The 2005 Projects-of-the-Year award winners were recognized at POWER-GEN International in Las Vegas in early December.
By Teresa Hansen, Associate Editor
Each year, Power Engineering magazine recognizes some of the world’s best power projects during POWER-GEN International. The projects are selected based on demonstrated technical excellence and outstanding economic, social and environmental benefits to power project owners and their customers. They can represent either new power plants or innovative projects at existing facilities anywhere in the world.
The 2005 Projects-of-the-Year award winners were announced during POWER-GEN’s keynote session at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas in early December. The winners were selected from four major categories: Best Coal-fired Project, Best Gas-fired Project, Best Nuclear Project and Best Renewable Project. In addition, because there were so many viable projects this year, two projects were selected to receive honorable mention awards.
While the projects’ technologies are all quite different, they all have some important similarities:Tthey were managed well and innovative processes and procedures were employed to complete the projects within the allotted time and budget.
Best Coal-fired Project
Although much of North America’s electricity is generated by large coal-fired power plants, new construction of coal-fired plants has been a hard sell for the past 15 years or more. Thought of by many as a threat to the environment, coal-fired generation has taken a back seat to cleaner natural gas-fired generating technologies. However, coal’s negative reputation is beginning to change and this year’s Best Coal-fired Project-of-the-Year Award winner, Genesee 3, is helping prompt that change in Canada and across North America.
Genesee 3, the most advanced coal-fired facility in Canada, is located about 40 miles southwest of Edmonton, Alberta, and features the first use of supercritical technology in Canada. The plant has an efficiency rating of 43.6 percent and a gross heat rate of 8253.6 kJ/kWh. In addition, it boasts an enhanced technology suite, which when factored with offsets, brings greenhouse gas emissions down to the level of a natural gas combined-cycle plant. The plant is co-owned by EPCOR and TransAlta, and is operated by EPCOR.
This year’s Best Coal-fired Project-of-the-Year Award winner, Genesee 3, is the most advanced coal-fired facility in Canada. Photo courtesy of EPCOR.
When proposed in 2000, no new coal facilities had been approved in Western Canada in 20 years. “Alberta was Canada’s only deregulated market for power generators,” said Brian Vaasjo, EPCOR’s executive vice president. “With a rapidly expanding economy, peak electricity demand has risen 5 percent per year since 1999. EPCOR responded by proposing Genesee 3. To make Genesee 3 a reality, EPCOR had to demonstrate that coal had a future as an environmentally responsible choice. To do this, we proposed Canada’s first supercritical boiler and voluntarily invested $90 million in clear air technologies to significantly improve environmental performance.”
TransAlta came on board in 2003, as a 50-50 partner. “The Genesee 3 partnership is an excellent example of two experienced power generators teaming up to ensure the continuation of a robust power supply in Alberta, further increasing reliability, while reducing emissions,” said Tom Rainwater, TransAlta’s executive vice president.
In addition to convincing regulators that Genesee 3 was a good thing for Alberta, EPCOR also wanted to make sure the public felt good about the project early on. “We were fortunate in that we already had a presence in the community with Genesee 1 and 2,” said Vaasjo. “Through the years, we have enjoyed good relations with local residents and stakeholders, but we did not take this for granted as we proposed a third unit at Genesee.
“We consulted extensively with the community, operating on the premise that we could not provide too much information or be too busy to listen. Issues were systematically identified and addressed in advance of the regulatory process. As a result of this upfront work, the regulator was able to complete its public hearing on Genesee 3 in seven days,” Vaasjo added. “The key learning for us was the importance of building relationships and dealing with issues as best we could – early on in the process – rather than leaving them until the regulatory forum, which tends to be adversarial in nature.”
Coal for Genesee is trucked to the site from the nearby Genesee mine. The coal is fed to the once-through Benson boiler at 230 tons/hour, producing more than 3 million pounds of steam per hour at 1,058 F and 3,770 psi. The supercritical boiler enables the plant to be 18 percent more efficient than the average Alberta coal unit, resulting in 18 percent less CO2 emissions. “EPCOR has agreed to further offset Genesee 3’s emissions down to the equivalent of a natural gas combined-cycle unit – about 375 kg/MWh, or 62.5 percent below the Alberta average,” said Vaasjo. “Offsets are acquired from a variety of sources.”
