May your Holidays be Merry & your New Year be Prosperous!
Best wishes from T2E3! 

'Tis the Season, and I hope you are enjoying all the Holiday Spirit that is around us this year.  Here at T2E3 we're getting ready to enjoy some time (and spirits) with family.  Then it's back to preparations for a Joyous 2012.  If you need any input for performance monitoring and reporting projects for 2012, please let me know.  I'd love to assist you in making (and keeping) plans for maintaining your plants at their peak performance levels in the New Year.

PowerGen 2011 - Las Vegas

PowerGen International was in Las Vegas this month, and it was one of the biggest shows they've had in recent history.  More than 19,000 attendees, including over 1,200 exhibitors and 200 speakers.  And even with all the crowds and acres of exhibits, it was hard not to run into people I knew.  PowerGen is a great place to see friends and colleagues from the industry.  Some of which I only get to see once or twice a year in person.  Due to scheduling conflicts, my trip to Vegas was short, and packed with meetings for ASME.  But, I was able to attend the Keynote session and one panel session on new technologies for fast startups at combined cycle facilities.


There were three keynote speakers at PowerGen:  David Walsh from Mitsubishi, Donald Karner from ECOtality (a maker of EV charging stations) and Elmo Collins from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Each speaker talked to different aspects of our industry. 
Mr. Walsh, from the gas and steam turbine side of things, wanted to point out how significant advances in technology have been since the late 80's - both from an efficiency and emissions standpoint, and also that we've been much too quiet about our achievements.  As he put it, "Never had so many done so much for so many, so quietly."  The power industry needs to attract good talent, and to do that we need to be more outspoken about our successes - so young people can get excited about pursuing a career in the energy industry.
Mr. Karner discussed some of the hurdles the electric vehicle (EV) industry is jumping over, and added his thoughts on how the addition of significant numbers of EV's - with smart chargers - can help the power industry by adding dispatchable demand to the mix.  Most cars are plugged in between the hours of 6pm and 7am, providing a 13 hour window available for charging, when the average EV only requires 4 hours for a full charge.  Smart chargers would allow the connected utility to adjust the timing of demand within the available window for the most efficient use of resources.
Mr. Collins provided a short overview of some of the lessons from Fukushima, along with how the US nuclear industry is progressing after the tsunami events of March 11, 2011.  He pointed out that in the US, it has been 32 years since the last reactor accident, but indicated that number is not taken to mean that "we have arrived" (in terms of nuclear safety), but more that "we are due" - and we should therefore be more diligent than ever.  Accidents are expected to happen, not all accidents are preventable, but being prepared and vigilant can minimize the effects of any unforeseen accidents that may occur.  Mr. Collins expected the US nuclear industry to move forward with new construction plans.  He also expects small modular reactors (SMR) to start applying for certification within the next 1-3 years. 

Panel Session on Fast Starts

The panel session I attended was entitled "Flexible Gas-Fired Generation in a Rapid Response World".  Presentations were made by Siemens, MHI, NRG and GE regarding their methods for shortening the startup times for combined cycle facilities.  A number of advancements in gas turbine technology were outlined, along with improvements in HRSG design all geared toward increased operating flexibility.  But, as one panelist pointed out, if you want to stay on the grid, you have to be efficient - otherwise you move down the ladder to the point of being a "last on / first off" facility.  Most of the improvements discussed were focused on faster start times (and mostly hot starts).  Only a few touched on the need for increased ramp rates for load following.
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