How Power Plants Benefit From Fabric Structures

While most people think of power plants as a single large structure, plants typically include a host of smaller buildings used for numerous purposes. 

For example, power plant facilities commonly include offices, panel control rooms, boiler rooms, electric rooms, turbine buildings, pumping stations, and compressor houses. There may also be storage facilities, on-site fabrication of parts, and areas dedicated to maintenance. Facilities dedicated to staff use — such as bathrooms, showers, and break rooms — are likely as well.

Traditional construction methods (such as brick-and-mortar construction) have historically been used for these facilities, but engineered fabric structures are quickly becoming a reliable and more flexible alternative. Let’s take a look at why.

Fabric Structures Offer Shorter Construction Schedules

Compared to traditional construction, engineered fabric buildings tend to be significantly quicker to set up. 

While traditional power plant construction often takes months or years to complete, engineered fabric structures may only take a matter of days or weeks (depending on the building size and engineering required to meet building codes). That means fewer disruptions to your power plant operations, and less money spent on construction.

Engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® take these efficiency and cost-saving benefits even further.

Our engineered fabric structures can be anchored to just about any level surface, meaning less work is required to prepare the site for installation. Because our structures pack small with a low weight and cube size, delivery costs tend to be more affordable; and construction requires minimal equipment and tools and usually no specialized skills.

All of this adds up to saving power plants time and money.

Fabric Structures Offer Future Flexibility

One of the biggest strengths of fabric structures compared to brick-and-mortar construction is the flexibility they offer in terms of future use. This refers to the fact that it is much easier to move a fabric structure than it is to move a traditional building.

Imagine if a power plant needs to rearrange its floor plan or move its buildings slightly to get the most from the power source or accommodate changes to technology. This would be time-consuming and expensive with a traditional structure — if not outright impossible. You would need to demolish the original and build a completely new structure. At best, you would maybe be able to reuse some of the materials.

By contrast, fabric structures are designed to have the durability of permanent construction while still being completely relocatable. Changing up your power plant layout isn’t a costly endeavor with fabric structures; it’s a completely manageable task.

Conveniently, you can even use fabric structures to expand the existing traditional construction at a power plant. The unobtrusive design and versatility enable the new structures to fit in well with the original ones.

[Related: From Coal to Hydrogen: Understanding the Role of Engineered Fabric Structures]

Fabric Structures Are Versatile

Fabric structures not only enable power plants to adapt to future changes, but they offer the versatility to meet the unique needs of power plants from the start. 

This versatility comes from the ability to combine fabric structures and arrange them in unique ways to create nearly any shape, size, or structure type that is needed. 

With Alaska Structures, power plants can custom-design a fabric structure to the exact height and width they require and choose from a wide array of windows, personnel doors, equipment doors, HVAC systems, insulation packages, vehicle exhaust systems, and air distribution systems.

Power plants needn’t use the same design for all of their fabric structures — they can customize each so that it’s optimized for its specific purpose.

Fabric Structures Make the Most of the Space

Fabric structures also offer the advantage of increasing the amount of interior space that is available for the given footprint. 

Much of this comes from the fact that there are no beams, columns, posts, or other structural supports required to keep the structure standing. These supports are not necessary because the high-strength frame systems and tensioned fabric membranes create a lightweight but engineered structure that is lighter weight than traditional construction materials.

The versatility of the materials, including the ability to adjust their shape and size, also means that you can easily design fabric structures so they fit large equipment and machinery.

[Related: Modular Buildings to Support Heavy Engineering, Mass Transit, Power Plant, and Construction Projects]

Fabric Structures Are Durable

Many power plants that are hesitant to use fabric structures feel that way because they do not realize how durable these materials and structures can be. 

Fabric structures are the result of careful engineering and can withstand snow loads, wind, and other environmental conditions without a problem. They are more than durable enough to protect the contents of power plant facilities. 

It is even possible to have experts engineer fabric structures to overcome specific challenges on your site, such as designing a large power plant facility that is not susceptible to the corrosive properties of sea spray or high levels of humidity. 

Whatever specific features you request, Alaska Structures’ fabric buildings frames are made of either high-strength galvanized steel or lightweight aluminum

Likewise, our tensioned fabric membranes offer greater abrasion resistance and longevity than other PVC- or PE-based fabric materials. They will not rot, resist mold and mildew, are UV-stabilized for prolonged sun exposure, are chemically inert, and can be designed to exceed the fire safety requirements outlined in the California Code of Regulations for membrane structures.

Fabric Structures Require Minimal Maintenance

Yet another advantage of fabric structures for power plants is that they require minimal maintenance after being installed.

Minimal maintenance translates to less money spent on maintaining power plant infrastructure, as well as cost-saving benefits from having to buy supplies, equipment, and labor.

[Related: Why Choose Fabric Buildings Over Traditional Structures]

Fabric Structures Can Be Energy-Efficient  

Alaska Structures offers power plants the ability to choose fabric structures with translucent covers or materials that allow natural light to easily enter the space during the day. That, in turn, reduces electricity costs since there is less of a need for artificial light. 

Fabric structures tend to naturally keep the interior of a building at a comfortable temperature (cooler than the outside in the summer and warmer in the winter). We also offer multiple insulation packages to further improve energy efficiency and, when the structures are equipped with HVAC systems, are able to keep staff comfortable year-round.

Fabric Structures Are Eco-Friendly

In addition to all of the above benefits, fabric structures are better for the planet than many traditional construction options. This starts with the minimal foundation requirements, since building a foundation could negatively affect the environment and require the use of more materials.

The ability to reconfigure fabric structures further reduces the materials used, as well as the waste created. After all, the future versatility of these structures means that you won’t need to purchase more construction materials (and contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions) if you need to rearrange your power plant layout.

Additionally, the materials for fabric structures weigh less than those for traditional buildings. They also tend to have smaller shipping volumes. This results in less fuel used to transport them, something which reduces emissions as well as your costs.

[Related: The Benefits of Fabric Buildings From Alaska Structures]

Alaska Structures’ Solutions for Power Plants

If you’re constructing a new power plant, looking to replace outdated power plant facilities, or looking to add facilities to your power plant, Alaska Structures has the engineered fabric structures to meet your needs:

No matter what kind of facility your power plant needs, we can custom-design a fabric structure to meet your exact requirements.

Contact us to learn more about how your power plant can benefit from fabric structures and what solutions are available for you:

Request a quote online

Telephone: +1-907-344-1565



Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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