Mexico’s Día Nórdico 2022, a virtual Nordic Day organized by Mexico’s Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish embassies, in cooperation with the Mexican Ministry of Economy, addressed pioneering innovations focused on enabling the green energy transition. Finland’s sustainable solution frontrunner Wärtsilä outlined a particularly exciting prospect: using innovative technology to revolutionize how Power-to-X (P2X) is used for electricity generation, the company manages to tackle some of the biggest conundrums regarding the energy transition.
The renewable energy revolution does come with a puzzle that needs to be solved, as the world’s most commonly used resources for green energy, wind and solar, suffer from intermittency. For this reason, stable and clean energy sources are crucial if the grid is to remain steady while replacing the polluting, inflexible fossil-fueled power plants of the past. Yet to reach urgent climate goals, countries will need to go further than merely decarbonizing their electricity mix. After all, not all emissions come from power production, as non-electrified transportation and industrial activities cannot rely on direct electricity.
“To reach 100% renewable energy, the concept of P2X, applied by creating synthetic fuels for stable thermal energy production, is essential,” said Gastón Giani, Managing Director and General Manager, Wärtsilä Mexico. The Finnish-based company Wärtsilä, a global leader in innovative technologies and lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, is leading the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. It helps its clients in the energy transition by optimizing their energy systems and preparing assets for the future ahead.
Giani, an electrical engineer with a postgraduate degree in business administration, has a wealth of experience in the electricity market and specialized in electric power generation plants with internal combustion engines. If these combustion engines burn carbon-neutral fuels, such as synthetic methane or green hydrogen, they can become an integral piece of the decarbonization puzzle. For long-distance marine shipping, ammonia proved to be an excellent solution for Wärtsilä.
Perhaps the brightest prospect of the P2X environment is green hydrogen, a fuel generated via water electrolysis using renewable electricity. Wärtsilä’s Michigan, US pilot project aims at testing hydrogen mixed with natural gas to allow for the reduction of carbon of an existing gas-fueled power plant. The 55MW facility currently operates with three Wärtsilä 50SG gas-fired engines with a fuel supply that should stably run on 25% hydrogen mixed with natural gas on the long term, with little or no modification needed.
Wärtsilä engines can already run on 100% synthetic carbon-neutral methane and methanol. Tests with blends of up to 60% hydrogen and 40% natural gas have also already been completed successfully, as the development continues toward the use of a higher share of hydrogen. As of today, the engines can already use up to 25% hydrogen blended with natural gas. Wärtsilä is using its world-leading expertise to increase the efficiency and scale of its solutions, too.
In Mexico, P2X is becoming increasingly important. “Industries are demanding an increasingly rapid decarbonization. This means we need the technology to match what we already know needs to happen because of climate science,” said Héctor Guerrero, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, adding that fuels like green hydrogen are essential to the green energy transition and to cut costs to make Mexico more competitive at the global scale.
While growing its sustainable footprint in the Mexican market, Wärtsilä contributes to the country’s climate goals. By 2030, Mexico has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22%. The company’s large multi-fuel power plants, featuring combined output of 600MW, are sure to be a boon for state-owned electric utility CFE in this mission. Similarly, Wärtsilä’s 10MW battery energy storage system for the 50MW Eolica Coromuel wind farm in La Paz, Baja California already provides benefits toward the grid’s stability.