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.

 

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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.

NextEra Aims to Buy More U.S. Power Lines to Fuel Renewable Push

At-a-Glance:

NextEra Energy Inc. wants to buy more power lines to tap into rising demand for renewable energy, weeks after closing a $660-million deal for such transmission wires. The Florida-based company plans to expand its business both by developing and acquiring transmission assets. In March, NextEra bought GridLiance, which owns about 700 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, for about $660 million from Blackstone Group Inc. To learn more, read “NextEra Aims to Buy More U.S. Power Lines to Fuel Renewable Push.”  Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Corporate executives are encouraged by President Joe Biden’s focus on renewables, which is in turn encouraging more companies to expand their investment in renewables.
  • NextEra plans to add up to 30,000 megawatts of wind, solar and battery storage by 2024.
  • The country will need to expand its transmission grids by as much as 60% for wind and solar to make up half of U.S. electricity capacity by 2030 to meet the President’s goal of a fully green U.S. power grid by 2035.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Carbon neutral and carbon free systems must install enough capacity (with the right capabilities) to meet energy needs in worst-case scenarios. At a minimum, to assure reliability and avoid blackouts, utility system planners and policy makers need to account for seasonal trends in availability of renewable resources. Meanwhile, inflexible power systems cannot keep up with wind and solar’s variability, so power plants have to stay online and burn fuel even on sunny or windy days when they are not needed. In practice, this limits power systems to using perhaps 30% renewable generation. Any more than that gets curtailed. Therefore, additional investment in more transmission is required to meet the growing demand.

 

Hydrogen Talk with Petteri Laaksonen

Petteri Laaksonen

What roles will hydrogen and electricity play in power generation on the path to decarbonization? This is one of several questions that were explored during the March 31 webinar, Hydrogen Talk with Petteri Laaksonen.

This webinar is the first in the Path to 100’s Community of Experts Networking Call Series, also known as the Expert Exchange, which serves as a forum for experts to share knowledge on the best ways to decarbonize electricity to speed the transition to 100% renewable energy.

Jussi Heikkinen

Jussi Heikkinen

Featured speakers for the inaugural Community of Experts webinar were Petteri Laaksonen, Research Director in the School of Energy Systems at LUT University in Lappeenranta, Finland, and Jussi Heikkinen, Director, Wärtsilä Growth and Development, who also moderated the webinar.

The focus of Laaksonen’s presentation was green electrification and the hydrogen economy. He opened by discussing some of the ways in which electricity and hydrogen are produced and used for energy in different sectors of industry, in transportation, and in buildings. Central to this discussion was the efficiency of electricity versus hydrogen for use in applications and the infrastructure that is needed to support their use.

According to Laaksonen, “Hydrogen is not as efficient as electricity when it comes to transportation and the transport sector does not have the infrastructure and vehicles to support hydrogen’s use. However, hydrogen’s potential lies in its ability to be synthesized into different products, such as synthetic fuels.”

The focus of the presentation then shifted to a discussion of the location-related competitive advantages of hydrogen and electricity. One of the big advantages of producing and storing hydrogen and electricity as fuels onsite is cost, specifically the costs of shipping and lost efficiency when transporting from one location to another.

“When it comes to choosing which fuel, hydrogen or electricity, to use in an application, there are no clear winners. Each location will have its advantages,” said Laaksonen.

After Laaksonen’s presentation, Heikkinen spoke about the role of hydrogen in the optimal decarbonization path using a California modelling case study. Central to the discussion was a new approach to electricity storage that utilizes both short- and long-term storage strategies. He emphasized that on the optimal path, hydrogen in long-term storage can be tapped into as a fuel to help with seasonal system balancing and managing extreme weather.

Said Heikkinen, “Having seasonal storage in the form of fuel and flexible power plants can result in cost reductions from 126 to 50 dollars per megawatt hour and enable firm capacity that can be tapped into when there’s a heat wave or cloud cover.”

Missed the webinar? Watch the recording here. Want to learn more about the California case study’s modeling and results? Download the whitepaper.

