Controlling Austria’s largest biomass power plant

By Control Engineering Staff March 2, 2006

After only a year of construction, Austria’s largest biomass power plant became operational at the end of October 2005. With the Timelkam biomass power plant, Energie AG will be able to supply 26,000 households with environmentally friendly energy and an additional 6,000 households with district heating from CO 2 -neutral biomass. This biomass power plant is equipped with a modern fluidized bed boiler that will take in roughly 115,000 tons of biomass for the 8,000 operational hours expected per year. A comparable conventional power plant would have emitted close to 136,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide annually.

The Aprol process control system from automation specialists Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH (B&R) was selected to control and monitor the system from a central location. The modular process control system handles the automation of the boiler, subsidiary systems, and fuel treatment. In cooperation with Energie AG and VA Tech ElinEBG, the Linz-based contractor, the project was implemented in less than a year.

Additional challenges involved migrating the existing visualization systems and developing a power plant library suitable for the entire industry, but that also matched the wishes of this particular operator as well. The latest B&R technology was put to use, including several thousand local and remote I/O points that were integrated using Ethernet Powerlink. The motion control application and the various actuators and sensors were integrated using Profibus DP fieldbus technology. High system availability was an important requirement of Energie AG. This was handled using redundant networks and control computers. Operator terminals were equipped with the latest and most powerful B&R industrial PCs from the APC620 series. A total of six operator stations and one engineering workstation guarantee the safe operation of the system, B&R says.

Aprol is a Linux-based process control system offered by B&R that enables complete solutions– from terminal blocks to visualization systems. Aprol can be used in all automation processes where complex structures need to be implemented, such as in the areas of process engineering, energy, pharmaceuticals, and the chemicals industry.

— Richard Phelps, senior editor, Control Engineering