OREANDA-NEWS. Bord Gais Energy, one of the Republic of Ireland’s leading utilities and a European pioneer in the digital transformation of the energy industry, has, in the first year of deployment, identified a potential cost avoidance of €1.2 million after its Whitegate Power Plant in County Cork became the world’s first power plant to deploy GE’s (NYSE: GE) Asset Performance Management (APM) software. Powered by the cloud-based enterprise Predix* platform, this Digital Power Plant software application showcases an agile digital infrastructure built for the Industrial Internet.

GE announced the impressive APM results during POWER-GEN Europe 2016, the European power generation industry’s annual conference that is being held in Milan.

“We needed an online condition-based monitoring solution that would help ensure Whitegate’s continuous operation with no unplanned downtime,” said Rory Griffin, operations engineer—Whitegate, Asset Operations for Bord G?is Energy. “We selected GE’s Asset Performance Management solution because it helps us predict potential problems with our equipment and avoid costly unplanned outages. GE’s new software technology is an ideal solution to help increase our plant’s reliability and availability while making the most of our scheduled maintenance outages.”

Implementation of GE’s APM solution can significantly reduce plant downtime, with the early warning capabilities allowing for more efficient outage management. The result of this digital transformation has enabled Whitegate to identify a potential cost avoidance of €1.2 million in its first year of operation and possible future cost avoidance of an additional €1.2 million.

“We are proud to collaborate with Bord G?is Energy to showcase the power of GE’s Asset Performance Management software to create a smarter, more resilient Whitegate Power Plant,” said Paul McElhinney, president and CEO of GE’s Power Services business. “This project is a great example of how utilities can tap into the power of industrial-scale data analytics to optimize the availability of their generating facilities. With greater availability, Whitegate is better prepared to compete against other power plants for a higher dispatch position.”

Bord G?is Energy also installed APM as part of preparing Whitegate to respond to future grid challenges—including greater renewables integration. The Irish government’s 2020 targets are aiming for 40 percent of gross electricity consumption to come from renewable energy, thus creating a greater requirement for reliable, on-demand generation capacity.

GE’s APM system provides Whitegate with enhanced, 24/7 digital diagnostics capabilities that automatically anticipate operational anomalies while still providing a single, consolidated view of plant performance. Whitegate did not have access to this type of data before the APM installation. Previously, plant operators relied on offline condition-based monitoring that required significant manual efforts to effectively detect failures.

Using a network of both existing and supplementary sensors placed throughout the 445-megawatt, combined-cycle power plant, the APM predictive maintenance system has the ability to increase the station’s reliability and availability while reducing unnecessary maintenance costs. With APM, early warnings of failure mechanisms—drawing from more than 300 analytics—detect when plant components are about to fail, allowing for more efficient outage management.

As a result of the APM installation, Whitegate has the opportunity for improved operational reliability and possible financial savings, with a potential €1.2 million cost avoidance associated with a turning gear alert alone. In one situation, the APM solution helped Whitegate engineers to identify and correct an improperly installed component, correcting an overconsumption on supplementary firing gas usage. In all, the integrated APM solution has resulted in maintaining the availability of the covered equipment and 21 additional “catches” to be monetized.