Wärtsilä shares solutions to avoid California’s blackout scenarios and accelerate the path to 100% renewable power

Global energy technology company Wärtsilä, shared a new Optimal Path to accelerate California’s efforts to reach their clean energy goals after a record-breaking heat wave in the Western U.S. exceeded the power supply in the region. A chain reaction of events caused rolling blackouts for more than 2-million Californians and provided new data for energy experts continually studying the most effective ratio of dispatchable capacity and peak net load needed for sustainability and reliability for the grid.

New power system modelling incorporated data from the recent blackouts, and was added into the white paper, “Path to 100% Renewables for California” as an appendix. It showed adding 7.4 GW of flexible gas generation before end of 2022 would enable California to close down inflexible Once Through Cooling (OTC) plants by 2023, transition to clean electricity with minimal emissions, and provide adequate firm capacity to CAISO and then finalize decarbonization by converting the flexible plants to use hydrogen or synthetic methane in the future.

The modelling results were discussed during a panel discussion between energy experts for the Wärtsilä hosted webinar, “Preventing Blackouts and Exceeding Renewable Power Goals.” The webinar was the third in a series that is part of the Path to 100% initiative, a global effort to build a community of experts who support moving toward 100% renewable energy.

“An aggressive plan to transition from fossil fuels while building flexible fuel integration and closing stranded assets that contribute to detrimental carbon emissions is the optimal solution for the path to 100 percent,” Jussi Heikkinen Director, Growth & Development, Americas Wärtsilä Energy Business said. “During the transition, dispatchable balancing gas plants will run less and less, maintaining the security of energy supply and enabling full utilization of wind and solar which cannot be sustained with existing gas and coal plants. The transition to hydrogen or synthetic methane is the last step. As with most new and developing technologies, these synthetic fuels are expensive now, but you only need a fraction of it compared to how much fossil fuels are burned today.”

Wärtsilä experts believe California can reach its clean electricity target by 2040 instead of its current goal of 2045, save billions of dollars and maintain reliability by following “The Optimal Path” outlined in the white paper and discussed in the second webinar of the series, held in May.

On Wednesday, experts acknowledged that power-to-gas is a key ingredient of the optimal, decarbonized power system and emphasized a key policy recommendation that would enable California to take full advantage of “The Optimal Path’s” benefits. California must formally recognize thermal plants running on renewable fuels as renewable generation for the purposes of meeting clean electricity mandates. This would provide regulatory certainty which in turn will encourage research, development and deployment of power-to-methane and power-to-hydrogen technologies, enabling the fastest, least-cost Optimal Path to 100% clean power.


For more information, please contact:

Jussi Heikkinen
Director, Growth & Development, Americas
Wärtsilä Energy Business
Mob. +1 281 7714886

Mirja-Maija Santala
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Wärtsilä Energy Business
Mob: +358 400 793 827

Wärtsilä Energy Business in brief

Wärtsilä Energy Business leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers unlock the value of the energy transition by optimising their energy systems and future-proofing their assets. Our offering comprises flexible power plants, energy management systems, and storage, as well as lifecycle services that ensure increased efficiency and guaranteed performance. Wärtsilä has delivered 72 GW of power plant capacity in 180 countries around the world. https://www.wartsila.com/energy/

Wärtsilä in brief

Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2019, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 5.2 billion with approximately 19,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.

California Plans to Ban Sales of New Gas-Powered Cars in 15 Years


California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035. In an executive order, Governor Newsom directed California’s regulators to develop a plan that would require automakers to sell steadily more zero-emissions passenger vehicles in the state, such as battery-powered or hydrogen-powered cars and pickup trucks, until they make up 100 percent of new auto sales in just 15 years. To learn more, read “California Plans to Ban Sales of New Gas-Powered Cars in 15 Years.” (Reading this article requires a subscription.)

Key Takeaways:

  • The plan would also set a goal for all heavy-duty trucks on the road in California to be zero emissions by 2045 where possible.
  • And the order directs the state’s transportation agencies to look for near-term actions to reduce Californian’s reliance on driving by, for example, expanding access to mass transit and biking.
    • Transportation remains California’s largest source of planet-warming emissions, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gases from human activity.
  • The new executive order would build on California’s existing vehicle policies. State regulators have already set a goal of putting five million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2030.
  • The order would affect only new-vehicle sales, the governor’s office said. It would not prevent Californians from owning cars with internal combustion engines past 2035 or selling them on the used-vehicle market.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The path to 100% requires ongoing dialogue with utilities, policy makers and innovators to develop solutions that make sense for citizens. Wood McKenzie is now estimating 323 million electric vehicles will be on the road by 2040 and the price of batteries is decreasing faster than predicted. “The projected price of battery packs keeps dropping. We expect the US$100/KWh threshold to be breached by 2024, one year earlier than our previous projections,” said Ram Chandrasekaran, Wood Mackenzie Principal Analyst.


Photo by Ben Margot/Associated Press

Path to 100% Renewables for California

State-of-the-art power-system modeling reveals that California can reach its renewable energy and emissions targets faster than planned while saving ratepayers billions of dollars. To learn more, read the “Path to 100% Renewables for California” white paper by filling out the form below.