Winners named in 2011 Projects of the Year Awards

At a gala banquet at POWER-GEN International in Las Vegas, Nev., on December 12, Power Engineering magazine’s editors recognized the 2011 Projects of the Year Award finalists and announced three winners and six honorable mentions. This year’s Projects of the Year Award winners and honorable mentions represented facilities and/or technology that signified excellence in three categories: coal-fired, gas-fired and renewable energy.

In place of the Best Nuclear category this year, the magazine handed out a special award for the employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) for their work and dedication in trying to stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that struck.

Best Gas-Fired Project 2011: Empire Generating Project, owned by Empire Generating Co. LLC in Rensselaer, N.Y.

Empire Generating Co, LLC’s Empire Generating Plant is a 535 MW natural gas fired combined-cycle power plant in New York State. The plant features power island equipment provided by CH2M Hill including two GE 7FA dual fuel combustion turbine generators, two Alstom triple pressure heat recovery steam generators, one grey market GE D-11 reheat steam turbine generator and one GEA eleven-cell low noise and plume abated cooling tower. The plant is designed to provide peaking power up to 635 MW, has cogeneration capability and is capable of running on low sulfur fuel oil.  Power island equipment installation began in early 2009.  Noise mitigation measures installed at the plant include low noise fans, silencers, Enkamat underlayment and a sound wall at the cooling tower, sound barricades and stack silencers at the heat recovery steam generators and sound-insulated buildings for the combustion and steam turbines and boiler feed water pumps.

The plant saves water by using a state-of-the-art water treatment facility located on-site that treats water for cooling tower makeup, service water and demineralized quality cycle makeup water.

Soil conditions at the remediated brownfield site were very poor, with the subsurface being from Hudson River overflow. The soil required in excess of 3,200 driven H-piles to provide adequate support of foundations, and, as an example, piling was required to support the 84-inch diameter circulating water piping.

Empire was scheduled to perform a gas blow at the plant in March 2010, a month after a deadly explosion occurred at the Kleen Energy project in Connecticut during its gas blow operations. After many concerned phone calls and meetings, Empire completed a successful gas blow in mid-March 2010.

CH2M Hill completed the $700 million project on August 31, 2010.

Honorable Mentions: GTX – Cogeneration Project, owned by Dubai Aluminum Company Limited, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL) is one of the largest single-site aluminum smelters in the world with more than 1 million metric tonnes per annum. Its infrastructure includes a 2,350 MW power station (at 30˚C), a water desalination plant and a large carbon plant. The power station is designed to provide both electricity to the smelter reduction process and saturated steam to the water desalination plant. The present average aluminum smelting power demand is about 1,900 MW, amply covered by the generation capacity of the power plant.

Back in 2006, prior to the GTX project, the DUBAL power plant comprised of 22 gas turbines and 7 steam turbines. The average generation capacity of 2,115 MW met the 1,750 MW average demand of the site at that stage. The plant configuration fulfilled the continuous load supply requirement with sufficient spare generation capacity to cover the loss of the highest generating unit while one large unit was on planned maintenance outage. The annual average station efficiency was 43 percent, with 3 to 4 Frame 9B Gas Turbines required to meet the plant’s power and water demand.

The objective of the GTX project was to achieve sustainability by enhancing the DUBAL power plant’s efficiency, maintaining the existing water production level, and reducing industrial gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2). Unlike a conventional combined-cycle power plant, the GTX project entailed installing one large state–of-the-art gas turbine and one dual pressure Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG), and then supplying the steam heat energy to three existing Frame 9E steam turbines and the water desalination plant. The GTX co-generation cycle is designed to work in three modes: additional steam heat energy to operate the existing Steam Turbines on peak load; additional steam heat energy to replace one existing HRSG; or steam heat energy to the water desalination plant.

The new technology and new process concept is not only capable of accommodating the increase in power production and steam management, but is also more flexible to accommodate the downtime and maintenance requirements resulting from operating the existing steam turbines on peak load.

By enhancing the steam turbine output to peak operation, or replacing an existing steam generator while on maintenance, the GTX plant has enabled an annual average increase in overall fuel free steam turbine output of 58 MW while the surplus steam directed to desalination plant produces additional water. Accordingly, the annual average station efficiency rose from 43 percent to 44.5 percent.

Moreover, the new GTX block has introduced 220 MW of reserve capacity, which has been utilized to increase the load carrying demand by 150 MW while the spare 70 MW has reduced demand for one Frame 9B gas turbine. Switching off one Frame 9B unit has resulted in gas savings of about 20 millions standard cubic feet per day (mscfd), and a related reduction in CO2 emissions of 300,000 tonnes per year. The GTX project cost $183 million. It is one of the first of its kind in scale and application, and one of the first of its kind in the aluminum industry.

Dave Gates Generating Station at Mill Creek, owned by NorthWestern Energy in Anaconda, MT.

