From sustainability to security: excellence in the BYEM Awards 2018

The Byem Awards recognise employees who propose measures for improving processes, safety, efficiency and sustainability in their work inside coal, fuel and combined cycle thermal power plants.

Winners of the BYEM Awards 2018
Scopoli’s shearwater is a bird that spends most of its life at sea, only returning to land to breed. The moment the fledglings make their first flight out to sea is critical, because they typically do so at night, using the stars for guidance, and often get confused by light pollution from cities, causing them to fall, disoriented, from the sky.
Staff at the Candelaria power plant in Tenerife are very familiar with this phenomenon, because they have spent a great deal of time rescuing birds who fall into their installations, having become disoriented by the lights of the power plant. For this reason, they decided to try turning off the lights during the shearwater’s migration season, between mid-October and mid-November.
"In view of the positive results of this initiative, we decided to conduct a study of areas where lighting can be turned off whilst avoiding danger to people and to the installation itself. This programme had excellent results: from accounting for between 25 and 30% of birds rescued in the region (i.e. 30% of the birds that fall to Earth) to only 7% this year", explains José Manuel Martín Zarza, the head of the project at the Candelaria plant.
This initiative, which enables staff at the plant to be involved in an activity different to their day-to-day jobs, whilst also contributing to a positive environmental action, was recognised by the Premio Byem (Busca y encuentra mejoras – Seek and find improvements) as the Best environmental initiative in the CCGT and O&G sector. These awards are held annually by the employees of coal and combined-cycle gas turbine power plants to find initiatives that improve the processes, efficiency and safety at work.


Winning improvements

Within the plants, safety is also a vital concern. How can an emergency best be managed? This was the issue that prompted Pablo Gutiérrez Cerezales, Director of the power plant at Alcúdia, to design a mobile app for emergency situations, which won the prize for the Best Safety Initiative (at coal-fired power plants).

"In this type of installations, we have secure and redundant systems such as megaphones, telephone systems and even radio transceivers, but our aim is to take a step further, combining digitisation with safety, and we are determined to have an operational emergency app for the next drill", explains Gutiérrez.

“We didn’t have a reference upon which to build, but what we did have clear ideas about what we needed, and that gave rise to an intuitive application, easy to use, practical and highly useful, which brings us closer to our aim of safety excellence.”

Pablo Gutiérrez Cerezales, Director of the Alcúdia power plant

Estatuilla de los Premios BYEM 2018

The ideas relate to a very broad range of fields. The award for best initiative in this year’s ceremony went to Rubén García González, from the environmental department at the UPT Teruel power plant, whose idea was based on optimising the process of grinding the limestone used in the plant’s desulphurisation process. The limestone comes from a quarry that is part of the plant’s installations, so it is possible to produce a finer material that increases the grinding capacity, allowing us to obtain finer particles.

“We have seen the grinding capacity increase considerably, and the efficiency of the absorbers has also improved, so we have begun making lime at the new level of fineness.”

Rubén García González, Head of Environmental Department at UPT Teruel

These are just some of the initiatives that were celebrated at the latest BYEM awards, which were first held in 2015. In total, this year, 233 new ideas were put forward; of these, 68 have already been implemented, 37 are in the pipeline, and 100 are being studied. These proposals come in addition to the 306 presented in previous years, which are already being applied in some of the company’s 25 power plants. It is possible to extrapolate some of these solutions to other plants, meaning the improvements can be made on a wider scale than initially planned.

The BYEM awards are an example of how it is possible to integrate innovation into the development of our daily activity, and show that our employees’ initiatives can help build a future that is safer, more efficient and more sustainable in the domain of energy.

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