NRG power plants across the US provide about 48,000 megawatts of generation capacity, enough to power more than 38 million average households. NRG also provides retail electric service for nearly 3 million retail customers across the US. As the nation’s leading integrated power company, NRG is always working to improve operating efficiency in its power production, balancing the maintenance requirements of its GE units among the NRG fleet with a need to maximize power output to meet the needs of the bulk power markets.
GE has developed a unique visibility and insight analytic offering as part of its Operations Optimization solution, allowing power generators to make both short- and long-term decisions that can improve plant profitability. This new offering leverages GE’s Digital Twin model to dynamically review the operation of gas turbines to adjust operating conditions and key set points. This allows customers to bank MW hours during turndown market conditions. By using GE’s Advanced Controls software, power plants can be operated safely above baseload conditions, while the banked MW hours can be used to take advantage of peak market prices and conditions. This gives NRG the ability to directly understand and act on the balance of peak firing withoutage scheduling and, as a result, can grant the commercial team the ability to potentially bid more MWs. NRG has installed the new GE solution at one of its generating stations, and is measuring and refining its use, working with the GE software and engineering teams toward a broader implementation in late 2016. In addition, the GE Digital Twin will monitor NRG’s planned outage timeline, helping ensure that future outage dates will not change, while delivering visibility on the maximum total available output between outages.
With this new GE analytic offering, NRG expects to gain significant control over the tradeoff between asset maintenance and business opportunities. NRG will be able to execute a “look ahead” approach that identifies optimal maintenance windows, allowing it to peak its turbine operations to increase profitability through advantageous market pricing. This can occur while utilizing cold part load to bank MW hours that can be used during peak periods, while maintaining asset life. Based on modeling and historic PJM energy pricing, this new system is capable of providing NRG a 2–3% improvement in MW output through peak firing, potentially delivering more than $5 million of additional profitability with zero impact to its critical outage schedule.