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Plant Equip. Upgrades


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Table of Contents

PPRG Contents

Major Topic Sections

Fossil-fueled Power
Non-Fossil Generation
End-Use Efficiency
Electricity T&D
Carbon Sequestration
Non-CO2 Reductions
Other GHG Reductions

Related topics in this section

Up to Section Head
Advanced Coal Power
Turbine Efficiency
Cogeneration & CHP
Natural Gas
Upgrading Controls
Plant Equip. Upgrades
Coal Prep & Handling


 Upgrading Plant Equipment


Note that thi
s topic is focused on peripheral plant equipment, and generally not boiler units and turbines. The benefits to turbine improvements are discussed further in the topic "Turbine Efficiency".

Upgrading plant equipment can result in direct energy consumption savings, reduced maintenance costs, extended equipment life, and better power plant performance. Reducing the amount of fossil energy consumed in producing electricity also results in GHG emission reductions.

A coal-fired power plant consumes approximately six percent of its electrical output in operating the fans, pumps, drive motors, and other electrical equipment associated with the plant.  Pollution control technologies, such as scrubbers used to reduce SO2 emissions, can consume an additional 3 percent of the power production.  Some techniques and technologies that can be used to reduce consumption are:

  High-efficiency motors
  Variable speed drives on large fans and pumps
  Higher-efficiency lighting and other auxiliary support equipment
  Converting centrifugal to variable pitch axial flow fans
  Improved electrostatic precipitator controls

Replacing existing equipment, or portions of equipment, with new, improved designs can contribute significantly to power production efficiency. There has been considerable improvement in new designs of the steam turbine. Some utilities have replaced the entire steam turbine with a more efficient one, while others have made changes to the turbine blade design or the path that the steam takes as it moves through the turbine. The benefits to turbine improvements are discussed further in the topic Turbine Efficiency.

Redesign of the path that the flue gas takes through the boiler, ductwork, and environmental control equipment can improve the efficiency of the production process by reducing the power requirements for fans, minimizing maintenance challenges associated with fly ash and increasing boiler output.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data

Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development & Climate, "Environmental Facilities at Thermal Power Stations," (April 2007)

As part of the Asia Pacific Partnership effort to reduce emissions from coal fired power plants, Japan's Chugoku Electric Power Company and The Federation of Electric Power Companies made the following presentation concerning environmental controls at the Partnership meeting in Japan April 2007.

Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development & Climate, "Google Groups: APP Power Gen  – Soot Blowing,"

As an activity of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, various Google Groups have been established to provide a ready means to communicate and share information on specific topics in power generation. This Google Group is "PGT-06-8 Implementation of Artificial Intelligent Soot Blowing System for Improving the Steam Generator Efficiency by Increasing the Effectiveness of Soot Blowers." Due to time constraints and operator inexperience, an existing conventional soot blowing system in a coal fired steam generator can cause an imbalance of the plant cleaning and the excessive use of steam, air and water. The project aims to implement best practices/new technologies which offer “Efficient Heat Transfer” for steam generators.

Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development & Climate, "Maintaining/Improving Thermal Efficiency of Aged Coal-fired Thermal Power Stations," (April 2007)

As part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership effort to enhance the efficiency of coal fired power plants, NTPC of India made the following presentation at the Partnership meeting in Japan April 16, 2007.  The presentation outlines the challenges in India as they address efficiency upgrades.

Babcox and Wilcox, "Upgrades and Enhancements for Competitive Coal-Fired Boiler Systems” (Technical Paper BR#1616)

Existing coal-fired capacity potentially offers the lowest variable cost power production option if these units are upgraded to optimize capacity, operating cost (including fuel), efficiency, and availability while also meeting today’s stringent emissions control requirements. This paper highlights a variety of boiler system upgrades and enhancements which are being utilized to make aging coal-fired boilers low cost competitors in the 1990s.

Electric Power Research Institute, “2008 Portfolio: 63 Boiler Life and Availability Improvement Program” (2008 Portfolio)

Boiler tube failures are leading cause of lost availability (approximately 3%) in fossil-fired steam plants worldwide. The majority of worldwide fossil plants are more than 30 years old and are experiencing increased demand for operational flexibility, while addressing age-related issues for major components. Participants in the Boiler Life and Availability Improvement Program will receive technology, forums for information exchange, and support to safely and reliably operate boiler components while maximizing economic return. This EPRI program has created and successfully demonstrated a world-recognized program to reduce boiler tube failures by understanding damage mechanisms, their root causes, and corrective options for root causes. It has also created the most comprehensive suite of guidelines and analysis tools for boiler component life management.

Federation of Electric Companies of Japan, "Green Handbook Peer Review: Instructions for the Operation & Maintenance Technologies and Efficiency Improvements for the Coal fired Power Plants", (April 2007)

This textbook has been prepared by Japanese electric power companies as a contribution to “PGT-06-01: Best Practices for Power Generation” one of the activities undertaken by the ‘Power Generation and Power Distribution Task Force’ in the context of the ASIA-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP on Clean Development and Climate. The textbook describes important issues associated with maintaining, and enhancing, levels of heat efficiency at a coal-fired thermal power plants, and constitutes a summary of matters of which all technicians working in power generation plants need to be aware. The 482 pages in this manual cover in depth the best practices for thermal power plants for functional and operational control, maintenance and efficiency control, and environmental preservation.

International Energy Agency, IEA Coal Research, Clean Coal Centre, “Prospects for upgrading coal-fired power plants” (CCC/41, December 2000)

This report discusses the prospects and market opportunities for upgrading conventional pulverised coal-fired plants. It covers the retrofitting and upgrading of pulverisers and their fuel distribution system, particulate control, flue gas desulphurisation, and NOx abatement and control measures. Process optimisation to minimise pollutant formation and improve boiler efficiency is also described. The two repowering options covered are circulating fluidised bed boilers and the integration of a natural gas turbine to form a combined cycle.

U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, “Power Plant Improvement Initiative”

The Power Plant Improvement Initiative (PPII) was established in October 2000 to further the commercial-scale demonstration of clean coal technologies at existing and new electric generating facilities. The goals of PPII are geared toward demonstrating near-term advances in technologies to increase the efficiency, lower the emissions, and improve the economics and overall performance of coal-fired power plants, and will build on the successes gained through the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program (CCTDP). Projects will focus on more effective and lower cost emission controls, and improving the by-product utilization, performance and reliability of power plants.

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