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News Article

Flexible Power Generators Are the Future

By Paloma Duran | Thu, 03/11/2021 - 18:01

You can watch the video of this presentation here.

Flexible power generators are considered the future of the sector. Meanwhile, inflexible energies such as nuclear, coal and gas combined cycles will disappear, as they cannot meet the new demands of the energy sector, said Raúl Carral, Business Development Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean at Wärtsilä during Mexico Energy Forum 2021 on Thursday, March 11. Wärtsilä promotes innovative flexible generation solutions and is considered a leader in the sector, after delivering more than 5,000 plants, 12,000 generators and 74GW in 180 countries for electricity, industrial and oil companies. In addition, the company has more than 70 storage projects in its pipeline.

Carral shared some of the projects the company currently has in Mexico. The first was Huinalá in Nuevo Leon, where the company has implemented a Flexicycle, which is a highly efficient combined cycle that allows it to operate with resources like coal or with a flexible generator that complements renewable energy. Carral explained that flexible generation systems change according to customer needs and that the combined cycle allows gas recovery to generate additional steam-based electricity.

The company highlighted the positive results of its project at the Wind Park of Eólica Coromuel in Baja California Sur, where the company’s energy storage system allows the park to meet the requirements of the local grid. Carral explained that Wärtsilä is helping to regulate the intermittency of renewables through a GEMS smart energy management system that monitors energy production applications and controls its frequency.

Carral explained that energy can be obtained through flexible systems when it cannot be produced from renewable energies. During these intermittency times, it is important to have a flexible base that can go from 0 to 100 in less than 3 minutes. Coal, nuclear power plants and combined cycle gas turbines are not very flexible. It can take hours or even days before they produce energy. These energies are unable to face the current challenges of the sector and, therefore, can no longer be part of the new future of electricity generation.

In a recent interview with MBN, Carral explained that renewables in Mexico are currently seen as a bit of a problem, as their intermittent nature makes it more complicated to integrate them into the grid, which was not been planned for renewable integration. “If you look at energy transition and renewable integration from a planning perspective, you can make energy affordable for everyone and strengthen CFE at the same time.”

Carral said that in the energy market there is a change in generation technologies, where coal, gas and nuclear are disappearing, while flexible and renewable energies are increasing. “Natural gas will play an important role in the future. However, it will not be as it was planned, since it will also be replaced by alternative energies.”

According to Mexico’s energy generation goals, in 2021, 30 percent of energy must be generated from renewable energies, increasing to 35 percent in 2024, 45 percent in 2026 and 60 percent in 2050. "I believe that Mexico will achieve its goals this year. There are some challenges but renewable energies are being used more."

Carral added that Mexico currently has 68 solar plants in commercial operation and that the company expects continuous growth due to its environmental and financial benefits. “We see that in the future more and more renewable and intermittent generation will be integrated iton the power grids, globally. This responds to the increasing competitiveness of wind and solar power generation. Costs are decreasing significantly, breaking world records constantly,” Carral told MBN, adding that renewable assets will help meet the Paris Agreement’s goals and protect the future of the environment.

Carral concluded that the world's path to renewable energy includes alternative sources, energy storage and flexible generation. The company predicts inflexible power generation technologies will be discontinued. Coal, nuclear power plants and gas turbine combined cycles will diminish significantly. Meanwhile, renewables will become the favorite option as they are the cheapest power generators in the world.

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Journalist and Industry Analyst