SUMMARY

This roadmap defines R&D pathways for ensuring cost-effectiveness, reliability, and safety throughout the life cycle of existing and future generating assets, encompassing design, procurement, commissioning, operations, maintenance, and end of life options across a fleet.

To support asset management and reliability in fossil and renewable energy applications, new knowledge and innovations are being pursued in the following areas:

  • Materials, degradation, inspection, nondestructive evaluation, and remaining life assessment
  • Design, specifications and procurement
  • Operations and component and system health assessment through sensing, monitoring and analytics
  • Maintenance, overhaul, and repair
  • Decision support and integrated process management

EPRI’s comprehensive R&D program will deliver technical tools, advanced technologies and process improvements to help plant managers and workers achieve cost, reliability, and flexibility targets by completing operations, maintenance, and modernization tasks more effectively while managing assets from cradle to grave. Higher-performance materials and components in combination with greater insight into real-time conditions will assist asset managers in allocating resources, implementing best practices, and improving performance across fleets.

KEY INDUSTRY DRIVERS

Diversity of Generation

Dispatch of many fossil-fueled power plants has changed over the last decade to require increased flexible operation. These new duty cycles entail more frequent unit starts, higher load ramp rates, lower minimum loads, and both more frequent and longer-lasting reserve layups. Each mode of operation affects performance, reliability, and lifetime differently, with varying impacts across components and systems. Damage can accumulate—but go undetected—over many cycles, increasing the risk of failures and forced outages.

Generation Excellence

In addition to increasing equipment wear and tear, flexible operations can degrade efficiency and environmental performance. Meanwhile, pressures to reduce costs and achieve tighter standards continue. Changed mission profiles and competing objectives add new layers of complexity to asset management at the component, system, plant, and fleet levels. Innovations in distributed sensing, automated inspection, materials reliability, and other areas can help meet the challenge of maximizing operational readiness with reduced staffing and maintenance investment.

Power Industry Transformation

As the industry undergoes a rapid evolution, traditional plant performance metrics such as cost, efficiency, productivity, dispatchability, and reliability are taking on new dimensions. This complicates efforts to optimize operational strategies, maintenance budgets, capital investments, and business plans across fleets. Asset managers need state-of-the-art tools for performance analysis and improvement—spanning people, processes, and technologies—across multiple sites, myriad variables, and diverse supply portfolios.

DESTINATIONS

Power producers will apply a holistic asset management perspective to make the operations and maintenance (O&M) decisions and investments required to meet flexible mission profiles, control costs, and lower emissions without compromising competitiveness, reliability, or safety.

Fundamental research through laboratory testing and engineering analysis will provide the foundation needed to understand and manage damage mechanisms affecting existing equipment, as well as to inform the development of higher-performance materials and components and the industry codes and standards required for their commercial application. Technical knowledge and industry experience—encompassing lessons learned, successes and failures, and best practices—will be organized and synthesized to continue enhancing EPRI’s collaborative asset management database, analytical tools, and guidance documents.

At the component, system, unit, site, and fleet levels, power producers will employ decision frameworks, programmatic processes, and enterprise strategies that integrate systematic and comprehensive asset management within core operations, maintenance, engineering, business, and planning functions.

Innovations in sensing, monitoring, data management, analytics, and control—as well as inspection and NDE—will enable fine-tuning of operations, more accurate condition assessment, and real-time management of component and system health. To maximize asset value, continuous process optimization also will encompass early detection of incipient problems, enabling inspection-for-cause and proactive response to avoid life-limiting damage. Cross-functional programs in equipment reliability, root cause analysis, asset monitoring, and other areas will ensure consistent fleet-wide performance.

Design and procurement specifications will reflect basic knowledge and state-of-the-art practice for ensuring quality and reliability. Plant maintenance, overhaul, and repair decision-making will benefit from novel materials and surface protection methods, engineered weld solutions, and advanced components and systems with improved flexing capability and enhanced reliability.

AREAS OF FOCUS

The 5-year Generation Sector program plans address immediate R&D priorities relating to asset management and reliability. This roadmap defines collaborative R&D pathways leading to new knowledge and advanced technology for improving asset management and reliability—both for existing plants and future capacity additions—over a timeframe 5 to 10 years out, and beyond.

Areas of focus are introduced below. Relevant R&D is under way or anticipated across the Generation Sector’s base programs. Also highlighted are ongoing and planned work through EPRI’s Technology Innovation (TI) program.

MATERIALS AND DESIGN

Improved fundamental understanding of the properties, performance characteristics, and in-service degradation and aging of power plant materials and components is needed as the basis for informed asset management, condition-based maintenance, and increased reliability. Advanced materials, welding and surfacing methods, and manufacturing technologies—approved for use by code and standard bodies—are needed to provide cost-effective solutions for remediating and preventing damage to existing equipment and for deploying new components to increase flexibility, reliability, and asset value.

