunami, the NRC directed its inspectors to
assess how U.S. plants were responding to the
events in Japan. Inspectors were to verify that
important equipment and materials are adequate
and properly staged, tested, and maintained in
order to respond to a severe earthquake, flooding event, or loss of all electrical power. Inspections were completed by end of April 2011.
The inspection reports are publicly available
for each plant on the NRC website.
The NRC also issued a 50.54(f) Letter requesting information to confirm
that its recommendations were being addressed by all U.S. nuclear plants. (Note
that the NRC was already looking at new
seismic hazards prior to the Fukushima
accident.) An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) report, Seismic Walkdown
Guidance: For Resolution of Fukushima
Near-Term Task Force Recommendation
2.3: Seismic, provides guidance for conducting the seismic walkdowns required
by that letter. As the summary of the
EPRI report explains, every U.S. nuclear
power plant was required to perform seismic walkdowns to identify and address
degraded, non-conforming or unanalyzed
conditions and to verify the current plant
configuration with the current seismic licensing basis. The nuclear power industry
and the NRC agreed to cooperate in the
development of guidelines and procedures
to perform these walkdowns.
The manner of achieving that goal on
what EPRI characterized as an aggressive
schedule entailed using a sampling procedure that aligns the scope of the effort with
the required schedule while achieving the
objectives of the walkdowns. (For more
EPRI resources concerning this issue, see
the sidebar.)
That sample:

POWER April 2015

NUCLEAR SAFETY
includes representative items of equipment needed to safely shut down the reactor and maintain containment integrity.
In some cases, equipment lists from the
Individual Plant Examination for External Events (IPEEE) that were developed
for plants in the early 1990s can be used
to identify the sample items. The sample
needs to be suitably diverse across a
spectrum of plant safety-related equipment including different classes of equipment. In keeping with the lessons learned
by over thirty years of industry investigation of earthquake effects on mechanical and electrical equipment, the Seismic
Walkdown Guidance includes a focus on
equipment anchorage and seismic spatial
interactions, as well as consideration of
other potentially adverse seismic conditions such as seismically-induced fire and
seismically-induced flood.
Following the NRCs initial review of
those walkdown reports, a November 2013
NRC letter notes that regulatory site audits
were conducted at a sampling of plants.
Based on the walkdown reports and site audits, the NRC requested additional information within 30 days. It found that licensees
interpretations of the seismic walkdown
guidance varied, which resulted in meaningful differences in the process used, and in
particular, the application of engineering
judgment in determining what constituted a
potentially adverse seismic condition. The
NRC closed out all outstanding walkdown
issues with site-specific assessment reports.
Additional work is ongoing, including sitespecific seismic hazard reassessments and
follow-up plant-specific evaluations using
the updated seismic hazards.
As for the three tiers of activities to be
undertaken in response to the Japanese accident, the NRC is addressing them with
orders, requests for information, and rulemaking. Tier 1 activities (those conducted
without delay), each detailed on the NRC
site, are:

Mitigation strategies: To enhance the capability to maintain plant safety during a


prolonged loss of electric power (order).
Containment venting system: To provide a
reliable hardened containment vent system
for boiling water reactors with Mark I [the
design at the Fukushima Daiichi plant] or
Mark II containment designs (order).
Spent fuel pool instrumentation: To provide
a reliable wide-range indication of water
level in spent fuel storage pools (order).
Seismic reevaluations: To reanalyze potential seismic effects using present-day in-

April 2015 POWER

formation to determine if safety upgrades


are needed (request for information).
Flooding hazard reevaluation: To reanalyze
potential flooding effects using present-day
information to determine if safety upgrades
are needed (request for information).
Seismic and flooding walkdowns: To inspect existing plant protection features
against seismic and flooding events, and
correct any degraded conditions (request
for information).
Emergency preparednessstaffing and
communications: To assess staffing needs
and communications capabilities to effectively respond to an event affecting multiple
reactors at a site (request for information).
Station blackout mitigation strategies: To
enhance the capability to maintain plant
safety during a prolonged loss of electrical
power (rulemaking).
Onsite emergency response capabilities:
To strengthen and integrate different types
of emergency procedures and capabilities
at plants (rulemaking).
Filtration and confinement strategies: To
evaluate potential strategies that may further confine or filter radioactive material if
core damage occurs (rulemaking).

On July 9, 2014, the NRC approved


consolidation of many post-Fukushima
rulemaking activities and renamed it Mitigation of Beyond-Design-Basis Events.
The final rule schedule remains unchanged;
the final rule package is due to the NRC in
December 2016. The scope includes station
blackout mitigation strategies (SBOMS) and
onsite emergency response capabilities. The
NRC says that The Mitigation of Beyond
Design Basis Events rulemaking will permanently write into the agencys rules the
requirements already imposed by the Mitigation Strategies Order that was issued by
the NRC on March 12, 2012. The eventual
rule will ensure that if a plant loses power,
it will have sufficient procedures, strate-

gies, and equipment to cope with the loss


of power for an indefinite amount of time.
It will also strengthen and integrate various
emergency response capabilities at nuclear
power plants.

