An industrial power plant at sunset

Power Plant Electrical Fundamentals Training

Do your power plant operators know their product?

In my experience, electric power plant operators generally have a good handle on basic boiler principles, air flow requirements, fuel BTUs, etc. But the megawatt output? Not so much. Should an electric power plant operator understand the commodity that he or she is creating: electrical power? I think it goes without question that the answer is a resounding yes. In reality, many operators are shy about discussing electrical theory because they are not confident in the subject matter.

As a test, ask your operators these questions:

  • Why is transmission voltage so high?
  • What is reactive power?
  • How does a transformer work?
  • How and why is the generator neutral grounded?
  • How is turbine rotor torque converted to electrical energy?
  • How is real power and reactive power transferred over the electric grid?

If your operators can only provide basic answers to these questions, they may not fully comprehend the very product that is the basis for your company’s revenue source. An operator can get by with such limited knowledge, but is that the best you should expect? Having a deeper knowledge of these electrical principles helps ensure a more effective response to plant problems and emergencies and also helps the power plant operators identify less-than-efficient operating practices, all of which helps maintain a better bottom line for your company.

Electrical fundamentals training for operators that focuses on power plant applications is just as important for operators as training in boiler principles or steam dynamics. A good power plant-specific electrical fundamentals training program should include:

  • Basic Electrical Principles
    • Ohm’s Law
    • Magnetism
    • AC versus DC
    • Single-Phase
    • Three-Phase
    • Wye and Delta Connections
    • Electrical Power and Power Factor
  • Fundamental Process of Generating Electricity
    • Electromagnetic Induction
    • Simple Generator Action
    • Power Generator Design and Construction
    • Interpreting a Generator’s Nameplate Ratings
  • Generator Operation and Control
    • Generator Synchronizing
    • Power and Frequency Control
    • Reactive Power and Voltage Control
  • Generator Protection
  • Basic Electric Grid Operations
    • Concepts of Real Power Transfer and Sharing
    • Concepts of Reactive Power Transfer and Sharing
    • Understanding the Generator Capability Curve

A course as described above, made site-specific for your operators and your plant, would allow all of your operators to provide in-depth answers to each of the above questions, plus many more. Your operators will have a new-found confidence in electrical theory as it pertains to your plant and will no longer shy away from this topic.