Win for Wärtsilä

1 February 2010

The need to help grids cope with increasing levels of intermittent renewables is proving a profitable niche for Wärtsilä’s quick-start gas engines in the USA. A good recent example is the contract to supply a 170 MW plant to be installed at the Antelope station, near Abernathy, Texas – close to significant wind farm developments.

The contract was signed with Golden Spread Electric Co-operative, Inc. (GSEC), a consumer-owned public utility serving 208 000 customers.

The plant, expected to be in commercial operation in early 2011, will incorporate eighteen Wärtsilä 20V34SG gensets, along with auxiliary equipment, switchgear and emission controls, including SCR.

The gensets can achieve full power from warm standby in 8 minutes or even less, and provide

25 % power in two minutes, whereas ‘traditional gas-fired generation can take from one to four hours to start’ says Wärtsilä.

‘The growing summer electricity demand and the large amount of wind generation that is located in the region, were the main drivers in the choice of quick-start generation technology,’ says Mark W. Schwirtz, president of GSEC. He also noted that the reciprocating engines are highly efficient and use almost no water. In addition, by having eighteen separate machines the risk to the utility from unit failures is reduced.

With this new order, Wärtsilä has close to 1000 MW of flexible / quick start capacity installed or planned in the USA, the others including Plains End (pictured), Midwest, Pearsall (STEC), Greenville, and Modesto. These units can operate efficiently at low load, making them suitable for spinning reserve, which adds value to the plant. They can also supply all commercially traded grid ancillary services, including black start capabilities, a profitable line of business.

• South Rhodes, a 119 MW power plant for the Greek island of Rhodes, consisting of seven 18V46 engines running on heavy fuel oil, is scheduled to become fully operational during the second half of 2011.

The order was placed by Terna, which has the overall project contract from Public Power Corporation, the national electricity utility of Greece. The new plant will bring the total capacity of Wärtsilä engines in the Greek islands to 690 MWe.

• Kipevu III, a 117 MWe turnkey power plant in Mombasa, Kenya, is due to be operational in January 2011. It also has seven 18V46 engines, initially to be run on HFO. The order was placed by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company Ltd (Kengen), a partly state owned utility. The delivery also includes a gas insulated switchgear substation and is intended to help improve grid stability. It can be converted to gas when a local supply is available. Kipevu III will bring total generating capacity delivered by Wärtsilä in Kenya to over 350 MW.


All the units are equipped with SCR and, by employing a closed loop cooling system, Wärtsilä’s engines do not consume process water or require significant wastewater treatment or disposal - helping to address the growing concern over water supply in many areas of the USA.

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