By Myrna M. Velasco
Aboitiz Power Corporation has tapped American energy giant GE to set up the ‘digital twin’ of its 300-megawatt coal-fired Therma South Inc. (TSI) power plant in Davao.
According to Aboitiz Power Chief Operating Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio, the Davao plant will serve as “demonstration venture” on the targeted rollout of digital twins across their operating assets – and from the success of the TSI facility, the company intends to replicate it in their other power plants nationwide.
Rubio revealed in an interview that the next target will be the company’s 340MW Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) coal-fired power facility in Toledo, Cebu which just had its commercial commissioning this year.
“We opt to start installing digital twins in our new plants with bigger capacities. It will not make sense if we start doing it with our assets with smaller capacities, like the run-of-river hydros,” he explained.
Digital twin refers to a sophisticated and complex information technology-underpinned model but exact replica of an industrial asset, like a power plant — which ropes in the facility’s operational processes and systems, including the devices integrated into it.
The varying “digital twin” solutions being offered by GE include: the ‘lifting digital twin” which assesses how a certain plant will age based on its operation and exposure; the “anomaly digital twin” which could detect faults so unplanned outages can be managed and reduced; the “thermal digital twin” that determines the thermal efficiency, plant capacity and could likewise predict emissions of the power plant; and the “transient digital twin” which could simulate the plant’s ability to react to changes in environmental and control shifts.
When power plants are equipped with digital twins, project operators and owners can employ “analytic science” that will then enable companies to transform their operations either to improve generation efficiency, track probable technical glitches even before they could trigger plant outages and rotating brownouts for consumers; manage variations in market operations including those that relate to fuel costs and weather patterns.
Power generation companies globally have been embracing ‘digitalization’ in improving operational parameters – not just to curtail power outages but also to pare overall operating costs.
A ‘digital twin’ of a power plant has been emerging as the asset that executives can easily access in the confines of their offices – it entails that they can see what’s going on in their power plants even without them travelling to the site. In some markets, these digital twins of power facilities are even produced at a size that could fit in a suitcase so company executives can bring them home or carry them while on travel.
Power facilities that have embraced ‘digital twin solutions’ as complement to their operations have been logging generation efficiency improvements of 20 to 30-percent; reduced power plant outages and had shored up their overall profitability.
The Aboitiz group has diversified portfolio of power generating assets – ranging from coal plants, hydro facilities, geothermal as well as oil-fired power plants.
With the recurring dilemma of power plant outages in the country, it has been noted that having digital twins as ally to power plant operators could be critically helpful in targeted improvement of power plant operations.