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Squeezing Juice from Plants

Asset optimization is a favored utility strategy in an economic downturn.
Fortnightly Magazine - December 2002

"We feel very vulnerable to this single source of fuel," Roberts says. "One of the things we're doing for that client is a risk evaluation of that process, determining what can go wrong, what the duration is, what the probability of those occurrences would be-and using that to guide our fuel inventory to minimize our risk exposure to those different occurrences." He says they just finished the probability analysis and now are working on the business case evaluation. What that will lead to, Roberts says, is minimizing the plant's risk and exposure to ensure its long-term health.

At the same plant, Duke/Fluor Daniel just finished a joint project with the customer to install an over-fired air process for NOx reduction and low NOx burners that have reduced NOx emissions dramatically and increased boiler efficiency. Roberts says they are still involved in fine-tuning, so while he does not have the final numbers, "it looks very, very promising." He added that they know they are saving money just from a fuel efficiency perspective.

Roberts says his company also modified a lot of the chemical processes at the plant, which improved reliability dramatically. That increase in availability and corresponding ability to make money was extremely important at that plant because it is captive to four cities who must pay for the cost of the plant, regardless of whether it generates one megawatt or a million. That plant was built in 1982 and in the last two years has had the best productivity in its history. Last year, Roberts added, the plant had 100 percent availability.

Rick Toney is the manager of a complete power system in West Papua, Indonesia, consisting of 45 diesel-fired units, and three 65-MW coal-fired stations. Duke/Fluor Daniel also manages the entire distribution system of the island for its one customer engaged in milling. Recently, Toney was involved in a project involving optimizing the amount of coal generation and reducing the amount of diesel generation, while still keeping reliability and stability high. "We've done that over the past couple of years, and we're still working on that today," Toney says. He noted that diesel fuel costs much more than coal, partly because the coal comes from Indonesia, which is much closer than the diesel sources. Also, Toney is involved in plant system modeling-plugging in different scenarios and being told what will happen in a particular situation. And since Toney runs the only system on the island, high reliability is essential, since if the lights go out, there is no backup.

Jim Schaddel is a plant manager who runs a system unique in the United States-16 waste-heat boilers and production of up to 928,000 lbs./hour of high-pressure steam by capturing waste heat from 268 coke ovens, in which coke is used as a fuel to make iron in blast furnaces. The high-pressure steam is converted into electricity and process steam in this first-of-a-kind plant located in Indiana. Since Duke/Fluor Daniel inaugurated the plant's commercial operation in 1998, Schaddel says boiler performance has increased, there have been fewer turbine trips, and Duke has met