 

 

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Power CO2 emissions fall 7% across Europe’s top 10 economies in 2020: Wartsila

At-a-Glance:

CO2 emissions from electricity generation among Europe’s 10 largest economies fell by 7% in 2020, according to the latest figures provided by Wärtsilä’s Energy Transition Lab. To learn more, read “Power CO2 emissions fall 7% across Europe’s top 10 economies in 2020: Wartsila.”

Key Takeaways:

  • CO2 emissions fell by 36.7 million mt to 489.1 million mt as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic combined with an ongoing phase-out of coal for electricity generation in many European countries.
  • Austria led the way with the largest percentage drop in emissions in 2020, down 28.8% from the previous year, reflecting the closure of the country’s largest coal-fired power plant in April 2020.
  • The pandemic combined with government-mandated coal phase-outs to accelerate the pace of the energy transition, with the share of renewables reaching levels not previously expected for another 10 years.
  • “One year since lockdowns began, we must now focus on a strategic, scientific, and intelligent approach to cutting carbon emissions that enables us to achieve the Paris Agreement while actually benefiting our economy and improving our quality of life,” said Tony Meski, senior market development analyst at Wartsila Energy Business.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Although record breaking carbon reductions have been recorded, the global economy has been put under intense strain. One year since lockdowns began, the focus is now moving to a strategic, scientific, and intelligent approach to cutting carbon emissions while benefiting the economy and improving quality of life. Energy demand will rebound and emissions with it. Innovators, leaders, and policymakers need to capture this moment and be ambitious with investments in renewables and flexible technologies while they remain highly competitive.

The Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab is a free-to-use data platform to help the industry, policy-makers, and the public understand the impact of COVID-19 on European electricity markets and analyze what this means for future energy systems. The goal is to help accelerate the transition to 100% renewables.

 

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Wärtsilä to supply and maintain two major interconnected energy storage systems for Texas grid services

At-a-Glance:

Two standalone battery energy storage systems (BESS) totalling 200MW of output will be deployed in Texas’ ERCOT market by the energy division at Wärtsilä Corporation. Finland-headquartered marine and power systems technology manufacturer, which has become one of the biggest system integrators for energy storage in the US market, said today that it has been awarded contracts for the two projects in Southern Texas by developer Able Grid Energy Solutions.To learn more, read, “Texas’ grid to get 200MW of battery storage from Wärtsilä”,“Wärtsilä to supply two major interconnected energy storage systems for Texas grid services”,and“Wärtsilä wins order for utility-scale energy storage to support Texas electric grid.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Wärtsilä Energy will supply its recently-launched GridSolv Quantum advanced energy storage solution to both sites, as well as the company’s GEMS energy management software and controls platform.
  • The systems, called Ignacio and Madero, are thought to be around 100MW each, equalling the US state’s largest battery storage project under construction so far, the 100MW Chisholm Grid BESS which is also an Able Grid project.
  • “Able Grid selected Wärtsilä technology, among other considerations, for its critical safety and cyber-security features. The system complies with all applicable standards, like UL9540A, to ensure sustained safe and reliable operations. In addition, the GEMS Power Plant Controller is U.S.-code based and meets all IEC62443 cybersecurity standards,” commented Sharon Greenberg, Able Grid Chief Operating Officer.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Storage technologies will be essential to maintaining stability in the power grid as the world shifts from power systems based on fossil fuels to renewables and carbon-free and carbon-neutral fuels. Batteries will provide ideal solutions to keep the lights on during normal / average weather, while unusual and extreme weather events such as those recently experienced in California and Texas will require integrated long-term storage solutions that ensure security of supply in the face of seasonal and weather-related variability. Flexible generation power plants are also part of the solution as they can operate on carbon-free and carbon-neutral fuels and can provide the essential firm power component to our power systems of the future.

Texas must increase ties to the national grid and DER to avoid another power catastrophe, analysts say

At-a-Glance:

Texans were left in the cold and dark this February, following extreme cold weather that had the Texas competitive energy market unable to prevent deadly power failures. Leaving behind its historic commitment to power system independence and joining the larger U.S. grid can relieve some of the consequences of extreme weather events Texas is likely to see again, many energy analysts in and out of Texas said. To learn more, read Texas must increase ties to the national grid and DER to avoid another power catastrophe, analysts say.”

