Revitalization of the power unit of the H4 in HPP „Bajina Bašta“, interview with “Drina-Lim Hydro Power Plant” company

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– The equipment is coming soon, and people who will receive that equipment must have vast knowledge to be able to receive what someone else produces. Without it, everything is a pig in a poke – says engineer Mijodrag Čitaković, the Director of PD “Drina-Lim Hydro Power Plant”

Minister Zorana Mihajlović stopped the work of the fourth power unit lightly pressing the button on October 9th last year, and marked the end of the beginning of revitalization of the hydro power plant “Bajina Bašta”. This marked the beginning of the work on the final power unit of this “Power factory”. Huge  job, huge investment. But, as the engineer Mijodrag Čitaković, the director of PD „Drina-Lim Hydro Power Plant“, has announced, it will be a great benefit as well.

In the mid-February, four months later, we went to Bajina Bašta to make a story about this big project on the spot.

The engineer, Mr. Čitaković cannot show off with too much free time these days. Yet, even though he was just heading for Belgrade to attend an important meeting, he received us for an “ambulance briefing” that lasted for almost an hour (I’d like to attribute this to journalist skill, but more likely it would be the case that we unconsciously carried away in our discussion, or maybe he was drawn to the topic, or something else…)

I thought that he was looking for something, but  actually he was unsuccessfully trying to put his cluttered desk in order, because we found him preparing the important job from these numerous papers.

– When I see that someone has an empty desk, I wonder whether he does anything– he said with a smile, apologetically.
I wanted to console him with the truth that says that the important thing in that chaos, in that academic anarchy, is that there is a system, but he certainly must have known this and confirmed that he knows where the important papers are at any moment. The fact that interested me most, he pulled out – from the computer.

– In January, the hydrological situation was very favorable, so the production was good as well. In fact, more than good, with three power unit that have been already revitalized. Here, we worked with a capacity of 105 megawatts per power unit, which is almost 40 megawatts more than it was prior to the revitalization. You don’t need to know complex math to calculate what that means and how much we gained… When in September, the fourth power unit would be online and in use as planned, the effect will be as if we had built another smaller hydro station, which would cost us much, much more!

Then, he gives a list of  what has been  obtained by revitalization, namely: increased power and thus increased production, maintenance costs reduced, and also the life of power plant  is extended for the next thirty years. At least!

–We have saved it for the future – he said it laconically. – And all of this will cost just under the 77 million Euros which is an impressive amount. However, the construction of the new hydro power station of, say 52 megawatts would cost us at least 20 per cent more than the funds invested in the revitalization.

Then, he talks about the ambitious plans, the future revitalization of the Hydro Power Plant “Zvornik”…

– Unfortunately, we share the country’s destiny, so we are faced with a lack of money, although EPS is searching for the optimal solution in order not to lose pace with the time and technology, because we have to think about it as well.
When it comes to works on the fourth power unit, he says that the planned activities are performed day by day, as planned.

Joint business

From the colleague, Mrs. Jasmina Petković,  I have learned a very interesting fact, and since the engineer Mr.Čitaković has not mentioned that, I had to “intervene” personally with a question. Namely, in December last year, he received the award of the Regional Chamber of Commerce as the most successful businessman in the region, for the overall results. It seemed to me that he was a bit embarrassed when I mentioned it.

– One man can really help a lot, but we all need to work– he said. – That is why I see this recognition as an acknowledgement to all of us! Anyway, we produce more than three and a half billion kilowatt-hours of the electricity per year, and that is the huge amount of money. And all get some funds, their share of the “pie”, so our company is truly important for this region. We are here, in true sense of the word, the largest and probably the most successful factory.
And what is currently being done, he said, the engineer Slobodan Spasojevic will let us know in more detail, and he is already waiting for us down in the “womb” of the Hydro Power Plant, next to the fourth power unit.