Safe Enough?
There are no 100% guarantees where Mother
Nature is concerned, even with the strongest
precautions. However, the NRC quickly responded to concerns raised by the accident in
Japan by calling for speedy inspections, assessments, and actions.
As noted, when new information becomes available, the NRC is charged with
reviewing and responding to it. The NRC
says, The newest seismic data suggests
that although the potential seismic hazard
at some nuclear power plants in central and
eastern states may have increased beyond
previous estimates, all operating nuclear
plants remain safe with no need for immediate action.
Todays U.S. operating environment
presents both challenges and hope for nuclear plant owners. Although low natural gas
prices currently challenge the economics of
some nuclear plants, even many in the environmental community see nuclear power
as a necessary component of a lower-carbon
future. As long as high capital costs present seemingly insurmountable barriers to
new nuclear capacity, it seems clear that it is
in the best interest of existing facility owners to do their utmost to ensure that those
plants can safely withstand seismic hazards.
Though they cannot ensure there will be no
earthquakes, they can take all appropriate
precautionary measures to ensure that if a
facility is affected by a previously unforeseeable event, the facility has all necessary
equipment and procedures in place to mitigate the damage.

Gail Reitenbach, PhD is POWERs


editor. Contributing Editor James Hylko
contributed to this article.

Women in the Power Industry


If you are a woman in the power generation industrywhether
you work in a plant or corporate office, with an engineering or
consulting company serving the industry, or for an equipment
manufacturerwe want you to be part of a follow-up to our
landmark 2008 report, Workforce Management Lessons
from Women in Power Generation. In order to participate,
youll need to join the POWER-sponsored LinkedIn group
named Women in Power Generation. Join before April 24 to
ensure that your input is included!

www.powermag.com

93

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POWER April 2015

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POWER April 2015

ADVERTISERS INDEX
Enter reader service numbers on the FREE Product Information Source card in this issue.
Page
AECOM

Reader
Service
Number

Reader
Service
Page Number

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 . . . . . . . .47
Goodway Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 . . . . . . . .31

www.aecom.com

www.goodway.com

AMEC Foster Wheeler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 . . . . . . . .18


Harco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 . . . . . . . . 7

www.amecfw.com

www.harcolabs.com

AREVA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 . . . . . . . .20
Indeck Power Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 . . . . . . . .40

www.us.areva.com

www.indeck.com

ASME

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 . . . . . . . .36
Kiewit Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 . . . . . . . . 2

www.go.asme.org/powerenergy

www.kiewit.com

Baldor Electric. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 . . . . . . . .16


KIMA

www.baldor.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 . . . . . . . .46
www.kimae.de

Belt Tech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 . . . . . . . .43


KSB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 . . . . . . . .37

www.belttech1.com

www.ksbusa.com

Beumer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 . . . . . . . . 9
Lightning Eliminators. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 . . . . . . . .13

www.beumer.com

www.lightningprotection.com

Brand Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . 5
Lubrizol/Corzan Industrial Systems... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 . . . . . . . .48

www.beis.com

www.corzancpvc.com

Brandenburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 4 . . . . .49


Magnetrol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 . . . . . . . .17

www.brandenburg.com

www.magnetrol.com

Calgon Carbon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 . . . . . . . .35


Martin Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 . . . . . . . .45

www.calgoncarbon.com

www.martin-eng.com

Carver Pump . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 . . . . . . . .29


Matrix Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 . . . . . . . .32

www.carverpump.com

www.matrixservice.com

Chanute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 . . . . . . . .41
MD&A

www.chanutemfg.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 . . . . . . . .23
www.mdaturbines.com

Check-All Valve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 . . . . . . . .10


Mitsubishi Power Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 . . . . . . . . 6

www.checkall.com

www.mpshq.com

CIRCOR

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 . . . . . . . .44
NRG Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 . . . . . . . .12

www.circorenergy.com

www.nrgenergy.com

Clarke Industrial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 . . . . . . . .14


Orion Instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 . . . . . . . .33

www.clarkeindustrialengineering.com

www.orioninstruments.com

Diamond Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 . . . . . . . .21


Process Barron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 . . . . . . . .42

www.diamondpower.com

www.processbarron.com

Dow Water & Process Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 . . . . . . . .27


Rentech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 2 . . . . . 1

www.dowwaterandprocess.com

www.rentechboilers.com

Enercon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 . . . . . . . .30
Siemens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . . 3

www.enercon.com

www.siemens.com

Ethos Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 . . . . . . . .26


Sulzer Turbo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 . . . . . . . .28

www.ethosenergygroup.com

www.sulzer.com

ExxonMobil Asia Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 . . . . . . . . .


