Energy efficiency is increasingly top-of-mind for utility regulators, who are putting incentives behind their calls for more renewable technologies and sustainable processes. Marina Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Jersey Industries, Owner of the Marina Thermal Facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey. are among those in the utility industry who are seizing this opportunity to optimize their operations.
With incentives available under the New Jersey Energy Master Plan, the powers behind the Marina Thermal Facility decided to upgrade its integrated power and energy management systems. Marina Thermal Facility engaged its affiliate, Energenic, who specializes in Combined Heat and Powersystems (CHP) or “Cogeneration” to provide a cost effective solution for the Marina Thermal Facility. Energenic is joint venture of DCO Energy LLC and Marina Energy LLC
The goal was to implement a Cogeneration system to improve the utility plant's overall efficiency and lessen its reliance on third-party energy sources. Marina Energy also recognized they could gain significant return on investment through increased productivity and profits – all while advancing their own corporate and the state's sustainability initiatives. Combined Heat and Power or Cogeneration systems are seen as sustainable because they capture some or all of the heat emitted in the electricity production process and use that thermal energy for heating purposes.
One of the plant's primary customer is a major casino-hotel complex nearby. The casino-hotel is roughly the size of a small city, with more than 2,700 guest rooms, 11 restaurants, a 35,000-square-foot spa, lounges, bars, shopping and entertainment facilities. On top of that, there are 135,000 square-feet of gaming and 70,000 square-feet of conference space.
Keeping these spaces filled with satisfied customers requires a well-controlled, reliable heating and cooling system, along with other creature comforts that utilities provide. To ensure the Marina Thermal Facility continues to provide those comforts in the most efficient and cost-effective fashion, its owners enlisted the Global Solutions team of engineers at Rockwell Automation to upgrade the existing control solution, as well as develop and implement a Combined Heat and Power control system which could seamlessly integrate with the existing control system.
“We were looking to find a way to reduce our costs of production, and use one fuel source, i.e., natural gas, to make two forms of energy – electricity and heat for hot water,” explained Stephen Poniatowicz , Sr Vice President of Marina Energy, which owns the Marina Thermal Facility. “Achieving this would help us lessen our dependence on buying electricity and natural gas from third parties. As such we turned to our affiliate company Energenic to design, build, own and operate a state of the art Combined Heat and Power Plant.”
The trick is that Marina's customers, including the casino, use more electricity than heat. So the new control equipment and cogeneration system had to produce the right amount of energy and effectively turn what would have been wasted thermal energy into the right amount of heat.
“The biggest challenge was applying the correct technology to meet the needs,” said Frank DiCola, President of Energenic. “One size doesn't fit all. We needed to find a cost-effective, efficient solution that would produce enough electricity without producing too much heat – and also meet state regulatory requirements.”
The control system upgrade also needed to be integrated with the plant's existing system, which featured the Allen-Bradley®ControlLogix® control system, Allen-Bradley 1756 I/O modules, variable frequency AC drives and motor control centers, all from Rockwell Automation. The single coordinated system provided robust continuous and sequential control, and improved the flow of information. Installed in 2001, the Rockwell Automation integrated system was designed, developed and implemented with future expansion in mind.
To provide the smoothest possible integration during startup, Rockwell Automation drew upon resources from its Global Solutions team to first test the system in the factory and then at the installation site.
Thankfully, much of the existing system could be leveraged in the upgrade, including the:
Allen-Bradley ControlLogix programmable automation control system, which allows the casino to leverage common development tools, network protocol and an information-enabled architecture.
Allen-Bradley Powermonitor™ 3000, which generates a spectrum of power-line information, including real-time power quality data, harmonics analysis, oscillography and active energy.
Rockwell Software®RSEnergyMetrix® energy management software, which integrates multiple data sources and provides user-friendly information. This software collects and trends data from more than 300 points throughout the plant, delivering critical energy data used to make critical business decisions. The Web-based capabilities of RSEnergyMetrix also allow plant operators to easily share available information with individuals throughout the facility, helping optimize energy consumption, improve productivity and lower energy costs. Rockwell Automation engineers integrated new equipment to take advantage of the inherent efficiencies in the latest advanced technologies and to support the addition of the cogeneration system.
“The integration of existing and new technology went very smoothly without disruptions,” DiCola said.
As part of the upgrade, the Rockwell Automation Logix Control Platform system replaced the outdated distributed control system, while leveraging the existing ControlLogix controllers. Because it is based on the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture™ platform, the control system delivers a unified process, discrete and information solution.
As part of the ControlLogix system, Energenic is utilizing the Rockwell Automation Continuous Parametric Monitoring System (CPMS) solution driven by Pavilion8. The software-based emission monitoring system provides real-time analysis of the operating process parameters – such as temperature, pressure, flow and sorbent injection rate – that are known to affect the output emissions levels. The real-time information gained from the system can be interfaced with the ControlLogix controller, so Energenic engineers can manage emissions as part of their plant automation strategy and make improvements to the operation to meet operating permit conditions. Engineers also deployed high-performance and flexible Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® 700 AC variable speed drives for the pumps and cooling tower fans to help ensure the least amount of energy is used to get the desired output.
To gain further insight into the process and production, the team added new Rockwell Software applications, including FactoryTalk® View human-machine interface software for supervisory level monitoring of energy consumption, and FactoryTalkViewPoint, which allows plant personnel to get real-time, plant-floor operations data simply by logging onto an Internet browser. Improving the diagnostic capability of the system helps Energenic identify, isolate, and repair issues quickly and efficiently.
“Thanks to the system upgrade, we can access real-time and historical information to get the insight we need to make critical business decisions,” Poniatowicz said. For example, the improved diagnostics helped them identify a damaged valve in a specific part of the system that was causing a slight dip in system efficiency. “We were able to isolate it, and fix it,” DiCola added.
The entire project was completed ahead of schedule and on budget, which helped Energenic reap greater state-allocated rewards for achieving energy conservation. Furthermore, Energenic's solution provided costs reductions which exceeded 15 percent of the Marina Thermal annual energy budget.
“That's a credit to Rockwell Automation,” DiCola said. “The Rockwell Automation team of engineers came up with a solution that was very efficient and cost-effective. From an availability standpoint, it's exceeded our performance goals in terms of operating hours and efficiency. It's one to two percent more efficient than we anticipated, and the operating abilities of what we measure are very high, exceeding 95 percent.”
As Energenic looks ahead to new projects, Rockwell Automation will continue to be a go-to trusted supplier and engineering consultant.
“The folks at Rockwell Automation understand what our expectations are, what our thought processes are and what we want to accomplish – and it's much easier to work with folks like that where you're all aligned and working toward the same outcome,” DiCola said.