Batteries, Policy & Regulations, Renewables

The World’s BEST Power Projects Unveiled

Issue 1 and Volume 118.

By Sharryn Dotson, Associate Editor, Power Engineering, and Meg Cichon, Associate Editor,

Each year, power projects from around the world are honored during POWER-GEN International’s Projects of the Year awards. Project winners for 2013 were announced Nov. 11 at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fla.

This year’s winners reflected the industry’s search for cleaner, more efficient sources of power generation and demonstrated new technologies that are helping power producers achieve these goals. Project winners ranged from the world’s most efficient coal-fired power plant in Arkansas to the electrification of remote villages in India.

To be eligible for a 2013 award, projects had to be commissioned between Aug. 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013. When judging the finalists, editors considered capacity, the technology, and the projects’ impact on the industry and on the communities in which they were installed.

The editors at Power Engineering and evaluated each entry and selected the winning projects.

Natural gas


Winner: Florida Power & Light’s Cape Canaveral Clean Energy Center, Brevard County, Fla.

The 1,200-MW Cape Canaveral Clean Energy Center sits on the site of a former 1960s-era power plant that was demolished in 2010. The new plant cuts the CO2 emissions rate in half from the older plant and reduces air emissions rate by 90 percent without requiring any additional water or land.

The new units use Siemens’ H-Class gas turbines as the main drivers. The facility can generate enough electricity to power about 250,000 homes and businesses while using 33 percent less fuel per megawatt compared to the original power plant. Improving the fuel efficiency means the plant will save hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs – savings that are passed on to the customer.

In addition, the site’s administration building uses solar panels and an electric vehicle charging station.

Runner up: NRG Energy’s El Segundo Energy Center, El Segundo, Calif.

The El Segundo Energy Center is the first Siemens Flex-Plant 10 power plant ever. The 560-MW natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant will use 30 percent less natural gas than the units replaced. The units can provide an output of 300 MW in 10 minutes, which allows them to provide back up support for wind and other renewable sources.

The Flex-Plant 10 includes an SGT6-5000F gas turbine integrated with a single-pressure, non-reheat bottoming cycle. Together with an air-cooled heat exchanger for steam condensing, the Flex-Plant 10 provides a net efficiency of nearly 49 percent, making it the most efficient peaking plant technology available.

The project has met the challenges of permitting, construction and operating in a highly populous and visible beach community on an existing, constrained generation site in the South Bay Southern California area. Amongst the many challenges has been the coordination of complex demolition and construction logistics while maintaining effective operation of existing ongoing generation units. More than 500 tons of concrete had to be removed and recycled.



Winner: Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s John W. Turk Power Plant in Hempstead County, Ark.

The 624-MW John W. Turk power plant is the first plant in the U.S. to use the ultra-supercritical steam cycle that helps cut emissions of SO2, NOx, mercury, CO2 and particulate; reduces production of solid waste products and reduces requirements for water and commodities such as activated carbon, lime and ammonia.

An ultra-supercritical unit operates just above supercritical steam pressure and at steam temperatures above 1,100°F (593°C). Advanced alloys are used in the steam generator, turbine and piping to operate in these conditions. The technology allows the power plant to achieve a full loan heat rate of 8,720 Btu/kWh, lower than conventional subcritical and supercritical cycle technologies. The plant is a single reheat system and burns Powder River Basin coal.

Though the plant is historical in nature, it did not come without hurdles. Environmental groups challenged virtually every operational and environmental permit issued. Engineering and procurement continued during a delay in the air permit, which allowed for an efficient completion of the construction process once the delays were cleared. Construction started in 2008, right as the U.S. economy took a downturn. Beginning construction during the recession actually helped to temper the effect on the local economy. At peak construction in 2011, more than 2,000 craft and staff workers were at the site.

Runner up: Duke Energy’s Cliffside Modernization Project in Cliffside, N.C.

