Wärtsilä is a Finnish corporation that manufactures and provides services to the marine and energy sectors. The purpose of Wärtsilä is o to enable sustainable societies with smart technology.
Given Mexico’s ambitious 2032 renewable energy goals, baseload plants need to respond to the increasing demand to plug more renewable technologies into the grid. “Traditional power plants can support between 5 and 10 percent of renewable energy share but when 20 percent generation is reached, the impact will be significant as traditional generation cannot cope with the load variations,” says Sampo Suvisaari, Regional Director of Latin America North and the Caribbean at Wärtsilä. The Finnish company manufactures flexible power plants that are powered by either liquid or gaseous fuels. “Fuel-flexible systems can cover demand at sites where access to natural gas pipelines is unavailable. This is the one of the opportunities we are seeking in Mexico,” he says.
But Suvisaari is concerned that PRODESEN does not consider flexible technology as a midterm transition model toward the 2032 goal. “Hybrid plants are very attractive, as part of the investment costs can be lowered and emissions mitigated by relying on renewable energy generation,” he says. “At a global level, the concept has been well-received but the contractual framework has not been developed yet in some emerging markets.” As an example, Wärtsilä hybridized an existing 57MW diesel power plant with an additional 15MW PV plant for a mine located in Burkina Faso, reducing fuel consumption by 6 million liters and cutting CO2 emissions by 18,500t/y.
Wärtsilä recently acquired Greensmith Energy Management Systems, a leading provider of energy storage software and project integration services. The company now develops EPC hybrid projects with solar PV technology and battery systems. As this battery technology penetrates the market, Suvisaari is confident that costs will decrease, as happened with renewable technology. “Batteries are different from flexible technology as their coverage can last seconds, minutes or hours, soon perhaps even a couple of days,” he says. “The problem arises when it has been raining for 15 days in a row and another technology has to be integrated to supply the power demand.”