Emerson simulation helps U.K. power plant train operators

April 30, 2008

Pittsburgh, April 29 — Fawley Power Station, a two-unit, 1,000-MW (2X500-MW) power generation facility, plays an important role in meeting the electricity needs of approximately one million people in Hampshire, U.K. It is essential that this peaking plant quickly and efficiently startup and synchronize to the grid in order to cost-effectively respond to seasonal spikes in demand. Since January 2008, the nearly 40-year-old, oil-fired plant, which is owned by RWE npower, the UK’s largest electricity supplier with approximately 6.8 million customers, has been relying on Emerson Process Management’s Scenario simulation technology to help achieve these goals.

The Fawley Station simulator mirrors the plant’s actual Ovation expert control system, which monitors and controls the boiler, turbine and other critical plant processes/systems. Fawley’s high-fidelity simulator solution features virtual controller technology, in which up to five virtual controllers reside in a single PC, offering opportunities for achieving higher levels of affordability and scalability with a significantly reduced footprint. At Fawley, 4,100 simulated I/O points exist within 12 Ovation virtual controllers.

The Scenario simulation solution is a valuable training tool--both for the ongoing education of existing employees and for qualifying new employees for safe and efficient plant operation. This training capability is particularly valuable for operators in peaking plants, which operate based on fluctuating demand. In this environment, simulation technology can be used to train new operators, while keeping current operators sharp and helping them become familiar with new control strategies -- even when the plant is not in operation. By doing so, when megawatts are needed, the plant can synchronize to the grid not only more quickly, but also within the necessary parameters to avoid costly equipment damage.

“With the simulator, new operators can come up to the standards of more experienced and trained operators much sooner than would be possible if they were interacting with the control system only when the unit was operating,” said David Marmot, electrical and instrumentation lead, RWE npower, who notes that the simulator is a key component of a formal operator training program. “By training operators how to start the unit faster to meet peak demand, we have the opportunity to not only enhance the plant’s operational performance, but our financial performance as well.”

Well-trained operators who are prepared to handle abnormal operating situations can significantly reduce costly plant trips. With that in mind, Fawley had 20 malfunctions--including critical malfunctions--pre-programmed into the simulator to train operators how to respond to emergency situations.

“Ongoing operator training is important to power generators preparing for the expected retirement of experienced operators over the next few years. But beyond training operators, our customers are achieving additional benefits by utilizing our simulation technology for engineering analyses and validating new control logic,” said Bob Yeager, president of the Power & Water Solutions division of Emerson. “In today’s competitive business environment, the plant reliability and safety improvements that can be realized by using Emerson’s Scenario technology translates into a significant ROI that’s hard for power generators to ignore.”