Global Update: Power plant control system software

Performance calculation software packages are new in the power generation business and help with power generation control, electricity grid control, and monitoring via SCADA system.


See larger image below: Screen shot of the MSKE system shows presentation of basic indices characterizing operation of the power unit.Software packages for control and operation of a power plant include Alstom Power’s Modular System of Power Units Diagnosis AIDA II, Westinghouse EnergiTools Plant Performance Monitoring, Evonik Industries Ebsilon Professional, Yokogawa VigilantPlant, and Honeywell Advanced Energy Solutions. A diagnosis system for analyzing the software was developed at the Institute of Thermal Technology at the Silesian University of Technology and put into practice at PGE Power Plant Opole.

Improved energy control

In the 1990s, development of control systems for power plants improved automatic storage of measurement data and numerical calculations for better supervision of energy systems. Software packages for evaluating the energy effectiveness of power plant operations have been devised. Although performance calculation software packages are new in the power generation business, they play a major role in contemporary power generation control, electricity grid control, and monitoring via SCADA system. The power performance calculation performs real-time monitoring and provides a sophisticated power plant simulation analysis. This includes “what-if” analysis with varying power plant loads in different ambient conditions. The module provides an advantage on the worst-case scenario and best-case scenario simulation. It can simulate in online mode, connected to the power plant control system, or in offline mode for a power plant analysis team.

Software packages

Alstom Power AIDA II represents a modular system of monitoring and diagnosis for power units. It has diagnosis modules for steam power units, and different module configurations are possible. The AIDAacq, the basic part of the system, is responsible for reading and storage of measurement data. AIDAacq includes a multi-accessible real-time database server, which can save data from several thousand inputs immediately. Based on input data values, the server creates the list of alarms and system commands, trends, and special archival records configured by the user. The user interface module communicates with diagnostic modules about savings and copies the results of module calculations back to the database.

AIDAgui is the visualization tool of the AIDA II system data, which ensures quick access to the requested data. The viewer offers synoptics graphs, multichannel trends, and the list of alarms and events. Additionally, the AIDAgui package offers diagrams for particular user-configured modules.

Westinghouse EnergiTools is online plant performance monitoring software that uses information from the plant computer via the plant’s data acquisition system to analyze and diagnose plant performance. It uses an analytical model with an intuitive graphical user interface that enables the user to accurately model the state of the plant compared to an optimized model and view it in real time. Engineers, operators, managers, and executives can view the resulting information, enabling them to understand actual plant thermal performance and make informed decisions as to changes, upgrades, and significant lost megawatts.

EnergiTools consists of two main tools for performance and diagnosis. PerformanceTool works online and uses measurements from secondary side plant instrumentation that are transmitted to the plant computer to determine performance indicators of the secondary side components. DiagnosisTool uses results of the PerformanceTool in conjunction with the latest technological advances. EnergiTools software is designed to run as a client/server configuration on Microsoft Windows. This allows EnergiTools to be easily integrated into plant IT networks, and it allows multiple users in various locations. The software was written with an open architecture design and uses modern object-oriented C++ programming and an open-standards based SQL database.

Evonik Industries Ebsilon Professional software is a mass and energy balance cycle calculation program. It is suitable for nearly all stationary thermodynamic model requests coming out of energy cycles or plant schemes. Modeling is done by using a component library, which has more than 90 components (turbines, heat exchangers, boiler, pumps, generators, gas turbines, combustion chambers, tanks, cooling towers, dryer, filters, separators, fans, control elements, calculation modules, text fields, buttons, alarm fields, etc.). All components are equipped with sets of default values. The sets are taken from a library, which can be modified and enlarged by the user.

Data imports and exports and results are possible via a variety of Microsoft Excel or ASCII interfaces as via DLL. An intuitive error analysis tool leads the user through his Ebsilon model to the error source. Online documentation provides a calculable example for every component.

