A crucial component of innovation is trying something new, to determine if a different approach is the solution that will provide game-changing results. But for energy companies providing electricity to the grid, there is no room for error — making innovation a more complicated proposition.
A new Emerson technology is providing a virtual platform that allows companies to test any proposed adjustments to operations risk free and in real time, before they are applied to the actual plant. Using the industry’s first integrated control and simulation platform, Emerson is able to create an exact digital replica of the live plant. This high-fidelity simulator, known as a “digital twin,” runs in parallel with the real control system, making advanced testing possible to ensure any changes won’t impact the supply of electricity.?
World-leading tech research group Gartner named digital twins among the “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018,” predicting that digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future and estimating there will be 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints in use by 2020.
Digital twin technology is not merely about testing a product or component. Using research data on how the parts of a system operate and respond to the environment, bolstered by data provided by sensors in the physical world, a digital twin can both analyze and simulate real-world conditions and respond to operational changes. The digital twin essentially acts as a proxy for the real-world combination of experts and monitoring devices and controls, such as sensors.
This advanced simulation can be leveraged on the largest and most complex scale, working in real-time to address potential impacts to full-scale industrial and manufacturing operations. The state-of-the-art technology is already making an impact in the power industry.
The need for real-time virtual testing is greater than ever. Global electricity demand will see a 69 percent increase by 2040, according to a 2016 U.S. Energy Information Administration report. This increase in demand, which puts further pressure on reliable generation, will accompany a growing shift to renewable energy sources, which are processed differently than traditional sources.
While the trend toward renewables offers energy resource diversity long-term, “cycling” of traditional plants – operating fossil fuel power sources up and down and switching them off and on repeatedly-- increases the stress on equipment, boosting maintenance costs and increasing risk of unplanned power outages.
Digital twin technology enables companies to test methods to more effectively merge these energy sources without risking operations. And, thanks to other Emerson technologies such as pattern recognition, Pervasive Sensing? and analytic tools, customers will have the latest suite of resources available to truly achieve the highest level of performance.
Through our digital twin technology, we see customers transcending current operations—working in the present and the future to maximize efficiency and safety.