Key Takeaways:

  • “We designed this system for Ozzie and Harriet weather and we now have Mad Max,” said Texas energy consultant Alison Silverstein.
  • Some customers discovered variable bill plans can come with price spikes.
  • “The theory is that a high price will bring investments, but people don’t invest in things that might only make money sometime in the future unless they are required to,” said Jussi Heikkinen, North America Director of Growth and Development for global power plant developer Wärtsilä.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Texas does not have firm rules on power plant engineering for ambient temp ranges. Recommendations from ERCOT were published after the 2011 blackouts, but they are not mandatory, like they are in the eastern part of the country The Texas blackouts are an urgent indication that recommendations should be turned into common-sense regulation that leads to grid reliability and ratepayer protection.

 

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The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning

At-a-Glance:

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming synonymous with the operation of power generation facilities. The increased digitization of power plants, from equipment to software, involves both thermal generation and renewable energy installations. To learn more, read “The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning.”

Key Takeaways:

  • AI and ML will be key elements for the design of future energy systems, supporting the growth of smart grids and improving the efficiency of power generation, along with the interaction among electricity customers and utilities.
  • Centralized power systems enable equal access to clean power at the lowest cost, reducing economic inequality. Regardless of whether the path forward is more or less centralized, AI brings value to all parties.
  • “AI is very important to smart grids,” Wärtsilä General Manager of Data Science, Energy Storage & Optimization, Luke Witmer said. “AI is extremely important to the integration of smart charging of electric vehicles, and leveraging those mobile batteries for grid services when they are plugged into the grid.”
  • The more AI is used in the dispatch of power plants, the more it will be needed in the design and creation process for new power plants or aggregations of power generation equipment.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Wärtsilä uses AI and equipment expertise to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of power equipment and systems. AI and machine learning will play increasingly important roles in future power generation, especially as more communities and organizations come to rely on smart grids and renewable fuels for their electricity needs.

 

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California wastes its extra solar, wind energy. Could hydrogen be the storage key?

At-a-Glance:

No amount of solar panels and wind turbines alone will be enough for California to reach its goal of a clean electrical grid unless the state can solve its energy storage problem. The state already generates an abundance of energy from wind and solar farms, particularly during the sunny and blustery spring and early summer months. But it loses much of that energy because it has nowhere to store it, and unlike fossil fuels, the sun and wind are not dispatchable, and therefore are unable to be called on to generate power 24 hours a day. Utilities must rely on gas-fired power plants to keep up with California’s energy demands during peak demand periods. To learn more, read California wastes its extra solar, wind energy. Could hydrogen be the storage key? Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

  • Some experts and legislators say the missing puzzle piece could be hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, which can be used as a zero-emission fuel for power plants, vehicles and machinery.
  • “I would say it’s almost the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Jussi Heikkinen, Director of Growth and Development at Wärtsilä Energy, a Finnish technology company that has built battery storage systems in California. “We don’t need to get rid of the power plants, but we need to get rid of fossil fuels.”
  • State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is carrying a bill, SB18, that specifies the state’s climate and electrical grid plans include “green hydrogen,” or hydrogen gas that is produced using electricity from renewable sources.
  • According to Jack Brouwer, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center, hydrogen is more effective for longer storage than batteries because it doesn’t lose energy over time and can be stored underground easily and cheaply.
  • Hydrogen advocates say that California ultimately needs a mix of hydrogen and batteries to reduce carbon emissions.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Investing in green hydrogen will be important as California looks to decarbonize its energy system. The state can turn this into a win-win by harnessing the excess power generated by existing wind and solar farms to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored and turned back into electricity using flexible thermal assets. Policies that enable rapid reductions in fossil fuel use and rapid increases in renewable generation in the electricity sector are a valuable piece to accelerating the decarbonization process. Legislation should steer electricity-sector decisions about investments, infrastructure and technology toward decisions that quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the way for a 100% renewable energy future

 

 

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