Hazardous Area Electrical Installation: Solid Energy Demonstration Briquetting Plant

Hazardous Area Electrical Installation: Solid Energy Demonstration Briquetting Plant

Solid Energy Demonstration Briquetting Plant, Mataura, Southland, New Zealand

The Client

Solid Energy is a state-owned coal mining company, and New Zealand’s leading coal producer, with an annual production of approximately four million tonnes.

The company is developing technology to process low-value raw lignite into briquettes. These are a low-moisture, high-energy and lower-emission form of coal that is expected to offer significant opportunities in the domestic and export markets.

To this end, Solid Energy has built a demonstration briquetting plant in Mataura.

The Brief

EIS was contracted by Solid Energy to undertake the electrical installation for the briquetting plant.

While this was a green field electrical installation, it was recognised that working with coal results in ever-present coal dust, which creates a potentially explosive atmosphere. One of the key reasons EIS were chosen by Solid Energy was for our hazardous area expertise.

The Solution

EIS provided comprehensive management on this project, including design review and installation of electrical distribution and operational components, design and implementation of PLC and HMI software to enable Solid Energy staff to control the plant operation, design and installation of hazardous area instrumentation and safety circuits.

Given the potentially explosive atmosphere, every electrical item used on-site, from exterior and interior lights to portable radios and torches, had to be rated for operation in hazardous areas. Specialised wiring, testing and test records have been used throughout the site.

Following installation, EIS provided a complete site inspection utilising our accredited electrical inspectors with Hazardous Area endorsement, to ensure that every element of the plant met statutory safety standards.

The plant has self monitoring capabilities. EIS is also providing active ongoing monitoring and regular inspections to ensure that all equipment continues to operate safely.

The Challenges

Because briquetting is a new process which is still in development, a number of alterations to the specifications of the plant occurred during the installation and testing phases.

This has required a significant amount of flexibility from EIS as the design evolved during construction, with consequent changes to the schedule.

The Results

The briquette plant has been operating as per design specification, with a 100% safety record.

What the Client Said

We chose EIS for their ability to deliver a comprehensive service and provide on-going support. As the project developed, the Hazardous Area expertise and capabilities of EIS helped us ensure the risks associated with coal and coal dust were mitigated as much as possible.

Tim Allan, Project Manager New Developments

Solid Energy