Siraj Taj, Principal/Owner
At the peak of the industrial revolution, a massive demand was placed on the electric energy industry. While the technological breakthrough in thermal power generation supplied the much-needed electrical energy, there was little to no concern paid to the resulting environmental impact. Today, with a clear focus on generating and consuming clean energy, the global electric energy industry is fundamentally transforming at several fronts with competing interests. A significant interest in renewable energy resources is disrupting the traditional role of conventional power generation. As a result, thermal power-generating companies are under growing pressure to demonstrate flexibility, sustainability, reliability, and social responsibility to remain relevant in the evolving energy market. They must redefine their O&M strategy and operating models to remain competitive and profitable while delivering high levels of asset performance. ST Power Services serves this very need for thermal power plants by optimizing the total asset performance across the entire value chain. The company simplifies the myriad complexities associated with natural gas-fired power plants and delivers maximum asset value to their customers.
“We’re 100 percent focused on thermal power plant transformation. We strive to make them flexible, efficient, competitive, and profitable by designing pragmatic solutions,” says Siraj Taj, Principal/Owner of ST Power Services.
Siraj notes that the most prevalent gas turbines, such as General Electric’s E and F-class machines, LM6000, Siemens’s 501D5, and Alstom’s GT fleet, are aging. However, they are critical for the success of the power industry transition to a clean energy future. In other words, they must maintain their relevance in the evolving electric energy industry for years to come.
Unrivaled Value Proposition for Evolving Energy Markets
According to Energy Information Administration (EIA), in CY 2018, thermal power plants generated 81 percent of electricity in the U.S., which comprised 28% coal, 34% natural gas, and 19% nuclear. Coal-fired generation has become uneconomical and faces daunting challenges to remain relevant against historically low-priced natural gas generation. The EIA expects the Henry Hub gas price to average $2.45/MMBTU in 2020, down 14 cents from the 2019 price. The declining costs of renewables and historically low gas prices are setting the marginal cost of electricity. Meanwhile, the traditional, vertically integrated utility business model is shifting toward a performance-based model. Power generating assets that could produce reliable, sustainable, clean, and competitive energy will be rewarded. The competitiveness of gas-fired power plants depends largely on low-cost fuel and market conditions. The existing power plants are more competitive with renewables than new builds because, with historically low fuel prices, their variable O&M (VOM) costs have significantly reduced. The upshot is that capital investment to refurbish them is much lower than for new plant construction.This is precisely why ST Power Services is focused on transforming existing thermal power plants using a four-pronged approach to improving plant reliability, flexibility, and redefining a cost-effective O&M strategy.
Four-Pronged Approach to Power Plant Transformation
We strive to make thermal power plants reliable, flexible, profitable, and relevant for the evolving electric energy industry
Siraj and his team have developed pragmatic solutions to help gas-fired power plants become relevant in the evolving energy industry while laying the groundwork for a carbon-free future. ST Power Services accomplished this goal by leveraging its proven techniques, expert workflows, vendor accessibility, and years of experience in designing plant-specific, pragmatic solutions. Dubbed as toolkits for thermal power plant transformation, this novel approach is buoyed by a revitalized service offering that focuses on:
• Total Asset Performance
Boost life-cycle savings, enhance workforce capability, extend equipment life cycle, and implement robust O&M strategy. All with a goal to maximize total asset value. Operating models of natural gas-fired plants have essentially moved away from base-load operation toward cyclic operation in direct relation to the shift in market structure – Capacity Market to Energy Market. This fundamental shift requires smart investment to upgrade ageing technology to improve operational capabilities, reduce O&M costs, and maximize total asset value.
• Obsolescence Management
Power plants are forced to upgrade their plant control and electrical systems as OEMs stop producing the hardware for them. However, investing Capex on such systems requires a realistic assessment of total plant life cycle and its economic viability. ST Power Services can recharge, repair, and replace ageing equipment to extend the total asset life cycle. “Our cost-effective, one-of-its-kind solution improves total asset performance while minimizing the risk of unplanned downtime,” adds Siraj.
