By Steve Blankinship, Associate Editor
The Power Engineering magazine Projects of the Year Awards banquet, held December 1 as part of POWER-GEN International, recognized eight outstanding projects that meet demands for energy while demonstrating the highest standards for engineering creativity, cost and time management and environmental and community relations. Awards were presented in four categories, renewable energy, gas-fired, nuclear and coal generation. The awards also spotlight the diversity of power resources that will be needed to maintain the standard of living for those who have electric power and for the vast numbers of people worldwide who still don’t.
Renewable Energy Projects
Winner of the 2008 Project of the Year Award in the renewable energy category went to the Lee County (Fla.) Waste Treatment Expansion Project. The project is the first new municipal waste combustion facility completed in the United States in more than 10 years. It is also the first such project to be permitted and built under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new source performance standards for municipal waste combustion facilities since they were promulgated in the mid-1990s.
The Lee County (Fla.) Waste Treatment Expansion Project is the first new municipal waste combustion facility completed in the U.S. in more than 10 years.
The Lee County expansion project recovers around 600 kWh from each ton of municipal waste that had been previously placed into a landfill. The facility uses reclaimed water plus the effluent from a nearby wastewater treatment plant for all process water needs. That includes boiler makeup water, an approach that saves millions of gallons of drinkable water each year. The plant also captures a significant amount of ferrous and non-ferrous metals from the post-combustion process, which are sold to the metals marketplace.
Runner-up for renewable projects was the Jiangsu Rudong LingYangKenQu Wind Project in China. The facility is a 49.5 MW wind farm on the northeast coastal area of China’s Jiangsu Province. The project took just five months to complete, a record for the Chinese wind energy industry. Jiangsu Rudong consists of 33 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, which feature 262-foot-tall towers and rotor blades with 253-foot blade diameters. The project follows the earlier installation of 67 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines at the same site.
All of the wind turbines were placed in the mudflat area along the sea bank with its inherent soft soil. This marked the first time wind turbines were installed in such a geographic area in China. A new foundation design was developed, which is more suitable to the specific soft ground in the area. All turbines were placed in the boundary area or bottomland and no farmland or arable
The 2008 winner for best gas-fired project was the TEPCO Kawasaki Thermal Power Station owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co. The combined cycle power plant replaces an existing six unit, 1,050 MW facility that had supplied power to the metropolitan area for more than 40 years. The new high efficiency combined cycle plant consists of three 500 MW blocks based on the Mitsubishi M701G2. It is the first application of the turbine, which is the largest gas turbine currently in commercial operation. Combined cycle demonstrated efficiency is 59 percent. Vertical heat recovery steam generators were used to minimize the footprint and they were designed and built with a modular approach to reduce site assembly.
The TEPCO Kawasaki Thermal Power Station in Japan consists of three 500 MW blocks based on the Mitsubishi M701G2.
Also honored was the Xcel Energy High Bridge Plant, a 570 MW combined cycle natural gas-fired plant that replaced a 270 MW plant that had been part of the skyline in St. Paul, Minn., for more than 50 years. The new High Bridge plant produces more power than the old plant, is cleaner and is 30 percent more energy-efficient. Among the issues that had to be addressed was a 1950s-vintage water intake structure on the Mississippi River, which had to be modified to meet new Federal Clean Water Act standards.
Construction innovations included a first-of-its-kind heat recovery steam generator erection strategy that shaved months off the construction schedule. And the continued use of river water for once-through cooling eliminates the need for a cooling tower and the water vapor plumes that come from them.
The 2008 Power Engineering Project of the Year award in the nuclear category went to Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie Unit 2, which underwent one of the more ambitious outages ever attempted in the commercial nuclear power industry. Two steam generators and the reactor vessel head were replaced during a single fuel outage. Replacement of the steam generators and reactor head extends the unit’s life at least 20 years. Access to the outside of the reactor building was limited, requiring special transport of old steam generators out of the building and new ones in, thus eliminating the need to dismantle and modify major plant structures. The project also included a major modification of the plant’s sump system and replacement of a 6,500 horsepower reactor coolant pump. In all, the project required 16,500 separate activities and took 85 days.
Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie Unit 2 underwent one of the more ambitious outages ever attempted in the commercial nuclear power industry.
Also recognized was Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon Unit 2, which had four steam generators replacedall done concurrently with a planned refueling outage. Total outage time was 68 days, 22 hours. Since the containment building and original installation of the steam generators was not intended to provide easy replacement, a completely customized system and innovative assembly process were needed to remove them. Managing the rigging throughout the project required handling all components three times instead of the usual two.
Power Engineering magazine’s Project of the Year in the coal-fired power plant category is the 500 MW Weston 4 unit owned by Wisconsin Public Service. Weston 4 is the first supercritical coal unit to be built in recent years in the United States and incorporates multiple features to enhance efficiency and reduce carbon footprint. The supercritical technology reduces fuel consumption, air emissions and ash disposal. It has main steam and hot reheat temperatures of 1,080 F compared to 1,000 F for standard subcritical units and 1,050 F for other supercritical units. Weston is also the first plant in the U.S. to use P92 pipe and the first plant in Wisconsin to use sorbent injection. Two low-pressure turbine sections and four low-pressure exhaust flows increase turbine cycle efficiency. At the time it received its air permit in October 2004, Weston Unit 4’s emission levels were among the lowest of any coal plant in the U.S.
Weston 4 has main steam and hot reheat temperatures of 1,080 F compared to 1,000 F for standard subcritical coal-fired units and 1,050 F for other supercritical units.
Also honored was the selective catalytic reduction retrofits to Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Plant. While most air quality control projects face on-site congestion issues, Tampa Electric’s Big Bend SCR retrofit program had to overcome particularly complex challenges. With 1,800 MW of capacity at Big Bend, the plant accommodated multiple units with different systems and configurations, firm deadlines based on consent decrees, and an exceptionally tight plant layout. The $330 million SCR retrofits make Big Bend one of the cleanest coal plants in the nation and have reduced NOx emissions 90 percent compared to 1998 levels.