Marc Antoine

Digital Business Line Manager,
ABB Industrial Automation – Energy Industries, Switzerland
“The Benefits of Digitalization for Power Plants, Industrial and Commercial sites”

About the Speaker

Marc Antoine was recently appointed digital business line manager for ABB Energy Industries within the Industrial Automation division.

Marc joined ABB in 1985 and spent a number of years in engineering, customer project management and on-site commissioning of control systems and advanced applications. In the early 2000’s he led the development of a profit center for optimization and asset management solutions across power and water segments. He was responsible for solutions development, bid & proposal and project execution.

In recent years Marc held the role of software project manager for the operations layer (HSI) of the new control system in the BU. Prior to joining the digital team, Marc had the roles of technology program manager (R&D) and global product management for the service business in the BU.

About the Tutorial

Traditional operating models of power plants and industrial sites are disrupted by new sources of energy, particularly wind and solar, as well as new developments in energy storage technology. The result is an increasingly complex operating environment and fragmented marketplace driven by inconsistent and fluctuating demand.

Operators face new challenges every quarter. Deregulation, power trading, decentralized power markets, competition from renewables, price volatility, fast-ramping, a retiring workforce, the loss of institutional knowledge, and the constant threat of cyberattack are among the most critical of these challenges. The one thing all power generators and industrial plants in every market have in common is, they are meeting these challenges with digitalization. From integrated control systems drawing data from an army of sensors, to remote collaborative management of operations from anywhere on the globe, digital is how plant owners reduce costs and increase margins.

Improving control of plant processes

Advanced Process Control (APC) is gaining importance in optimizing operations and unburdening operators in their daily work. Today's operators serve more of an executive or orchestration role – overseeing operations to ensure safety and intervening only as needed. APC and new digital solutions allow for greater optimization of a greater number of parameters, leading to higher efficiency and greater flexibility.

Lowering maintenance expenses

Because of fast-ramping and other operational demands, plants today are subject to stresses that exceed their original design criteria. This leads to increased equipment wear and higher maintenance costs. By maintaining tight control of conditions during startup, shutdown and ramping, digital twins and APC solutions extend the lifetime of plant components. In addition, Asset Performance Management (APM) systems are used to predict equipment failure before it happens – keeping unplanned downtime to a minimum and allowing maintenance personnel to schedule needed repairs at optimum times.

Energy and grid digital transformation for industrial and commercial sites

The energy and grid transformation is driving changes in how electricity is being generated, transported and consumed, with bi-directional energy and information flow having accelerated in the past couple of years. User requirements range from those that operate multiple grid-connected assets at multiple sites to those interested in optimizing a single industrial or commercial site.

For industrial and commercial sites that actively manage their power consumption and resources, digital solutions provide the opportunity to trade more efficiently with the grid while reducing energy costs, and minimizing environmental impact. They monitor energy use by adding new generation assets into a virtual power pool and aggregating decentralized generation and flexible loads.

The result is that users can automate operation of their generation assets, controllable loads and/or storage to achieve an energy cost reduction of 3 to 5%. Additionally, these sites can actively participate in energy markets and demand response schemes.

For those users with control of grid-connected assets, such as vertically integrated utilities, cities and aggregators, digital solutions coordinate control of networked generation assets by creating a virtual power plant. The operation of each connected unit and the delivery of grid services are economically optimized in real-time given system constraints.

Even though the energy future for power plants and industrial sites is challenged, there is a path forward. Driven by market forces beyond their control, plant owners are embracing digitalization to improve performance, save money, and reduce emissions.