Friday, September 25, 2009

Random Site Surveillance

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues

From time to time, top management of reputable private power plants ask your writer to visit their plants on random basis on their behalf. That is called “site surveillance” by a third party for independent integrity inspection to get an independent overview and candid evaluation.

That is a good practice for the upper management who misses the details of the existing status at the plant in daily rush, since they feel normal for sometimes an unpleasant situation. A senior experienced newcomer (here your writer) can detect the important unpleasant details much easier.

On 13-14 December 2007, we were on that special assignment in Chayirhan Thermal Power Plant and its nearby lignite mining premises.

Initially we were quite skeptical for existing operation of the thermal power plant. In the past, we were involved in a number of site seeing visits for new power plant and FGD tenders prior to proposal and award on behalf of our then employer. We had an uneasy feeling of the plant in the past, before it was taken over by the private company.

We arrived to the plant late afternoon when it was quite dark outside. We first visited the steam turbine house at about 1800 hours.

All steam turbines which were made of Mitsubishi, (2X150MWe + 2x160 MWe) were running at full load. We have visualized that in the Turbine house, control systems of steam turbines number 1&2 need upgrading since the existing old fashion controls were not able to fulfill today’s requirements any more.

We were told that plant control room upgrading for 1&2 is now in their New Year investment budget for an estimated figure of 8-10 million Euros.

Steam turbines number 3&4 were in good shape, all running at full load. Their control system (Siemens) were modern, no need for upgrading at this time.

The next day, your writer visited the boiler front coal inlet, coal mills, visualized the repair and upgrading of the spare coal mill for each unit.

Then we have seen the flue gas desulphurization units. All 4 units were in operation, keeping the main stacks in by-pass mode. My host, plant operations manager, proudly explained that the existing electrostatic precipitators were in good shape collecting dust/ fly ash in the flue gas at highest efficiency.

Steam boilers were designed and built by SGP (AEE) company of Austria/Germany, which is now non-existing since it merged by other boiler companies.

We examined coal feed inlet bunkers, bottom ash slurry pits, fly ash disposal systems, coal pulverizes, pulverized coal burners plus nearby oil burners.

We climbed to the top roof and visualized the boiler hangers all in good shape. We saw steam drums, safety valves on the boiler roof.
We inspected the outside walls of the boiler combustion chambers. They were all in good condition. We then checked the water treatment system, polishing, feed water pumps.

During our random site surveillance, one tube failure was reported, and corrective action has been taken.

Later we were invited to nearby lignite coal mining facilities. The underground mining facility was fully automatic, fully mechanized, supported by computer surveillance/ and wireless communication 24 hours / 7 days non-stop. Their operation method is “retrieve mining”; that is when miners remove the coal in the pillars, thereby recovering as much coal from the coal seam as possible.

Modern pillar sections use remote controlled equipment, including large hydraulic mobile roof supports, which can prevent cave ins until the miners and other equipment have left a work area. After the large pillars of coal have been mined away, the mobile roof support legs shorten, and the mobile roof supports travel out to a safe area. The mine roof typically collapses once the mobile roof supports leave the area.

We were advised that they had new 2x300 MWe thermal power plant investment in their future program which is in feasibility/ evaluation/ permission stage for licensing procedures by the public authorities.

They also have new imported coal thermal power plant investment in their program to utilize the neighboring Georgian coal mines at Hopa seaport which is privatized and operated by the parent company.

The plant management is undertaken by the former experienced public employees of the existing power plant; therefore it is their own plant since the start-up. They know every detail. It is your writer’s sincere feeling that they are paid better and work better since the public restrictions are removed; they have more control and hence ability to run the plant better.

They have ash- dam for bottom ash disposal where ash is transported by mechanical conveyors to the ash-dam.

They make regular “Integrity Inspection” for programmed rehabilitation. In the near past, Babcock Borsig and Alstom had prepared such documentations.

Plant availability is as high as over 80%+ which is almost twice of other power plants in public operation. It is a good showcase for privatization, full utilization of available resources.

The power plant is a good example of successful privatization in the local market. Plant thermal efficiency is high, availability is high, and labor productivity is also high. It is situated at the mine mouth of local indigenous lignite reserves.

The 620 MW capacity Chayirhan Power plant is 120km from Ankara city center, and it is located in Nallihan county, near to Chayirhan town. The Chayirhan Power Plant supplies 3,600,000,000 KW-hr of electric power into the national grid each year while utilizing poor-quality lignite from local mines

To meet our country's increasing energy demands, local power plants fire poor quality lignite of low calorific value, high ash and high moisture content, which can not be utilized elsewhere.

This operation introduces environmental hazards which have to be avoided.

We have lignite as our biggest fuel source and we all agree that we should use that local coal,

with maximum efficiency and availability,
with minimum harm to the mother nature,
with minimum impact on global warming.

The world has a lot of coal, but right now carbon capture and sequestration is not commercially viable, and no guarantee it will be in the future.

Solar and wind plants have long term availability problem.

Natural gas has national security implications and also does emit CO2 which creates global warming.

The primary energy sources for new capacity and energy efficiency measures need to be chosen using some kind of quantitative risk-assessment scheme that most likely will result in a diverse energy mix that includes nuclear.

We are really not sure how to get around/adapt to the global climate change problem without some drastic changes, even if nuclear energy is implemented.

Just as the proverb 'a picture is worth a thousand words' applies in everyday life, so too does the Random Site Surveillance provide the essential ingredient to the successful continuous operation of the thermal power plant.

In the end, we can say that, all we need is self-confidence as well as confidence of investor who would put money into similar other new projects, i.e. Afsin Elbistan, Soma, Kangal, Bingol, which will utilize the local lignite.

Once again we would like to congratulate the Plant Management and the Creditors who put money which made the project realized, and to the engineers/ employees who make the plant to run smoothly, efficiently at maximum availability and efficiency.

In case of any need for “Random Site Surveillance” at any of your thermal power plants, please feel free to call your writer.

Your comments are always welcome.


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