Wärtsilä to optimize and decarbonise gold mine power station in Suriname, South America

At-a-Glance: 

Wärtsilä has contracted with a gold mining company in Suriname to build a 7.8 MW energy storage system to help the company achieve its climate targets and decarbonizations goals. This is the first utility-scale energy storage system to be built in Suriname and Wärtsilä’s first energy storage project in the country. To learn more read: Wärtsilä to optimise and decarbonise gold mine power station in Suriname, South America

Key Takeaways

  • The integrated energy storage system will improve efficiency at the gold mine’s power station by reducing the need for emergency back-up spinning reserve, therefore lowering fuel consumption. 
  • The project is estimated to reduce the mine’s emissions by 5,600 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. This optimized energy system will extend to improvements across the lifetime of the engines and reduce operation and maintenance costs.
  • The GEMS Digital Energy Platform, Wärtsilä’s advanced energy management system, will control and optimize energy storage and evaluate opportunities to integrate renewable energy assets at the facility to further decarbonise mining operations, further reduce operations costs and provide clean electricity to surrounding communities.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Energy storage simply means capturing produced energy and saving it for later. It is becoming more and more important as we turn to more renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, because they cannot produce a continuous supply of energy around the clock. Being able to store that energy is a key element to reliable, 100% renewable power in the future.

By installing this technology now, the mining company will see improved reliability, efficiency and sustainability. The company is also future-proofing its investments in a changing energy market.

 

Security of supply an important factor in Puerto Rico’s ambitious path to decarbonization

By: Jussi Heikkinen

The Biden administration and Puerto Rico have joined together to launch an ambitious, collective effort to accelerate the growth of renewable energy resources and strengthen the island’s grid – promising 2022 will be “a year of action” in the transition to 100% clean energy over the next three decades.

The partnership involves three U.S. federal agencies – the Department of Energy, the Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development to partner with the government of Puerto Rico. The group will complete a two-year study of how the island can reach 100% renewables by 2050, and meet a variety of interim targets along the way. The study, “Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy” (PR100), is expected to be complete in December 2023. The plan addresses a rapid addition of renewables, mainly solar, as well as battery storage advancements.

Last year, I outlined Puerto Rico’s optimal path to decarbonization in an effort to find the optimum way to reach net zero targets, serve the load without black-outs, and provide the lowest cost for the rate payers.

The pace of adding renewables in the new Puerto Rico national plan correlates closely with Wartsila’s former outline – so does the quantity of their proposed battery storage. To ensure efficient utilization of the rapidly growing fleet of renewables, the thermal fleet needs to be modified as well. The key in the path is to make the system flexible enough to enable the addition of large amounts of variable renewables.

A crucial element in getting rid of large quantities of carbon emissions is retiring of the old high-emitting, inflexible coal power plants by 2028. Adding more solar and wind power plants, and battery storage, is the way to go. But in order to do this while maintaining security of supply, the system must have constantly adequate firm power capacity. Firm capacity means 1) available at all times, and 2) can operate as long as necessary. This capacity needs to be highly efficient and flexible – it will need to start and stop hundreds of times every year to enable efficient utilization of renewable energy. As the national plan is to close down thermal plants, the Wärtsilä study shows an obvious risk for rapidly increasing curtailment of solar power, repeated security of supply issues, and even black-outs.

To stay on the optimal decarbonization path and to avoid major curtailment of solar, 450 MW of new flexible gas power plants need to be installed by 2023, followed by another 350 MW in 2028. These plants do not run continuously, but they maintain security of supply, mitigate major overbuild of solar and battery storage, and in turn, save big money. They also enable retirement all of the older thermal power plants latest by 2038, according to plan.

Later on, when the island is ready, the flexible plants will be converted to use green-hydrogen based fuels like hydrogen, ammonia, methanol or methane. This will serve as the final step of the decarbonization in Puerto Rico.

To read the press release on the development in Puerto Rico, visit here.

A 100% carbon neutral power system is realistically achievable for Chile by 2050, or even sooner, according to Wärtsilä white paper

Chile has set an ambitious goal to decarbonize the country’s electricity generation by 2050, one of the most ambitious decarbonization targets in the world. But how will the country reach its goals? 

A recent Wärtsilä white paper, “Chile Leading the World to a 100% Zero Carbon Power System” presents the optimal path for decarbonization in Chile which reaches the country’s carbon reduction targets, serves the load without black-outs, and provides the lowest cost for the rate payers. The study utilizes power system expansion modelling software Plexos to create a timeline of necessary changes to achieve its goals while maintaining a secure supply and managing costs. 

