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Firm Orgres: complex approach to heat supply

The principal business of the Firm Orgres is to ensure a reliable and efficient operation of power engineering and electrification facilities. In 70 years of its activity the company participated in constructing and commissioning 90% of all power engineering facilities in the former USSR. Their total capacity exceeded 200 million kW and the length of electric power transmission lines amounted to 500,000 km. Specialists of Orgres worked at over 200 facilities in more than 60 foreign countries.

Having an enormous practical experience, tried-and-true methods, staff of engineers of various energy-related specialties, Orgres is actively developing new technologies. Among the main areas of this activity is energy-saving in the heat-supply sector.

Russia is one of the world's countries with the coldest climate. Providing its population, industrial and other enterprises with thermal energy for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning is the most important requirement for functioning of the country's economy. The continuous operation of all structures generating, transporting and distributing thermal energy is the absolute national security priority that extends far beyond the power engineering as it is, including public utilities.

This task becomes even more important because of reforms in the sector of housing and communal services that provide for a significant reduction of subsidies by the State and local governing bodies so as to pay for these services to the population and non-profit organizations. Among the most unreliable and energy-wasteful section of Russia's housing and communal services are heating systems, which were developed mainly by the so-called residual principle because there was an acute shortage of material, financial and personnel resources. About 90% of them are water heating systems, which annually transmit over 1,900 million gigacalories of Russia's heat energy.

The rate of heating systems' failures is constantly on the rise and it annually averages 2.5–3 breakdowns per each kilometer of heating system run that is much higher than the similar index in West European countries. Extremely high are losses of heating-system water because of unauthorized water pumping and violations of stipulated hydraulic regulations, hidden damage of pipelines, frequent water discharges during emergency repair works, etc. In order to make up for such losses almost 2,000 million tons of chemically purified and de-aerated water as well as up to 10 to 12 million tons of equivalent fuel for its heating are spent every year. Heat losses through thermal insulation in pipelines of trunk heating systems alone and losses of heating water reach 10% to 11% of generated heat energy, while total losses in trunk and distribution heating systems account for 20% to 30% of transmitted heat energy or 550 million Gcal a year. This corresponds to losing between 75 million and 80 million tons of equivalent fuel a year. Electric power consumption at heat sources and in heating systems is over 50% higher than the technologically justified one resulting from troubles with operation of district heating systems, which account for approximately 1.2 to 1.5 times more heating water than provided for by project documents and heat supply contracts.
Thus, precisely systems of transporting and distributing heat energy (heating systems) represent that part of district heating systems, where reserves for reducing energy consumption are comparable to a potential saving of fuel.

For many decades already Orgres has been successfully working on raising reliability and efficiency of equipment and heat supply systems. The merger of the Firm Orgres and such competent organizations as Hydroproject, Teploelectroproject and Lenhydroproject into the Engineering Center UES JSC allowed to consolidate their intellectual potential, broad interagency ties and rich experience in developing and upgrading technologies as well as adjusting and testing all links of district heating systems. The availability of advanced instruments for express testing, sets of their own research developments, procedural instructions and manuals as well as computer programs, all necessary licenses, accreditations and certifications makes it possible to solve practically any problem related to raising efficiency of heat supply systems in Russia's towns and regions.

Firm Orgres has developed a complex approach to solving problems of heat supply that is being successfully implemented in practice. This approach is based on the method of optimizing key elements of heat supply systems. The final goal is to raise energy efficiency and reliability of their operation while ensuring the needed quality of heat energy being supplied. The methodology is based on a maximum possible fulfillment of requirements set by normative-and-technical and organizational-and-legal documents, although it can also involve on standard approaches, if necessary.

With the help of a preliminary analysis specialists from Orgres determine major problems that need to be solved first. Among them, for example, are shortages of fuel and thermal power of heat sources, insufficient throughput capacity; mismatched equipment at water-heating installations (including heat-extraction part and peak-load hot-water boiler houses at district heating power stations), excessive complexity of connection schemes and other factors reducing available capacity; maladjustment of heat supply systems' operating modes that results in higher consumption of heat-transfer medium and electric power; lack of gage and automatic control devices as well as systems to protect equipment and consumers from pressure jumps and water hammers in case of pump equipment failures and other emergency situations; inadequacy of operational documentation, absence of normative energy characteristics of heat energy transporting systems that complicates conducting a weighted tariff policy and internal cost control.
As the experience proves, attempts to solve these and similar problems without a single project often lead to much higher and ineffective expenses by an owner (investor), unreasonable increase in sets of used materials, machinery and component parts.

In order to determine the most important directions of works and the range of possible technical solutions to improve and raise economy of heat supply, it is expedient to start with establishing actual state of heat supply systems' operation that will make it possible to get an overall assessment of heat economy reserves and energy-saving potential. This is kind of an express audit conducted in the shortest possible time through using aggregative indices. At the same time, a local examination is conducted of those types of equipment, adjustment of which (reconstruction, modernization, renovation) can raise energy efficiency of heat-supply systems to a maximum. Because summers are short, there is a need to do works in parallel. For example, along with energy-related examination adjusting works of the first stage are to be simultaneously done (developing design diagrams for heating systems, specifying their structural characteristics, creating software base for heat-hydraulic designs, etc.).