• Business Process Management
ST Power Services acknowledges that the workforce operating and maintaining ageing technology lack competitiveness for the evolving energy industry. The company helps to transform the workforce, workflows, and O&M documentation to standardize plants’ processes and ensures that the O&M team is competent to perform its job function.
• Owner’s Engineer / Representative
The company serves as a part of the plant O&M team to work with them throughout the process of implementing its recommendations and solutions for optimum business results.
“With our four-pronged toolkit, we have the right ingredients to transform the existing gas-fired power plants to become reliable and flexible to meet market demand in real-time at a competitive price. In other words, we enable them to become a true bridge to our clean energy future,” says Siraj.
From Concept to Implementation
ST Power Services’ diverse portfolio of capabilities garners a wide customer base. According to Siraj, the company has successfully completed more than a dozen projects since its inception in August 2016. ST Power Services has delivered life-cycle cost savings of ~$100MM by developing and implementing an alternative Major Maintenance Program (MMPs) relevant to the current energy market. The company has helped its clients achieve a predictable and optimized maintenance cost, speedy access to parts and services, and reduced risk of prolonged maintenance outage.
Additionally, ST Power Services has successfully managed several GT control system upgrades.
One client who’s seen firsthand how ST Power Service’s approach can be a game-changer is Greg Manzulenko, a Plant Manager with Island Generation Company, which operates an Alstom designed 275mw combined cycle facility located on Vancouver Island. Greg stated that the relationship between ST Power Services and Island Generation has grown out of a previous relationship when Siraj worked with Alstom as the site customer service manager. His knowledge and experience have assisted the facility with review of technical data and product services. However, with the sale of Alstom to GE, there was a need to have someone with considerable industrial experience on the site equipment. ST Power Services helped bridge the gap that had emerged by providing technical assistance and long-term guidance on options and packages offered by the OEM. This helped Island Generation gain confidence in product selection and technical expertise, which in turn heightened their understanding of site equipment options and long-term life of the facility.
In another instance, ST Power Services collaborated with Consolidated Asset Management Services (CAMS), a pioneer in providing the energy industry a cost-effective project and asset management, commercial and operations services to the power generation, exploration & production (E&P). Bryan Stout, Director of Operations, that ST Power Services was contracted to provide oversight and experiences to upgrade a 20-year-old WDPF system with Emerson Ovation Control System. To upgrade the turbine control systems, CAMS realized that the assistance from someone with significant industry experience is imperative to ensure that all aspects of their system selection, terms and conditions, planning, and execution were successful. “ST Power Services was highly recommended in the industry and from our peers”, said Bryan. “We were impressed with the background and experience of Siraj Taj.ST Power Services served as a reliable partner and went above and beyond to ensure that our interests were protected, and obligations were fulfilled. I would hire Siraj again to assist with future projects and I would highly recommend him and his company to my colleagues in the power industry.”
Another ST Power Services Client is Rocky Lovato, an O & M Manager with Borger Energy Associates. He stated that ST Power Services served as an experienced and reliable source to ensure that the controlsystem upgrade stayed on schedule. “Siraj was able to foresee issues in the project with the contractor and get them resolved”, said Rocky. “Working with Siraj was like working with another member of our in-house team to complete the project for the better of the plant. He takes pride and ownership in everything he does”.
Heading Toward a Clean Energy- Future
As for the future of ST Power Services, the firm is planning to stay focused on thermal power plant transformation to meet the growing demand for reliable electrical energy and to maintain the stability of the electric power system. They are working with private equity firms, asset management firms, and energy companies to maximize their asset value and optimize the entire value chain — generation, transmission, and distribution. “We are also on a drive to expand our service portfolio into a full O&M service provider. O&M service providers are industry experts in the operations of the power plant, delivering optimum asset performance. Our objective is to protect the owner’s investments and profitably operate and maintain their power plants”, stated Siraj.