Operational Efficiency

4.1. INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES

The needs for operational efficiency and reliable performance are clearly important to the continued operation of current generation plants. This is particularly so if the operating utility has to compete in an open electricity market. This chapter concerns the issues of power plant operation in relation to performance. In general, a significant factor in achieving maximum plant performance is to operate as close to the operating margins (within the constraints of safety limits) as possible. Another factor is to ensure the plant is on load for optimal periods, i. e. plant trips, maintenance and refuelling outages are minimised. These items are covered in detail in this chapter.

Optimised fuels are being developed in order to generate more power within the operating margins, to deliver improved fuel performance, and to extend the duration of individual fuel cycles. These fuels are being developed for both currently operating and evolutionary plants. Nuclear fuel cycles are covered in Chapter 5; a whole chapter is devoted to these topics in view of their importance to operational matters.

Deregulation of the electricity industries in many countries is an important driver for utilities to improve operational efficiency and performance and reduce costs. This is likely to be an increasing global trend in the future. Deregulation took place in the UK some years ago following the break-up of the Central Electricity Generating Board. Deregulation of the US electricity industry has occurred over the past decade, following the 1992 US Energy Policy Act.

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