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What can you do?
What can reliability professionals do, in general, to get ready for the emergence of renewable energy sources and the prospect of carbon trading? The first step is to assess the most likely changes in the deployment of units on an ongoing basis, closely evaluating the potential impacts of these new operating modes.
The retraining of operators as early as possible is critical. It is far more efficient for operators to learn from formal training, rather than from trial-and-error after being thrust into a new situation.
The use of simulator training enables operators to prepare for significant changes without the risk of catastrophic failures. This kind of proactive approach does wonders for the confidence and morale of plant personnel, while reducing costly errors.
In addition to developing new training programs, reliability and maintenance engineers also should analyze the design basis of the plant to determine whether certain systems need to be modified. For example, a very large plant might find that modifications
In general, changes related to personnel and procedures should be considered before modifications are made to concrete and steel, which generally take longer and are more expensive.
Renewables and carbon trading are changing the way generating assets are deployed in Europe.
Regardless of whether cap-and-trade legislation is enacted in the U.S. in the near term, we can expect similar changes in the future. These changes will likely result in higher unavailability, higher maintenance costs and lost revenue.
But for those plant operators who respond quickly – and who value an engineered approach to reliability and maintenance – the risks will be mitigated. These operators will gain a competitive advantage compared to those who respond later, or who do not have a methodical, well-thought-out plan of action.
Ron Fluegge is a project manager at Solomon Associates in Dallas, Texas. Ron has more than 39 years of experience in the electric generating industry. He began his career in 1970 as a nuclear engineer at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant. Since then he has worked for a variety of organizations, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Missouri Public Service Commission, Babcock & Wilcox and TXU Electric. He is currently employed at Solomon Associates as the project manager responsible for GADS NxL, a software package to collect and analyze GADS data, and Profile NxL, a software tool to monitor cost and reliability for electric generating units and fleets. Fluegge holds a bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla. As the Secretary for the working group responsible for rewriting IEEE Standard 762 - IEEE Standard Definitions for Use in Reporting Electric Generating Unit Reliability, Availability and Productivity, Fluegge wrote portions of the IEEE Standard 762-2006 revision.
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