Electrical balance of plant service

The purpose of EBoP services is to help increase plant performance by maximizing availability and reliability – safely and without risk to people and property

Electrical equipment and machines are mission critical to plant reliability, availability and operational safety. Several components like the grid connection from generator to substation exist as a single configuration and failure could result in severe revenue losses and / or penalties. Emergency and black-start systems are mandatory for plant safety and restart in case of major external grid disturbances. 

There are many other items of electrical equipment in a power plant, each one a vital node in an electrical system that powers a specific part of the generation process. These systems are interconnected to form a whole that includes the switchyard where the power is delivered to the grid. According to NERC statistics, three of the top ten outage causes for power plants can be attributed to electrical equipment. 

Reliably and safely
ABB has a very clear approach to electrical balance of plant service: to ensure that the electrical equipment and systems operate with maximum availability and reliability and without risk to people and property.

We help our customers achieve that goal by using a combination of preventive and predictive maintenance, a life-cycle management approach to service, and by minimizing the cost, complexity and downtime of making changes to the electrical systems during plant refurbishments.

Preventive and predictive
Preventive maintenance takes place at specified intervals to keep the equipment in good working order and reduce the likelihood of it failing. Predictive maintenance uses techniques such as real-time condition monitoring to determine when maintenance should best be performed.

Previously, retrieving hand-written information from past shifts or days was a time-consuming and error-prone activity. Now, electronic shift book and shift log in the DCS HMI allow operators to attach alarm data, trends and other information to their entries. All entries can be transferred to the plant’s maintenance management system (CMMS) and create maintenance messages that streamline work processes, thereby reducing maintenance costs and increasing quality.

Seamless integration with the CMMS allows the creation and transfer of operating hours, switching cycles and so on to maintenance applications, improving asset life cycle by allowing performance-based maintenance rather than time-based or failure-based.

This data enables us to follow the condition of the equipment and compare its baseline performance with its actual performance. If the gap between the two starts to grow and performance deteriorate, we can keep the equipment under observation and make an inspection at the most optimal moment to avoid disrupting production.

Based on design, procurement and installation experience of more than 400 electrical systems comprising a broad portfolio of our own and third-party equipment, ABB has a distinct advantage in servicing electrical systems in power plants. We know how these products function and how best to maintain them - and the system of which they are a part - at optimal performance over their lifetime.

We also have many retrofit solutions for these products. This allows us to maintain their core components and replace only the faster-aging ones. For example, we can change only the control and protection on switchgear, while maintaining the switchgear itself, or replace only the automatic voltage regulator on an excitation while keeping the core power electronics.

Life-cycle management
Power generation companies the world over are under pressure to produce more energy from their existing plants. This can only be achieved by increasing plant availability and adopting a life-cycle approach to service.

There are two ways to increase plant availability when servicing electrical equipment:
- by minimizing the outage period when carrying out maintenance on a device; and

- by minimizing the modifications made to other parts of the electrical system whenever an item of equipment is replaced or upgraded. This could entail, for instance, minimizing mechanical and logic changes or ensuring that the new part does not require a new and larger cabinet or bigger electrical room.

Both ways are essential tools to reduce maintenance outages and costs. For them to be fully effective they require advanced skills in reverse engineering and that maintenance and system modifications are carried out during planned outages.

Plant refurbishment
Plant uprates for increased output, compliance with new grid codes like ENTSO-E or with environmental requirements like emissions reduction require many equipment modifications. These are typical results of the ongoing transitions in the energy system to renewable generation and environmental protection. These changes affect equipment sizing, new operating modes and load ranges of the electrical systems. 

As an electrical service provider we support customers in all stages of the modification. This can start with advisory services like feasibility studies, system recalculation, conceptual design and budget estimates. For implementation, we can provide detailed design, procurement, dismantling, installation and re-commissioning.  We can also supply new electrical components and ensure that they are properly integrated in the electrical system and correctly validated in the electrical layout. If components are not correctly dimensioned, they can deteriorate rapidly and even be a safety risk. During the entire refurbishment process, we strive to minimize the number of equipment modifications and the time it takes to make them in order to keep the total cost of investment as low as possible.


The value of expertise
These three ingredients of service – preventive and predictive maintenance, life-cycle management, and electrical modifications during plant refurbishment – are the foundation of our Power Generation Care Electrical portfolio for EBoP service, which is available worldwide from our eight dedicated power generation service hubs.

This portfolio in turn rests on some unique expertise that ABB brings to electrical service. We are the world’s leading supplier of distributed control systems and of most of the power and automation technologies that make up the electrical balance of plant. This gives us a deep and holistic knowledge of DCS and EBoP and of the interfaces and protocols that interconnect them. We are also a leading designer of EBoP solutions, as well as of the substations and transmission systems to which they are connected.


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