New application: Fieldbus technology breaks into electric utility industry


Two presentations at Emerson's Global Users Exchange carried the news that instrumentation and controls communicating via fieldbus technology has finally forced its way into the electric utility industry. Known for its conservatism, the power industry has been very slow to adopt new control technology, or in this case, slow to adopt proven technology. However, at least two full-sized U.S. generating plants are now under construction using fieldbus technology at the device and instrumentation level.

Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska City Unit 2 is a 660 mW coal-fired, subcritical boiler plant with standard design elements, except that it will use FOUNDATION Fieldbus and Profibus to network its instrumentation and control functions. This will give it the capability to employ HART smart instrumentation, taking full advantage of the diagnostic information the sensors generate in addition to the specific process variable. The plant is slated to come online by May 2009.

Portland General Electric, Port Westward plant on the Columbia River is a 407 mW gas-fired combined-cycle turbine plant. It will also use a combination of FOUNDATION Fieldbus and Profibus to network its instrumentation and control functions. The project is one of the first fieldbus experiences for contractor Black & Veatch, as well. Even with reluctance to try something new, PGE was convinced of the advantages of the technology and anticipates substantial savings for the installation and total life cost going forward. Moreover, they expect that the network will require less operator time than a hard-wired approach. They also intend to use HART smart instrumentation. Commercial operation is scheduled for March, 2007.

Is this a trend? Has technology now used for many years in critical process industries finally gained a foothold in a last bastion of analog and hard-wired control? The answer is a cautious "yes," but probably only for greenfield plants. "At EPRI, I've been trying to promote fieldbus for ten years," says Cyrus Taft, chief engineer for EPRI's instrumentation and control center. "Now it's reaching critical mass and becoming commercially viable for us. Still, it doesn't make sense for a retrofit. You can't just stick it on top of what's already been done. You don't just add it to existing DCS architecture. But, if your initial design of the plant is done with fieldbus in mind, the savings are tremendous. On new construction, it's a biggie."

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Peter Welander , process industries editor

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me