Texas Utility Will Add More Peaking Power


The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) said it will build a new 190-MW peaker power plant in central Texas to provide additional dispatchable power to the state’s electric grid. A peaker plant is one that is typically used only for brief periods during times when the demand for power approaches or surpasses the amount of power available. For more, read Texas Utility Will Add More Peaking Power.

Key Takeaways

  • The new plant will be LCRA’s second peaker plant. The first is a 184-MW natural gas-fired facility in Fayette County that was built in 2010.
  • The new facility will have 10 Wartsila 50SG natural gas-fueled reciprocating engines. It is expected to become fully operational in 2025.
  • The new dispatchable peaker plant will support the state’s power grid within minutes, providing a reliable source of power to customers.
  • The LCRA plant is one of several new engine power plants that Wartsila has announced in the Americas. 
    • Engines are becoming more prominent in the American power grids due to their grid balancing and flexible generation capabilities.

Path to 100% Perspective

The energy sector is in the midst of a rapid transformation where flexibility is becoming more important. Flexible engine power plants are a good way to ensure that the lights never go out and decarbonization goals are met, even in extreme weather conditions like those facing Texas in recent years. Flexible thermal balancing power plants, like the LCRA peaker plant, provide firm and dispatchable capacity, ensuring that backup power is available when adverse weather conditions don’t generate enough electricity. These plants also support the integration of renewables, making them an important player in reaching a 100% renewable energy future. Wartsila’s engines can already run on multiple fuels and are ready to be converted to new carbon-neutral or carbon-free fuels when they become commercially available.

Los Angeles now has a road map for 100% renewable energy


Los Angeles is one of the last places in California still burning coal for electricity — and if all goes according to plan, it could become one of the country’s first major cities to nearly eliminate fossil fuels from its power supply. In a first-of-its-kind study commissioned by the city and released, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded L.A. is capable of achieving 98% clean energy within the next decade and 100% by 2035, meeting one of President Biden’s most ambitious climate goals. And it can do so without causing blackouts or disrupting the economy, the federal research lab found, undercutting two of the most common arguments used by opponents of climate action. To learn more, read “Los Angeles now has a road map for 100% renewable energy.”  Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • The NREL study team included nearly 100 people and was aided by the “Eagle” supercomputer at the research lab’s Golden, Colo., headquarters.
  • They conducted an energy systems analysis they believe to be unprecedented in scope and detail, running more than 100 million simulations since 2017 and integrating heaps of modeling data on electricity use, job creation, weather conditions, power lines and the potential for rooftop solar panels on houses across Los Angeles, among other topics.
  • Under a different scenario, L.A. would still get about 10% of its electricity from gas come 2045, down from 24% today.
  • Every pathway outlined by NREL includes geothermal power plants, which tap the Earth’s subterranean heat and can generate climate-friendly energy around the clock, as well as pumped hydropower, which can store solar and wind longer than a typical battery. Several pathways in the study also assume the city keeps its 5.7% ownership stake in Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant.

Path to 100% Perspective:

California already has the natural gas infrastructure in place to follow the Optimal Path. The state’s existing gas storage capacity and distribution systems can easily provide the necessary 8 TWh of reliable, fully dispatchable renewable energy while using only 15 percent of existing underground gas storage capacity. This alleviates concerns around “stranded assets” since flexible generation plants can shift at any time to burn synthetic methane, even before 2045. California’s current plan without thermal generation would require an investment of $309 billion between 2021 and 2045 to add another 1,624 GWh of battery storage and electricity generation cost would jump to a sky-high 128 $ / MWh. However, the Optimal Path would save the state $176 billion with Power-to-Gas and thermal generation as long term energy storage between 2021 and 2045 and electricity generation cost would be $50 / MWh in 2045. More batteries without thermal generation is not affordable and is not enough to create a resilient or reliable grid.


Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash