LMB partners with ADEX to boost Flexible Operations in India

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L&T-MHI Power Boilers Private Ltd (LMB), a joint venture between Indian Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI), has signed a Partnership Agreement to train and certify its engineers on the patented ADEX Technology. LMB will integrate the novel ADEX Self-tuning AI control in coal-fired power plants to boost their flexibility and performance to meet the new CEA regulations.

LMB specializes in the design, engineering, manufacturing, selling, maintenance, and servicing of Supercritical Boilers and Pulverisers in India, using innovative technologies for decarbonization of energy.

ADEX is a CleanTech company that develops a SW add-on to conventional control systems. It enables the optimization of key processes in a power plant which results in higher flexibility, lower heatrate, and, particularly, reduced thermal damage in the equipment while the plant is cycling.

The alliance between LMB and ADEX is particularly relevant for the Indian power sector, as a substantial increase in renewable energy capacity has been planned, which would significantly alter the energy mix and the energy market scenario in the country. The rapid increase in renewable power capacity is expected to create a more volatile residual load due to its fluctuating nature. To balance the variable electricity supply from renewable energy sources, coal-fired power plants need to be more flexible with the ability to frequently start up, meet major and rapid load changes, and perform frequency control duties, making them reliable power sources for the safe and stable operation of the grid.

The Indian Central Electricity Authority (CEA) notified the Flexible Operation of Coal-based Thermal Power Generating Units Regulations, 2023.

These regulations will apply to all coal-based thermal power generating units owned or under the control of the central government, state governments, or owned by any private company, connected with the grid and to the load despatch centers. As per the notification, the coal-based thermal power generating units shall be capable of providing flexible operation. These units shall have flexible operation capability with a minimum power level of 40%. Further, the generating units shall have a minimum ramp rate capability of up to 3% of their nominal capacity per minute.

The coal-based thermal power generating units shall be designed or suitably retrofitted, if required, to comply with these regulations for a full range of ambient and environmental conditions prevailing at the site.

The main issue here is the financial feasibility of upgrading/renovating old plants/small-size units to make them more flexible. Several aspects need to be addressed at the policy and regulatory levels, including the recovery of expenditure involved, such as capital expenditure and operating expenses in line with lower technical minimum, recovery of loss of residual life, and implementation timelines. The necessary shutdown periods and the recovery of fixed costs during the shutdown period must also be adequately considered.

ADEX Technology fits perfectly with these challenges for three reasons:

  1. Because its innovative solution supports power plants to achieve the CEA requirements unlike conventional control systems based on limited PID controllers and Model Predictive Control strategies,
  2. Because it has proven to reduce thermal damage and extend the life of equipment in cycling plants with lower minimum technical load, unlike incumbent technologies that do not avoid thermal fatigue and stress in that context
  3. Because it is a software solution, quick to deploy and with no need to shut down the plant for days or weeks, unlike expensive hardware retrofits

LMB has now the opportunity to bring to India a disruptive solution already proven in international markets jointly with their skilled engineers