For SO2 control, Genesee uses spray dryer technology. This flue gas desulfurization technology reduces SO2 emissions by 70 percent compared to existing coal-fired units. Genesee committed to a 78 ng/J SO2 standard, well below the current Alberta standard of 180 ng/J and also below the original design level of 90 ng/J. NOx control is achieved using the Benson boiler’s low-NOx burners, combining staged combustion and overfire air to reduce NOx emissions by 40 percent. Finally, the fabric filters at Genesee will achieve particulate matter levels of 0.13 kg/MWh, well below the 0.47 kg/MWh levels achieved by the electrostatic precipitators at the existing Genesee units.
From groundbreaking to reaching full load in December 2004, Genesee 3 was constructed in just 36 months, on time, on budget and with an industry-leading safety record, a feather in the cap for the project owners, Hitachi Canada, the principal contractor, Colt Engineering, the owner’s engineer, and all of the participating subcontractors. The accomplishment is noteworthy because while Alberta’s oil sands sector is fueling $84 billion in major construction, the industry is experiencing labor shortages and significant cost overruns.
According to Vaasjo, Genesee 3’s fast-tracked construction helped mitigate the risks of developing in a deregulated market. “And, it proved that coal plants can be built faster to compete with natural gas,” Vaasjo added.
Genesee 3 was one of Alberta’s busiest and safest construction sites. The construction team included 42 contractors, 16 unions, and a peak workforce of 2,100. To build the supercritical boiler, EPCOR’s contractor Hitachi Canada brought timesaving modular construction methods developed in Japan. Largely unfamiliar in the Canadian power industry, these procedures involved fitting together complete sections of floors with many pre-installed components at ground level. Cranes then hoisted the assembled components up to be bolted in place. This typically allowed 20 to 30 components to be lifted into final position at the same time.
Vaasjo believes Genesee 3’s biggest success is that it takes the industry one step closer to the next generation of clean coal plants and, ultimately, emission-neutral coal plants. “It has introduced an important step-change proving that, with improvements in technology, coal can be a secure, cost-competitive and environmentally responsible source for electricity generation where it is available.”
Best Gas-fired Project
Although rising natural gas prices are posing a big challenge for many gas turbine owners and operators, gas-fired power plants still fill an important part of the electricity generating market share. Gas turbine plants remain competitive with other generation technologies because they are highly efficient and generally have much less environmental impact than many other generating technologies. As challenges arise, many gas turbine owners and operators are meeting them by continuing to improve their facilities’ performance.
This year’s recipient of the Best Gas-fired Project-of-the-Year Award, We Energies, recently commissioned the Port Washington Generating Station (PWGS)-a 500 MW unfired (545 MW in supplemental firing mode) plant that employs some of the latest, most efficient technologies available and is considered a “good neighbor” to the nearby community. Construction of PWGS followed an aggressive 24-month schedule. The unit was completed in July 2005. A second identical unit is scheduled for completion in May 2008.
We Energies is the principal utility subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC). We Power LLC is a separate WEC subsidiary established to design, build and own PWGS and other power plants being built as part of WEC’s Power the Future plan.
This year’s Best Gas-fired Project-of-the-Year Award winner, We Power, recently commissioned a 500 MW plant is considered a “good neighbor” to the nearby community. Photo courtesy of Washington Group International.
Washington Group International managed design and engineering for the plant and Wisconsin Power Constructors Inc. served as the constructor of record.
Located north of Milwaukee, Wis., the 1,090-MW combined-cycle PWGS replaces a five-unit 400-MW coal-fired plant built on the same site in 1935. When originally built, industrial plants surrounded the station and the town of Port Washington had 4,000 residents. Over time, residences have replaced the industry and the town’s population has grown to 10,000.
