Smart technologies target power plant flexibility, efficiency

Some of the most important requirements for power generation in the energy transition period are increased flexibility and greater efficiency for staying competitive. These are being addressed by Mitsubishi Electric with a range of smart automation and electrical solutions. These include scalable Plant Automation solutions for the optimisation of different sized power plants; Virtual Power Plant (VPP) solutions that can support the transition from traditional energy generation sources to renewables and electrical balance of plant solutions.

Due to the energy transition process, distributed control is currently a major theme across industrial automation and infrastructure as a whole. Moving control intelligence out from a central point and onto the plant floor or across a wider network allows for more flexible operations, lower costs and greater efficiency. All of which are desirable for both consumers and operators - in an industry where many more power generation sources are now in direct competition.

PMSXpro is a large-scale power plant DCS system available from Mitsubishi Electric, delivering significantly increased availability, efficiency, expandability and flexibility. It provides harmonization of control hardware with other networked resources, systems and software. This process management concept adapts to the plant‘s process engineering structure: by arranging the plant horizontally into function units with specific control and automation tasks, it allows for upgrades and changes to be made seamlessly – while supporting ongoing efficient control of generation and output.

PMSXmicro is a control and visualisation system based on the larger ‘pro’ system, but designed specifically for use on smaller scale facilities such as renewable energy power plants. It runs on a single Automation Server yet delivers large plant levels of control with easy operating screens for set parameters and alarms. High quality process visuals are used to display a status overview for an entire installation.

Due to recent ambitious European sector objectives, the industry is facing a challenge to affect a changeover to using more renewables. This creates a direct need for power generators, operators and large end users to manage a combination of variable power generation sources and coordinate them so that they work as one harmonized ‘virtual’ power plant’.

To fulfill this requirement Mitsubishi Electric has developed a holistic VPP solution that combines a range of intelligent and reliable Mitsubishi Electric products to deliver overall efficiency, reliability and control. Each solution is designed to meet individual requirements and function independently of the specific type and number of control requirements. Every source can be included in the VPP from conventional power generation resources to renewables as diverse as geothermal, wind, photovoltaic, hydro and biomass.

Best practice requires all switchgear to be fully compatible with operational plant requirements and to be as interchangeable as possible. In order to optimize spares inventory and ensure minimal downtime, the smallest number of parts possible should be kept on the shelf for fast replacements. The MS-EBG MV switchgear system powered by Mitsubishi Electric components fits this requirement perfectly. It is available in a 3.3kV to 24kV operating range at 630A to 4000A and meets all the relevant IEC standards, making it ideal for large sites and smaller power generation facilities.