The modernization project at the Cliffside coal-fired power plant, recently renamed the James E. Rogers Energy Complex, in North Carolina consisted of building a new $1.8 billion ($2,182/kW), 82-MW Unit 6, adding a wet flue gas desulfurization (WFGD) to the 560 MW Unit 5 and retiring units 1 through 4. The new unit has a heat rate of 8,806 Btu/kWh (net) with extremely low emissions, for which Duke received a $125 million Clean Coal Tax Credit. The project also uses reuse and recycling to increase efficiency and decrease waste.

The upgraded units 5 and 6 produce double the electricity of the original units 1 through 5 while reducing emissions of SO2 by 80 percent, NOx by 50 percent and mercury by 50 percent. Unit 6 is designed to burn a wide range of fuels, including bituminous – sub-bituminous blends.

Alstom guaranteed lowered emission rates for Unit 6, including 99 percent SO2 removal and 90 percent mercury removal over a wide range of fuels. The near ultra-supercritical Hitachi boiler and the quad-flow Toshiba turbine generator operate with main steam/reheat pressures of 3932/678 PSIA and steam temperatures of 1055°F/1075°F. A key innovation is integration of the operator Human Machine Interface exclusively within an Emerson Ovation DCS, eliminating almost all standalone controllers, PLCs, displays, etc.

The project was largely constructed inside the existing rail loop serving an operating plant. EPC contractor CB&I and other contractors had to coordinate work, including extensive rail and coal unloading modifications, around coal deliveries and had to minimize the impact of tie-in outages on the existing plant.



Winner: Florida Power & Light and Bechtel’s Extended Power Uprate Project, Southeast Florida

The Florida Public Service Commission approved plans for the $3.1 billion Extended Power Uprate (EPU) project in January 2008. The last of the four upgraded units reached full EPU power in June 2013. Florida Power & Light and Bechtel initially estimated that the EPU project would add 399 MW of generating capacity to the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear power plants, but the project actually provided an additional 522 MW for both power plants.

Work on the project included new high-pressure and low-pressure turbines, generator rotors, moisture separator reheaters, condensers and start-up transformers. Because of the forecast load demand, the additional megawatts were scheduled to be placed into service in 2012 and early 2013. The project was implemented in four overlapping phases to meet the expedited schedule. Phase 1 was the engineering analysis phase; phase 2 was the long lead equipment procurement phase; phase 3 was the engineering design modification phase; and phase 4 was the implementation phase. Despite the expedited timeline, the project was completed on schedule and with an industrial safety record approximately 15 times better than the average utility safety rate.

The Extended Power Uprate is projected to save over $100 million in fossil fuel costs during the first full year of service and $3.4 billion over the remaining licensed life of the units as well as reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 33 million tons. In addition, the project improves grid stability by generating electricity where it is needed most.

Runner up: Entergy’s Waterford 3 Steam Electric Station, Steam Generator and Reactor Vessel Closure Head Replacement Project, Killona, La.

An integrated project team led by URS Corp. successfully replaced two steam generators and a reactor vessel closure head (RVCH) at Entergy’s Waterford 3 even as Hurricane Isaac caused the project site to be evacuated and the delivery of the replacement steam generators was delayed, which pushed back the start date of the outage.

A lift system was required to accommodate 720T steam generators and a containment opening that required hydro blasting through approximately three feet of concrete and cutting a steel liner. An engineered temporary work platform (TWP) protected the discharge area of the safety-related cooling towers. The TWP, constructed between the cooling towers and the shield building wall to facilitate concrete removal, was designed and constructed to meet extreme loading and seismic requirements. A containment opening was used to rig, remove and replace the generators and RVCH.

The project was deferred 18 months because of delayed delivery of the replacement generators, so multiple major modifications had to occur at the same time as the generator replacements, requiring extensive coordination. The delay also meant the project faced significant resource challenges, so the team worked collaboratively to ensure appropriate resources were mobilized to support the outage. Hurricane Isaac occurred seven weeks before the outage start, during the height of extensive pre-outage work. An emergency team stayed onsite before the hurricane reached the area and secured the site to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment. Through aggressive planning and execution, the schedule was maintained.



