Smart Power Generation supports the Estonian national grid

Sustainability assured 2011Estonia is a small country but one in which an efficient and well-maintained grid system is of paramount importance. When Elering, the state-owned independent transmission network operator responsible for this system’s functioning, required a reserve power plant to guarantee high-quality electricity supply to the country’s consumers, they selected Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation as the ideal solution.

The project, with its total contract value of EUR 129 million, is part of the Estonian electricity sector’s development plan to have new dynamic power stations available for operation by 2014. The requirement for these plants is that they must be able to compensate for lost generating capacity in no more than 15 minutes in the event of a plant shut down. The 10-minute start-up capability of the Wärtsilä power plants is therefore vital. Built to meet sudden drops in the electricity supply, the reserve plant actually takes the form of two completely independent units, ensuring that if a problem were to occur with one, the other can continue and consumers will not be affected.

Wärtsilä’s scope for delivery includes engineering, procurement of equipment and materials, construction and commissioning of the plants with a capacity of 110 and 140 MWe respectively. Construction will take place on an EPC "turnkey" basis, with 27 Wärtsilä 20V34DF engines to be built in our factory in Vaasa, Finland. The project also offers significant opportunities for construction firms in Estonia, as Wärtsilä employs local partners for the on-site work, directed by our own project management team.

As is often the case when working with companies responsible for grids covering relatively large areas, location is a key issue. In this case, the ideal site for the reserve power plant is at the intersection of most of the country’s main voltage lines in the small borough of Kiisa. This location’s substation, about 25 km from Tallinn, is at the very heart of Estonia’s electricity system, and has the advantage of strong connections through high-voltage lines to the other substations in Estonia.

Timo Mahlanen, Business Development Manager at Wärtsilä, identifies the chief benefits this case offers the customer, “Although in ideal circumstances this reserve power station should not see a great deal of use, its high efficiency and low lifecycle cost are still of vital importance when taking escalating fuel costs into account. Wärtsilä’s broad service organisation is another key benefit, encompassing support in the local language. These factors, combined with our track record as an EPC project implementer, decided the case for us over the course of a demanding public procurement process.”

Mr Taavi Veskimägi, Elering’s Chairman, emphasises the necessity of this plant, “This is an important project for the Estonian energy sector, and one that will ensure the supply of electricity to consumers should any existing power station unexpectedly lose production. The capacity of the new plants is equal to one-sixth of Estonia’s peak demand, so in an emergency they will be able to cover a large part of Tallinn’s, the capital, winter electricity consumption.”

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