According to the white paper, Chile’s remarkable renewable resources coupled with its already proven power generation and storage technologies provide it with the basis to be a leader in solving the decarbonization puzzle. Leaders next need a well-structured and realistic plan to reach its goal and avoid mistakes made by other countries who may have moved too quickly towards decarbonization.

The key to success is using modern power system expansion software and supercomputers to create a proper power system transition plan. According to the white paper, Chile should be taking that step now, along with setting policies to make the transition possible. 

“In order to continue the incorporation of renewable energy, it is vital that Chile develops the policy and regulatory framework to incentivize the necessary investments in storage and gas-fired flexible generation during the early parts of this decade” according to the white paper, although the study does not make any specific recommendations on those types of changes.

Just increasing wind and solar power generation won’t be enough. To succeed, investments must be made in battery storage capacity and in flexible gas power plants to compensate when the renewable energy sources aren’t generating enough power to serve the load. 

The white paper states that the price of solar and battery storage technologies are declining and should be economically viable by 2026. 

The flexible fuel plants won’t cover the base load, but have the capacity to come online quickly as needed and with minimal carbon emissions, giving them the advantage over traditional fossil fuel plants that must remain in operation continuously. Such plants must also have the capability to convert to sustainable fuels in the future.

“During this period the incorporation of storage and flexible gas generation into the Chilean system enables further retirements of coal and diesel oil plants, and greater additions of wind and solar PV. Thereby decarbonization can continue, less coal is burned, and carbon levels begin to fall drastically,” according to the white paper.

By following this plan, Chile should be able to retire its last coal and diesel oil plants by 2030, reducing carbon emissions drastically and relying on renewables for 90% of its energy needs. By then, only the new flexible gas power plants and the few remaining legacy gas-fired power plants will still be using fuel.

Components of a 100% carbon neutral power system

The final step in decarbonizing Chile’s electricity is to convert the flexible gas power plants to operate on green hydrogen based sustainable fuels. These fuels can be produced using excess wind and solar generation, stored, and used to produce power when the renewable sources aren’t generating enough power for extended periods of time, like during a major weather event.

“The cost of electricity generation will remain steady throughout this decade due to heavy investment costs, but contrary to many beliefs, the electricity costs for the rate payers will not increase – they will remain stable during the next 10 years and after 2030 they will be gradually reduced by 39%. Clean power does not have to be expensive!” according to the white paper.

You can read the entire white paper here.

Photo by Bailey Hall on Unsplash

#PathTalks: Energy transition in Central America and the Caribbean

The renewable energy transition is complex, but it is possible, practical and affordable.

#PathTalks‘ Host Fernanda Castro speaks with Business Development Manager, Energy Solutions, Central America & Caribbean for Wärtsilä, Francisco Picasso about the energy transition and excitement around renewable fuels, energy storage and progress being made around renewable energy in Central America.

 

#PathTalks: Chile moving towards a future of 100% renewable energy

Chile has one of the most ambitious decarbonization plans in the world, targeting carbon neutral electricity in 2050. This South American country is already at a 70% renewable energy share with some of the world’s best wind and solar resources available. It is possible to retire coal in Chile before 2030 and to reach a 100% carbon neutral power system before 2050.

#PathTalks host Fernanda Castro speaks with Wärtsilä Chile General Manager, Alejandro McDonough about the updated study “Towards a Future of 100% Renewable Energies” and what it could mean in accelerating the energy transition in Chile.

The study indicates that although competitive renewable energy and battery storage are available, the missing piece of the puzzle is long-term energy storage, which has the role of ensuring proper system function and reliability even during longer usual weather patterns such as drought, extreme heat or cold waves, cloud cover and rain, low wind periods as well as low solar seasons such as winter.

This video is in Spanish, but includes English subtitles.

#PathTalks: Developments and challenges of decarbonization in Brazil

#PathTalk Host Fernanda Castro chats with Wärtsilä AMER Region South Energy Business Director Jorge Alcaide and Wärtsilä Senior Manager, Project Development Gabriel Cavados about the opportunities and challenges of Brazil’s energy transition to decarbonization.

Want to know more about energy transition in Brazil? Join Jorge, Gabriel and industry experts to discuss ways to balance the electrical system with large renewable share.

This video is in Portuguese, but it includes English subtitles.

