Power Generation Software
Situated in central Europe, Slovenia continues to rely heavily upon coal as a primary or baseload source of power. Nearly one-third of the country’s power comes from the 1,024 MW Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant installed capacities. In periods of emergency, the plant can cover more than one half of the national demand, consuming between 3.5 and 3.8 million tons of coal annually. This winter, the plant is more vital than ever, ensuring access to reliable, affordable power during an energy crisis in Europe.
“It can be stressful to be under the pressure to make sure we’re providing the power needed,” said Mitja Tašler, TEŠ Plant Manager. “We know our goal, but the problem is there is also external pressure, forcing us to be as reliable as possible. But we’re doing everything that is in our hands, and that makes the pressure easier to handle.”
Beginning 2021, TEŠ started outfitting Unit 6 of the plant with a host of software from GE Digital and GE Steam Power for utmost reliability and efficiency. Generating 600 MW of power, Unit 6 represents a new chapter in the energy supply of Slovenia. It is a modern, ecologically acceptable, and highly efficient unit (Best Available Technology).
The solution package includes:
Reliability Improvement Including Monitoring
- Asset Performance Management (APM) - Reliability, Health & Strategy applications
- Boiler Tubes Health Monitoring (BTHM) with APM Integrity
- Generator Health Monitoring (GHM)
- Valve & Actuator Monitoring System (VAMS)
- Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics (M&D)
- Risk-Based Inspection (RBI)
- Proficy Historian
- BoilerOpt (CombustionOpt & SootOpt applications)
- Fuel Management Advisor (FMA)
- Plant Efficiency Advisor (PEA-PMS)
Šoštanj is switching from mixed O&M concept to value-based maintenance, which also helped plant to receive ISO 55001 Asset Management Certification
“This is something that is pushing us to follow process to maintain assets in a way that keeps costs low and reliability high,” said Mitja Tašler.
GE Digital’s software at Šoštanj includes most of its Asset Performance Management (APM) portfolio deployed in the cloud. The cloud deployment uses real-time data for advanced data analysis and visualization, asset criticality analysis, action management, alerts and cases, as well as metrics and scorecards.
Sostanj deployed GE Digital’s leading APM Reliability application powered by SmartSignal predictive analytics in the cloud. Packaged with Digital Twin blueprints for power plant assets, APM Reliability delivers out-of-the-box failure modes is designed to shorten the time it takes to receive alerts, diagnostics, and time-to-failure predictions on critical investments. Along with Reliability, The APM Strategy application provides visibility into the failure modes and their effects, gives access to asset strategy management and asset strategy optimization features, and supports the ability to schedule outages, upgrades, and inspections in any operating scenario,
With APM Health, Šoštanj enables operator rounds and calibration management to be integrated within Asset Health Manager, removing data silos and giving users a simple interface to perform tasks. The data from APM Health can then be leveraged with other features of APM Reliability such as Root Cause Analysis (RCA), that assists in eliminating bad actors and optimizing maintenance strategies by helping users visualize potential failure causes. To go the extra step to ensure downtime and risk are reduced, the organization also uses GE’s Industrial Managed Services group—that remotely monitors asset performance 24/7/365.
Deployed on-premises, the BoilerOpt software provides TEŠ with insights and supervisory control on how to adapt to the changing characteristics of the various coals used at the plant, while keeping an efficient operation of the boiler across the load range. BoilerOpt increases the boiler efficiency and can reduce NOx emissions, and achieves better control over steam temperatures, reducing the occurrence of tube failures.
The CombustionOpt feature is designed to continuously monitors levels of excess air in the furnace, adjusting dampers, burner tilts, over-fire air, and other controllable parameters to minimize it. Using machine learning (ML), it dynamically determines the optimal fuel and air setpoints for the unit’s goals and constraints, directing the control system to make the necessary adjustments in real-time.
Additionally, the SootOpt feature monitors the cleanliness of various zones of the boiler. When an area is determined to be sub-optimal, the software activates the best soot-cleaning device when and where it is needed. Boiler cleaning leads to reduced boiler tube erosion and excessive thermal shocking, while improving steam temperatures and sprays, and minimizing fouling, plugging, and slagging events.
Risk Based Inspection (RBI) functionality is design to use data generated by the plant’s sensors and outage reports, combined with fleet risk models, to identify and quantify risk, risk drivers, and the lifecycle stage for the main subsystems of the core components (steam turbine and generator). The insights generated through this analysis can then be used as an input to improve maintenance and outage planning. The plant also utilizes
GE’s Generator Health Monitoring (GHM) solution, an integrated modular online monitoring suite. The GHM allows continuous monitoring and condition assessment of critical components of the generator for early identification of issues that has a potential to cause plant shutdowns. The data collected from new electrical and mechanical sensors flows to the local user interface and the GE Monitoring & Diagnostics (M&D) center, where that data is analyzed to provide early detection of potential problems at the components like windings, shaft and bearings.
“We’ve already found an issue with the generator. We only have one, so if it fails, we may be out of generating power for a year, maybe a year and a half. It’s critical we keep it functioning, so knowing there’s an issue gives us time to investigate and plan.”
Branko Debeljak - TEŠ Project Director
The Valve and Actuator Monitoring System (VAMS) in use at the plant provides real-time monitoring of the major failure modes of steam turbine inlet valves and actuators for early fault detection. This system supports changes in the operation of steam power plants, which today are used more and more at a varying load to compensate for the intermittency of renewable power on the grid. Because of that, steam valves have a higher risk of failure as they are now continuously controlled, whereas formerly they would be periodically changed between fully closed and full-open positions only.
GE's Steam Power M&D offering is designed to provide a combination of pro-active and reactive reliability support. The pro-active support is based on the analysis for trends and anomalies of a continuous stream of real time data from the unit's standard instrumentation. The reactive support is provided through a 24/7 technical support desk.
“What we were doing up to now was good, but not great,” said Mitja Tašler. “We now have the tools to move from reactive to proactive maintenance. Everybody in the world talks about digitalization, but simple digitization of documents means nothing. Digitalization means comparing the historical and real-time data and predicting the future incidents and avoid failures.”
TEŠ will further improve reliability, helping provide much-needed power to Slovenia at a more affordable price.
Teamwork = On-Time Deployment
With 320 employees, the TEŠ plant is accustomed to insourcing most of their work and relying upon their own employees. To deploy the scale and breadth of software, the group needed to rely on GE.
“With GE, we treated them as part of our team, and they treated us as theirs. This is the biggest difference I see. The complete team is highly professional and are people of their words. They do what they say.”
Branko Debeljak - TEŠ Project Director
Axel Rognerud, Project Director with GE Steam Power, agrees. “Every time we needed help or answers, the TEŠ team has responded incredibly swiftly. True team effort.”
The result was an on-time delivery of nearly every aspect of a very comprehensive software solution.