Looking for ways to improve the efficiency of its power plant operations while reducing costs and environmental emissions, the Department of Power and Water at Michigan State University (MSU) began a study using multivariate data analytics that led to some surprising findings. The results have implications that could help other operators of large-scale power facilities reduce their carbon footprint and improve power plant operations.
Finding the right balance between efficient power output from boilers and other energy producing equipment while also reducing environmental emissions is an important objective for power plant operators. Governments and environmental agencies around the world establish emission standards as part of air pollution regulations, but finding the right way to meet the standards can vary greatly depending on location, equipment and other operating factors.
Optimizing the function of boilers, turbines and other capital equipment used to generate power requires a careful balance of fuel, heat, pressure, operator proficiency and many other variables. Managing the process on a day-to-day, or minute-to-minute basis, is like performing a skilled and well-orchestrated dance—partly based on data, but also based on operator expertise. Yet, adding more accurate information to the equation can potentially save millions of dollars, cut emissions significantly and even expand the working life of your equipment.