Winner: Solar Electrification of 57 Remote Villages

Deep in the heart of Andhra Pradesh in southern India, hundreds of villagers huddled by candlelight to go about their nightly activities, many having never seen electricity in their lifetimes – until now. Premier Solar Systems electrified 57 of these remote villages with solar energy, and it was no easy task.

To reach each village, workers typically were forced to walk several kilometers through wilderness trails, cross rivers by boat, and then walk some more. A long line of workers carried equipment to each site on foot – one with a solar panel, the next carried a sack of bricks, then a roll of wire, a bag of nuts and bolts, batteries and so on. After several days of hauling, technicians, with help from the locals, would construct an 8-kilowatt (kW) solar array, and the villagers would finally see light.

These off-grid projects collect solar energy throughout the day, which is stored in batteries. At night, a “dusk-to-dawn” switch is activated, and the batteries provide fresh solar energy to the villages. Each installation powers an average of 23 homes per village. “Street lights” are also installed, which turn off at 9:30 p.m. and switch back on from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m.

According to Premier Solar, the solar installations have revolutionized the villages and connected them to the rest of the world. Construction created jobs for villagers to earn income, which has allowed some to purchase electronics and learn the concept of trade – some even opened their own shops.

Premier Solar will continue its work to electrify villages by taking on another 20 in Adilabad and 19 in Khamman.

Runner-up and Readers Choice Award: Solar-Agro-Electric Model

In Gujarat, India, a solar project is providing both electricity and agricultural benefits. The Solar-Agro-Electric Model consists of a 3-MW solar project that spans over 17.5 acres of farmland in a rural community.

It’s a symbiotic relationship. The panels produce electricity for the villagers but also provide necessary shade and security for the growing crops below. The panels are washed often for increased efficiency, and the crops are watered simultaneously. Post-harvest residues are replaced under the panels for improved fertilization.

The project has provided agricultural work for 100 villagers, and the crops are sold at local markets and also distributed among the workers.



Winner: Bison Wind Project

In the U.S., phase 2 and 3 of the Bison Wind Project came online in late 2012, bringing an additional 210 MW of capacity to the grid. The North Dakota-based project, which is now at a total capacity of 292 MW, is part of Minnesota Power’s larger goal of transitioning from mostly coal to an energy mix of one-third renewables, one-third coal and one-third natural gas by 2030. The project delivers power to customers via a repurposed transmission line built in the late 1970s that now carries renewable wind power rather than coal.

Perhaps what is most unique about the Bison project is its energy storage arrangement with Manitoba Hydro. When wind resources are high or demand is low, Bison wind energy can be stored in hydroelectric reserves in Canada and then utilized when necessary.

Bison clocks in at a 42 percent to 44 percent average capacity factor, beating the national 34 percent average, according to Minnesota Power. This performance is due in part to its use of “dino tail” blade technology patented by Siemens. The spiked blades are more efficient and quieter than typical turbines.

The project has boosted the local economy, bringing 280 jobs during its three-year construction and 23 full-time permanent positions.



Winner: Xiangjiaba Hydroelectric Power Plant

Along the Jinsha River between the Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China is the Xiangjiaba Hydroelectric Power Plant. Part of China’s West to East Electricity Transfer Program, which strives to deliver more power to the ever-growing eastern provinces, the plant is expected to deliver 6,400 MW of much-needed power to the region.

Utilizing the highest-output air-cooled hydro generator units at 800 MW each, all four units at its underground powerhouse are currently in operation.

The project ranks in at several top 10 lists, including: China’s third highest capacity hydroelectric plant, the world’s seventh highest capacity hydro plant, and the world’s ninth highest capacity plant of any fuel type once the remaining four 800-MW units come online in 2015.

Due to the sheer size of the units, custom ventilation and cooling components were adapted to prevent energy losses, and Alstom developed and patented double-layer thrust bearing pads to ensure reliability and maintain normal pressure distribution. Despite its massive size and custom parts, developers were able to install and commission each unit quickly at about two months apart.

Once completely commissioned, the 6,400-MW plant is expected to supply power to 40 million people yearly.