The Dave Gates plant in Montana is designed to provide regulation service to NorthWestern Energy’s transmission balancing authority to balance generation and load on a moment-to-moment basis. Named after the company’s late Vice President of Wholesale Operations, the Dave Gates plant was also built to provide regulation for the integration of variable generation into the transmission grid. A regulation resource includes reliability, 24-7 operation, rapid ramp rate and, in the case of NWE, a turbine generator turn down level that provides an effective operating range, and minimizes the amount of lower cost baseload energy that is offset with generation from the Gates plant.

NWE used to obtain regulation service from four separate utilities as far as three transmission systems away, adding to concerns for reliability.

The Shaw Group served as NWE’s owner’s engineer.  Corval Group was the EPC contractor and subcontracted the engineering design to Zachry and the electrical and controls to FPD The plant was built on a remediated Superfund site and includes three Pratt and Whitney FT-8 SwiftPac units with two aeroderivative combustion turbines and one generator per unit. Each unit has fast start, fast ramp and low turndown capability. Emissions are controlled using a special selective catalytic reduction design from EnviroKinetics Inc. to compensate for the frequent starting and ramping operation.  The plant is designed with a significant amount of heat tracing due to extremely cold weather conditions, redundant water treatment and ammonia systems and uses ultra low sulfur diesel as a backup fuel.

At peak construction, there were 265 workers onsite with a total payroll of approximately $20 million. NAES Corp., NWE’s third-party operator, operates and maintains the plant.

Best Coal-Fired Project 2011: Plant Miller Flue Gas Desulfurization Project, owned by Alabama Power in Quinton, Ala.

Plant Miller is the largest coal-fired power plant for Alabama Power and equals one-fourth of the company’s total capacity at 2,640 MW.

Alabama Power contracted Advatech to furnish the flue gas desulfurization systems and supervise the Stebbins absorber installation on units 1 through 4 as part of parent company Southern Co.’s strategy to meet existing requirements that call for additional SO2 regulations at Alabama Power plants.

The double contact flow scrubber technology installed at Plant Miller is capable of achieving up to 98 percent instantaneous removal efficiency of SO2. The project included four single-tower DCFS with Jet Air Sparger technology for oxidation, which is used to achieve 98 percent SO2 removal on Powder River Basin coal. The system uses pre-ground limestone and produces pure wallboard-quality gypsum, and the gypsum byproduct is of suitable quality to be sold for commercial use. The plant also uses a selective catalytic reduction system to reduce NOx and electrostatic precipitators to reduce particulate matter.

Southern Co. performed all construction activities except for the absorber plus engineering for balance of plant and Advatech supplied the FGD engineering and technology. Both companies worked as an integrated team and developed a streamlined expediting and quality program for critical equipment.

The integrated team was able to commission all four units either on or ahead of schedule and within budget. Commercial operation of the units was originally planned over two years, and the new schedule required the team to start up all four units in 13 months. Three of them started up within four months of each other.

Honorable Mentions: Hudson Unit 2 Back End Technology Project, owned by PSEG Fossil LLC in Jersey City, NJ

PSEG selected URS to provide engineering, procurement support and construction management services for the installation of emissions control technology in Unit 2 at the Hudson Plant in Jersey City, NJ. The project was in response to a consent decree requiring significant reductions in mercury, NOx, SO2 and particulate matter and mandated a project completion date of December 31, 2010. The project also required 108 construction permits.

When URS began work in April 2009, engineering was 60 percent complete and construction was 20 percent complete with only 20 months to go before the completion date. The project also required 108 construction permits.

The project scope included modifications to existing air heaters and equipment related to the retrofit of the advanced emission controls, along with the installation of a selective catalytic reduction system to reduce NOx emissions, a flue gas desulfurization system for SO2 reduction, a Pulse jet fabric filter to reduce particulate matter, activated carbon injection for mercury control, and particulate and mercury continuous emission monitoring. The emission controls consisted of two trains.

URS was also asked to address repairs of two severely corroded existing steel columns, base plates and anchor bolts in the air heater and precipitator area. The existing columns and timber piling foundations would be deficient under heavy equipment gravity loads, seismic wind uplift and lateral forces.  URS modified column-brace and foundation load transfer mechanisms by providing built-up channel bases. High-strength anchors were strategically positioned to clear existing steel. New pile cap foundations protruded above ground and encased existing concrete piers, and four, 70-foot deep, 6-inch diameter micropiles were drilled through existing foundation and socketed 5-feet into the bedrock.

URS then used a single Manitowac 21000 crane to lift and place the completed SCR support trusses in one major pieces fabricated on the ground. The site had insufficient laydown yard and was restricted to a 10-acre construction footprint, along with a high water table in the Hackensack River Flood Hazard area. Workers used off-site areas up to 5 miles away and the plant’s parking lot for assembly and laydown of the SCR and baghouses. The plant was completed ahead of schedule in early December 2010.

