The largest power plant running exclusively on gas engines on the African continent, and the first of its kind ever in the Republic of South Africa, was inaugurated on 10 July. The complete turnkey project package, located at a demanding altitude of 1500 m, was supplied by Wärtsilä on a fast-track basis with performance guarantees.
The Sasol plant is located in Sasolburg, south of Johannesburg in South Africa. Wärtsilä was responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction and project management of the new plant, which is powered by 18 Wärtsilä 34SG generating sets running on natural gas with a combined operating capacity of 140 MW. It is the largest operational power plant running exclusively on gas engines on the African continent, and the first of its kind ever in the Republic of South Africa. The electricity produced by the plant will be used by Sasol's chemical factory next to the plant, with about half of the production being fed to the national grid.
"This plant is a significant milestone for Sasol, as we begin to ease our load on the national grid and contribute to our own energy efficiency targets." says Lean Strauss, a Sasol senior group executive.
Antti Kämi, a Wärtsilä vp said: "This is truly a great achievement. Our team completed the first major power plant project in South Africa ahead of schedule. Our ability to conform with the stringent health, safety and environment requirements was one of the success factors in achieving the project objectives."
Despite the high altitude location of the plant, the Wärtsilä engines are claimed to be able to operate with an extremely high level of efficiency. Furthermore, the closed-loop cooling system used by Wärtsilä imposes a minimal demand for water, an important factor in areas such as this where water resources are limited.
The plant is operated and maintained by Wärtsilä under a 3-year agreement.
Wärtsilä's presence in southern Africa is becoming increasingly significant. In December it signed a contract to engineer, supply and install a major gas fuelled power plant in Mozambique. The power plant is scheduled for completion by May 2014. To date, Wärtsilä has delivered 470 power plants to Africa with a total output of 5 GW.