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Uniper Technologies

Special Reports

Uniper Technologies has extensive knowledge and experience in providing technical solutions to the power and energy industry. Our expertise has been called upon by numerous clients to support them when disputes arise. Assistance has been provided during initial fact finding through to early resolution, arbitration and
during High Court legal proceedings.

 

A subsidiary of the international energy business E.ON, Uniper owns and operates generation assets and has offices in Europe and at several international locations. Its services include commodity trading, project development and full life asset technical support. Uniper Technologies is an engineering unit of Uniper and provides engineering and technical support to them on a commercial basis, as well as many other customers throughout the world.

Uniper Technologies has an energy industry heritage that can be traced back five decades to state owned utilities in Germany and the UK.

Over this period Uniper Technologies has developed a high level of expertise and competence which has been deployed on the full asset life cycle including:

· Feasibility;
· Specification and tender assessment
· Build
· Commissioning
· Operation
· Upgrades
· Decommissioning
· Demolition

To deliver such a significant range of services, we have expertise in the following disciplines:

· Rotating plant (gas turbines, steam turbines, wind turbines)
· Steam generator, balance of plant
· Electrical plant (generators, transformers, switchgear)
· Civil engineering
· Fuel handling
· Materials forensics

Most expert witness cases require a number of disciplines to come together to help identify the root cause and this is one of Uniper Technologies’ greatest strengths. Not only do we have the essential technical support but we can utilize expertise from other areas within the wider Uniper Group, such as Operations,
Quality and Health and Safety. Many of these skills and competences may be applicable in others sectors outside of the Energy Industry.

Pivotal to the support provided, Uniper Technologies has its own in-house materials failure analysis and testing facilities and chemistry laboratories, all of which help underpin investigations.

Our engineers are highly experienced and we take great pride in their development to expert level. The team is supplemented by specialists with leading academic knowledge in their fields. Underpinning this is a comprehensive competency framework managed by our Technical Head (Expert) community.

We have been called upon by many customers to make a provisional assessment of the concern and our advice is seen as independent and authoritative.
Fortunately many of these cases are resolved but there are some where we are called into the legal process either via arbitration or High Court proceeding.

Case studies

Here are examples of how our expertise has supported clients. Identification has been removed to maintain client confidentiality.

Blade failure – steam turbine

The insurer of an operator sought expert advice on a multi-million pound claim following failure of a turbine. The root cause analysis by the maintenance company concluded that the failure was associated with operation outside the design envelope. Our forensic analysis showed that the blades were in fact
vulnerable to cracking. After a number of contributing factors had been considered, the level of liability between the operator and maintenance company was
ultimately settled via lawyers for both parties.

During this case Uniper Technologies called upon numerous areas of expertise: materials, steam turbine design, chemistry, finite element analysis, quality
specialists, non destructive testing and operations. All of this expertise is available in-house and was instrumental in building an alternate case.

Blade failure – gas turbine

A compressor blade on a gas turbine failed shortly after an outage. The extent of damage was significant, requiring a replacement rotor (turbine and compressor) but we were asked to undertake a root cause failure analysis. Via detailed forensic analysis of the failed parts, it was established that the cause was
fatigue failure of the blade, just above the blade/rotor fixing. Further analysis of the geometry and material hardness at this location revealed a machining error
combined with an issue with the process to improve the surface hardness of the material which gave rise to premature initiation of fatigue failure.

In-house specialists from materials, quality, gas turbine design and operations disciplines were utilised in the root cause analysis.

The outcome, when the results were presented to both the operator and the maintenance company, was a settlement resulting in a compressor and turbine free of issue being supplied and installed.

Electrical plant

The above examples relate to mechanical aspects of power plant which had been operational for years. One of our more interesting case studies arose from a failure due to a mal-operation of a piece of electrical equipment during the early stages of operation.

Our expertise was sought by the plant owner to establish the root cause of the mal-operation and to attend a partial strip down of the generator to ascertain the extent of the required repair work to enable return to service. This was of particular significance because there was a dispute between the OEM and the plant insurer as too whether this was a latent defect issue or an operational issue and therefore which, if any insurance was liable to refund the return to service work and what the most cost effective route for return to service would be. The specification, design, installation and commissioning data all needed to be reviewed and, based on our experience of building power plant, we were able to identify the stage the fault was introduced. In this case the expertise provided was primarily on Technical design as well as the operational regime and maintenance approach.

Conclusion

Expertise requires time to develop and Uniper Technologies takes pride in the systems, training and investment it makes in its scientific and engineering community. This is underpinned by strong technical leadership and a technical career path with structured and managed competency framework.

Since Uniper Technologies supports its own operational assets and also specifies and project manages the building, decommissioning and demolishing of power plant, it is involved at all stages of the asset life cycle and has access to associated expertise, not only in-house but also in other areas that would be difficult to obtain, such as operational expertise.

Within the energy industry we believe we have a strong reputation as independent and authoritative practicing engineers. This has enabled many clients to
understand the basis of the concern and ultimately the grounds for a claim.

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