Unlocking potential for plant design and operations with co-simulation

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It’s becoming clear to most in hard-to-abate industries that electrifying combustion-based energy systems offers new opportunities to increase sustainability and decarbonize operations and processes. Industrial and civil engineers are racing to find alternatives to fossil fuels, as well as implement advanced digital control technologies to better manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, meet environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) imperatives, and support sustainability strategies. This is an area where power and process simulation can help.

Engineer working at a chemical process plant
Pharmaceutical factory worker

Projects can be extensive and verycapital-intensive. According to Deloitte, transitioning to a lower-carbon future will be driven by electrifying and decarbonizing industrial processes, spaces, and fleets. Deloitte’s study surveying manufacturers found nearly 45% plan to electrify processes by 2035.

Heavy capital is also being spent to implement renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar, hydro, and geothermal to power industrial processes more sustainably. In his keynote to attendees of Schneider Electric’s Innovation Summit held recently in Paris, CEO Peter Herweck explained, “Addressing climate change requires a fundamental transition and a much wider change in thinking. Such a change in approach requires doing something that has never been done before — innovations for impact — enabled by digitization and electrification.”

Understanding plant dynamics

Digitization and electrification strategies all have common denominators, with reducing carbon emissions being the chief among them. The industries with the greatest impact on carbon emissions are refining, chemicals, iron and steel, cement, and food and beverage.

These industries are steadily transitioning from combustion and steam-based systems to electrified systems, but slowly. Successfully replacing combustion sources can be daunting, even for highly technology savvy engineering and plant design teams.

Decarbonization demands tremendous engineering and design resources to electrify new and existing plant assets, which is a costly proposition. Power and process simulation can play a crucial role in helping plant engineers gain transparency into new and current operations. It also helps understand the critical dynamics of adapting new technologies well before the design is finalized.

Four key points of power and process co-simulation

Unified power and process simulation enables testing of various operating and design scenarios for process power and distribution. It is valuable for both greenfield and brownfield projects. For greenfield, it accelerates process electrification by calculating power needs based on simulated operations, optimizing electrolyzer sizing. For brownfield, it improves uptime through loopback testing and mitigating downtime.

Power and process simulation, known as co-simulation, offers a more efficient way for plant operators and engineers to:

  1. Analyze – Study the effects of process disturbances on electrical distribution and observe results of electrical disturbances on process operations using representative data like weather, solar, hydrogen/ammonia goals, and interdependencies.
  2. Optimize – Design and optimize power flow based on process demands, objectives like minimizing levelized costs (LCOH, LCOE, LCOA), and electrical energy savings potential by reducing active/reactive losses and genset fuel costs.
  3. Strategize – Electrolyzer operations and hydrogen production distribution while incorporating process inputs and objective functions to optimize power flow.
  4. Enable – Overall energy management from generation to transformation by calculating levelized hydrogen/heat costs while minimizing total ownership costs and sizing power generation based on process requirements.

Areas accurate co-simulation supports

Combined simulation allows engineering teams to test, observe, and model control hypotheses and to foresee potential issues before they occur. It further helps engineers to examine and analyze operations and equipment from the safe harbor of the virtual world. With more accurate simulations, keen data-based insights help support:

  • Stability with quality, power, and grid control
  • Safety by helping understand deviations, process variations, and control excursions
  • Operations via optimizing efficiency, reliability, and capacity
  • Economies by managing heat and energy sources

Co-simulation for precision

Simulation accuracy is dependent on three things: fidelity, time resolution, and synchronization.

Because electrical simulation time stamps are measured in milliseconds and process simulation in seconds, studies require precise synchronization. Co-simulation can meet this need.

Co-simulation is an enabling technology that combines individual simulations of system parts to achieve a global simulation of the coupled system. To achieve high-fidelity power and process simulations, AVEVA Dynamic Simulation and the ETAP Transient Stability offer a simpler, more direct way to identify efficiency and optimization opportunities across process and plant design.

Paired with its suite of simulation applications, the co-simulation platform digitizes connected products into analytics that provide energy-efficient, safe, and sustainable facilities.

These solutions create a co-simulation environment via two technologies:

  • AVEVA Dynamic Simulation – to handle transient non-steady state process (i.e., dynamic state engine) evaluations.
  • ETAP – to handle transient non-steady state electrical (i.e., transient stability engine) evaluations.

A real-time future of potential

An integrated and unified power and process simulation model can simplify plant design and optimize operations. Furthermore, combining co-simulation with artificial intelligence and first principal modeling can pave the way for real-time, data-driven decision support. It also helps develop effective operator training scenarios.

Equipped with tools that produce root-cause analysis, deliver switch plan validation, track asset management, and provide cost optimization and model-based validation — all in real time — plant designers can unleash the potential of their decarbonization strategies with reliable, actionable data. To learn more about how co-simulation can help deliver process stability, reduce downtime, and increase efficiency and operating economically, explore EcoStruxure Power and Process.

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