Capable of ramping up to 10+ MW in two minutes using carbon neutral fuels, Wartsila offers affordable path to 100 percent renewables
The technology group Wärtsilä launched an upgraded engine today that addresses the striking need to scale up power system flexibility in the U.S in order to achieve a 100 percent renewable energy future. Wärtsilä’s 34SG Balancer engine, optimized for renewable baseload markets; is an agile, fast-starting gas engine capable of ramping up to 10.3 MW in two minutes to seamlessly integrate with renewables. The power plant solution is based on lean design, and it can be equipped with features such as unmanned standby, remote control capabilities, 24/7 data streaming and dynamic power management.
Wärtsilä’s power plant gas engines can currently run on natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane or hydrogen blends. The company is actively developing the combustion process to allow the burning of 100% hydrogen and other future fuels. Wärtsilä has a long track record of successful fuel conversions for the global installed engine base.
According to Wärtsilä, 674.6 GW of flexible assets are needed for U.S. energy systems to run on 100 percent renewable energy at the lowest cost. Flexible power system assets can come in two forms– energy storage and flexible fuel engine technology. The capacity needed to balance the country’s switch to grids powered by intermittent renewables must come from two key technologies: over 495.9 GW of energy storage and over 674.6 GW of flexible gas power capacity, capable of running on renewable fuels. Renewable fuels such as hydrogen or synthetic methane, can be produced from curtailed wind and solar, stored and then dispatched when needed.
Jussi Heikkinen, Growth & Development Director for the Americas at Wärtsilä Energy, said, “Instead of trying to balance renewables with inflexible, centralized ‘legacy’ steam power plants, an increasing number of utilities are looking at balancing their renewable portfolio with new balancing technologies, such as batteries and state-of-the-art flexible power plants. These provide the capability to balance / hedge their green portfolios efficiently and are future-proofed as conversion to carbon neutral fuels can be done when those fuels become available.”
Wärtsilä’s grid balancing technology is part of a portfolio of products designed to cost effectively accelerate the energy transition. The portfolio consists of power plants, energy storage and energy management systems. Optimised performance and reliability is supported by Wärtsilä Lifecycle solutions.
“Future carbon neutral fuels, which are not far around the corner, combined with highly efficient flexible power plants, can be a fulcrum for the U.S. transition. Flexible carbon-neutral power plants – using these clean fuels – are a key ingredient of the transition and the decarbonized power system, ensuring security of supply during unusual and extreme weather patterns such as those we have now seen in California and Texas. The coming years will be critical for determining a future-proof decarbonization path for every state in the country,” Heikkinen added.
Wärtsilä found the U.S. has the second greatest need for agile flexible solutions. This reflects the country’s exceptionally high potential to meet its demand with solar energy over 49% in the U.S. and the requirement to store that power when solar is no longer generating.
A significant degree of overcapacity is needed to account for the variability of wind and solar generation. Excess electricity is then utilised to produce future fuels with Power-to-X technology. The modelling finds that balancing the intermittency of the renewable production with a combination of flexible gas and energy storage would be 38% cheaper for the G20 countries, in comparison to relying on energy storage alone.
Alongside the power plant solution, Wärtsilä offers its fully integrated GridSolv energy storage technology, designed for ease of deployment and sustainable energy optimisation, and its GEMS Digital Energy Platform. GEMS dynamically optimises energy systems through a broad range of applications, like frequency regulation, to create revenue streams and enhance grid/system resilience.
Jukka Lehtonen, Vice President for Technology & Product Management at Wärtsilä Energy, said: “Currently, the industry is in a challenging situation. Investments need to be made today even if visibility of the future is not fully clear. We have developed, in an agile manner, a solution based on existing, proven technology which is future-proof and flexible. The solution can be adapted to different operational profiles and running hours, along with evolving needs of the system. Using our solution, renewables can be integrated seamlessly into different energy mixes as they become available.”
The modelling on the G20’s comprehensive need for flexibility is based on Wärtsilä’s Atlas of 100% Renewable Energy, which shows the cost-optimal capacity mix for 100% renewable electricity systems in 145 countries and regions around the world.
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Wärtsilä Energy in brief
Wärtsilä Energy leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers in decarbonisation by developing market-leading technologies. These cover future-fuel enabled balancing power plants, hybrid solutions, energy storage and optimisation technology, including the GEMS energy management platform. Wärtsilä Energy’s lifecycle services are designed to increase efficiency, promote reliability and guarantee operational performance. Our track record comprises 74 GW of power plant capacity and more than 80 energy storage systems delivered to 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. https://www.wartsila.com