– In short, we are completing “packing up”  of the stator, and that is a huge job. – says the Director Mijodrag Čitaković. – We have performed the processing of the surfaces where all electrical and mechanical equipment will be installed, we have also repaired the inclination of the machines and brought them into the vertical position in order to reduce the vibration and losses in the bearings, and we increased the level of efficiency and safety of operation, which is the most important thing. The parts to be revitalized (blades, shaft, hub, turbine cover, rotor “arms”) are prepared to be sent to the factory next week, immediately after the church holiday named Sretenje. These operations are performed in Austria and Germany and our people will go there to give consent. We expect all these parts to be on the site by mid-March. Only then, will we start with the intensive mounting. The engineers, who give their consent, need to have a vast knowledge so that they can receive the equipment that is produced by someone else. Without that, everything could be a pig in a poke.

However, they have realized significant savings, because they have not purchased the new equipment for all parts, but they have revitalized some parts so that can serve like they were new, for much less money! At the same time, following the principle of the each part safe operation, every part that didn’t fulfill the requirements, we have replaced with the new one.

– The complex analysis of the equipment and the parts, which are revitalized, has shown the expected features, and that is – to withstand the new exploitation period of 30 to 40 years!

Then, he gives a list of  the companies that are working on the revitalization. These are “Goša montaža”, Institutes “Mihajlo Pupin”, “Sever” of Subotica, FOD from Bor, “Energoprojekt”, Institute “Nikola Tesla” i “Elnos” of Banjaluka.

– They have all shown that they are truly professional, and their performance could be compared with the performance of foreign contractors, and they showed the great endurance and efficiency within the required time frame. As previously, we have engaged the local companies on this project to the maximum extent.

For the third time he looked at his watch secretly, so I had no heart to keep him anymore.
– So, see you in September – he said as we were saying goodbye.

70 meters under the water

An engineer, Mr. Slobodan Spasojević works with the Department for modernization and revitalization and, under the circumstances, he was appointed to be our host, guide and patient interlocutor who would answer to all questions of a curious ignorant. He burst into laughter when I mentioned it out loud. And thus, we became friends.

– I’d hate to disappoint you, but you shouldn’t expect anything spectacular – he said before we dived into the womb of the dam. – What we currently do is important, but it is  not visible and couldn’t be compared with the mounting works.

And that “current job” was – corrosion protection of the stator; and a day before spiral and siphon were finished. The so-called painting  jobs. However, when I saw “painters” squatting crouched on a narrow edge of the stator, I learned that for that job, along with everything else, the sense of balance is needed.  Like those circus tightrope walkers.

– When the copper rods are put, we are done – said Slobodan with an overt pride. – We can begin with the mounting.

Only later, did I realize that he indeed had the reasons to be proud. Because, everything that have been done so far was conducted on time or a bit earlier.

– We do not divide jobs to those less or more important. Everything is equally delicate, and can’t do without one another, and everything has to be done on time, according to the dynamics plan … Starting from the 19th July, the preliminary  tests are planned, and commissioning is planned for 14th August.

If I have understood him right, the deadline for the completion is actually – the end of June, when the pre-tests start. It is long time before September, which the engineer Čitaković has mentioned?!

– In September we expect the power unit to be in operation – said the engineer Spasojević. – But before it is connected, the tests are required. God forbid that something go “wrong”… So far, everything goes according to the plan and in best order.

Later, I spent some time with the guys who were working on the cooling pipeline. First, they have revealed to me the discomforting secret that we are 70 feet below the level of the lake, and then that they prefer to work with the colleagues from Austria then with those from Germany.

– Kraut pedantry can be annoying, and at the same time interesting i.e. to expect that pedantry to be passed on us.  The Austrians are more relaxed and thus more like us– they explained to me. – And much friendlier…

I have tried to count the stairs which I climbed up, but I have lost the calculation somewhere at the sixtieth step. It seemed that we actually were 70 feet deep, and they are passing there every day. And at least two times a day?!
It is interesting that even the engineer Mr. Spasojević greeted us with the words – see you in September? We will see each other that’s for sure.

Source Kwh