Tacoa Power Barge

HPI was contracted by Waller Marine, a naval architecture and maritime services firm, to provide the facility-wide supervisory controls system (SCS) for its barge-mounted, combined cycle power generation facility. This power barge was designed for installation alongside an existing power plant in Tacoa, Venezuela. The power generation facility consists of two barges, each mounted with one GE Frame 7FA (each nominally rated for 171 MW) gas turbine generator, one 260 MW steam turbine generator, heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), as well as fuel storage and water treatment.

The new barges were transported from Orange, Texas, USA by water to the site in Venezuela. Upon installation they became the world’s largest floating power generation facilities. They supply much needed power to Caracas and surrounding areas.

Project Background
The existing power plant at Tacoa has been generating approximately 1200 MW annually under stressed operating conditions. This left a deficit of about 1500 MW when compared to the actual energy needs of the greater Caracas area. In addition to this shortfall, the company responsible for supplying electric power to the area, La Electricidad de Caracas (EDC), determined that due to a host of issues at the facility (including fuel quality problems) equipment failure was a real possibility.

If such an equipment failure were to occur, power transmission grid issues would make it impossible to generate any additional base load capacity in the area to help fill the gap. The only seemingly viable candidate would be the Guri Dam Hydropower Station which has no excess capacity to redirect, given the infrastructure available. In response to EDC’s findings, the Venezuelan government quickly pushed for additional capacity to meet Caracas’ changing needs.

A Cooperative Effort
The owner of the facility, which is a major energy company in Venezuela, identified the need for an experienced project management team that could fast-track the whole project and was experienced in gas-turbine driven power plant design, construction, and operation. HPI, in consortium with S&W Energy Solutions (SWES), had been selected by the owner to provide project management consulting (PMC) services to include overall project management and engineering assistance, yard supervision, expediting, and quality assurance. HPI served in a dual role on the project as the provider of the balance-of-plant (BOP) control systems and PMC services.

The HPI consortium offered the customer the requisite expertise with one group. The team had to quickly evaluate the true condition of the customer’s grid, identify resources, and develop solutions to appropriately fast-track the project based on Venezuela’s requirements. The ability to do these highlighted HPI’s project management team’s value as the owner’s engineer.

The SCS, including BOP, was designed, engineered, manufactured, and installed by HPI. The SCS architecture was based on the GE RX3i/7i PLC platform, utilizing CIMPLICITY HMI to meet the design specification, with the system acting as a Web client. The individual turbine controls are operated through the CIMPLICITY environment. Each power barge is equipped with a local control room tied into the shore-based switchyard and other BOP points. This design allows for redundant communication links for the remote control of both power barges from either the local control room or remote monitoring locations in the main plant control room in Venezuela or the Waller Marine offices in Houston. Additional I/O and stations were planned for as future site expansion continues.

With only 8 weeks to design, engineer, manufacture, and test the system in Houston, the aggressive timeline posed the greatest challenge. HPI was able to leverage its team’s experience with GE Frame gas turbines, ranging from Frame 3 through 9, to simultaneously complete the hardware and software design. By collaborating closely with the customer, HPI was able to ensure the SCS design was inclusive of all areas of the facility within its network, meeting the end-user’s needs. The team’s relationship with key suppliers ensured delivery times, project milestones, and budget constraints were met.

At the shipyard and Tacoa facility, HPI finalized the installation of cabling and commissioned the systems. The EPC team completed the project on time and within budget.


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