Control News from Europe February 2008

Read Andrew Bond's Industrial Automation Insider, a monthly newsletter covering the important industrial automation news and issues as seen from the U.K.

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Certification is critical to enabling software applications to take advantage of the enhanced security features inherent in the new Microsoft products. It has also become something of a marketing tool for automation software vendors ,such as Iconics and the Austrian SCADA vendor Copa-Data, enabling them to make favorable comparisons with other vendors which have chosen not to pursue it.

Test Cases

Windows Server 2008 software certification comprises approximately 100 test cases that independently confirm an application’s compliance with best practices for compatibility, security, reliability and availability on the new platform. As a participant in the Microsoft Early Access Program (EAP) for Windows Server 2008 Software Certification, GraphWorX64 is one of more than 300 applications that are eligible for certification on a pre-release version of the new platform.

GraphWorX64 is part of the Genesis64 suite, which allows users to integrate real-time manufacturing and business information into a common, OPC-UA-compliant, Web-enabled visualization dashboard. It is a fully compliant OPC client which uses ActiveX and OLE automation technologies to create animated graphics for process control. “Engineering is typically 60% of the cost of automation projects,” said Iconics lead program manager Simone Massaro. “Genesis64 takes advantage of advances in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, as well as of new 64-bit technology, to reduce costs, speed up development time and ensure state-of-the-art graphical visualization.”

Citect Supplies SCADA System to UK Gas Terminal

Citect has supplied a 10,000+ point, fully dual redundant SCADA system to monitor the control and safety systems at Total UK’s St. Fergus gas terminal in Scotland. The terminal receives and processes gas from some 20 fields in the North Sea, providing up to 20% of the U.K.’s natural gas requirements.

The CitectSCADA system, part of an upgrade project aimed at extending the life of the terminal by a further 25 years, replaces an existing SCADA system installed in the 1980s. It sits above the safety and control systems, monitoring all pipeline telemetry from a dozen feeder platforms, the flow rate, pressure and composition of the gas and the systems controlling blending of the gas at the terminal. It has been configured to emulate the trending, alarm and reporting functions of the previous system, thus avoiding problems with safety and operator retraining. Because operators see the same screens as before, they have been comfortable with the new system from day one.

CitectSCADA provides DCS-style multi-level redundancy which can be easily configured and incorporated at all levels, enabling it to tolerate a hardware failure anywhere in a system. At St. Fergus all telemetry links and all of the current 10 clients switch automatically and seamlessly in the event of a failure of the primary server. “The success of this project has tremendous cost-saving implications for the oil and gas sector,” said Citect UK’s Paul Hurst. “It means that production and receiving facilities, whose futures were questionable due to the looming obsolescence of their current SCADA and DCS systems, can remain productive for many more years to come.”

ABB to Control Europe’s Largest Solar Plant . . .

ABB’s System 800xA DCS is to be used to control both units of Europe’s largest solar energy plant when it comes on-stream in the Sierra Nevada of Andalusia in southern Spain in 2009. The 100MW Andasol plant will be Europe’s first parabolic trough power plant and only the second in the world to use the technology on a commercial scale, the other being the 64 MW Nevada Solar One in the US.

Each of Andasol’s two 50MW units will have its own 200 hectare solar field containing 624 parabolic troughs arranged in 156 loops. The parabolic trough mirrors track the sun, concentrating its radiation on to heat transfer fluid in collector tubes at their foci. The resultant heat is used to generate steam to drive turbines in a conventional thermal power plant. Each field produces up to twice the thermal energy that can be absorbed by the plants’ steam turbines, and the excess energy is stored in liquid salt tanks for up to seven hours to ensure a continuous and stable supply of power to the grid.

Both Andasol 1 and 2 will be controlled by System 800xA and ABB Power Generation Portal software with the resultant power delivered to the local grid via ABB power transformers and substation equipment. The plant’s total output of some 350GW-hrs per year will be sufficient to power 100,000 Spanish households and displace 345,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

While Emerson Looks to Wind Farms

Increasing focus on energy and climate change issues seems to be raising the profile of Emerson Process Management’s Power & Water Solutions division, most recently with the announcement of Ovation SCADA for wind energy management. Emerson hasn’t missed the fact that, according to the World Wind Energy Association, total installed wind energy capacity is set to grow 54% in five years, from some 74,000MW in 2006 to 160,000MW by 2010. Much of that growth is coming from operators increasing the number of generators per farm or operating multiple farms, which in both cases increases their need for more efficient and effective management of their assets.

“In addition to optimizing operations at individual wind farms, the Ovation SCADA system can also be utilized to manage an entire fleet of wind farms,” explained Power & Water Solutions division president Bob Yeager. “The ability to connect a number of active wind farms to their corporate headquarters or operations centers offers further opportunities for increased efficiency, cost savings and better overall management of assets.”

Ovation SCADA’s functionality is designed to optimize wind farm operations, supporting wind turbine generators from all major OEMs and multiple communication networks including dial-up, leased lines and wireless. Individual turbines can be started, stopped, reset and tagged out remotely, minimizing labor-intensive site visits, while protective supervisory shutdown is automatically triggered by certain predefined site conditions such as vibration level. Diagnostic information from turbines, met towers and substations is available through network interfaces and can be stored in Ovation’s Historian to enable the creation of graphical trends to monitor equipment and farm conditions. The system also includes a tool to forecast production potential for a predefined time period based on known factors such as wind speed, wind direction and the condition of the turbine generator.

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