Ameren Energy Generating Coffeen Plant, owned by Ameren Energy Corp. in Coffeen, Ill.

The Coffeen Plant has two units capable of generating 1,000 MW. Unit 1 had an upgrade to its electrostatic precipitator, while Unit 2 had a new one installed in 2010.

Two new wet scrubbers were also installed, removing 99 percent of SO2 without the use of additives or internal packing, 60 percent of SO3, particulate matter to less than 0.015 lb/MMBtu and 90 percent of oxidized mercury. The project took 42 months to complete.

Hitachi Power Systems provided the wet scrubbers, wet limestone grinding system, piping, rotating equipment, valves and instrumentation and controls in April 2006, and advanced design features were integrated into the scrubbers to accommodate the wide range of inlet flue gas sulfur and chlorine concentrations and to maximize SO2 removal efficiency.

Ameren chose Alberici as the General Contractor, while Ameren purchased all equipment components with support from Sargent & Lundy.

Best Renewable Energy Project 2011: Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, owned by Florida Power & Light in Indiantown, FL

Florida Power & Light’s Martin solar project is a 75 MW concentrating solar power plant located on 500 acres adjacent to FPL’s Martin natural gas-fired power plant. The $400 million project began commercial operation in December of 2010, $75 million under budget and ahead of schedule.

The project uses 200,000 parabolic mirror technology to generate 155,000 megawatt-hours of power annually; 6,816 12-meter Gossamer frames; 1,136 Solar Collector assemblies; 190,000 mirrors and 142 solar field loops. Each Gossamer frame had 624 parts.

The team of Lauren Engineers & Constructors, the EPC contractor, and FPL developed improved processes for receiving, inspecting and staging frame parts, assembling the frames in stations and transporting the final product to the field. The team also designed a special handheld tool for frame assembly made to hold a retainer clip in position for a locking pin, thus eliminating the potential of injuries from holding the retainer clip by hand. Multiple carts, jigs and associated equipment had to be developed to assist with this effort, including specially designed rolling carts for transition between stations and a custom-fabricated component to pick the frames up onto the carts.

The teams consisted of staff from both companies but FPL took the lead on several sections, including startup and major procured items, while Lauren took primary responsibility for engineering, commodity procurement and construction.

Honorable Mentions: The Sarnia Solar Project, owned by Enbridge Inc. in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

Enbridge entered into an agreement with First Solar in 2009 to expand the facility from 20 MW to 80 MW. The new project uses about 1.3 million First Solar thin-film solar modules and was built under a fixed-price engineering, procurement and construction contract. At its peak, the workforce for the Sarnia project was 800.

Enbridge and First Solar consulted with local First Nations and landowners on their various concerns, and the company’s Aboriginal and Native American Policy requires that they build positive relationships with First Nations and landowners. The company’s Neutral Footprint requires them to maintain an environmental footprint at January 2009 levels when construction began, which includes planting a tree for every tree removed, conserving an acre for every acre of natural habitat impacted and generating a kilowatt of renewable energy for every kilowatt of energy the operations used. As a result, Enbridge restored 950 acres of land the project occupies and generates more than 120,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy. The project’s proximity to crude oil terminals and various wind projects in Sarnia introduces operational synergies to capitalize on.

City of Coachella Water Reclamation Plant, owned by Solar Power Partners in Coachella, CA

The specific opportunity facing the City of Coachella was the ability to reduce the high electricity bill for the City Coachella Water Reclamation Plant, by converting three acres of land adjacent to the water treatment facility into a 420 kW concentrated solar photovoltaic project that could reduce the electricity bill normally paid to the Imperial Irrigation District.

Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), working with the City, originated the project that would accomplish the goal of reduced operating costs. By partnering with the City and the local utility, they designed a $2.7 million project that utilizes advanced concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology from California-based SolFocus, Inc. This CPV technology provides conversion efficiencies nearly twice that of traditional solar technologies. The CPV systems provide a much higher energy yield than would have been possible with other solar technologies, providing excellent economics for the City and the solar plant owner and operator. Fifty-five SolFocus SF-1100S ground-mounted CPV systems incorporating 1,540 panels comprise the plant. Had this been plant been built with traditional PV or thin film, then the number of panels would have been 2,800 to 3,100 to generate the same amount of energy. Solar Power Partners financed, owns, and operates the plant, and sells the output to the water reclamation plant under a long-term power purchase agreement.

Since the installation of the power plant, the average monthly bill for the water reclamation facility has been reduced by over 65 percent. The solar plant is expected to generate 1,106 million kilowatt hours in its first year of operation that provides roughly 40 percent of the plant’s power demand.

The plant was built on previously disturbed land, which the city leased to Solar Power Partners; the land was not suitable for buildings or other construction. More than 30 full-time jobs were created to prepare and build the new plant.

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