Fully automated and designed for cycling operation, the plant consists of two identical power blocks. Each block consists of two GE 7FA combustion turbines, two Alstom triple-pressure reheat heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) with supplemental duct firing, and a GE D11 three-pressure, reheat steam turbine. Steam condensing occurs via a single-pass, divided waterbox condenser using lake water for once-through cooling. For enhanced performance during the hot summer months, the combustion turbines are equipped with inlet air cooling technology using lake water. Emissions control is accomplished with the combustion turbine’s dry low-NOx combustors and with an SCR system in the HRSGs.
The new plant retains the distinctive character of the old plant. We Power kept the north and west walls of the original concrete and red brick structure, which was designated as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1980. Retaining portions of the existing ornate building and enclosing the remainder of the new facility reduced the aesthetic impacts on the community. The new plant meets stringent noise requirements developed by local officials and has reduced stack emissions. The new air intakes are hidden behind the west wall, and the plant built out only to the south and east, leaving the façade facing the city of Port Washington unchanged.
Washington Group used 70-year old drawings to develop a 3D model for the plant background so the design would minimize visual impact. For noise control, silencers were installed on the combustion turbine air intakes and the HRSG stacks. The plant itself was enclosed in a building, with acoustically treated walls and the minimum number of doors and windows for safe operation.
“The biggest challenge was building on a very tight site,” said Mark Stone, PWGS vice president and director. “Initially, only the southern part of the existing plant was demolished. As a result, the only practical access afforded to build the first power block was from the east.”
An existing bluff had to be cut away and a new access road constructed along with a channel that removed the plant property from an existing flood zone. These factor, along with the reuse of portions of the original plant, significantly restricted access on three sides of the site. “Lake Michigan is a short distance away on the fourth side. All equipment had to come down the new access road,” Stone said. “Furthermore, with site space at a premium, equipment laydown had to be at a remote location. Careful staging and planning was required for every construction step.”
Stone expects construction of the second power block to be an even bigger challenge because it is sandwiched between the new power block to the south and the existing office building/traveling water screen room to the north. “The experience we gained from the first construction phase will be put to full use during the next phase,” Stone said.
Although building on the brownfield site created some design and construction challenges, Stone said that there were many benefits to using the existing Port Washington site. “The original plant already had an adjacent switchyard, office and machine shop areas, and a switch-house building that could be adapted to house the new electrical gear and control room,” he said.
In addition, the existing station had a once-through cooling system drawing water from nearby Lake Michigan. This system was complete with intake and discharge tunnels along with a traveling water screen system. By reusing these structures, some capital costs were saved, permitting was simplified and plant performance was enhanced by the existing once-through cooling. To use the original water permits, the intake and discharge apparatus could not be modified. The historical total water flow and temperature rise were used as the plant design basis, which dictated the two power block capacity at 1,090 MW.
Traveling screens were fit into the existing concrete walls. Removing cladophora moss required an innovative, dual wash system, although discharge had to exit through the original discharge box. During normal operation, the screens travel at five feet per minute and are washed by a series of low-pressure nozzles. If moss buildup is detected, the system automatically switches to a screen speed of 20 feet per minute and starts a high-pressure booster pump. Separate high-pressure nozzles remove moss before it causes total system blockage.
To date, the unit capacity factor at PWGS has been 38 percent with a service factor of 48 percent. During plant performance testing this past summer, the first power block bettered its target goals for output and heat rate in both fired and unfired modes (Table 1). Tests showed the plant has a thermal efficiency of 50.7 percent without duct firing and 50 percent with duct firing.
Best Nuclear Project
In the past few years, several nuclear plants have had instances of cracking in reactor vessel closure head (RVCH) penetrations due to primary water stress corrosion. This cracking requires extensive repairs, resulting in significant refueling outages and large capital outlays. This year’s winner of the Best Nuclear Project-of-the-Year Award, FPL, chose to replace the existing reactor vessel heads on its Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 with new components to eliminate repairs during upcoming refueling outages.
FPL made a proactive decision to replace the reactor heads prior to undergoing any serious repairs to the components. This decision was based on industry events and trending data regarding primary water stress corrosion cracking in Alloy 600 reactor head penetrations. Other utilities have had to undergo extensive repair campaigns due to discovery issues during visual and volumetric examinations. These types of repairs during a refueling outage have significant schedule and budget impacts.