In order to accomplish the task to normalize heat supply operations, the following sequence of solving local problems is optimal:

Phase 1:

– To compile energy-related characteristics of heat energy transporting system by established indices while taking into account real needs of customers;

– To conduct an express audit of heat supply systems, including systems of water treatment and water-heating installations, with the use of aggregative indices; specifying top-priority tasks and works' program;

– To develop computerized multifunctional design diagrams of heating systems on the basis of town plans convenient for operating staff and subunits engaged in designing, repairs, adjustment and control as well as for allied organizations, if necessary;

– To develop design diagrams , make calculations and work out measures to optimize operation of water-heating installations at heat energy sources;

– To conduct testing of heating systems for hydraulic and heat losses and (or) examine (monitor) technical condition of heating systems through the use of infrared devices as well as by the acoustic emission method, by way of measuring actual parameters at heating system nodes and by visual examination;

– To develop design heat and hydraulic modes of heat supply systems' operation, to compare them with their actual ones and conduct an analysis of existing criteria;

– To compile normative-and-technical documentations on fuel use at heat energy sources (boiler houses and district heating stations).

Phase 2:

– To develop stationary modes of operation after breakdowns as well as unsteady conditions of operation in emergencies;

– To work out measures to adjust heat supply system, including design diagrams for throttling devices and/or characteristics of means of automatic control of conditions at heat transfer stations;

– To work out measures (including the reconstructive ones) to increase reliability of heat supply as well as a program of re-laying worn-out heating systems, reconstructing heat transfer stations, including substantiation of options to switch over (if a technical potential is available and if it is economically sound) to a closed circuit of hot-water supply and an independent circuit of heating systems' connection, measures to protect equipment from inadmissible changes in parameters of heating water during emergencies;

– To implement programs of repair, preventive, reconstructive and adjustment works based on results of hydraulic calculations, examinations of equipment technical condition, energy audit and recommended measures;

– To regulate operation modes of heat supply systems;

– To develop summertime mode of operation for each district heating system.

Phase 3 (analysis of organizational and legal problems):

– To evaluate the expediency of introducing double-rate tariffs on heat energy generation (capacities) and to separate payments for services to supply heat as well as for heat-selling activity;

– To correct terms of heat supply contracts dealing with responsibilities for violations, including non-observance of heat energy (heat-transfer medium) quality requirements and heat consumption regulations;

–  To optimize procedures of heat energy costing taking into consideration the consumer's shortage of measuring instruments; to work out a program of introducing means of costing with elements of automated management and control systems.

Determination of normative rates of heating system operation indices serves as a basis for conducting subsequent express evaluations of technical conditions and specifying tasks to be accomplished in main phases of operation. Compiling energy characteristics for heat energy transporting systems (by such indices as losses of heating water, heat losses, heating water flow rate, difference in temperatures of heating water in supply and return pipelines, rate of electric energy consumption) permits to evaluate the validity of expenses on transferring heat energy and heat-transfer medium and work out criteria for evaluating quality of heat energy and heat consumption modes both in commercial boundaries with consumers and with operational responsibility of all enterprises that generate and transport heat.

Express audits and local examinations of equipment by categories are aimed at accomplishing the following tasks:

  • to determine normative and actual volumes of consumed fuel-and- energy resources as well as energy-saving potential in natural and money terms, which can be used to substantiate energy-supplying organizations' expenses that are included in costs of production and energy transfer services (prime cost); analyzing causes of discrepancies between actual consumption of fuel-and-energy resources and normative rates;
  • to determine expediency of using technologies and equipment more advanced than provided for by the project or normative documents (in natural and money terms) so as to evaluate efficiency of investment projects and projects of technical re-equipment for substantiating investment programs financed from profits of energy-supplying organizations;
  • to conduct a feasibility study of organizational and technical measures to raise energy efficiency as well as to determine amount of money needed to implement them, payback time and ways of repayment in order to work out cost-reduction and investment programs;
  • to determine in place (confirmation) the effectiveness of implemented energy-saving measures, including those for ensuring payback of expenses on energy-saving projects already completed in accordance with norms of fuel-and-energy resources, which were in force before implementation of these measures for the period that exceeded their payback period by two years.

In order to develop a design diagram for heating systems, OOO Politerm (Saint Petersburg) has worked out the Windows-based ZuluThermo 5.2 software complex that makes it possible to do heat and hydraulic calculations as well as calculations for throttling devices (characteristics of controllers) designed for consumers' heat transfer stations. Transfer of the ZuluThermo 5.2 software complex (with full database) to customers and training of their personnel are possible.

Development of hydraulic and heat modes of heat supply system's operation includes testing heating systems for hydraulic and heat losses, examining them so as to evaluate technical conditions of heat-insulation structures as well as efforts to detect any defects along their subsurface routes. This makes it possible to evaluate amount of heat losses in heating systems and to compile a list of necessary recommendations.

Modes of heating systems functioning are further stabilized and their reliability is increased through accomplishing such tasks as developing heating system summertime operation regimes, evaluating danger of transient hydraulic modes of heat supply system that may arise from emergency switch-off of heating system pumps or introduction of after-emergency modes of heating systems operation, etc.

In parallel with doing works in final phases a complex of organizational and legal measures is developed. These measures are related to reforming tariff system, procedures and systems to commercially assess amounts of heat energy and heat-transfer medium, system of contract obligations of all heat supply subjects (generating, transporting entities and consumers).

Implementing the whole complex of works usually takes two to three years. It should be noted in particular that its cost more than doubles, when some works are done separately by different contractors. If this is the case, then, as a rule, results of separate works are not correlated with each other and that leads to their generally lower effectiveness and quality.

Many years of the Firm Orgres experience of practicing such a complex approach give grounds to feel confident about prospects for its wider use. In its activity Orgres relies on the support by local and regional authorities, including regional energy commissions, Russia's Gosenergonadzor and Gosgortechnadzor, two federal oversight bodies now combined in one structure, as well as other interested organizations and agencies.

Being in demand on the market of engineering services as well as clear vision of promising prospects let the Firm Orgres look ahead with confidence. Having a complex and, at the same time, differentiated approach to solving the most complicated technical problems the company is open to fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Yevgeny Shmyrev, engineer


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