Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Power System Diagnostics

Project ID: 5040
Principal Investigator: Eric Eastment
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Priority Area Assignments: 2014 (Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation), 2015 (Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: powerplants technology transfer renewable energy wind dispatchable reliability hydro power research capacity

Research Question

Power system diagnostics was formed to respond to demonstrated problems in the Bureau of Reclamation's (Reclamation) electrical facilities and research-oriented requests of staff at Reclamation power facilities. The broad focus is on improving equipment diagnostic methods and techniques and developing/innovating new methods to reduce maintenance costs and equipment downtime in the areas of high-voltage insulation, rotating machine protection, and maintenance testing and diagnostics. Each area plays a major role in determining cost and efficiency of operating Reclamations' hydroelectric facilities. Tasks are targeted to solve repetitive problems, address common Reclamation needs, broaden and diversify facility equipment maintenance expertise, and mitigate the impact and assist with the integration of renewable energy technologies with Reclamation's existing hydroelectric infrastructure. Tasks are also formulated based on extensive field diagnostics experience and interaction with facility engineers and crafts.

A separate supporting document will be submitted that details each of the research project questions/goals, research plan, product, timeline/milestones, and funding distribution (if multiyear project).

Need and Benefit

Reduction in facility operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and improved power system reliability requires new methods to diagnose abnormal equipment operation, address effects of aging and wear, and minimize costly downtime, which together form an evolving problem set. Much of this research will result in developing new test methods and equipment for field diagnostics of high-voltage rotating machines, power transformers, and associated high-voltage auxiliary equipment protection and controls, and monitoring devices. The study approach includes information gathering from existing industry practices, literature searches, and interaction with Reclamation field and Denver Office personnel, who are our stakeholders and beneficiaries. Surveys of plant operation (or misoperation) history will also be conducted. Some research will require high-power and high-voltage field testing, which will be conducted on generators at available Reclamation plants with in-kind service assistance-type partnerships and co-funding. Field test information will serve to increase our understanding of machine operating characteristics, leading to better O&M/repair practices, reduced costs, and avoided costs throughout Reclamation.

The program research goal is to improve the reliability and operational efficiency of Reclamation power facilities. Costs for transformer/generator failure range from $1 million to $50 million per incident.

With improved equipment testing methods, more reliable plant operation is possible with less downtime required for failure diagnostics or misoperation analysis. Resulting reduction in maintenance costs and lost revenue will contribute to improved plant operating efficiency. Machine parameter and electrical characteristics information from field testing data will be shared with technical peers and will benefit Reclamation-wide maintenance, operation, and protection of large generators and motors. On a regional scale, this information will also support better power system modeling for prevention of costly blackouts (regional and local).

Research Products

The end-product of this program is directed toward implementation at Reclamation facilities. In addition results of this research program will be shared with our stakeholders (regional & facility managers & engineers) in the form of improvements in Reclamation equipment testing and diagnostic procedures, new maintenance diagnostic test equipment, technical reports and guide manuals. Specifically the output will include: 1.) feasibility of utlizing new stator winding insulation systems which theoretically allow the up-rating of generators/motors and/or may increase life of the insulaiton system. 2.) feasibility of rotating corna probe test equipment which will capture critical data on insulation system health without the need to remove the rotor. 3.) improved DC Ramp test diagnostic data and analysis information. 4. Improved specifications for specifying new stator winding insulation systems.

This information was last updated on April 20, 2014
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page