FPL teamed with The Steam Generating Team (SGT) LLC, a joint venture company between Washington Group International and AREVA/Framatome ANP. The SGT LLC was responsible for performing EPC services for creating temporary containment access, heavy rigging and hauling of both old and new reactor vessel heads, and containment restoration at both units.
The project faced three main technical challenges. First, the existing and replacement vessel heads were too large to be moved through the plant’s existing equipment hatch, so a temporary opening was needed in each plant’s containment building. Sixty-two of the 108 steel strand tendons – tensioned to 748,000 pounds – had to be detensioned, removed and reinstalled after the vessel heads were swapped out.
This year’s winner of the Best Nuclear-Project-of-the-Year Award, FPL, chose to proactively replace the existing reactor vessel heads on its Turkey Point Units 3 and 4. Photo courtesy of Washington Group International.
FPL’s Turkey Point containment buildings are reinforced post-tension concrete with a steel liner plate. To accommodate the RVCHs, the temporary opening that was created through the containment wall measured approximately 20 feet by 32 feet. SGT performed all engineering and implementation necessary to de-tension the containment building; cut the concrete, rebar, tendon sheaths and liner plate; and restore the containment building to its original design. Work involved detensioning and removing 52 horizontal and 10 vertical tendons. This approach had been implemented previously on numerous nuclear plants, although some of the first containment openings incurred emergent technical issues and significant delays. The project team worked extensively with the tendon removal/reinstallation subcontractor, PCS, to improve safety, work approach and efficiency in tendon operations. On Unit 4, tendon removal operations were performed in 29 hours and replacement operations in 23 hours, the best performance on such a project to date.
Because there are no longer qualified suppliers of nuclear grade concrete and due to the plants’ remote location, the project team procured a custom-designed mobile batch plant to produce replacement concrete to match original design specification while achieving design strength in less than 72 hours. SGT developed the mix design and all necessary material qualifications and process procedures to ensure delivery of high-quality nuclear grade batch concrete.
The project team’s biggest challenge was related to limited space and limiting soil conditions on Unit 3 that complicated crane access. To handle the largest load – 143 tons for the existing reactor head – the team had to use a tower crane rather than the preferred crawler crane because of loading impacts on underground utilities. Analysis showed that use of a tower crane for this application would require the largest capacity crane available. The tower crane’s foundation had to be designed for relatively poor soil conditions on the south Florida coastline.
To overcome the small footprint available for the heavy rigging activities, the tower crane was erected on 12 reinforced auger-cast piles that were 24 inches in diameter and 65 feet deep. Each pile cap required 130 yards of concrete.
The tower crane also had to be installed to withstand hurricane force winds up to 160 mph. Shortly after installation, the crane’s security was tested by Hurricane Charlie, and then by Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne over the next month. Even though these hurricanes required the crane to be demobilized and remobilized three times, crane-related activities at the start of the Unit 3 outage were delayed by only 26 hours, and the crane incurred no damage.
Another solution used to minimize the effects of the limited footprint involved constructing a temporary assembly building that was used to preassemble the reactor head and, as much as possible, keep it off the critical path.
The third challenge was minimizing the outage duration. FPL requested a breaker-open-to-breaker-close outage duration of 67 days for each unit. Through a 14-month effort by the project team to engineer and plan the outage, each outage window was reduced to 55 days, saving considerable costs. The project was completed on June 30, 2005.
No lost time or recordable accidents were recorded during the 530,000 manhours expended on the job. In addition, each unit established a U.S. record for lowest overall radworker dose on a reactor vessel head project.
Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 are still in their first operating cycle since the replacement and there have been no operating problems with the new components.
Best Renewable Project
As global warming continues to make headlines and many countries commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, renewable energy technologies are becoming more important in the generation mix. Therefore, Power Engineering would be remiss if it didn’t include a Best Renewable Project in its Projects-of-the-Year Awards.
