MATANZAS.–Getting to the condenser inlet is a difficult task. You have to access it by a very narrow and steep staircase, at the risk of falling at the slightest carelessness.
But the biggest challenge is inside that crowded space, where in an uncomfortable position, and at an unbearable temperature, the operator performs a specific task: wash the condenser aided by a high-pressure water machine that reduces cleaning time.
No one is here for long, says Dilmer Herrera Fonseca, one of the members of the high-pressure washing brigade, belonging to the Felton thermoelectric plant.
They began work in the early hours of the night of Tuesday itself, and in view of how laborious this activity is, he says, the operators take turns every hour so as not to expose themselves so much and to be able to rest properly.
According to the worker himself, cleaning the condenser is one of the more than 200 actions that are now being undertaken at the Antonio Guiteras Thermoelectric Power Plant (CTE), after his unexpected departure on Tuesday morning.
The harassment of the water
The departure of the unitary block from Matanzas was not a simple coincidence. The high consumption of water was revealing of a failure in the boiler, a “pain” manifested for twenty days, and despite which it was necessary to keep the CTE standing due to the critical electrical situation facing the country.
This fact, after all, had to do with the tripping of the technological protection mechanism, which occurred in the vacuum area, in the turbine, a reason that forced the machines to stop, explains Misbel Palmero Aguiar, general director of the plant.
He said that both events are linked and ratify that, in practice, the unit could no longer be kept online with that high water consumption.
La Guiteras normally requires 15 to 20 cubic meters of water per hour, he specified, and the situation got so bad that consumption was already in the order of 70 m3. To transport this demineralized water from the CTE Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, in Santa Cruz del Norte, it was essential to have about 20 tankers, as part of the logistics.
Caused by the incident that imposed the stoppage, certainly not so unexpected, it was decided to take advantage of it to correct once and for all the problem causing the high water consumption and, in parallel, solve some other defects that hamper the efficient performance of the plant.
This orderly sequence of activities will, in turn, allow the block to increase its load to 230 MW and be ready for the more ambitious purpose of reaching 280 MW as soon as the boiler can be cleaned, a process that requires a ten days, which is not possible at the moment.
Palmero Aguiar assured that they have the necessary means and the forces to undertake said actions, headed by brigades belonging to the Power Plant Maintenance Company.
The Guiteras will answer
At midday this Wednesday they put the finishing touches on the boiler cooling process to enter its interior, and accurately locate the damaged place. The manager announced, however, that a test carried out previously confirmed the existence of a fault in one of the reheaters, apparently the high temperature one.
He commented that, if the defect is visible to the naked eye, they will work immediately on its solution. It all depends on where the fault is located, that will determine the strategy, he said.
Other actions have to do with cleaning the regenerative air heaters, solving the external leaks of the unit as a whole, changing valves, pipes and other accessories.
All this accumulation of work characterizes the hustle and bustle now visible in Guiteras, a mainstay of the National Electric System, in “combat scramble” for four days and nights, as recognized by Yasmani Cedeño, head of the maintenance brigade.
We are used to this challenge by now. La Guiteras will respond once more, he asserted.