Energy Central Power Perspectives™: Welcome Anshuman Bhalla, New Expert in the Generation Professionals Community
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- Jul 8, 2020 11:15 am GMT
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I don’t think it would be hyperbolic to say that these days the energy industry is undergoing more change and on a more rapid timescale than anytime in its history since at least the early years when generation plants and the grid were first being established. One of the areas seeing the greatest amount of transformation is the generation sector, both in types of power generated, size of generators, and location of key generation assets. In this fast-moving sector, there’s much to keep up with on a constant basis.
If you aren’t an expert yourself, tracking the updates to the generation sector can be a full-time job on its own. Luckily, though, you don’t need to quit your day job just to keep up with the generation sector. If you want insights into the goings-on today, the Generation Professionals Group at Energy Central is where you want to be, and the Network of Experts keeping watch over the group will provide you with the industry insights you can’t get anywhere else. To ensure you’re getting the best of the best, Energy Central is continually adding new experts to this network so you can tap into their perspective and virtually keep your finger on all tabs across the industry.
The newest Generation Professionals expert to join the team is Anshuman Bhalla, a Manager of Instrumentation & Control Systems at the AES Corporation. Anshuman was kind enough not just to donate his time as one of our community experts, but also to participate in our Energy Central Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series’ so you all could know just what expertise he’s coming with—enjoy!
MC: Thanks for taking on the role of an Energy Central Expert. We love to give the community an idea of what makes you an expert, so can you give us a quick run-through of your background and experience in the utility sector? Where did your expertise come from? And where has that brought you today?
Anshuman Bhalla: I have 21 years of experience in design, construction, and operation of DCS and control systems for power plants worldwide. This includes hands on programming and commissioning experience on Emerson’s OVATION DCS, GE Mark VIe turbine control system, Siemens T3000 & ABB Symphony DCS. I have gained domain knowledge of power plants having worked in nuclear power plants, combined cycle, simple cycle, gas fired, coal fired, and hydroelectric power stations. I have designed and commissioned around 10 power plants globally. I have executed detailed design, software development, pre-commissioning, start-ups, post-commissioning, and performance guarantees of power plants.
For last two decades, I’ve worked in the construction, operation, and asset maintenance of gas turbines, steam turbines, boilers, compressors, pumping stations, HRSG, and BOP (balance of plant). I have executed control systems for GE Gas turbines (Frame 5, 6 & 7, LM2500, LM6000, Aero derivative, and heavy-duty turbines), Siemens SST steam turbines, Westinghouse and MHI heavy duty turbines. My experience includes tuning of closed loop controls (PID, Ratio controls, Cascade controls, Feedforward controls) for turbines (gas, steam and hydro), boilers (supercritical and HRSG) and compressor systems.
I am a Professional Engineer in California in Control Systems discipline. My qualification includes Bachelor of Engineering in Instrumentation and control systems. I am a TUV certified Functional Safety Expert for Emergency Shutdown Systems. My membership includes Senior Member with IEEE and a Fellow with Institution of Engineers Australia. I have been creating global engineering standards on Control systems, which are published in international standards organizations including IEEE and “Institution of Engineers Australia”.
I am currently working as a “Manager – Instrumentation & Control Systems” with AES Corporation at Long Beach, California. I have recently provided engineering leadership during the construction and commissioning of 640 MW combined cycle power plant at Long Beach, CA.
MC: Wow, you clearly have a great diversity in experiences, especially given that you’ve worked in the power sector in India, Australia, and the United States. What have you noticed to be the biggest differences country to country when it comes to power generation?
AB: Yes, I do have experience of working in about 10 international locations including the United States, Canada, Australia, India, China, Qatar, France, Thailand, and Angola.
Power industry projects use different technologies in different continents. For example, American technology is quite common, like Emerson, GE, and Rockwell control systems. In Asia and Europe, German and Japanese technologies like Yokogawa controls, Siemens controls, and Schneider controls are quite common.
The level of automation done in the power plants also varies from country to country. Populated countries like India and China like to have more operator interaction and manual controls while running the power plant. Less populated countries like the United States and Australia prefer to have more automation and remote-control operation to produce power from the generating units.
Developed economies like the United States, Australia, and France, for example, are giving more emphasis to the energy efficiency improvements, SMART operations, and power plant optimization.
MC: Really interesting! With over twenty years working on power generator systems and the deep engineering of it all, you clearly have a great background on where this technology has come from and where it is today. But can you give your best predictions for what the future of the technology is going to look like? What’s out there on the horizon that has you excited?
AB: The world is moving towards renewables when it comes to power generation. In the next two to three decades, you will see lot of solar power plants, wind turbines and BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) being installed globally. The cost of solar and wind installations has come down drastically and it is becoming a more viable option for energy generation. Grid stability and grid reliability through renewables are still some challenges the power industry is facing, and you will see lot of research happening in this field.
I am also excited about small modular nuclear reactors technology. It is in advance stage of development and the United States is one of the leading countries in SMR technology. Hydrogen fuel cells for energy storage is also having tremendous potential to grow in the near future.
MC: The business side of the utility industry is undergoing some significant change recently, such as decentralization, deregulation, and more. How do changes on the business side of utilities affect the work you do as a generation and power plant technical expert?
AB: It’s true that utility industry is moving towards decentralization and microgrids are becoming popular. The evolution of solar and wind power plus the battery storage is making the grid more decentralized than ever. Decentralization is creating more opportunities in the area of transmission and distribution, grid efficiency, and energy storage. It is also creating challenges to the energy expert like me to keep evolving and learn these new areas so that our skills remain relevant in this ever-changing environment.
Deregulation has allowed the end-users to choose their electricity providers and has created competitions between the utility companies. Deregulation is also creating opportunities in the sense that utilities are now investing heavily in energy efficiency and optimization to lower the cost of generation and transmission and ultimately lowering the cost to the consumers. As a Control Systems Engineer, I see myself playing a greater role the in the energy efficiency, automation and optimization of power plants.
MC: As you’ve started to get involved with Energy Central, what do you find to be the value that the platform brings to you and to the industry? Why do you participate and stay so engaged, and how do you hope to bring value based on your experience and knowledge to fellow Energy Central users?
AB: Energy Central is a forum dedicated to the energy industry. It provides the latest news and developments and the present and future trends in the power industry. As an energy expert, it is important for me to know what’s happening in the industry within and outside the United States, the new projects and the new technologies that are coming up in the energy industry, and Energy Central provides me with that useful information.
As an Energy Professional, I believe that there is a lot that we can learn from each other’s experiences. I have done some interesting projects in gas turbines, steam turbines, combined cycle, and nuclear power plants in the recent past and I can share my personal experiences in resolving practical problems encountered in these industries during the design, construction, commissioning, and start-up stages of the project execution.
I am looking forward to interacting with other Energy Experts in the various communities of Energy Central. I would also like to interact with young students, fresh graduates, and other professionals to discuss their problems and to mentor them and to understand their ideas and the vision they have to make this world a better place to live for the mankind.
Please join me in thanking Anshuman Bhalla for his time in this interview and for his accepted role as a Generation Professionals expert in the Energy Central community. When you see Anshuman engaging with content around Energy Central, be sure to say hi, ask a question, and make him feel welcome!