Martinská teplárenská, JSC (MaT) provides heat production and distribution in the towns of Martin and Vrútky. It is one of the key heat suppliers in the region and has been supplying heat since 1955. The supply of heat to the region is in accordance with the price decisions of The Regulatory Office for Network Industries. In the history of more than 60 years of existence of the heating plant in Martin, three fuels - coal, biomass (wood chips) and natural gas - were gradually used as a source of energy for heat and electricity production.
The end of coal usage in Martin occurred in 2020 as a result of the project "Making the Martinská teplárenská JSC more environmentally sustainable", in which four hot water boilers with a unit output of 14.3 MW and three cogeneration units with an electrical output of 9.34 MW running on natural gas were installed as a continuation of projects for innovation and modernization of heat and electricity production technology and modernization of the hot water distribution network.
The investment pursues the following strategic goals:
The combination of a large number of new flexible devices for high-efficiency heat and electricity production (cogeneration units) and the existing K4 fluidized bed boiler burning biomass has created a comprehensive system of energy equipment. The system for optimal use requires the implementation of a sophisticated approach to the planning of operation of individual sources and optimal management of heat and electricity production in real-time (ROVET) with dispatching supervision.
The whole system must meet the requirements of the certified provision of ancillary services and regulating electricity for the electricity system of the Slovak Republic, i.e compliance with the technical conditions of access, connection and rules of operation of the transmission system under the responsibility of SEPS, JSC. The following key factors and intentions were taken into account when formulating the requirements for the management system:
Simultaneously with the installation of modern heating technologies, MaT decided to fundamentally innovate its resource management system. With the implementation of new dispatch control software and the change of internal processes, the control of heat, electricity and S production was optimized.
The innovative solution also includes the automated acquisition of information on the forecast and current weather conditions, the development of electricity prices and energy market requirements. Energy and IT specialists from MaT and the Žilina company IPESOFT, a limited company by guarantee, have contributed to the development and implementation of the system.
The heating plant chose IPESOFT as a partner for the project, which has been working on a similar project for a long time. The company develops, supplies and long-term operationally supports systems for optimal management of energy units in real-time. It uses elements of artificial intelligence and unique algorithms of mathematical optimization. The systems are used by the most important electricity producers and traders in Slovakia, Europe as well as in Asia.
To increase the efficiency of combined heat and power production, a procedure was chosen that allows production in different modes. The regimes, which depend on the season and the combination of resources used, achieve optimal operating points of individual technological elements. The main benefit is a flexible response to dynamic changes in the energy market - heat, electricity and ancillary services. The system constantly evaluates requirements and maximizes economic efficiency - costs vs. revenues.
The dispatching control and information system for heat, electricity and ancillary services production have several components and interconnects the planning and preparation of the heating plant operation, operation and resource management (SCADA system) and efficiency evaluation in the form of a real-time balance module.
The process of planning and preparing the operation begins on a daily basis by predicting the amount of heat that will be needed to be delivered to the region the next day. The software calculates the amount of heat based on the weather forecast. It primarily uses the forecast of the outdoor temperature using models of numerical weather forecasting (NWP - Numeric Weather Prediction).
Subsequently, the total thermal and electrical performance of the devices is calculated using artificial intelligence functions (neural networks) and advanced optimization algorithms. Thanks to an accurate estimate, it is possible to make optimal ancillary services settings.
Ancillary services are purchased by SEPS, JSC from distributors to ensure the operational reliability of the electricity system. Certified service providers can thus take advantage of the development of prices on the electricity market and supply the agreed amount of regulated electricity  to the system.
For heating plants and other suppliers of regulating electricity, ancillary services represent another step towards optimizing production and increasing profitability. However, the economic return on the supply of regulated electricity depends on the precise planning and adherence to the agreed supplies to a large extent.
A quality management system is therefore a key tool for planning the optimal combination of resources and maximizing revenues associated with the supply of ancillary services. Even during production planning (preparation for operation), it is necessary to correctly balance the costs of primary production and the production of the remaining electricity.
The prepared production plan is transferred to the dispatch control using the SCADA and TASDR systems. The dispatcher has all the technological parameters available in real-time to ensure the optimal process of energy production and supply. The control system software internally uses heuristic algorithms for group control of cogeneration units, hot water boilers and steam turbines. Under certain circumstances the system allows dispatchers to correct automatic control and perform manual interventions in the operated technology.
The central system offers real-time automated calculation of energy balances, a comprehensive view of the energy efficiency of technological equipment and the calculation of production indicators over time. It provides monitoring of fuel consumption, heat and electricity production efficiency together with information on normative or performance parameters.
Data with a high information value are created thanks to the unification of thousands of measured points associated with combined heat and power generation. In the event of a decrease in the energy efficiency of the production equipment or the identification of the need for service intervention of the technological part, the authorized employees are notified to perform manual interventions.
"Our dispatchers, supervisors and managers operate the technology through a single central system. They rely on consistent information when deciding on business strategies and development changes. Thanks to clear interpretations of key indicators, their operational decision-making is also easier."
Production resources manager, MaT
Real-time balances offer significant potential for optimizing production and saving expenses compared to regular retrospective monthly reports. Technical balances ensure the most efficient use of cost inputs to the production process (natural gas, biomass, water, ...).
The cooperation between experts from MaT and IPESOFT brought a unique concept of a comprehensive system solution. This created a unified system that includes operation preparation, SCADA operation management and also online operation evaluation in the form of a balance system. The system also includes the TASDR system for support service providers. The concept of a unified and interconnected system enables more efficient optimization of production, maximizing economic return and at the same time minimizing ecological impacts on the environment.
The change from the original coal fuel to natural gas, together with the introduction of new technology, had a significant impact on air quality and the environment in the region. MaT emissions in the form of sulfur oxides decreased by 268,000 kg, nitrogen oxides by 62,000 kg and carbon oxides by 35,000 kg per year. 
Operating cost savings, new production technologies and integrated IT systems create the preconditions for a flexible response to the development and needs of the heat and electricity market. The management system holistically links economic and environmental benefits, thus directly reflecting the MaT strategy.
Production optimization has a positive impact on fuel energy yield and other related operating costs. Reduced emissions also contribute to them by reducing the cost of emission permission. These factors create a strong synergistic effect on the economic results of MaT and its social responsibility in the region.
Experience and benefits of gas flow optimization methods in Slovakia.
Digital transformation in form of MES system implementation brought more efficiency and innovation to a successful industry company
The process of digitization and implementation of information technologies brought increased production efficiency, process optimization and better management decisions based on real-time information.