TerraSource Global . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 . . . . . . . .19

www.mobilindustial.com

www.terrasource.com

ExxonMobil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . 4
United Rentals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 . . . . . . . .24

www.mobilindustial.com

www.unitedrentals.com

Fairbanks Morse Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 . . . . . . . .39


Westinghouse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 . . . . . . . .50

www.fairbanksmorse.com

www.westinghousenuclear.com

Fluke Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 . . . . . . . .34


Winsted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 . . . . . . . . 8

www.fluke.com

www.winsted.com

Fluor Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 . . . . . . . .25


Zeeco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 . . . . . . . .15

www.fluor.com

www.zeeco.com

GE Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 . . . . . . . .11
www.ge-mcs.com

April 2015 POWER

www.powermag.com

99

COMMENTARY

The Export-Import Banks


Role in Supporting
Renewable Energy
Uduak Essien

enewable energy is on the rise, and the Export-Import


Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is playing its part
to support American renewable exporters in the global
marketplace.
Global installed capacity of renewable electricity over the
last 10 years has increased by over 100%, to 1,560 GW, and
now accounts for 23% of all electricity generation worldwide,
with wind and solar being the dominant drivers of this growth.
China, Canada, Germany, Brazil, and the U.S. are at the forefront in terms of installed capacity; however, smaller countries
are breaking through on the renewables front and providing
significant opportunities for exports supported by international financing.

Win-Win Financing
For more than 20 years, the Ex-Im Bank has been specifically mandated by Congress to support U.S. exporters competing
globally for renewable energy transactions. Since 2009, it has
financed nearly $2 billion in American-made renewable energy
products and services, and in 2014 it authorized $336 million
to support environmentally beneficial exports. Of this amount, a
total of $151 million flowed to three wind farms in Latin America
located in Uruguay and Peru, smaller markets that are up and
coming. These projects benefit from the commercially reasonable
terms of Ex-Im Bank financing for renewables, which include
repayment periods of up to 18 years, fixed interest rates, capitalization of interest during construction, and various options
for payment of the risk premium. Furthermore, the Ex-Im Bank
brings in-house technical expertise to ensure that projects can
operate to specification during the life of the loan, making it a
win-win situation for all involved.
The Peruvian market, for example, recently developed a plan
to encourage the development of renewable projects. This market is not a traditional power market, where borrowers as well
as lenders are enticed by a standard power purchase agreement
with a government utility that shares the same credit standing
as the sovereign in many cases. In existence for the last 30
years, the Peruvian market is a decentralized wholesale market
in which numerous buyers and sellers clear payments with each
other directly, and the process is overseen by a government regulator. In the life of this system, buyers and sellers have always
provided on-time payment, as the proper incentives are in place
to motivate the participants to stand behind their obligations in
a timely fashion.
In support of Siemens wind turbines built in and shipped from
the U.S., the Ex-Im Bank was able to provide financing for the
projects operating in this complex but historically reliable power
market. These transactions represent the banks first power proj100

ect financing in the Peruvian market, as well as Siemens Winds


first sale in Peru. With a strong assurance of repayment, the bank
will support U.S. exporters of renewable products in new markets
to expand the reach of U.S. goods and servicesthereby supporting good-paying U.S. jobs.

Opportunities in India
Another example of how the Ex-Im Bank supports the confluence of U.S. jobs, exports, and renewable technology in international markets is its role in Indias National Solar Mission
(NSM). India is one of the fastest growing renewable markets,
and the Ex-Im Bank was one of the first international lenders
to show support in the early phases of the NSM, ultimately
financing nine projects and over $350 million in the Indian
market. The banks involvement ushered in additional capital
and debt in the Indian solar market and created more opportunities for U.S. exporters.
As India increases its renewable targets in an ambitious quest
to achieve a renewable mix for 16% of its total portfolio, it will
need the deliberate and meaningful engagement of stakeholders
of all types. Opportunities abound for U.S. exporters, who can
partner with India to scale up in such a dramatic fashion.
Indias focus on renewable energy is happening at an auspicious time, as the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels has
fallen dramatically and tariffs in India are near grid parity. According to First Solar, one of Americas leading solar PV manufacturers, the cost of panels has fallen significantly, to $1 per
watt in the last few years. Even with the lower cost of oil, solar
is generally expected to remain competitive.
Small Markets, Big Opportunities
The Export-Import Bank of the U.S. continues to seek ways to
support the sale of proven renewable technologies abroad. Many
countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Jordan, have
recently developed programs to facilitate renewable projects.
Latin America has already demonstrated a strong pipeline in renewables, but some countries are just taking off and therefore
creating even brighter prospects for clean technology exports
from the U.S. These small markets create big opportunities for
U.S. exporters to continue the strong growth of renewable electricity relative to electricity produced by fossil fuels. When there
is reliable technology, the Ex-Im Bank can find a structure that
works in the larger markets as well as the smaller ones.
To learn more about export solutions for your business, visit www.
exim.gov. You can also visit http://grow.exim.gov/contact-exim to
receive your free trade finance guide.
Uduak Essien is managing director, alternative energy of the
Export-Import Bank of the United States.

www.powermag.com

POWER April 2015

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