Director, Power Generation , Honeywell Process Solutions.
W-G: WHAT DOES HONEYWELL SEE HAPPENING IN 2004?
DM: For electrical utilities, industrial power generation facilities and district heating operations worldwide, 2004 is the year to invest in new technology - or to at least begin devising an upgrade strategy.
W-G: WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS HAPPENING AND WHY?
DM: Honeywell Process Solutions has three decades of power generation experience and works with power generation entities in more than 50 countries. We’ve installed more than 1,300 control systems in power plants around the world through our power generation business centers in the United States, Europe and Asia. We’ve seen first-hand how deregulation, privatization, escalating demand, new environmental regulations and heightened security concerns have accentuated the need to reduce costs, increase profitability and protect facilities, employees and the environment.
W-G: DOES EACH POWER GENERATION SEGMENT FACE SPECIFIC CHALLENGES?
DM: Each power generation segment is facing specific challenges related to these overarching issues:
Electrical utilities: Coal-fired generation is coming back, particularly in North American regions susceptible to power shortages. Coal is cheap and abundant and provides a cost-effective way to meet increased demand. But emissions from burning coal are also highly regulated. And system uptime is critical.
Industrial power facilities: Once viewed strictly as an allocated cost center, industrial powerhouses now have the potential to become profit centers. Deregulation has made it possible - and lucrative - for these units to sell off excess power. Furthermore, with a responsive control technology in place, industrial powerhouses can also make timely adjustments to their power contracts. Fluctuating gas prices have also renewed emphasis on cost reduction at these units.
District heating: Providers of municipal steam and electricity in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe are facing tighter EU emissions regulations and increased demand as populations grow.
At many of these facilities, the sheer age of equipment and systems currently in use underscores the need for a technology infusion. The power generation industry is historically slow to change. Many facilities a re working with equipment and control systems that are 20 to 30 years old. Recent surveys of non-utility power generators indicate that their originally installed instrument and control systems have not been sufficiently reliable to produce lowest cost energy. They do not incorporate the advanced design elements necessary to ensure the availability or performance expected from these generator sets.
W-G: ARE THESE CHALLENGES BEING MET?
DM: Whatever the challenges, today’s technology can provide a path to meeting them. Advanced process control, wireless and digital technologies have moved out of the gee-whiz stage and into the category of sound investments with proven benefits. Software applications can enable facilities to comply with coal-emissions regulations without investing in additional scrubbers. A next-generation process control system offers the best features of SCADA systems coupled with leading-edge process control . Wireless and digital systems can reduce labor costs while the increasing efficiency of individual employees and bolstering facility security.
W-G: PLEASE PROVIDE EXAMPLES.
DM: A good example of these high-benefit technology investments is Honeywell’s Experion PKS(r), a control automation system that goes beyond a traditional Distributed Control System (DCS) and delivers a significant increase in benefits to customers. Experion uses leading-edge open technologies to provide an unprecedented ability to gather, view, analyze and act on information from the device level to the enterprise-getting the right information to the right people at the right time.
Experion is effective in all segments of power generation because it combines the features of a SCADA system with powerful controllers and robust process control technology. The system's open architecture makes it easy to integrate into existing information systems without a lot of intervening nodes and middleware.
Honeywell also offers a suite of advanced process applications-known as the Unified Energy Suite-that provides advanced combustion control. This application optimizes the fuel-to-air ratio of coal-fired burners so fuel burns more efficiently. Emissions are also reduced through multi-variable control. UES also offers economic load allocation for boilers and turbines, which enable loads to be balanced more cost-efficient across the available equipment. Finally, the Tie Line Control application models purchased power contracts, so that companies can forecast steam consumption and electrical generation. This, in turn, allows them to make informed decisions about buying or generating electricity.
W-G: WHAT’S THE PAYBACK TIME ON THE INVESTMENT?
DM: The payoff of these investments is proven. Integration of advanced control applications into industrial powerhouses can result in 2 to 5 percent savings on fuel purchases for the combustion process. Electrical use can be reduced 2 to 5 percent as well, leaving power on the table that can be sold for profit. Payback can occur in as little as a year, depending on the accompanying infrastructure improvements that need to be made.
W-G: HOW HAS HONEYWELL ADDRESSED HOMELAND SECURITY?
DM: Data security and physical access security can also be improved through technology investments. Through a partnership with Ensuren, Honeywell now provides a combination of hardware and software that will shield an open control network from cyber attack and prevents future attacks by plugging system “leaks.” Card readers and scanners (including palm and retinal scanners) provide access control. Digital technology also is making its mark in the realm of physical security. Honeywell Digital Video Manager couples closed-circuit TV technology with streaming video technology. More than 1,000 cameras can be controlled with this system, enabling operators to zoom, pan and record critical plant areas and processes, and alarm the operator when motion is sensed in the camera's field of view.
Wireless has become affordable and practical as well. Honeywell wireless transmitters, for example, can be used to monitor stack emissions or to diagnose coal yard blockages. These uses not only provide valuable process information, they keep employees from having to collect data in hazardous areas.
W-G: HOW DOES ONE INVEST IN NEW TECHNOLOGY WHILE PROTECTING THEIR ORIGINAL INVESTMENT IN EQUIPMENT?
DM: At Honeywell, we believe in protecting that original investment and offer our customers multiple paths to building their technology level. The process controllers we installed in the 1970s, for example, can easily be migrated to, or connected with Experion PKS.
We are committed to helping our customers achieve continuous evolution, turn resources into results and achieve quicker startup and immediate results.
We believe in the value our technology can bring to the power generation industry.