Power Plants and sustainability

The development of a more sustainable energy infrastructure is driven by climate policies, energy security and economics. Carbon-intensive energy sources are being replaced by low carbon fuels, such as natural gas and renewable solutions. Energy savings and efficiency improvements are being encouraged, and even legally enforced, at every level. This development is evident on a global scale, even though short-term actions can vary in different regions.

As a part of its commitment to sustainability and responsible business conduct, Wärtsilä has taken an active role in market and solution development activities. Wärtsilä strives to maintain a deep understanding of the needs of the market, and to develop its solutions in a way that enables them to contribute effectively to improved performance on the energy system level in various regions.

Wärtsilä’s energy solutions offer a unique combination of flexibility, high efficiency, and low emissions. Many different fuels, including bio fuels, can be used efficiently, which helps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation technology enables the development of a reliable energy infrastructure, wherein most of the sustainable characteristics are already known.

Smart Power Generation technology

The desired changes in the power generation capacity mix – namely to reduce coal dependency and increase wind and other low carbon base load power production – result in a need to achieve grid stability. Because of the greater variability of day/night load and generation and the inability of the energy system to elastically regulate and balance, new system stability solutions are required.

The intermittency of renewable energy generation necessitates the presence of dynamic power plants with the shortest possible activation and de-activation times. From a technical point of view, this typically requires that the generation units have capabilities that most of the currently installed power plants in the world do not possess, including:

  • frequent and fast plant starts and stops without negative consequences for wear and tear
  • cyclic operation with high up and down ramp rates
  • high full and part load efficiency and
  • a broad load range.

Smart Power Generation technology enables simultaneous high shares of wind and other low carbon sources of power in any future energy mix. The most sustainable dynamic reserve is hydropower with a reservoir, but in the areas where it is not adequately available, natural gas based dynamic power plants offer the most sustainable low carbon solution for system balancing. Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation technology offers the highest efficiency of all thermal technologies capable of flexible dynamic operation. Furthermore, Wärtsilä’s power plants are extremely efficient during the starts and stops and load changes, which are essential elements in system stabilisation and carbon minimisation. This will ultimately lead to a substantial reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. As most Wärtsilä power plants consume no water and accept low gas pressure, they can be located inside the load pockets, in cities rather than on sea or river shores. It is also an important factor that Wärtsilä’s technology does not suffer from dynamic operation – in fact cyclic operation has no effect on the maintenance schedule of the plant. This is unique, with no other competing technology offering the same qualities.

Wärtsilä Smart Power Generation technology for the energy system allows true operational optimisation of the entire system in a cost-efficient, reliable and sustainable way:

  • Enables extremely low carbon levels from the total system
    • Enables the highest penetration of wind power and solar power capacity without balancing problems
    • Enables base load plants to operate on high output and efficiency – lowest CO2
    • Minimises wind curtailment and helps to avoid negative prices
    • Reduces the amount of spinning reserve
    • Enables the efficient use of bio gas and liquid bio fuel resources
  • Allows the entire system to operate in the most cost effective way
    • Removes the abusive cyclic load from plants that were not / cannot be designed for it, enabling them to operate in their most cost-effective way
    • High efficiency over a wide load range enables flexible power plants to operate in the most cost-effective way
  • Ensures system reliability, even during extreme conditions, such as
    • Wind variations
    • Contingency situations
  • Enables decentralisation of the intermediate and peak load capacity
    • Flexible plant sizing and later expansion to match local needs
    • Installing generation capacity in load pockets reduces grid losses and helps to avoid investments in new high voltage grid expansions
    • Fast track delivery enables fast cure of local capacity deficits
Towards low-carbon energy systems

Wärtsilä is able to provide optimised solutions for various market needs. 

MarketWärtsilä’s roleMilestone in 2011
Western countries Enable the development of low carbon power systems. Two complete power plants with a total output of 250 MW for securing dynamic grid reserve to be installed in Estonia.
Emerging economies Enable fast development of the power system, thus providing reliable power to boost economic development. A gas-fired power plant (over 145 MW) to be installed in Turkey.
Islands Provide islands with reliable and affordable power and enable the use of low carbon natural gas (LNG) through dual fuel solutions. Two gas-fired Flexicycle power plants (totalling 430 MW) to be installed in the Dominican Republic. The dual-fuel flexibility of the plant enables the fuel switch from HFO to natural gas.
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