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Case studies

Product automation and performance optimization: controls for thermal energy storage

Problem statement

In a thermal energy storage plant, control algorithms play a primary role in achieving:

  • Best Round Trip Efficiency (RTE) as the primary merit factor of an energy storage facility
  • Compliance with grid norms as a power plant and a power load
  • Plant operational capabilities required at product management level

At the same time, such algorithms also keep plant operating parameters within the design limitations of plant components, such as turbomachinery, heat exchangers, tanks, piping, etc.

Solution provided

A comprehensive dynamic model of the plant is built, integrating equations from different domains (thermodynamic, electrical, etc.). The optimum tradeoff in model complexity is set taking into account PFDs and P&IDs. Such model is built to be interfaced in closed loop with the control software. Hence a framework for developing, maintaining and versioning the model, the control software and its tunings is put in place. Control software architecture and functionalities are then developed with fast iterations allowed by the model-in-the-loop simulations. The simulation iterations are made more powerful by a pre/post processing toolchain. The preprocessing allows agile parallel execution of a high number of simulations, which combined represent the whole spectrum of the plant operations and environmental variabilities, without relying on human input unless strictly needed. The postprocessing toolchain operates on the executed simulations to produce automatically generated reports, optimizing the use of analysts time. 

Control functionalities integrate the whole spectrum of traditional closed loop solutions, model based optimum controls, estimation of non measurable variables, along with the discrete domain solutions such as finite state machines and algebraic logics. Algorithms are tuned to comply with requirements from all the above mentioned sources (RTE, grid norms, operability). Compliance to requirements is documented for all internal customers and external partners. 

The control code is documented for EPC specifications where a DCS target is contemplated, while other code fractions are used to directly generate and deploy a PLC code. Field commissioning and performance validation to follow.

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