Wärtsilä is to supply the generating equipment for a new 190 MW power plant to be built in the USA. The order was placed by Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), based in Austin, Texas, and providing wholesale power to the Texas power grid.
Central Texas is experiencing rapid economic growth with a number of blue-chip companies moving into the area, along with a 30 % increase in population between 2010 and 2020. This and similar growth in other areas of the state has created the need for additional generating capacity. The project will be a peaker power plant capable of starting and stopping in a few minutes to provide dispatchable power to increase reliability and provide power to balance the grid when renewable and other generational resources are not available or are insufficient to meet the grid’s needs.
“The energy sector is in the midst of a rapid transformation where flexibility is becoming all important. The situation in Texas reflects very clearly these changes, with sharply rising demand being served by an aging fleet of inflexible power plants. Grid balancing is also needed in order to respond to increasing inputs of energy from renewable sources” commented Risto Paldanius, VP Americas, Wärtsilä Energy.
The plant will operate with ten Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas. It is expected to become fully operational in 2025. Each Wärtsilä engine consumes little to no water weekly, which in Texas, an area often affected by drought, is an important feature.
Image: Wärtsilä's 50SG engine (courtesy of Wärtsilä)