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Coal Plant Harnesses Power to Thwart Crisis Before it Strikes

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You can’t save what you can’t see

In the northeastern United States, a 200+ megawatt coal-fired cogeneration plant with a beverage-grade CO2 facility as its steam host, faced a troubling reality: it was nearly impossible for managers to identify energy usage and create efficiencies across their large energy portfolio. Equipment downtime for unexpected repairs slowed productivity and added expenses. They needed a solution that would lift the veil on usage and enable action in real time.

The plant manager introduced his company to Panoramic Power® from Direct Energy Business, a simple device-level monitoring solution that delivers data to user-friendly dashboards, helping companies increase efficiencies and productivity while also saving money.

Rapid install leads to rapid data

The plant piloted Panoramic Power in the CO2 facility on their electric tracing panels. The goal was to identify circuits that wasted energy due to improper function. In less than a day, 40 wireless sensors and two wireless bridges were installed on the 208V heat tracing circuits. The plant manager was immediately able to track the energy consumption profiles of each of the 40 heat tracing circuits.

“Early on, we recognized one of the main benefits of this project,” he recalled. “The visibility and granularity the system provides for energy consumption was amazing. Armed with this data, our technicians can see how the heat tracing is performing relative to process or ambient conditions and make an assessment on the heat trace reliability.”

Through the pilot, technicians learned that some line freezes occurred not because their heat tracing system malfunctioned, but because pipes were insufficiently insulated for the cold outdoor temperatures. The financial impact of the downtime and additional labor for break-in work was approximately $77,000 – a cost that the plant manager expects will be saved by Panoramic Power’s insight in the future.

“Having the real-time and historical load data on these circuits from the Panoramic Power system is a tremendous improvement in the troubleshooting and maintenance activities for heat tracing panels.”

Real-time data empowers proactivity

During the upcoming spring and summer months, when heat tracing will not be required, the plant will continue monitoring heat tracing data to determine if circuits are on when they are not needed.

The plant manager explained, “With the detailed consumption and cost information that is available with this technology, an energy conservation audit and savings potential can be easily determined.”

The plant expects to continue troubleshooting with Panoramic Power throughout the year and work toward a comprehensive installation.

Posted: September 12, 2016