Runner-up: North Fork Skokomish Powerhouse and Fish Passage Facility

A dual initiative of clean energy and environmental responsibility, the North Fork Skokomish Powerhouse and Fish Passage Facility in Washington produces clean energy while minding the fragile fish habitat of the Skokomish River. The 3.6-MW facility includes an innovative fish collection and passage system to help bolster the population of Washington’s endangered steelhead and salmon.

Two dams had blocked fish since the 1920s, but now the North Fork facility traps fish swimming upstream with a safe, passive-capture system powered by the water discharged by its turbines. The fish are then moved to a hopper, which takes them to the top of the dam where they are sorted then released into the upper river.



Winner: McGinness Hills Geothermal Power Plant

Resource exploration is considered one of the major barriers to geothermal development. Even if resources are visible above ground, successful construction is not always a guarantee, which is why the McGinness Hills Geothermal Power Plant developed by ORMAT is such a notable project. Not only was the project located amidst protected wildlife, it was also a blind resource because of its lack of surface hot springs and fumaroles, which are e difficult to pinpoint and develop.

The 30-MW project located in Nevada was developed with a mix of conventional and innovative exploration techniques and tests, which included soil mercury geochemistry, geologic mapping, gravity survey, 3-D GIS modeling, slim hole drilling and well testing. This data was compiled into reservoir modeling technology, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which was able to show a clearer picture of what was brewing beneath the surface. Due to this extensive testing, the typically three-year permitting process was finished in less than two and mechanical construction took less than eight months.

Developers also took special care not to disrupt the fragile sage grouse habitat – a bird local to that area of Nevada. Efforts included minimizing noise impact, continued monitoring or impact analysis, construction noise limitations to not disrupt mating season and underground piping to reduce land impact.

With its huge presence in Nevada, ORMAT has donated more than $200,000 to local educational institutions to contribute to the development of the geothermal workforce while also establishing hundreds of jobs at its power plants across the state.



Winner: Sacramento BioDigester

Communities around the globe are scrambling to find ways to fight a mountainous problem: landfills. Though recycling and efficiency efforts have come a long way over the years, it is still a growing issue that must be contained, which is why the city of Sacramento, California has developed the Sacramento BioDigester – the largest biodigester in the U.S.

A technology that is finally gaining steam, the biodigester facility processes 10,000 tons of food and agricultural waste per year that would have otherwise been thrown in a landfill. According to developers, the digester generates the equivalent of 2 MW of energy in the forms of heat, electricity and gas. For example, it produces nearly 200,000 diesel gallon equivalents of renewable natural gas and enough fertilizer enhancements to supply more than 20,000 acres of farmland.

The Sacramento BioDigester has also been deemed a “zero-waste” facility – it generates enough electricity to power both its operations and the neighbor fueling facility, and remnants from waste is used as fertilizer.

The biodigester has been deemed such a success that as of June 2013, it has started the process of scaling up to process 40,000 tons of waste per year.

The project was forged in 2004, when Dr. Ruihong Zhang of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) urged the school to take part in the advancement of anaerobic digesters.

The California Energy Commission soon partnered with UC Davis and invested in research initiatives.

In 2009, CleanWorld was established and together with several California businesses and establishments, developed the Sacramento BioDigester.

The facility supports 16 green jobs and more than $10 million in economic activity. The CleanWorld biodigester manufacturing facility also hosts 12 permanent positions in the Marysville community.

Runner-up: Gainesville Renewable Energy Center

The 100-MW Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass facility in Gainesville, Fla. was commissioned this summer. The project uses boiler and turbine technology that reduces emissions and meets stringent Maximum Available Control standards. Its 930,000-pound per hour bubbling fluidized bed boiler supplied by Metso and a 116.1-MW Siemens turbine provide low-combustion and low-excess air. GREC uses waste wood from sustainable sources such as forestry and sawmill operations, urban wood waste and storm debris. Addressing sustainability concerns, GREC abides by strict forest sustainability rules that are designed for long-term forest health and productivity.

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