Ongoing and planned EPRI R&D activities address the following topics:

  • First Principles. Improved understanding of materials properties, operating conditions, individual and interacting damage and aging processes, failure modes and root causes, and other factors influencing component performance and reliability.
  • New Materials. Advanced base metals, weld fillers, coatings, claddings, and surfacing materials engineered for increasing long-term reliability in existing and near-term power plants.
  • Manufacturing & Fabrication. Novel prototyping, manufacturing, joining, and surfacing methods for creating advanced components based on the use of powder metallurgy, 3-D printing, and related materials processing techniques.
  • Codes & Standards. Data, knowledge, and industry experience supporting the modernization of codes and standards and the acceptance and use of advanced materials, methods, and components for power plant applications.
  • Design & Procurement: Guidelines and specifications for applying best practices and state-of-the-art knowledge to inform material, equipment, fuel, system, plant, and fleet decisions.

OPERATION AND CONDITION ASSESSMENT

Operational strategies and techniques directly impact asset life consumption.  Accurate condition and remaining life assessment—key technical bases for managing assets to optimize reliability while controlling costs—are dependent on continued advancement in component inspection, nondestructive evaluation (NDE), materials testing, and predictive modeling capabilities.

Ongoing and planned EPRI R&D activities address the following topics:

  • Operational and Layup Strategies: Innovative and alternate operational strategies that support a variety of operating missions are needed to minimize life consumption and ensure reliability and availability of existing assets.
  • Fleetwide Monitoring: Near real-time monitoring through centralized or localized systems and simple user-friendly analytical tools present a fleet view of health, risk and reliability.
  • NDE & Component Testing. Innovations in large-area and automated inspection, screening-level and detailed NDE, and in-service sampling and characterization to assess the condition of specific materials, components, and locations.
  • Lifing & Modeling. Tools supporting cumulative damage assessment, real-time condition monitoring, and predictive analysis of remaining lifetime for existing and advanced materials.
  • Data Integration & Information Management: Advanced tools, platforms, practices, and technologies for managing disparate sources of data and information to reduce collection and search time and avoid overload while enhancing trending, diagnostics, benchmarking, cross-functional analysis, and O&M decision-making.
  • Integrated Prognostics. Analytics linking fleet-wide online monitoring systems, equipment reliability and preventive maintenance databases to inform operational decision-making and guide condition-based maintenance.

REPAIR, REPLACE, OVERHAUL, RETROFIT AND RETIRE

Ongoing and planned EPRI R&D activities address the following topics:

  • Equipment Guidelines: Prescriptive guidance on maintenance tasks, repair solutions, tools and practices provide ready to use information
  • Maintenance. Advanced tools, practices, and strategies for optimizing staffing, scheduling, inventory, and investment to reduce costs, maintain reliability, and ensure operational readiness when both online and offline.
  • Welding. Technologies and methods for repairing and reinforcing damage-prone locations, reducing or eliminating post-weld heat treatment (PWHT) requirements, and joining advanced materials such as high-strength steels and nickel-base alloys.
  • System & Component Upgrades: Innovations enabling retrofit and repowering projects leading to greater flexibility, increased cycling tolerance, reduced emissions, lower water usage, and other cost-performance benefits.
  • Retirement & Decommissioning: Best practices for managing assets to safely meet revenue targets and maintain reliability consistent with scheduled shutdown dates, as well as to support efficient plant decommissioning, recycling, and disposal.

INTEGRATED AND OPTIMIZED PROCESSES

Systematic and integrated approaches for managing enterprise-wide data and information and leveraging industry-wide experience and emerging technologies are needed to simultaneously optimize performance and reliability at the component and system levels, cost and environmental impact at the unit and plant levels, and these and other indicators at the fleet level.

Ongoing and planned EPRI R&D activities address the following topics:

  • Equipment Reliability: Decision-support frameworks, tools, and strategies for measuring and benchmarking performance, quantifying risks, balancing tradeoffs, optimizing investments, and maintaining and improving reliability across all scales.
  • Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action Programs: Problem solving tools, strategies and techniques to understand true cause and identify mitigating and corrective action to prevent future occurrence.
  • Work Management: As the industry has shifted from reliability centered maintenance to condition based maintenance, work management processes are constantly evolving, gaining new lessons and becoming increasingly digitized and efficient.
  • Conduct of Operations and Maintenance: Consistent and proved practices for day-to-day plant operation provide a foundation for asset interaction and staff performance that ensures predictable, repeatable and optimal performance.
  • Human Performance: Advanced tools, practices, technologies, and strategies for streamlining and automating work processes, capturing expert knowledge, training new workers, and delivering actionable information to plant staff and control room personnel.