Wärtsilä Report Urges 100% Renewables Sooner, Uruguay Proves It Can Happen Now

At-a-Glance:

With the COP26 conference happening in Glasgow, many climate and environmental  groups are urging nations to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. A new report from Wärtsilä entitled Front Loading New Zero argues that nations can adopt 100% renewable systems faster than currently planned. To learn more, read “Wärtsilä Report Urges 100% Renewables Sooner, Uruguay Proves It Can Happen Now.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The new report says significant cost reductions can be achieved by front loading the deployment of renewables — mostly wind and solar — and by utilizing the technologies needed to balance their inherent intermittency with energy storage and thermal generating stations.
  • Wärtsilä CEO Håkan Agnevall explains, “As we approach COP26, our Front-Loading Net Zero report should act as a wake-up call for leaders, as this is our last and best chance to get countries on pathways to carbon neutrality.
  • Sushil Purohit, president of Wärtsilä Energy adds, “There is no single solution that fits all markets, and this report highlights the different paths and technologies that can be utilized. The ultimate aim, however, is common to all and that is to decarbonize energy production and take the fullest advantage of our natural energy sources.”
  • In 2007, Uruguay had to rely on electricity imported from neighbors like Brazil and Argentina.
    • Within 10 years, it had 4,000 MW of installed capacity.
    • Today, 98% of the electricity for its 3.4 million inhabitants comes from renewables, including hydro.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The price of electricity does not need to increase when power systems move to net zero. Utilities are shifting from a costly operational expenditure (opex) model, where capital is continually drawn into fuelling and maintaining legacy inflexible coal, oil, and gas plants – to a new model where up-front capital expenditure (capex) is invested in predictable, low maintenance, renewable energy technology. Flexibility creates the conditions where renewable energy is the most profitable way to power our grids: ensuring back-up power is available when there’s insufficient wind or solar – and earning rewards from capacity mechanisms. Investing in renewable baseload is now viewed as buying ‘unlimited’ power up-front, as opposed to betting against fluctuating oil prices and narrowing environmental regulation.

 

Photo by Ernesto Velázquez on Unsplash

Wärtsilä to Equip Pair of Grid-Connected Texas Energy Storage Systems

At-a-Glance:

Helsinki-based technology group Wärtsilä will supply two Texas energy storage projects with its energy storage technology. The interconnected stand-alone systems will have a combined rated capacity of 200 MW. Wärtsilä has also signed ten-year guaranteed asset performance agreements for the installations. The order was placed by Able Grid Energy Solutions, a utility-scale energy storage project development arm of MAP RE/ES, an energy investment firm. To learn more, read “Wärtsilä to Equip Pair of Grid-Connected Texas Energy Storage Systems.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The Madero and Ignacio energy storage plants will deliver valuable grid support to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the body responsible for managing the electric supply to more than 25 million customers.
  • Wärtsilä will supply its next-generation, fully integrated GridSolv Quantum energy storage solution.
  • The systems are expected to become fully operational starting in January 2022.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

The Madero and Ignacio energy storage plants will deliver valuable grid support to ERCOT using the modular solution designed to ease deployment and sustainable energy optimization. The energy storage systems will also be used to monitor and control the flow of energy, enabling these projects to provide grid support for critical periods during extreme weather or grid instability conditions, such as those that happened in Texas during the polar vortex in February 2020.

 

Photo by Jeremy Banks on Unsplash

Wärtsilä launches project to develop 100% hydrogen-fueled engine and power plant concept by 2025

At-a-Glance:

Technology company Wärtsilä announced an initiative to develop an engine and power plant concept that will be able to run on 100% hydrogen by 2025, in a move that could contribute to widespread decarbonization of the electric power industry and other sectors. The company’s new project aims to develop that concept by 2025, and commercialize it by the end of the decade. To learn more, read “Wärtsilä launches project to develop 100% hydrogen-fueled engine and power plant concept by 2025,” or “Everything we know about Wärtsilä Energy’s hydrogen engines.” Reading these articles may require a subscription from the media outlets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Roughly one in three people in the U.S. live in a state or city that is trying to transition to 100% clean electricity, according to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), with the Biden administration pushing for a national 100% standard by 2035.
  • “Our base engine concept is very flexible — it can take very different types of fuels already today. But now, we’re evolving this flexibility up to 100% hydrogen,” Wärtsilä CEO Håkan Agnevall said.
  • “At the end of the day, when 100% hydrogen is available, our engines can run with that and, with new engines coming in, we can make the transition with the small changes that are needed for the engines,” Jukka Lehtonen, Vice-President of Technology and Product Management of Energy Business at Wärtsilä Energy said.
  • Some utilities are already exploring the potential of hydrogen — NextEra Energy, for instance, views it as a key piece of deep decarbonization efforts and has said it’s rolling out small hydrogen projects.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

Decarbonization is technically and commercially feasible with technologies that are already available at scale. These technologies include:

  • Wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) as the main sources of primary energy
  • Short-duration battery energy storage.
  • Flexible thermal balancing power plants to provide firm and dispatchable capacity.
  • Sustainable fuels used in thermal balancing power plants, forming long- term energy storage. Sustainable fuels include green hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels, such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic meth- ane produced from renewable sources.

