Data-Mining – A Valuable Managerial Tool for Improving Power Plants Efficiency

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Energy and environment are top priorities for the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy. Both fields imply complex approaches and consistent investment. The paper presents an alternative to large investments to improve the efficiencies of existing (outdated) power installations: namely the use of data-mining techniques for analysing existing operational data. Data-mining is based upon exhaustive analysis of operational records, inferring high-value information by simply processing records with advanced mathematical / statistical tools. Results can be: assessment of the consistency of measurements, identification of new hardware needed for improving the quality of data, deducing the most efficient level for operation (internal benchmarking), correlation of consumptions with power/ heat production, of technical parameters with environmental impact, scheduling the optimal maintenance time, fuel stock optimization, simulating scenarios for equipment operation, anticipating periods of maximal stress of equipment, identification of medium and long term trends, planning and decision support for new investment, etc. The paper presents a data mining process carried out at the TERMICA - Suceava power plant. The analysis calls for a multidisciplinary approach, a complex team (experts in power&heat production, mechanics, environmental protection, economists, and last but not least IT experts) and can be carried out with lower expenses than an investment in new equipment. Involvement of top management of the company is essential, being the driving force and motivation source for the data-mining team. The approach presented is self learning as once established, the data-mining analytical, modelling and simulation procedures and associated parameter databases can adjust themselves by absorbing and processing new relevant information and can be used on a long term basis for monitoring the performance of the installation, certifying the soundness of managerial measures taken and suggesting further adjustments

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