Skip to main content

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI

22 November 2023

The vision for a futuristic power plants is here: JERA held a press briefing on "Digital Power Plant (DPP)" on October 10, 2023. In the briefing, JERA introduced its efforts to build a data-driven O&M system through digitalization of the operation and maintenance (O&M) of power plants. In addition, a state-of-the-art O&M technology driven by Metaverse and Generative AI technology, jointly developed with Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft), was also presented. The vast amount of data obtained from O&M of facilities with the largest power generation capacity in Japan: The new and innovative way of O&M operation and a co-creation enabled by digitalization of these data holds the power to revolutionize O&M operation at power plants around the world. (Titles omitted)

Solutions Created by Engineers

“This journey has just begun," said Tetsuya Watabe, Corporate Vice President, Managing Executive Officer and Chief O&M・E Officer of JERA, expressing his hope and confidence in the DPP in these brief words. Watabe further states, "Digitalization (DX) of O&M at power plants has three significant aspects.

(1) Connecting power plants over time = Digitalization of the vast amount of past O&M data from each power plant will enable data to ”connect wisdom to the future” (2) Connecting power plants across locations = Enabling collaboration between different power plants through sharing of issues and solutions even if located far away(3) Giving shape to ambiguity = Enabling knowledge and expertise of highly specialized O&M operations to be made into explicit knowledge.

JERA has 26 thermal power plants in Japan with a total generation capacity of approximately 61,000MW. In addition, JERA has approximately 12,400MW of generating capacity overseas. The amount of electricity generated annually is equivalent to about 30% of the total amount of electricity generated in Japan. Behind such a huge power generation business lies a vast amount of O&M-related technical know-how and data. JERA is now trying to create a unique solution called "JERA-DPP®" through combination with "AI”.

This can also be described as " solution that can only be created by engineers". The JERA-DPP® solution will incorporate the insights and wisdom of on-site engineers to the fullest extent. On top of this, the solution aims to generate additional merit such as reducing the average annual days of unplanned outage from 10 to zero, reducing maintenance costs by 20% through the use of data and AI, enable a more efficient power plant operation by optimizing workflow and number of workers, enabling engineers to make decisions based on recommendations generated by AI and responding to market conditions in the LNG and other fuel markets and to trends in electricity supply and demand.
Most important of all, it will drastically change the way on-site engineers work. A shift from the traditional method of "monitoring and responding to problems" to a method of "prediction and prevention as data scientists" will be encouraged. Introducing "Prediction and prevention” creates many benefits, in other words, much value. On-site engineers will be able to focus on creating new value.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

JERA aims to “Package the operation of facilities and work done by people to achieve a workstyle that enables anyone to create value” by introducing DPP to its plants starting with the Anegasaki Power Plant

The "DPP Package" that transforms the tacit knowledge of skilled workers into explicit knowledge.

JERA-DPP® is promoted based on two pillars. The first is the "DPP Package," which combines and packages applications that uses specialized O&M know-how and the second is the "Global-Data Analyzing Center (G-DAC)," which provides predictive monitoring and on-site support for power plant facilities in Japan and overseas.

To begin with, the digitalization of JERA's O&M began about five years ago in 2018. It was part of a company-wide IT and digital transformation effort, and as part of the digitalization efforts the “DPP Transformation Project” was launched in 2020. A major outcome of this project was the "DPP Package".

The O&M of a power plant involves a vast variety of tasks. These include monitoring and data collection for operating power generators, determining countermeasures and operations when abnormality occurs, clarifying the causes of abnormality, maintaining equipment, and preventing abnormality, and formulating operation plans based on market trends for fuels such as coal and LNG. Even when broadly classified , they are classified into diverse areas such as "efficiency management," "predictive management," "abnormality management," "outage plan management," "lifetime management," and "maintenance planning. Moreover, these tasks are highly specialized, and knowledge and expertise have been " personalized" by on-site engineers and passed down from one generation to the next.

The DPP package replaces all the knowledge and expertise, such as intuition and tricks, that skilled engineers have acquired through their past work experience with digital technology. The package supports the user to follow the four-step action process of "information gathering," "information analysis and prediction," "response decision," and "response execution and evaluation". More than 20 apps are available, and the system can provide specific response measures for each case.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

DPP Package, a group of applications that transforms engineers' specialized knowledge into "explicit knowledge," meant to enable information sharing at a deeper level and revolutionize the way of work.

"In order to provide electricity throughout and to respond to the world energy situation with agility, the conventional approach to power plant operation doesn’t work anymore. With the introduction of the DPP package application, frees power plant staff from data collection and analysis tasks, allowing them to focus on data utilization and business improvement. Tacit knowledge, which used to belong to the individual, will become explicit knowledge that can be shared by everyone, and will promote a data-driven power plant management and decision-making which transcends organizational boundaries," said Hiroaki Kamei, Executive Officer, Head of the Digital Power Plant Promotion Group, O&M Engineering Strategy Division.

The DPP package application was first introduced at the Anegasaki Thermal Power Station (Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture) in April 2023, followed by Taketoyo Thermal Power Station (Chita District, Aichi Prefecture) in May and Yokosuka Thermal Power Station (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture) in June. Although customization may be required depending on the power generation system and scale of the power plant, the system is scheduled to be gradually introduced to power plants in various locations.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

Hiroaki Kamei, Executive Officer, Head of the Digital Power Plant Promotion Group

“G-DAC" Enabling co-creation at power plants around the world utilizing AI and metaverse.

