Before the late ‘70s, the only way to conduct practical thermal power plant training was on the job. Digital simulations have since transformed the process. Since the first working power station began operating in 1982, we have become increasingly dependent on electricity.
At first, it was mainly used in the home for lighting, a safer alternative to gas and candles. Parallel to this, the Second Industrial Revolution replaced steam-driven machines with electric models, and the demand for electricity began to soar.
Today, around 30 000 power plants operate globally, and while there is a steady migration to more sustainable options like solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear technology, coal, oil, and gas-fired plants make up the vast majority, and more are planned. However, climatologists and environmentalists now claim that maintaining this imbalance amounts to humanity shooting itself in the foot.
At the time of writing this article, the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) is debating cooperative strategies to overcome global warming and climate change arising from excessive carbon emissions. However, we could remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels for decades. Thus, thermal power plant training also remains necessary to replace experienced operators who have retired or help existing staff adapt to upgrades and other operational changes. So, what are the options?
- Conventional Thermal Power Plant Training
Teaching the theoretical aspects of power plant operation presents no problem and can be conducted in a classroom. Video projectors have long since replaced the need for blackboards and chalk, whiteboards and overhead projectors and offer lifelike technical animations to explain the internal operation of boilers, generators and other complex plant equipment.
However, when it’s time for some practical experience, the traditional approach requires a learner to watch an experienced operator perform a task before repeating it in person. Given the high incidence of accidents and injuries in conventional power stations worldwide, this practice can be risky, to say the least. So, is there a safer alternative? As it happens, there is.
- Simulated Thermal Power Plant Training
The idea of training operators in a virtual learning environment dates back to Roman times, but until 1954, when Curtiss-Wright developed the first modern flight simulator, efforts were somewhat primitive. With the arrival of the digital age, the stage was set for a new era of computerised simulations and their use in training.
A typical thermal power plant training simulation employs game-based technology to create interactive models of control panels and other equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of a power station. Trainees utilise a PC and mouse to adjust the virtual controls required for a given task and can then observe the results of their actions on the screen. If they make mistakes, they can practice until they get it right without risk to others.
How to Benefit from Thermal Power Plant Training Simulations
The power of simulated learning and the return on investment are well established. Teaching using simulated scenarios is more cost-effective, offers faster results and is inherently safer than the alternative. At SimGenics, we offer two ways to conduct a training programme for personnel new to operating a combined cycle power plant.
- An in-house course: SimGenics is a leading developer of learning simulation. We can supply an off-the-shelf product, develop one based on your specified needs, or provide specialised software to create your simulations without any programming knowledge.
When choosing the latter option, a trainer can focus on key tasks, monitor each learner’s progress using built-in quizzes or timed exercises, and generate performance reports and other relevant data. However, if, for any reason, it is inconvenient to conduct your operator training in-house, consider our alternative option.
- Train with our combined cycle thermal power plant simulations in Denver: To alleviate the burden of conducting in-house instruction, we operate a training centre in the Colorado State Capital. Here, trainees worldwide can gain practical experience in the tasks essential for running a thermal power plant over four days. The course combines classroom-based theoretical studies with extensive simulator time to provide a comprehensive blended learning experience.
The course content can be modified to suit an individual plant’s requirements, and each learner will complete a pre and post-course test to evaluate progress.
Arranging Thermal Power Plant Training
Affordable, safe, and efficient practical training for power plant operators will remain essential for the foreseeable future until more sustainable options meet the growing demand. Why not contact us to book a course or enquire about our other training options?