Highlighting Hydro Modernization

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Highlighting Hydro Modernization


September 27, 2021


Alice Stage, Manager, Marketing and Strategic Segments, Eaton Corporation


Highlighting Hydro Modernization

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Upgrading your hydro facility presents the opportunity to not only modernize equipment but incorporate new infrastructure essential to improving safety, asset management, and performance.

Modern innovations in areas such as control systems, cybersecurity, plant and fleet modernization, outage management and condition monitoring can yield actionable insights to increase the value of hydropower assets, as well as assure adherence to regulatory changes.

See how utilities are modernizing their hydroelectric generation facilities through the stories highlighted below, with real-life applications and full turnkey solutions.

Control Room Modernization Project

A northeastern-based utility has a fleet of generation facilities, distribution substations, and two large redundant central control rooms and was looking to upgrade and better align remote monitoring and control capabilities. The utility needed devices in the field to communicate effectively with its central control rooms.

Eaton provided expertise — integrating data from the various generation and substation facilities for the control centers, permitting them to effectively monitor and control individual assets.  Control system integration included PLC and HMI programming and integration, relay and metering communications, remote SCADA interface and water level management.

Eaton’s field engineers worked with the devices specific to the hydro plants, including water level instruments, speed instruments, meters, transducers and transmitters—concentrating the data where it could be transmitted to the control rooms via remote SCADA interface. This enabled the utility to monitor and trend the machine and facility status, empowering operators to have centralized control and 24-hour remote monitoring.

The full turnkey approach to the modernization project provided key benefits to the utility:

  1. Consistency and standardization: All equipment installed is interchangeable between the plants; the operator interface, control switches, and terminologies used are consistent and standardized. This ensures operators can move between different plants and familiarize themselves with the control system within a short timeframe.
  2. Service support: Eaton’s services team operates as an extension of the utility’s engineering, operations, and maintenance teams. Eaton’s project engineers provide around-the-clock support, so any potential issue is resolved quickly, minimizing downtime.
  3. Safety, reliability, and uptime: Like many hydropower generation facilities, these plants and substations were built decades ago and have components that are no longer manufactured, making it difficult to service the overall system. Eaton provided design and field service work, which included the latest technology—predictive analytics with machine conditioning and monitoring—to ensure the project’s safety and reliability.

Read the full story to see the background, challenges, and detailed solutions.


The Big Picture of Facility Modernization: Upgrading Aging RTUs

As a northeastern utility was modernizing its hydroelectric facilities — including the replacement of controls, automation systems, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, it became clear that the system could be enhanced and better monitored by also modernizing the outdated substation RTUs.

Installed in the 1980s, the vintage equipment posed a number of issues, including frequent failures, spotty communication, and limited maintenance opportunities due to obsolete hardware in a rural utility setting. In addition, the RTUs provided no cybersecurity and didn’t operate on multiple platforms.

The solution provided a completely customized full turnkey solution, including hardware from Eaton and a variety of different manufacturers, as specified by the utility, from engineering to integration, as well as construction, project management, and commissioning. The pre-commissioned integrated assembly was deployed and provided a dramatic boost in reliability.

The full turnkey approach to the modernization project provided key benefits to the utility:

  1. Improved communication: the previous RTUs had a fixed number of inputs, with limited data received. The new system enables highly reliable communication with additional telemetry and the ability to communicate to other devices and poll information from sites as needed.
  2. Remote access for troubleshooting: The ability to make changes to system configurations has resulted in less field technicians being dispatched.
  3. Current system drawings: Assures accuracy and integration during future system upgrades.

Read the full story to see the background, challenges, and detailed solutions.

Trusted Advisor for Complete Hydropower Plant Modernization

When upgrading your hydropower plant, you need a provider with broad capabilities, a proven track record, and the expertise to not only oversee the entire process but resolve any unforeseen hurdles along the way. With Eaton as your trusted advisor, modernizing your hydroelectric facility has never been easier.

By leveraging Eaton’s hydro services team, the normal stressors of a plant upgrade process become water under the bridge. Our expertise and turnkey value minimize disruptions to operations, while task administration is streamlined by working with a single source.

Visit Eaton.com/hydroservices to learn more.