Omaha Public Power securing Wartsila’s gas-fired engines to balance solar PV

At-a-Glance:

Omaha Public Power District, a municipal power provider in Nebraska, has contracted Wärtsilä to supply natural gas-fired engines for a grid balancing plant. The 156-MW multi-fuel engine power plant will be part of the municipal utility’s Power with Purpose project. Power with Purpose will incorporate up to 600 MW of solar photovoltaic generation, supported by fast-starting internal combustion engines to ensure system stability. To learn more, read “Omaha Public Power securing Wartsila’s gas-fired engines to balance solar PV.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Wärtsilä will supply nine of its 18-cylinder 50DF engines operating on natural gas and light fuel oil as needed.
  • Wärtsilä’s multi-fuel engine technology provides fuel resiliency with engines capable of burning natural gas, light fuel oil, and even hydrogen blends (up to 25 percent H2 currently and being adapted eventually for 100 percent carbon-free hydrogen).
  • The new Standing Bear Lake Station plant will be located in Douglas County, Neb. and is expected to be put into commercial operation by May 2023.
  • Omaha Public Power District’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 includes the addition of variable, renewable energy resources balanced by the use of Wärtsilä technology to provide reliability and resiliency.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

Electric utilities and governments across the world are moving towards 100% carbon-free energy. To succeed, they need to not only increase renewable generation, but also to rapidly reduce the use of fossil fuels. Renewables and storage alone cannot rapidly decarbonize our power system fast enough. Optimizing power resources, renewable energy and flexible fuels is the way to pave the Path to 100%.  

Wärtsilä & Schneider Electric develop power system reference design for lithium mines lacking grid access

At-a-Glance:

Technology group Wärtsilä and Schneider Electric say they have together developed a “unique, end-to-end power system reference design.” It is aimed specifically at lithium mine operations where there is no access to a grid supply of electricity. To learn more, read “Wärtsilä & Schneider Electric develop power system reference design for lithium mines lacking grid access.” 

Key Takeaways:

  • Wärtsilä and Schneider Electric signed the framework cooperation agreement for the development of the design for mining energy solutions in March 2020.
  • Their design provides for an economically viable total expenditure that covers the complete process, including consulting, project design, the power infrastructure, equipment delivery, installation and commissioning.
  • Their solution contributes to sustainable lithium production by optimising the efficient delivery and use of energy, and by leveraging microgrids and enabling renewable energy sources.
  • The overall objective of this collaborative development is to provide high efficiency power solutions with a minimal environmental footprint for the mining industry.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Increasing global demand for lithium that is used in battery storage applications is putting pressure on mining operations to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible. How mines source and use power is a key element in this process. By using microgrids and renewable energy sources to meet their power needs, mine operators will reduce environmental impact and take the necessary steps toward decarbonization.

Wartsila case study: DC-coupled energy storage systems ideal for real-time trading

At-a-Glance:

With more opportunities to sell energy into new energy markets, energy developers are thinking creatively about wasted energy and harnessing greater efficiency. There are two important evolutions in energy storage technology that solar power producers are opting for when purchasing new systems: solar projects are leveraging the efficiencies of DC-coupled design in energy systems just at the emergence of market bidding as a new industry standard. As more developers pair solar systems with energy storage, the convergence of these two trends serve as an anchor design for utility-scale solar and storage projects going forward to ensure these systems are as optimized and impactful as possible. To learn more, read “Wärtsilä case study: DC-coupled energy storage systems ideal for real-time trading.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Wärtsilä recently announced a solar PV and storage project that incorporates both DC-coupled design and market bidding and illustrates the most efficient designs and revenue-generating systems out there.
  • The Wärtsilä system, a 40-MW/80-MWh energy storage system, located in Mitchell County, Georgia, will enable a subsidiary of RWE Renewables (Hickory Park Solar) to sell nearly 200 MW of generation from the solar PV panels to Georgia Power Company.
  • The RWE project is Wärtsilä’s first DC-coupled system and the largest application of the GridSolv Quantum solution which is a fully integrated modular energy storage system that is highly optimized for DC-coupled systems.
  • The RWE project is also the first application of Wärtsilä’s new cloud-based IntelliBidder software. IntelliBidder leverages machine learning and optimization algorithms based on automated and forecasted data and real-time trading for elevated value-based asset management and portfolio optimization.

Path to 100% Perspective:

This is one of the very few projects globally on this scale using DC-coupling. Delivery of this innovative equipment is scheduled for September 2021 and the plant is expected to commence commercial operations in November. The global technology company previously delivered energy storage solutions to RWE Renewables in Texas and Arizona.