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.

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.