Callide operator

Power station simulator to enhance operator training

17 May 2021

CS Energy is investing in future skills development at Callide Power Station with its project to install a new power plant simulator later this year.

As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’ and that’s what the simulator will provide for Callide operators – both current and future.

Project Manager Bob Saunders said operators play a vital role in the operation of our power stations.

“Operators need to have a strong understanding of the plant and its control system, and the ability to operate the power station under a range of conditions,” Bob said.

“Our existing simulator at Callide was no longer fit for purpose, so this new simulator will provide operators with more opportunities to practice operating the station.”

When people think of simulators, images of pilots learning on flight simulators normally spring to mind. But software simulators are a highly effective tool for learning in a wide range of industries, including power generation.

“Ideally, the operator does not notice any significant differences between operating the simulator and the real plant,” Bob said.

Bob and his team are working with contractor SimGenics to create a replica plant simulator based on the 420 megawatt Unit C3 at Callide Power Station.

Not deterred by COVID-19 travel restrictions, CS Energy and SimGenics worked on the detailed design of the simulator over the course of 70 hours of video conferencing earlier this year.

“Getting the design right is critical,” Bob said. “So, we made sure that we had our various subject matter experts in the room to ensure that the simulator replicates the real-life operation of the plant as closely as possible.

Simulator workshop
Above – Clockwise from bottom, Bryan Currier System Technician, Gavin McMillan Shift Supervisor, Nick Byrne Operator technician and Jigar Parikh Plant Performance Engineer, during the detailed design phase earlier this year. One of the panels from an old Callide simulator can be seen in the background at far left.

“In parallel to this work, Callide is updating its operator training materials to incorporate the use of the simulator for training and assessment.

“Trainees will first learn how to ‘drive’ C station using the simulator and will then progress to Callide B having gained general power station operation skills from the simulator.”

Callide Power Station General Manager Ben Hayden said the simulator was an important investment in the technical competencies of its operators – both now and in the future.

“With senior operators reaching retirement age across the power generation industry, the new simulator will strengthen CS Energy's succession planning activities by ensuring we effectively transfer these critical skills to younger workers,” Ben said.

CS Energy plans to have the new simulator ready to use by the end of 2021.

Callide Power Station is comprised of two power plants, Callide B and C, each with two generating units, and has a permanent workforce of 260 employees. CS Energy owns 100 percent of Callide B and owns Callide C in a 50/50 joint venture with InterGen.