Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  13 Sep 2011

ENERGY: ESKOM Minimise Environmental Impact


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The measurement of stack emissions at coal-fired power stations is of high importance to Eskom reducing its environmental impact as exceeding the emission limits may result in the forced shutdown of generating units. These emission levels are imposed by legislation and must therefore be monitored and alarmed continuously.

To address the problem, system integrator Bytes Systems Integration used Wonderware solutions to implement a comprehensive emission monitoring system which is flexible enough to handle geographically-dispersed data sources while complying with various business rules. The result is a system which is helping to ensure the supply of electricity while minimising the environmental impact.

The combustion of coal produces almost as much carbon emissions as the combustion of petroleum. 95% of Eskom’s generating capacity comes from coal. “Without treatment, we would be spewing concentrations of 30 000 to 60 000 mg of ash/normal cubic metre into the atmosphere,” says Dr. Kristy Ross, senior consultant at Eskom. “But with the use of abatement technology such as electrostatic precipitators or fabric filter plants, more than 99% of ash is removed from flue gas stream providing a particulate emission concentration of usually less than 200 mg/normal cubic metre.”

How the Environmental Impact is Contolled

Control room operators at power stations must keep a constant lookout for potential emission problems that might exceed the set legal limits. In the case of such an event, it might be necessary to exercise what’s known as “load loss” but this will have a ripple effect in that another power station will be required to take up the slack by ramping up its production.

“Given the scope of the problem and Eskom’s nation-wide footprint of 13 operational coal-fired power stations, it was decided that emission status should be centrally monitored and controlled in real-time from the Integrated Generation Control Centre at Megawatt Park,” adds Dr. Ross.

This would allow the information to be available remotely through a user-friendly interface so that environmental specialists could take the necessary action to control some complex processes. Top executives also needed access to this information via a web-interface.

Why Eskom’s Environmental Impact System was Chosen

System Platform (ArchestrA) and certified system integrator Bytes Systems Integration were chosen due to its ease of integration with other initiatives and customisation capabilities as well as its scalability. Bytes used the existing Wonderware infrastructure consisting of System Platform (ArchestrA), Historian, Historian Client (ActiveFactory), InTouch (SCADA/HMI), Information Server and Alarm Provider. “This project proves once again that the Wonderware System Platform can be used to add tremendous value to any organisation. The flexibility of System Platform enabled us to connect to multiple source systems and applications to deliver critical decision-making information to the highest levels of the company.” Said Gerhard Greeff, Bytes Process Management and Control

Wonderware’s Information Server is used to distribute data and information where it can be monitored from any client workstation.

A single dashboard for each thermal power station was developed showing hourly emission values together with their specific limits and for how long the normal limit was exceeded. Additionally any applicable exemptions to the limits are also shown and the system adapts automatically. Early warnings are raised when the emission values get within 20% of the acceptable limits where the right decision can be made to prevent penalties and unit shutdowns. A simplified robot on the dashboard gives a quick overview of the stations’ status from where the user can drill down to more detailed information.

The main beneficiaries of the system’s information are senior consultants from Environmental Management who generate reports for the authorities. Other beneficiaries include top executives and head office Generation Control Centre personnel, especially those involved with the early warning system which involves risk and strategic analysis.

The system is integrated with the legal documentation of the authorities and client. It is also integrated with a number of other transactional and web-based systems within the business infrastructure.

Eskom’s vast resources literally run South Africa. Many people do not fully understand the consequences of not having them. Quite simply, Eskom is responsible for the way we run our lives and it is encouraging to see the steps the company is taking to ensure the continuity of that way of life by reducing the environmental impact.

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