Frequent switching on and off of a plant imposes stresses on the equipment, so it can be beneficial to augment the traditional interval-based maintenance with condition monitoring to enable timely preventative maintenance. Coupling intelligent devices with intelligent networks can provide insights into previously unavailable conditions in the operational heart of the plant.
Sophisticated wireless instrumentation can be deployed to collect a variety of new data sets for rotating machinery. For instance, monitoring lubrication oil for the number and size of particles provides significant information about asset wear, while retrofitted networks and sensors can measure temperature, pressure, vibration, and flow data details. Collecting and analyzing big data about equipment health—especially at specialist remote data centers—allows for early fault detection and maintenance.
These sophisticated and complex systems are expensive to run and maintain. In a typical CCGT plant with plant efficiencies of over 50 percent, maintenance costs may represent up to half of the total cost of electricity production. However, the aggregation of marginal gains combined with strategic continuous improvement techniques can have a strong impact on productivity and cost reduction overall.
Gas turbines are the choice fossil-fuel technology, offering lower emissions than other hydrocarbons, operational flexibility, and the potential for high cycling and peaking, fast start-ups, and load ramps. Alongside renewable energy technologies, the role of gas turbines in the 21st-century electricity mix is assured, but operators will need to leverage new turbine control and monitoring technologies now in order to remain competitive long-term.