This year’s winner, the Bavaria Solarpark, is the largest photovoltaic project in the world. Covering a total of 62 acres (equivalent to 56 football fields) and using 57,600 solar panels, the Bavaria Solarpark is a 10 MW facility. The project cost approximately $60 million and, over the next 30 years (the facility’s life expectancy), is predicted to reduce CO2 emissions by almost 62,000 tons.
Bavaria Solarpark is located on three separate sites in Bavaria, Germany. The largest site is approximately 37 acres and provides about 6 MW of electricity, and the other two sites are about 12.5 acres each, providing 2 MW of electricity per site.
The Solarpark uses PowerLight Corp.’s patented PowerTracker technology, which features an integrated, single-axis design that enables the photovoltaic (PV) modules to automatically follow the sun’s path throughout the day. Each section, which covers about one acre and generates 250 kW of electricity, is equipped with one controller that uses GIS technology to track the sun’s movement. The solar panels in each module move simultaneously via a single motor that is smaller than a typical refrigerator motor. According to Howard Wenger, PowerLight’s executive vice president, this unique tracking ability allows the Bavaria Solarpark to provide about 15 percent more electricity annually than facilities using traditional fixed solar technology.
This year’s winner of the Best Renewable Project-of-the-Year Award, the Bavaria Solarpark, is the largest photovoltaic project in the world, covering 62 acres. Photo courtesy of PowerLight Corp.
The Bavaria Solarpark was developed in response to the newly amended German Renewable Energy Law (EEG), which established a renewable feed-in tariff for both ground-mounted and rooftop mounted photovoltaic systems with a guaranteed 20-year power purchase agreement. According to Germany’s Environment Minister Trittin, Germany is striving to have the world’s leading solar industry.
The EEG guaranteed that each Bavaria Solarpark site would have an interconnection to the electrical grid with the regional German utility E.ON Energie, as well as the 20-year power purchase agreement.
PowerLight worked with several partners to complete the project, which officially opened on June 30, 2005. Deutsche Structured Finance provided project finance services, Siemens AG supplied and installed the electrical equipment to enable interconnection with the utility grid, K&S Consulting secured the permits and the necessary land rights, Max Boegl provided civil construction services, and Coplan AG provided civil and electrical engineering support, helping ensure the design and construction specifications met German standards.
PowerLight was the turnkey system provider, responsible for development, design, engineering, construction and provision of all goods and services during construction. The company is still responsible for maintenance and operations of Bavaria Solarpark and has guaranteed a certain performance for the facility. “So far, Bavaria Solarpark’s performance has been great and has exceeded the guaranteed performance requirements,” said Wenger.
According to Wenger, the Frauhofer Institute tracks the Solarpark’s performance and it has delivered 1 percent to 2 percent more electricity than originally anticipated. The facility has a 12 percent conversion efficiency.
Although it is the operator, PowerLight does not own the facility. Various companies, organizations and individuals who willing invested in the project are owners of the Solarpark. Deutsche Structured Finance was responsible for finding and organizing the investors.
Since coming on-line, the facility has had no major problems and has been available 100 percent of the time. “The Bavaria Solarpark proves that solar technology is suitable for electricity generation on a large scale,” said Wenger. “Solar power is proven and reliable; it generates emissions-free electricity while lowering operating costs. As the technology becomes increasingly mainstream and PV production increases, economies of scale will accelerate further cost reduction.”
Because the field of eligible projects was so strong this year, Power Engineering selected two additional projects to receive Honorable Mention Awards.
An honorable mention for Best Coal-Fired project was awarded to East Kentucky Power Cooperative for the E.A. Gilbert Unit 3 power plant in Maysville, Ky. Gilbert is a 268 MW coal-fired circulating fluidized bed boiler located on the same site as the Spurlock Power Station.
The fluid-bed boiler is inherently designed for fuel flexibility. It will burn 1.2 million tons of coal per year, containing up to 20 percent ash and 4.5 percent sulfur, but the unit is also designed to burn petroleum coke, biomass and about five million tires per year. Low emissions are achieved via the boiler’s lower firing temperatures, a flash dryer absorber, a selective non-catalytic reduction system and a baghouse. Steam is supplied to the reheat turbine-generator at 2,400 psi and 1,000 F.
