One Valve Repair = $700,000 in Savings

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Fixing one leaky valve at a combined-cycle power plant could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual fuel costs, an EPRI study finds.

As U.S. combined-cycle plants operate at higher output, spending increases for fuel and emission controls. Plants that reduce heat rateheat rate can save significant dollars. Among the dozens of potential modifications and actions EPRI is evaluating to improve heat rate, one focuses on leakage in the steam cycle’s fluid paths. Often undetected, steam or water losses result in less fluid available for generation and may increase fuel consumption.

In field tests, EPRI identified and quantified the cost implications of steam cycle leaks at two combined-cycle plants. At one plant, six leaking valves increased heat rate by 0.8%; repairs could save more than $1 million in annual fuel costs. (Restoring one leaking valve costs $8,000–$20,000.) Repairing just the largest leak offered savings of more than $700,000. At the second plant, EPRI identified nine leaks and found that repairing the largest one could save about $250,000 per year. Both plants are well-maintained, suggesting that even more leaks could exist at facilities with limited resources.

The report provides methods to identify leaks and determine leakage rates.