Situated on the southwest quarter of the Iberian Peninsula, the comparatively small Spanish town of Olivenza is home to hundreds of years’ worth of monuments and architecture. Cathedrals and public buildings reflect both the Spanish and Portuguese influences, befitting the town’s border status between the two countries. However, it would be a mistake to think Olivenza only offers a view to history, because amid the centuries’ old buildings, fountains, and statues, one can see the future of power generation.
An example of innovative and environmentally conscious thinking, the Olivenza Thermosolar power plant collects solar thermal energy (STE) for the region. However, although replacing traditional power generation with STE fills most people’s heads with ideas of “free energy,” it takes cutting-edge technology to harness that power. Furthermore, storing and transporting the collected energy is a challenge. The future is built on the accomplishments of the present day, and the Olivenza Thermosolar power plant turned to Rotork for the components to ensure its operations continued without incident.
Rotork intelligent electric valve actuation with digital two-wire monitoring and control has been specified for valve automation at the power plant, which is operated by the Spanish company Ibereolica and generates eco-friendly electricity for up to 50,000 households. More than 100 IQ actuators and two Pakscan P3 hot-standby master stations have been supplied, fully installed, cabled and commissioning by Rotork Iberia. Rotork’s intelligent IQ actuator technology is widely recognised as industry-standard for isolating and regulating valve duties in the field of power generation.
The use of solid-state electronics as an alternative to switch mechanisms and counter limiting devices, combined with programmable micro-processor based control and instrumentation functionality, offers many proven benefits.
These include non-intrusive configuration and data transfer by means of a hand held instrument via a secure, bi-directional link. This system is used to perform all the switch setting and commissioning functions that were traditionally only achieved by removing electrical covers. Using the multi-lingual menu on the actuator display screen, it is quick and easy to commission the valve, with or without mains power connected.
The same instrument is used to download this data and upload it to other IQ actuators with similar commissioning parameters, simplifying and speeding up the operation, or to download actuator operating information from the actuator’s data logger.
The inclusion of a data logger enables an event-by-event history of valve activity to be generated, including torque profiles produced during each opening and closing. Using Rotork’s IQ-Insight2 software, these can be compared with the valve torque signature profile logged during the commissioning process to identify the trend of valve operating wear or isolate tight spots and other problems. Analysis of this data improves asset management through fault diagnostics and preventative maintenance.
Digital two-wire control is provided by Rotork’s proprietary Pakscan P3 system, the third generation of a market-leading product, capable of monitoring and controlling up to 240 field units without repeaters on a single highway with a length of up to 20 kilometres. Designed specifically for the valve actuation environment, Pakscan combines high reliability and efficiency with low maintenance costs. In providing the vital link between the actuators in the field and the centralised supervisory control room, Pakscan incorporates secure field communications with inbuilt network redundancy to maintain control even in the event of equipment or cable failure.
Rotork Pakscan has been widely adopted in many worldwide industries, where the use of a fully redundant two-wire bus loop linking multiple numbers of actuators over long distances is recognised as delivering reliable monitoring and control with dramatically reduced installation and cabling costs in comparison with traditional hard wiring.
The Olivenza Thermosolar power plant is the second plant to be operated by the Spanish company Ibereolica. Rotork supplied IQ range electric actuators with Pakscan digital control at the company’s first plant, Moron Thermosolar, and the satisfactory experience on this project, where installation and commissioning was performed on time and without incident, has enabled Ibereolica to select the same Rotork equipment again. As with the Moron project, Seridom has been the main contractor for Olivensa Thermosolar.
As more and more information is collected from successful thermosolar energy plants, Rotork will be able to quickly adapt the technology to the next generation of solar energy collection. If one thing is certain, the push toward alternative power sources is only going to increase—in Spain, in American, throughout the developed world and beyond. Harvesting energy from the sun is just the beginning. ■
Aitor Laso is gerneral manager at Rotork Controls Iberia, S.L. He can be reached at
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