Construction on the project began in June 2002, and commercial operation commenced in March 2005, an impressive 33-month construction schedule, one month ahead of schedule. Stanley Consultants provided engineering, design, procurement and construction management support for the project. Two million man-hours were worked on the project without a lost-time accident, and the project came in under budget at $400 million.
An honorable mention for Best Gas-Fired project was awarded to the Southern California Public Power Authority for the Magnolia Power Project in Burbank, Calif. Magnolia is a 250 MW nominal, 310 MW peak gas-fired combined-cycle facility owned by six municipal utilities. Its design and urban location position it as a prototype for load-centered generation. Each owning partner provides its own gas and schedules its own off-take each hour of the day. Power generated from Magnolia will reduce transmission congestion in the region.
Other project highlights include the use of treated sewage water for operational water requirements, a zero liquid discharge system in which no water is discharged from the site, the world’s first use of GE’s High Efficiency Advanced A-14 steam turbine, an Alstom triple-pressure HRSG optimized for cycling duty, inlet air cooling and supplemental duct firing to boost power on hot days, and more than 1.1 million man-hours worked without a lost-time accident.
Kvaerner Songer provided engineering, procurement and construction services for the plant, which came on-line in late summer 2005.
Projects-of-the-Year 2005 Major Vendors
ABB – DCS control system
Alstom – Boiler erector
Asea Brown Boveri – Switchyard equipment
Bird Construction – Civil work
Colt Engineering – Owner’s engineer
Cutler Hammer – Switchgear
Hamond – Sulfur recovery plant and baghouse
Hamond Custodis – Stack
Hitachi – Generator transformer
Hitachi Canada – Principal contractor
Jacobs Engineering – Main steam and auxiliary pipework erector
Laird Electric – Switchyard and BOP electrical
Lockerbie & Hole – Power island electrical
Moody International – Inspection and expediting services
Waiward Steel – Structural steel supply and erection
Alstom – HRSGs
Cuttler Hammer – Medium and low voltage switchgear
Emerson-Ovation – Plant DCS
Englehard PES – CO catalysts
Flowserve – LP feedwater recirc pumps
Forney – Duct burners
General Electric – Combustion turbines and reheat steam turbine
Holtec – Surface condenser
Ingersoll-Rand – Air compressors and air dryers
ITT A-C Pumps – Circulating water pumps
KSB Inc. – Boiler feed pumps
Lakeside Steel – Circulating water pipe
Merrill Iron & Steel – Structural steel
Mitsubishi/Cormatech – SCR catalysts
Spancrete – Prefabricated concrete panels
US Filter-Envirex – Traveling water screens
Turkey Point Units 3 & 4
American Hydro – Hydrolasing concrete demolition
Chicago Bridge & Iron – Liner plate cutting and welding
Mammoet – Heavy rigging and transport
Precision Surveillance Corp. – Tendon supplier and consulting service
The Steam Generator Team – EPC services
Coplan AG – civil and electrical engineering support
Deutsche Structured Finance – Project finance services
K&S Consulting – Permits and the necessary land rights
Max Boegl – Civil construction services
Siemens AG – Electrical equipment for grid interconnection
E.A. Gilbert Unit 3
Alstom Power – Boiler island, circulating fluidized bed boiler, baghouse and flash dryer absorber
Cherne Contracting Corp. – Engineering/construction
GE Power Systems – Steam turbine
Stanley Consultants – EPC
Magnolia Power Project
Alstom Power – HRSG
Aquatech International Corp. – Zero liquid discharge
Areva T&D – Transformers
Asea Brown Boveri – GIS substation
Bibb & Associates Inc. – Technical support services
Black & Veatch – Owner’s engineer
Emerson Process Management – Plant DCS
GE Industrial Systems – Switchgear and motor control centers
GE Power Systems – Turbine-generators
Kvaerner Songer Inc. – EPC
Marley – Cooling system
Navigant Consulting Inc. – Banker’s engineering services
Peerless – SCR system
Puretec Industrial Water – Water treatment system