1995 Generating Plant Report Highlight Expanding Areas in Plant Automation
MARKET SIZE BY VALUE (1986-1995)
By Brian Canada, Project Manager, UA Research
The sweeping changes taking place in the electric industry have continued to drive utilities` purchasing patterns. These changes hold especially true for the birthplace of electricity, the generating plant. Utility budgets for control systems are now rising to levels as seen before the start of Phase I of the Clean Air Act Amendment. For the 1995 study, the UA Research Group interviewed managers and engineers from 350 utilities with approximately 2000 generating plants.
The Control Hierarchy
Generating plants have numerous systems and sub-systems, which nearly all need to be controlled in a real-time environment. For this report, the main areas of concern are: boiler control, burner management, fuel and waste management, performance monitoring, turbine control, nuclear controls (including simulators) and various other plant processes. All of these areas can be monitored and controlled in varying ways. Generating plants can use pneumatic/hydraulic controls where operators can only monitor the operation of the equipment, therefore control is limited to an operator making a site visit. They may also utilize a centralized process computer to monitor and control equipment and operations. This allows the operator to respond to an alarm or have the computer adjust the equipment. The most automated form of generating plant control utilizes the distributed control system (DCS). This system includes a processor placed at each control point which is networked on a LAN or WAN to other distributed processors. The individual processors can use logic and adjust the processes without the involvement of an operator.
Control Systems Plans
The 1995 Generating Plant Monitoring and Controls Market Data Report found 368 projects being awarded through March 1998 valued at $643,290,000. Nuclear projects accounted for 26 of the 368 projects at a value of $160,300,000. For historical analysis, Figure 1 illustrates the planned expenditures for nuclear and non-nuclear systems since 1986. The chart shows an increase in the dollar value of planned projects since the previous study in 1994. This increase was a direct result of the Phase I continuous emission monitoring (CEM) installations made in 1993. Since most generating plants have completed their requirements, CEM installations tallied in the latest report accounted for only 16 projects at a value of $9 million.
Figure 2 shows the average budget of planned nuclear and non-nuclear projects since 1986. Even though a decrease is shown in the dollar value for the nuclear projects, the average cost of nuclear projects has remained steady compared with UA Research`s 1994 report. This indicates a higher project value, but fewer projects. The average cost for non-nuclear projects has remained steady from 1986-1994 with a slight increase in 1995.
Figure 3 breaks down the projects by each category (some overlap occurs between categories). Projects with a boiler control component lead the total number of projects with 167. This is not surprising since the boiler is one of the largest components in the plant. Projects with a DCS component follow closely with 138 projects. DCS hardware costs are decreasing, making them a viable option.
The data gathered during the 1995 study indicated that 101 system projects valued at $147,125,000 were awarded at generating plants from June 1, 1994, through June 30, 1995. Figure 4 shows leading vendors by total project value. Bailey Controls leads with 20 percent of the market value and, as seen in Figure 5, it also captured 22 percent of the total projects. Foxboro comes in second in dollar value with 12 percent of the market, but came in third behind Westinghouse in total number of awarded projects.
One of the most significant trends in the power industry is deregulation and increasing competition. Competition affects all aspects of electric utility operations, but may questionably hit generation the hardest. Those companies that can most efficiently produce power will be the ones that grow through competition. Upgrading their plant control and monitoring systems is just one way to assure the utility increases efficiency.
Compliance with the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 has been a major capital investment focus by electric utilities for a number of years. The next major segment of the amendments will be the Title IV SO2 rule, which will begin impacting utilities in the year 2000. Most utilities are taking a wait-and-see approach, while some utilities will switch to low-sulfur coal. But through competitive forces, only the most competitive utilities will survive through the turn of the century.