G-DAC (Global-Data Analyzing Center) was newly established organization as JERA's headquarter organization in July 2023. 62 units (as of October 10, 2023) operated by JERA in Japan and overseas are monitored 24 hours a day in real-time with the support of AI, specializing in predictive and preventive measures, For example, if G-DAC detects that "an abnormality will occur within a week" at a certain thermal power plant, it will ask engineers at that power plant to confirm and inspect the situation and take joint action. Needless to say, the information on prediction and prevention of power plants identified using the DPP package will also be coordinated with the prediction and prevention information in G-DAC.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

The "JERA-DPP Metaverse" is projected in the control room of the Anegasaki Power Plant. The screen is displaying various types of information related to abnormalities , and engineers are gathered in the metaverse space to discuss.

G-DAC is also building a co-creation space in which engineers from around the world can solve problems in a virtual space (metaverse) when abnormalities occur at a particular thermal power plant.
In the metaverse, G-DAC analysts and engineers at the power plant will co-create to solve the problem, transcending the barriers of time, space, and language. In doing so, the "Enterprise Knowledge Adviser (EKA)," which uses generative AI, will provide JERA's long-accumulated knowledge on power plant operations and solutions to problems.

The series of systems were jointly developed by JERA and Microsoft. The system is unique in that it incorporates tacit knowledge into a generative AI which is integrated with the metaverse space, rather than it being a standalone solution. Moreover, a structure that enables the system to be user simultaneously around the world has been set up.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

" G-DAC(Global-Data Analyzing Center)" on the metaverse.

Norihisa Tegawa, Executive Officer, Head of the G-DAC, O&M Engineering Strategy Division said, "This is the world's first attempt to develop and practically use such a high-level system as an O&M utility for the power industry, including power plant operations. The AI learns from numerous failure cases and proposes countermeasures. We plan to conduct verification work at the Anegasaki Thermal Power Plant starting in October 2023, and to complete the verification of the best method to work in a hybrid environment of on-site and virtual by the end of the fiscal year on the , as well as future expansion policies, etc., before starting full-scale operations in fiscal year 2024."

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

Norihisa Tegawa, Executive Officer, Head of the G-DAC

Miki Tsusaka, President and Representative Director of Microsoft Japan, who oversaw the joint development, said, "This was a challenging project for us, and we had a lot of discussions with JERA. We hope to co-create a new social revolution toward the realization of the SDGs by combining JERA's extensive knowledge and data on thermal power generation and Microsoft's state-of-the-art technology. "
A strategic partnership with Microsoft was also signed in July 2023, and the two companies will establish a joint operating structure to create innovation and business opportunities. The two companies also plan to leverage their global customer bases to develop sales and marketing activities for a series of DPP solutions.

Contributing to revolutionalizing workstyle at power plants with DPP solutions.

Whether it is the DPP package or G-DAC, the Anegasaki Thermal Power Plant has been chosen for these solutions to be introduced.

More than 50 years have passed since the Anegasaki Thermal Power Plant started operation, and a project to upgrade (replace) Units 1-3 with state-of-the-art equipment began in 2017. In addition to the new Units 1 and 2, the new Unit 3 began commercial operation in August 2023. All three new units are state-of-the-art LNG-fired power plants employing the gas turbine combined cycle (GTCC) system.

The replacement project of the Anegasaki Thermal Power Plant was taken as an "opportunity" to introduce a digital transformation of O&M as well. A state-of-the-art thermal power plant is not only state-of-the-art in terms of its facilities, but also in terms of its Of course, there are still areas that is untouched in the digitalization of O&M. However, we believe that it's not long before these untouched areas disappear, as a new future and technological culture is starting to be nurtured through constant DX of excellent on-site O&M and high-quality data.

JERA has no intention of limiting the DPP solutions it has created to its own use; JERA Vice President Watabe says, "We want to take DX beyond mere digitalization to a level that we can call a digital revolution. We would like to borrow Microsoft's technological capabilities to integrate the digital world with the physical world, while aggressively marketing and selling our solutions to the rest of the world," said Watabe.
The journey into the future has just begun, but it is none other than JERA that has started the journey.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

At the press conference, there was a lot of interest in metaverse and digital twin.

DPP = A Digital Power Plant that adds power of on-site onto AI Image

Speaking at the press conference were (from left to right)Sami Ben Jamaa, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Global Chief Information and Digital Officer (G-CIDO), JERA Co., Inc., Tetsuya Watabe, Corporate Vice President, Managing Executive Officer, Chief O&M・E Officer(COMEO), JERA Co., Inc., Miki Tsusaka, President, Microsoft Japan Co., Ltd., Nobuyoshi Yokoi, Managing Executive Officer, Industrial & Manufacturing Group, Microsoft Japan Co., Ltd.

Norihisa Tegawa

Norihisa Tegawa

Executive Officer, Head of the G-DAC, O&M Engineering Strategy Division, JERA Co., Inc.

Hiroaki Kamei

Hiroaki Kamei

Executive Officer, Head of the Digital Power Plant Promotion Group, O&M Engineering Strategy Division, JERA Co., Inc.