Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Emerson control system helps French thermal power plant

August 12, 2009
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Implementation of a comprehensive automation and control solution from Emerson Process Management is contributing to dramatic operational improvements at the Porcheville, France, thermal power plant.

The solution incorporates the company’s PlantWeb digital plant architecture with the Ovation expert control system, Scenario simulation, AMS Suite predictive maintenance software and Smart Wireless technology, as well as its SureService customer support program. The measurable improvements – including a 50 percent improvement in the plant’s ability to ramp up and down on demand – are translating into economic benefits for the plant’s owner, EDF Group, while also helping to maintain grid stability in France.

The Porcheville plant is located in the Yvelines region along the Seine, roughly 30 miles west of Paris. The plant entered service in 1968 as a four-unit, 2,400 MW (4 x 600) oil-fired peaking plant. More than a decade ago, EDF Group, the top electricity producer in Europe, shuttered units 1 and 2 due to the high cost of fuel and surplus capacity in France’s electricity market.

Several years ago, in response to a growing demand for electricity in France, EDF Group began an ambitious renovation program at Porcheville designed to boost the plant’s generating capacity and responsiveness. Improving the plant’s ability to ramp up and down swiftly and accurately over a broader megawatt range enables Porcheville to compete for ancillary service contracts from the government. This not only translates into additional generating revenue, but also enables EDF Group to avoid financial penalties that would be incurred if it were unable to fulfill its contractual obligations. From a broader perspective, the ability of the plant to nimbly meet the nation’s growing appetite for power helps maintain grid stability during swings of demand, frequency and voltage.


The automation and control portion of the project called for Emerson to replace obsolete Control Data analog controls with its Ovation control system for all four units. Each unit’s Ovation system consists of a dedicated controller to manage individual operations of the Alstom steam turbine and three controllers for monitoring critical data associated with the boiler and balance-of-plant processes. The Ovation system will also receive additional tank level measurements from Emerson’s Smart Wireless network, soon to be installed. Smart Wireless extends PlantWeb predictive intelligence into areas that were previously out of physical or economic reach, opening the door for new possibilities in process improvement.

Despite the project’s requirements, including modernizing two units that had been mothballed for more than a decade, Emerson was able to install, test and startup the control systems within separate 18-day windows that had been allotted for each unit. Meeting this aggressive timetable was important, as it helped EDF avoid financial penalties associated with project delays.

The results of the control system upgrade have been dramatic. Prior to the upgrade, EDF was only able to ramp the Porcheville units by +/– 60 MW when requested by the grid. Since commissioning, Ovation has boosted Porcheville’s maneuverability to +/– 90 MW, giving EDF the opportunity to win additional ancillary service contracts that positively impact its bottom line.

The increased demand for power production capacity is EDF’s greatest concern. Even after being out of service for a decade, Emerson’s automation solution enabled EDF to put the Porcheville units back online in record time. After more than two years of operation, EDF is confident that they can reliably produce power when called upon during peak demand periods. This capability has translated into increased revenue potential for EDF, as well as vastly improved plant performance and equipment safety.

At the Porcheville plant, Emerson’s AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager works with the Ovation system to manage smart field devices, resulting in improved production reliability. Maintenance personnel can access predictive diagnostics on all HART instruments, including Emerson’s Micro Motion mass flowmeters and Rosemount OXYMITTER 4000 transmitters, as well as Fisher® DVC 6000 digital valve controllers installed throughout the plant.

As part of the comprehensive project, EDF is also taking advantage of Emerson’s Scenario simulation solution. When it is up and running later this year, the simulation will be used to train new and existing operators, strengthening their skills and ability to respond to varying situations, which will further enhance plant performance.

To help ensure the plant continues to take full advantage of the latest technologies, EDF is also utilizing Emerson’s SureService customer support program, which offers access to comprehensive technical support and Ovation software upgrades for five years.

“A project of this scope and complexity demonstrates how Emerson is uniquely positioned to provide power generators with a comprehensive plant automation and control solution that incorporates not only the control system itself, but also simulation, field instrumentation, wireless technologies – and more,” said Bob Yeager, president of the Power & Water Solutions division of Emerson. “It’s this ability that sets Emerson apart from other vendors who lack the technology, expertise or resources to successfully complete such a complex project within an aggressive timeframe.”

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