New trends are re-shaping the energy industry and the role of energy efficiency is likely to keep growing. An investment in energy efficiency creates significant commercial, operational and environmental benefits. It decreases fuel costs, increases the efficiency of operations, can lengthen the lifecycle of the plant and reduces emissions. It is also a way of future-proofing operations and increasing brand value.
There are many ways to improve the energy efficiency of a power plant – from the replacement of a single component to complete modernisation. Some key factors affecting an installation’s energy efficiency are fuel consumption, fuel price and the maximum output of the plant. The operation and maintenance of the plant must also be considered when choosing the best improvement solution.
“In today’s uncertain economic environment, increases in profitability are often sought through tightened cost control. Fuel costs form a major part of a power plant’s operating costs – up to 80%. However, the financial rationale is not the only one that speaks for fuel and energy efficiency. Enhanced operational efficiency, extended lifecycle of the equipment and a more sustainable brand image are valid reasons for considering an energy efficiency improvement project,” says Markus Åbrant, General Manager, Energy agreements, South Europe and Africa, Wärtsilä Services.
Maintaining energy efficiency over the plant lifecycle
The energy efficiency of plants can be kept up over their entire lifecycle by analysing the true condition of the installation, carrying out maintenance operations according to its operational profile and conducting the most suitable lifecycle upgrades. With well-planned, data-driven maintenance services, the plant can be operated more efficiently and the lifecycle of the equipment can be extended.
“Maintenance is a key aspect in upholding a power plant’s energy efficiency. A modernisation or conversion can significantly reduce energy use, but keeping the energy consumption of the plant on the same low level continuously requires regular maintenance. Equipment condition monitoring and data analytics provide valuable information that allows us to predict maintenance needs. With these digital services, we can detect potential performance issues and take corrective measures quickly,” says Åbrant.
With Wärtsilä Guaranteed asset performance, Wärtsilä can guarantee the reliability or availability of a power plant. Performance targets are set together with the customer, and Wärtsilä ensures that they are reached. In the Wärtsilä Energy efficiency management module, which can be included in Wärtsilä Guaranteed asset performance, fuel efficiency is measured and monitored, and the customer receives optimisation advice.
Upgrading and modernising power plants
Equipment modernisation reduces fuel consumption and thereby lowers fuel costs. Customer needs can be determined together with an audit carried out by energy efficiency experts. Different solutions are best suited to different phases of the engine or power plant lifecycle.
In a lifecycle upgrade, equipment is upgraded to meet its original running parameters. The condition of the power plant is analysed and actions are suggested to correct excessive de-rating, in order to restore its operating efficiency to its original state or beyond. An alternative is an engine performance upgrade, generally based on the latest turbocharger. Higher pressure ratio capability, combined with optimal engine settings, improves engine efficiency, while the optimised combustion reduces exhaust gas emissions.
With a combined cycle upgrade, more power can be produced with the same amount of fuel by applying waste heat recovery steam generators connected to common steam turbine generator sets. The boost in energy output can be as much as 10%.
Converting an existing engine to operate on gas can offer significant benefits both economically and environmentally. Natural gas is attractively priced, and its emissions are lower.
Date: Jun 6, 2017