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NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    FEBRUARY 2012 

The U.S and Europe are Embarked on Hundreds of Projects to Automate and Control Coal-fired Power Plants 

The U.S. and Europe face an unusual situation.  They must utilize existing coal-fired power plants. At the same time they are embarked on reducing CO2 emissions.  Some of the biggest and most immediate CO2 reductions will come from increasing the efficiency of the existing fleet. At the same time, due to the age of many of the plants, there are big savings to be made by upgrading the control systems  McIlvaine is tracking the activities of these plants in Utility Environmental Upgrade Tracking System.

There are 2000 boiler units generating electricity in the two regions. Few new units will be added and few retired. This means that most of these units will be continually evaluating upgrade options.  Regulatory requirements and cost reduction will be the two main drivers.

Investments are ranging from SCADA systems to more sophisticated optimization systems. Neuco, for example, has a suite of optimization systems which combine to lower emissions and improve efficiency.

The benefits of control have increased as the cost of compliance with environmental laws has risen.  The most recent air toxic rules (MATS) are forcing U.S. utilities to utilize extensive activated carbon for mercury removal. Reagents are also required to remove HCl.  Any improvement in efficiency not only reduces coal usage but the amount of reagents needed.

Controlling ammonia consumption not only reduces costs but also build-up on air preheaters. A number of companies such as Sick and Yokogawa are supplying ammonia slip measuring instruments.  Fuel Tech, CISCO and others are supplying integrated systems.

Advanced Process Control is proving its merit. Yokogawa combines the Exasmoc multivariable model predictive control package and Exapilot operation efficiency improvement package to gain multiple benefits. By combining DCS, Exapilot and Exasmoc, the workload on the operators is reduced. There is also typically a reduction in the number of process alarms.

Siemens, Invensys, ABB and others are also supplying systems to make significant efficiency improvements. 

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