Real-time power management is a plant manager's secret weapon

Technology that allows plant managers to have more control may improve system utilization, lower energy costs, and foster financial stability

02/12/2014


Figure 1. Estimated production dollar loss per outage event for large (50 MW) industrial users. The graph shows the increasing loss in revenue for longer outage times. Production loss per event = $/kW x Recorded Peak kW. Data courtesy: ETAPModern power management systems require new techniques and cutting-edge technology to allow electrical power users and producers to be competitive. Technology that allows plant managers to have more control may improve system utilization, lower energy costs, and foster financial stability.

A new breed of model-based power management applications that have the capability to integrate an active blueprint of the system including system topology, engineering parameters, and other pertinent information with time-synchronized-data will help make system operation more efficient.

Advanced applications and simulation engines would also allow for improved situational awareness, a more proactive approach, and improved decision making for operators under emergency conditions. Additionally, this type of power management system could serve various levels within the enterprise such as operators, engineers, planners, and managers.

Model validation

One of the key advantages of utilizing a model-based power management system is maintaining the consistency of a network model across engineering, planning, protection, and operational departments. Traditionally, real-time systems use power system models that vary in detail and structure from the models used for offline studies. The links connecting the different models are typically not maintained, giving them incompatible data formats.

Planning and operating decisions are based on the results of power system simulations. Optimistic models can result in under-investment or unsafe operating conditions while pessimistic models can also lead to unnecessary capital investment, thereby increasing the cost of electric power. Realistic models are needed for ensuring reliable and economic power system operation.

Verifying and validating the network model with real-time and/or archived data is a crucial step. Preparing a benchmarked model will help with state estimation, monitoring, predictive simulation, forensic "root cause and effects" analysis, optimization, proactive-contingency analysis, and remedial action. Customizing a network model can be achieved through utilizing a power management system that offers traditional simulation analysis tools on the same platform as the real-time operations tools.

Intelligent monitoring

System monitoring is the base function for any power management software. In addition, seamless integration with metering devices, data acquisition, and archiving systems is essential to properly monitoring software.

All this information should be accessible to the system operator through advanced man-machine interfaces such as an interactive one-line diagram that provides a logical system-wide view. To process the telemetry data and determine the missing or faulty meter values, one should use advanced techniques such as the State and Load Estimator.

Standard power monitoring systems are inadequate because they monitor based on the "eyes" you provide in the form of digital measurement devices and can be expensive to install. An intelligent monitoring system, in contrast, should be able to compensate for the absence of physical meters through providing virtual metering devices. Virtual meters not only improve situational awareness, but also provide a means to monitor alarm equipment that may not be visible to a traditional power monitoring system.

Dashboards and thin clients

Energy dashboards summarize and record alarm conditions in case of unusual activity, providing continuous visual monitoring of user-selected parameters in any mode of operation. This provision allows for the early detection and display of problems before a critical failure occurs.

A modern power management system should not only provide monitored data via thin client, but also offer the following key advantages:

First, it uses the same electrical model as the desktop client and the offline planning model without having to recreate or maintain copies of the model. This results in significant time and cost savings when building human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Traditional power monitoring systems are inexpensive to purchase, but take up a significant amount of time, resources, and engineering cost to set up the HMIs. Extensive engineering man-hours are also spent modifying the existing HMIs, while in a model-based power management system, the offline study model can be simply transitioned and connected with real-time data.

Second, the operator is able to recall and run pre-defined scenarios to help make a simple decision. This becomes particularly important in emergency conditions, as an information overload will not only slow down every decision, it may also lead to a complete system shutdown.

Online simulation

System engineers and operators should have instant access to energy information and analysis tools to help them predict an outcome before taking actions on a power system.

To design, operate, and maintain a power system, one must first understand its behavior. The operator should have firsthand experience with the system under various operating conditions to effectively react to system changes. This will avoid an inadvertent plant outage caused by human error and equipment overload.

For industrial and generation facilities that use power system analysis applications, the ability to perform system studies and simulate hypothetical scenarios using real-time operating data is paramount. With real-time data, for example, the system operator could simulate the impact of starting a large motor without actually starting the motor.


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