Honeywell’s Advanced Energy Solutions is a suite of control, monitoring, and optimization applications designed for the power generation industry. This integrated, modular suite of applications brings advanced control and optimization to electricity generation, as well as process steam and heat production. The solution is fully integrated with Honeywell's Experion Process Knowledge System or third-party distributed control systems (DCS) and includes modules such as: Advanced Combustion Control, Plant Performance Optimizer, Master Pressure Control, Plant Performance Monitor, and Tie-Line Control. These components can be implemented individually or as a completely integrated solution to maximize the process optimization benefit. Components are tightly interconnected and have common architecture and compatible interfaces. Plant Performance Monitor is a software package that evaluates the operator effectiveness for plant operations. It comprises a set of functional modules, each designed to determine the efficiency of a particular piece or stage of equipment as it evaluates the overall unit efficiency.

Performance monitoring

The Modular Operating Control System (“MSKE” in Polish) has been developed and commercialized at PGE Power Plant Opole. MSKE is an on-line and off-line balance system of power units performance monitoring. This software uses information from the power station’s units data acquisition system. The server of the MSKE system is connected by means of Ethernet web with ProMan N server. Measurements data from object DCS and also constant and other data are collected within one minute sampling. The results of the calculations are saved in the system’s database system (Figure 1).

MSKE system software uses the Oracle 10i client-server database, with Java. It works in a Microsoft Windows 2000/2003 server environment. PCs were used for MSKE system workstations. The PCs use Microsoft Excel worksheets and an Internet browser (IE6.0 is suggested; switch on JavaScript operation). The easy-to-understand graphic interface presents calculations and allows for export and storage. The MSKE system GUI is browser-based, using Java 2 applets. Algorithms of energy calculations using Fortran 95 have been worked out.

Figure 1. Diagram shows power plant informatics solutions of the MSKE system.

Figure 1. Scheme of informatics solutions of the MSKE system. The described informatics solutions are characterized by the following advantages:

· Application of up-to-date programming technology (Java, XML, Oracle 10i database, intranet)

· Possibility of reading measurement data from different distributed control systems based on standard protocols

· Ability to export calculations to power plant IT networks

· Easy-to-understand user graphical interface and high-quality summary

· Application of Microsoft Excel worksheets to the presentation of measurement data and results of calculations

· Convenient system of prompts in the form of a help window

·  Possibility to add historical measurements to database

· Possibility of making calculations using selected measurements data from database

· Central configuration of application in data acquisition and processing tasks.



 Figure 1. Example of the MSKE system  presents basic indices characterizing operation of the power unit.

Figure 2. Screen shot of the MSKE system shows presentation of basic indices characterizing operation of the power unit.

Figure 2. Screen shot of the MSKE system shows presentation of basic indices characterizing operation of the power unit.

MSKE system consists of modules for:

· Import and preliminary validation measurement data

· Power unit performance analysis and stationary states classification

· Evaluation of the power unit operation through startup

· Measurements data reconciliation

· Boiler balance computations

· Calculations of the indices characterizing operating conditions

· Power unit’s performance simulation

· Operating deviations determination and statistical analysis

· Presentation, export, and storage of calculation results


Marcin Szega and Henryk Rusinowski are with the Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland. Reach them at and Zbigniew Buryn is with the PGE Power Plant OPOLE SA Company, Opole, Poland. Reach him at

The work is financed by the charter budget resources of the Institute of Thermal Technology, the Silesian University of Technology,

See related article on power control in the June 2011 Control Engineering print and digital edition.

ONLINE extra

Automation Conferences in Poland

In Poland, conferences bridge science and industry. Polish researchers need the practical testing of their ideas within real processes to uncover the pros and cons of the proposed solution. Automation companies look forward to cooperation with universities on research projects. Control Engineering Poland served as a media sponsor for the following conferences:

- Methods and Models in Automation and Robotics

- Conference on Active Noise and Vibration Control Methods

- International Carpathian Control Conference

- School of Modal Analysis

- Protech, organized by Control Engineering Poland publisher.

These conferences enable the possibility to present the highest quality works from the area of control engineering as well as mechanical engineering and mechatronics. This is among the best papers presented.

- Krzysztof Pietrusewicz, PhD, West Pomeranian University of Technology, Szczecin, Poland; Control Engineering Poland

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