Hydropower Solutions, a ProTRAX Engineering Study

Hydropower Solutions, a ProTRAX Engineering Study

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Big Creek Hydro Chain

Brent Buffington of Southern California Edison (SCE) and Kyle Greene of TRAX Energy Solutions jointly presented “Building Hydroelectric Control Systems to Increase Operational Flexibility in High and Low Inflow Scenarios” at the CEATI Hydropower Conference in Palm Springs, CA. The presentation highlighted the background of the major SCE/TRAX venture in hydro controls: the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project.

TRAX upgraded the controls for the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project in response to SCE’s increased need for flexibility in the CAISO market due to the significant increase in variable renewables. Some of the project goals included minimizing the mileage to achieve MW setpoints, increasing the achievable Big Creek ramp rate, minimizing transitions through rough loading zones, and expanding the real-time visibility with a custom TRAX HMI. The result of the project gave SCE much greater flexibility to respond to the CAISO demand while reducing future maintenance costs.


  • Unit rough loading/cavitation zone avoidance
  • Forebay/pond level control relaxation
  • Hydro chain MW setpoint allocation
  • First up/last down during local high-flow events


  • Increased flexibility of market offering
  • Improved water efficiency
  • Faster offered ramping rate
  • Higher price per MWh and revenue per acre-foot of water

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VISIBLE CHANGE ‒ SCE reported immediate improvement after implementing the TRAX controls updates


Hydropower Solutions, a ProTRAX Engineering Study

March 20, 2020

TRAX has delivered a carbon capture simulator for a 150 MW coal-fired unit that models the capture of the full flue gas stream.  The system provides both CO2 and SO2 capture, delivering the captured CO2 to a pipeline for industrial use and underground storage.

TRAX Carbon Capture Model Included:

—CO2 and SO2 capture
—Sulfuric acid plant
—CO2 and SO2 amines filtration and purification
—CO2 compression
—CO2 pipeline and cavern

As shown below, TRAX built a modular simulation replicating the plant layout using our software, ProTRAX.  ProTRAX contains a full suite of modules specific to carbon capture functions and can model a wide variety of processes.  TRAX also virtually replicated the user interface that appears in the plant.  

Model Scope

ProTRAX is a modular software that can easily integrate multiple models for larger projects.


TRAX organizes the simulator model to match the layout of the site or process being modeled.


Depending on the Absorber module selected, the module can remove water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and/or sulfur dioxide (SO2) from an air or gas stream.


Each ProTRAX module is backed by comprehensive documentation, including a general description, module inputs and outputs, and mathematical formulae.


The training value of a simulator occurs in the interactive screens that replicate the site equipment.

Upon initial delivery, the TRAX simulator was used to debug control logic and processes prior to site installation and to provide operations training prior to plant startup.  There was a clear need to begin training operators as early as possible since they had multiple unfamiliar systems to learn.

Thanks to the ProTRAX simulator, our customer gained considerable insight into control functionality and system interactions, resulting in modification to some control logic and correction of simple errors.  TRAX was able to assist with controls tuning, and helped in development of initial plant Operating Procedures.

The latest upgrade brings the model into alignment with the as-built plant condition by updating and tuning the simulator models to match the current plant dynamics. In addition, TRAX has updated the simulator controls and HMI graphics to the as-built state.  Keeping the simulator aligned with the current plant condition is critical to maintaining a positive training value, and is of paramount importance to the customer.