This paper examines the effect of the variation of the overall heat transfer coefficient (U) in feedwater heaters on the thermodynamic and economic performance of a coal-fired steam power plant. The changes in the values of U are caused by the heat transfer surface fouling or by errors in the power plant design. These errors often result from the use of approximate heat transfer equations when selecting power plants elements.

Low and high pressure feedwater heaters of a power plant equipped with a condensing turbine and a natural circulation steam generator with one reheat stage are considered in this work.

The research was conducted using the overall heat transfer coefficients from 50% to 150% of the nominal value. The thermodynamic and economic effects on the power plant were calculated using the mathematical model of the power plant. The power plant components’ mathematical models evaluate the influence of the changes in the heaters’ overall heat transfer coefficient on the thermodynamic (especially exergetic) losses and economic effects. They take into account off-design operating conditions. The decomposition method and multi-level iterative process was used to solve the problem.

The research proved that, during operation, the capacity of the power plant might change by up to 2% due to above-mentioned variations. For a 600 MW power plant that means variation of the electric power delivery of approximately 12 MW and increase of the operating costs of up to 4 million dollars per year.

The obtained results are particularly useful in the decision-making process in planning renovation and feedwater heaters’ replacement periods.

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